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ART. II. — No CHURCH, NO REFORM. Addressed es
pecially to the Fourierists.
In our Review for January, we expressed our belief in and our desire for, the return of the Christian world to the unity and catholicity of the Church. pose now to offer some reasons which, in our judgment, go to prove that the question of this return is the first and paramount question for our age and country; because, till this question is settled, and the Church rehabilitated in its authority and glory, no scheme of practical Reform, individual or social, political or industrial, can be successfully attempted. In our present article we attempt to establish only the proposition, No Church, no Reform ; in another article, intended to follow in our number for July, we shall continue the discussion, and endeavour to demonstrate the impossibility of succeeding without the unity and catholicity of the Church as an outward visible body or institution, through which will be given us one Lord, one faith, one baptism, or, in other words, unity of faith and discipline.
I do not know that I can take any better method of explaining or of establishing my first proposition, than to state the problems of social reform as they have come up in my own mind, and the difficulties in the way of their practical solution, which I have encountered in my own experience.
It is now over twenty years since my attention was first called to questions of social reform, and I was led to reflect on the discrepancies which everywhere exist between society as it is, and society as all, in their serious moments, feel that it should be. I was struck, as have been so many others, with the wide disparity of social conditions, the general degradation of the operative classes, and the immense advantages which capital, in our industrial systems, holds over labor. I soon discovered that the whole tendency of modern industry is to separate capital and labor, and to create a numerous
proletarian class, whom the representatives of capital may coerce into laboring for the mere minimum of human subsistence, and whose labor must depreciate in value to themselves nearly in the ratio of its productiveness. From that moment I was seized with a passion for social reform, and solemnly consecrated myself to the work of discovering and applying a remedy to the evils I saw and deplored.
My first solution of the problem was sought in the principle of SELFISHNESS. The causes of existing evils, I assumed to be in the vicious organization of society. Society, as at present organized, creates everywhere an antagonism of interests. Rewards are not proportional to works. We pay a premium for iniquity. The priest lives by our sins; the lawyer by our quarrels; the doctor by our diseases. So is it everywhere. It is for the interest of the trader to cheat — to buy under value, and sell over value ; it is for the interest of the master to oppress the workman, by paying the least possible wages for the greatest possible amount of work; of the workman to oppress the master, by getting the greatest possible amount of wages for the least possible amount of labor. Thus is the interest of one everywhere opposed to the interest of another; and every man, in pursuing his own interest, must needs, as far as possible, overreach and supplant every other man.
If the causes of social evils are in the universal antagonism of interests, the remedy must be sought in so remodelling society as to harmonize the interest of each with the interests of all. How shall society be remodelled so as to effect this result? This was the problem, and, no doubt, a problem not easily solved. But, at the time it first came up, I regarded the difficulty as extrinsic, rather than intrinsic. The difficulty lies, I said, in the fact, that attention is turned elsewhere. Instead of turning their attention to the solution of this problem, men are wasting their time, their thoughts, and their energies, in seeking to escape imaginary tortures in an imaginary hell. And why is it so? It is all the work of the priests, who have an interest in our sins, and, therefore, an interest in preventing us from ameliorating our condition. They must keep us poor and miserable, in order to maintain their influence over us. Men take refuge in heaven, only when they despair of the earth. Then, Down with the priests; and, as the Church creates the demand for priests, then, Down with the Church ; and, as the Church rests on faith in, and worship of, unseen Powers, then, Down with all religious faith and worship. We must drop from the airy heavens to the solid earth, dismiss the fables of the priests, and betake ourselves to the acquisition of genuine science. As soon as we do this, we shall be able to solve the problem, and convert the earth into the abode of science, peace, and plenty.
