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Contents:


  1. Authoritarian vs. totalitarian
  2. The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe – review
  3. About the Author
  4. Trackbacks and Pingbacks
  5. NPR Choice page

But here in the lodge let us say aloud for the sake of the truth that Catholicism and clericalism are only one. And in conclusion let us add that one cannot be a Catholic and a Republican at the same time; it is impossible. However, the Opportunists were more willing to play with anticlericalism for reasons that justified their name:. The statements of Gambetta and Ferry, the testimony of their contemporaries, and the parliamentary situation all seem to indicate that anticlericalism was deliberately fostered by the Opportunists as a means of satisfying the radical element, while the social reforms for which they clamored were indefinitely deferred.

The Extreme Left was for immediate abolition of the Concordat and immediate separation of Church and state. The Moderates were for proceeding to the same goal with some caution, after the advice of Arthur. By the Opportunists had secured the enactment of laws for the establishment of primary normal schools to train secular teachers obviously along Republican lines , for the removal of priests from the administration of charities, for the suppression of degrees from Catholic faculties, for the elimination of bishops from the higher council of education, for the abolition of the practice of allowing nuns to teach simply on presentation of letters of obedience from their superiors, for the secondary education of girls, and for the reduction of the number of chaplains in the army.

On July 27, the bitterly contested law reestablishing divorce was enacted, under repeal of the law of In addition there were laws for the protection of civil funerals, for the non-observance of religious holidays, for the secularization of cemeteries, for the freedom of the press from all religious restrictions, for the delimitation of the functions of vestry and commune, for the removal of religious orders from primary education, and for the compulsory military service of members of religious orders and students for the priesthood. The Pantheon was secularized, public prayers. The Encyclical contains two things: first, a sketch of the historical enemy in view at the moment, a new type of religio-political order inspired by a particular philosophy and animated by a particular ethos; second, a contrasting outline of the Christian politico-social order whose inspiration and ethos is quite different.

Hence one does not look in papal encyclicals for detailed analyses of systems of thought, for full-fleshed reconstructions of historical eras, 56 for a sophisticated delineation of the historical movement of ideas. The colors are the black and white of truth and error, not the ambiguous gray of history. Immortale Dei therefore is not a scholarly dissertation, broad of scope, careful of nuance; it is a tract for the times, confined in its outlook, concerned with an historical situation.

Similarly, one may not regard the Encyclical as a full discussion, doctrinal and historical, of the Church-State problem; it is simply concerned with the iniquitous historical situation evoked in the Latin, and traditionally Catholic, countries of Europe, notably France, by the religious, political, and social ideology of the Revolution. And any reference to the almost totally different situation in the United States is wholly absent. It is indeed a curious paradox that, at a time when the Roman curia was intensely preoccupied with problems of political realizations and the philosophy behind them, they had apparently no interest in the most striking and successful political realization of modern times, despite the fact that the philosophy behind it was of linear descent from the central political tradition of the West, which the Church herself had helped fashion out of Greek, Roman, and Germanic elements.

Immortale Dei therefore is frankly fragmentary, undisguisedly polemic, written with a very special enemy in view—an enemy with two facets, ideological and political. We confront today a political phenomenon that is new in two respects. First, we confront a monist state, totalitarian in character. It identifies itself with society and pretends to be the highest,. It makes all other social forms of whatever kind, even the Church, dependent upon itself, and equal among themselves in this dependence. It assumes control over all public affairs, including religion and the institutions of human life traditionally regarded as sacred.

It conducts all public affairs on the principle of the primacy of the political. It maintains itself to be the one Sovereign, as it is the one society. It recognizes no spiritual authority above or beside its own. Secondly, we confront an apostate state, which is engaged in effecting by political and legal means the apostasy of traditionally Catholic society from belief in God and Christianity. It is expelling the Church from the rightful place of superior dignity which she has traditionally occupied in European society; it is stifling all Christian social institutions.

This philosophy asserts the absolute autonomy of the individual human reason. Each man is a law unto himself; and there is no higher law than that which he individually gives to himself. Thus the freedom with which reason endows him knows no limits. Everything is in principle permissible, a matter of individual choice. Even the decision to believe in God or not to believe in Him, to choose this religion or that, is a purely subjective matter. There is no objective order of obligations imposed on man; there is no one and nothing to create such an order.

Man is bound to obey only himself. In consequence of their possession of the attribute of reason, all men are by nature absolutely equal. No such distinction can exist among men who are by nature an absolutely egalitarian mass of absolutely autonomous individuals. Moreover, the. It is subject to no law that is not of its own making. Its sovereignty is indeed the source of all law and the root of all public power. And this public power is therefore as unlimited as the individual freedom of each man.

As nothing escapes the control of individual reason, so nothing escapes the control of the state, the sovereign people. Furthermore, this sovereign people, like the sovereign individual, since it acknowledges no authority higher than its own, no God therefore, does not worship. Or rather, it worships only itself. The state-cult can only be the cult of the state, the worship of Reason, of the sovereign Will of the People, of the nation which is the people as invested with an historic revolutionary destiny. The individual man may, if it privately pleases him, believe in God and worship Him.

But by definition the state, like the individual reason, knows no God. Again, individual believers may, if it so pleases them individually, band together into religious associations. But these corporate bodies do not exist by any native right; they can exist only by gracious concession on the part of the state, and are subject to governmental judgment on their benefit or danger to public order, to the spiritual and temporal welfare of that supreme community, both spiritual and temporal, which is the state.

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Authoritarian vs. totalitarian

Only the state exists by native right, that is, by the sovereign will of the people. And the state is the source of all rights to social existences within it. As such, it has the power of final control over all the inferior social entities upon which it confers existence. Moreover, religious associations are no different in kind from any other type of corporate body existing within the state by favor of the state.

This principle includes the Catholic Church. No more than any other corporation is it a society in its own right; and it may not claim any independent sovereignty, even spiritual. There is only One Sovereign, the state. And there is only one true religion, one religion of the state—the philosophy which is duly sycophantic of this One Sovereign.

This is the sketch of the enemy which Immortale Dei presents. My statement is merely a compilation, a developed paraphrase, which here and there makes explicit what is implied in the text, and occasionally uses a phrase taken from elsewhere in the Leonine corpus so, for instance, the notion of social apostasy. It would be simple to docu-. But these two texts will give the essence of the matter:. When the state is established upon such foundations as these so much in favor in our day , one may readily see the situation into which the Church is forced, and how unjust it is.

When governmental action is in harmony with these principles, the place in society accorded to the Catholic Church is on a par with, or even inferior to, the place granted to associations of quite a different nature. No account is taken of ecclesiastical laws. The Church, which must by the command of Christ teach all nations, is forbidden in the slightest way to touch public education. Civil officials on their own authority and at their own pleasure decide even those matters which are under a twofold jurisdiction [such as marriage and Church possessions].

In a word, they deal with the Church in terms of their own supposition, that she is to be deprived of the character and rights of a perfect society; they hold her to be entirely similar to all the other kinds of associations contained within the state. For this reason they maintain that all her rights and all her legitimate powers of action are possessed by her by the grant and grace of secular governments. The conduct of public affairs is in great part ruled by this intention.

The laws, governmental administrative measures, the education of youth under exclusion of religion, the plundering and the destruction of religious orders, the overthrow of the civil dominion of the Roman Pontiffs—all these things look to the same end; they are designed to put an end to the vigor of Christian institutions, to fetter the freedom of the Catholic Church, and to shatter all her remaining rights.

One may therefore readily see the constitutio civitatum, the manner of social organization, against which the papal condemnation proceeds. It has two aspects.


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First, it is the political organization of society on the monist, totalitarian principle that the state is the highest and ultimate social form of human existence, which subordinates to its political control all other social forms, including the Church. In contrast, the Pope proposes the civilis hominum societatis christiana temperatio, the Christian organizing principle of civil society.

It too has two aspects. First, it is an organization of society on the dualist. The core of the Encyclical is the splendid statement of the ancient traditional doctrine of Gelasius I. The Pope lays the foundations for it by stating two propositions, one known by reason, the other by faith. The authority that rules society is likewise from God through the law of nature; and the political obligation—of rulers to the ruled, and of the ruled to their rulers—is basically a religious obligation.