All this was plausible, and in harmony with the general tendency of thought and speculation, for the last hundred and fifty years, throughout what are regarded as the more advanced nations of Christendom.. What wonder, then, that it captivated, for a time, a young socialist, feeling, in his own heart, every wound inflicted upon the heart of his brethren? I found, as I supposed, the priests, the Church, religious faith and worship in my way, and I merely sought to clear the path for my onward progress. Well, these all cleared away, so far as I myself was concerned, I proceeded to solve the problem, and solved it, not by COMMUNISM, as did Robert Owen, but by Association and ATTRACTIVE INDUSTRY, as did Charles Fourier. I do not claim to ha drawn out, in my own mind, a complete system of Association, nor to have established all the laws of Attractive Labor ; I had not arranged all the details; but I do claim to have seized all the great principles of the practical part of Fourierism, long before Fourier's name was heard of in this country, and even before it had attracted much, if any, notice in his own. My plan was, to organize men and women into corporations, in which the capital should be held by the corporators as joint-tenants, and the profits be shared by each, according to his or her works. The corpora
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tion or community was also to be a school of science, literature, and art, in which science and art should combine to render both labor and study pleasant and attractive.
But the solution obtained, the remedy found, there remained the serious difficulty of reducing it to practice. How to get the remedy applied ? The machine is cunningly devised, beautifully constructed, and will work admirably, if it be only once set agoing. But it will not set itself agoing. I must then have some power, by which to put it in operation. Whence this power ? Selfishness, or each man's sense of his own interest, will keep it in motion, after it is once fairly in operation; but will it suffice to set it agoing? In my simplicity and inexperience, I thought it would. Was it not for every man's interest to adopt the plan ? What, then, had I to do, but to show men that it was for their interest to adopt it? Alas! a short experiment satisfied me that I had reckoned without my host. It required, for its introduction, that very union of interests, which I proposed its introduction to effect. Then, how, without its aid, get men, now separated, and mutually repellant, through prevailing antagonism of interests, to unite, and to coöperate for its introduction? I need, then, the effect of the successful operation of my plan, as the condition of putting it into operation! This will not do. Selfishness, then, will hardly suffice as the motive power.
Is it not so ? Here am I, sacrificing my time, my substance, my reputation, my health, for the purpose of remedying social evils. Am I selfish ? Am I governed solely by a sense of my own interest ? Not at all. Can the reform be effected without similar sacrifices ? No. There must be some individuals, at least, who are governed by disinterested motives, and who are capable of making great sacrifices. Then, no reform without the presence and activity of a non-selfish element, that is to say, without benevolence, disinterest edness, sacrifice.
But, after all, is it so certain that selfishness will
suffice for the successful operation of the machine, even when once put into operation? Of what is society, as it now is, the result? Of absolute selfishness, and nothing else? No; selfish as men have been, and are, there has been more or less of disinterestedness at work from the first. Abstract what is due to this, and leave only what is due to selfishness alone, and shall we have any thing better? Then, how maintain, after all, this exquisite harmony in the community, where each individual member regards himself as the centre of the world, and labors continually to make all gravitate towards himself? Can there possibly be a common centre of gravity, where there are, say, fifteen hundred separate centres, all equally attractive? Or can equilibrium be maintained, if the centres be unequal ? The community, organized on selfish principles, can be nothing but a community of inherently repellant and antagonist forces, and its only bond of union must needs be the principle of absolute and universal disunion. Then I shall need love, disinterestedness, sacrifice, not only to introduce my plan, but also to secure its successful operation.
Here, then, is a new difficulty. Men now are selfish, and the love, disinterestedness, and power of sacrifice, needed to effect the reform, they do not possess. We have them not ; how shall we get them ? The discovery of the necessity of a non-selfish order of sentiments brought me out of the cold and heartless philosophy of the eighteenth century, and introduced me into a new moral region. I now found myself alongside of the gifted and philanthropic Channing, with whom, in my humble way, I became a fellowlaborer. But my difficulties were not removed. The problem, how to get the love, the disinterested affections, the power of self-sacrifice, continued to torment me.
Meditation on this problem brought me back, in some degree, to the Gospel, which placed the excellence of character in love, charity, fraternity. Its first and great commandment was, that we love one