The foundations of society are in religion. Human society therefore owes a debt of religion to its Author, whose providence rules it. Within the Church there is a spiritual authority, centered in her Head, the Roman Pontiff. And this spiritual authority has free command over the sacred things of Christ, His word and His sacraments, joined with the power to make laws, to judge and sanction their observance, and to administer freely and without hindrance whatever pertains to the Christian name and the Christian task. From these two propositions the Pope immediately draws, as conclusions, the two leading principles of Christian social organization, the radical distinction of the two societies and the primacy and freedom of the spiritual:.

This society, although it is composed of men, as civil society likewise is, is. For this reason, it is distinct from civil society and different from it. Most importantly, it is a society that is perfect in its kind and of its own right, since it possesses in itself and of itself by the will and grant of its Author all the aids necessary for its own well-being and action.

As the end to which the Church moves is by far the most excellent, so also her authority is superior to all other powers; it cannot be held inferior to civil government or in any way subject to it. It is to the Church that God has committed the function of vigilance and decision in regard of everything that concerns religion. She is to teach all nations and enlarge the horizons of Christianity as widely as possible.

In a word, it is she who administers the whole Christian enterprise, with full liberty, on her own free judgment, and without hindrance. Accordingly God has divided the government of the human race between two powers, the ecclesiastical and the civil. One of them is set in charge of divine things, the other of human things.

Each of them is supreme in its own order; both of them are confined within certain limits, set by their respective nature and purpose. Hence there is a certain defined area in which each may act by native right. However, both powers rule over the same men, and occasions arise in which one and the same matter, in diverse ways, falls under the jurisdiction and judgment of both.

In His providence, therefore, God, by whom both powers were established, had to mark out a course of action for each in right relation to the other. Accordingly it is necessary that a certain orderly relationship should obtain between the two powers; not without reason has this relationship been compared to that by which soul and body in man are joined.

What this relationship should be, and how far it should extend, can only be judged, as we have said, by reflecting on the nature of both powers. Consequently, whatever is in any way sacred in human affairs, whatever has relation to the salvation of souls or to the worship of God—whether it be such by its own nature, or regarded. I have elsewhere pointed out the newness of this formulation of the traditional doctrine, as over against the classic medieval statements. First, the duality of societies is clearly marked, as well as the duality of powers; the medieval conception had been of two powers within the one society, the Christian commonwealth of Europe.

This medieval notion had carried over in a debased form—debased through the loss of the universalist accent—into the era of royal and confessional absolutism, the era of national and territorial state-churches, that represented in principle a reaction to the pre-Hildebrand days of the Eigenkirchen. This confusion had marred the medieval pattern and revealed its historical immaturity; and the confusion had been particularly marked in the later Europe of the nation-states.

The scope of the political power is confined to the ends of the political community as such; as Leo XIII says, secular government is not a dux ad coelestia. Moreover, in virtue of the distinct, and to that extent autonomous, character of the state as a society, the political problem is committed to the civic conscience in a politically mature society, to the body of the people , and not to the ecclesiastical power; by the political problem I mean the primary question of the constitution, the fundamental law that defines the scope of the political obligation, giving legal.

Pius XII has to some extent drawn them. However, this matter must be left for future discussion. My single purpose in this article has been to support the contention that the primary emphasis in the doctrine of Leo XIII falls upon his development of what I have called, for convenience sake and to denote its antiquity, the Gelasian thesis. But it is more than that. Actually, emphasis must fall on this dualist doctrine for intimately doctrinal reasons, apart from any polemic necessities.

The fact is clear from the utter centrality of the two propositions on which Leo XIII bases his restatement of the thesis: civil society and the political authority that rules it are from God through nature: the Church and her spiritual authority are from God through Christ. From these two propositions he draws the three supreme principles that rule the relation between Church and state: the distinction of the two societies and their powers and laws, the primacy of the spiritual, and the need for harmony between them.

This much certainly is doctrine, permanent and absolute. However, the doctrine was launched into history with the Church herself, with the result that today we. And the question is to know what in them is history, and what is still the doctrine. Before going into this difficult question, it is important to bring into central focus the indisputable doctrine.

Two other leading themes are found in Immortale Dei. The Encyclical treats this theme under two heads, public worship and public cura religionis, which latter is of two kinds, direct and indirect. I shall leave this second theme, public care of religion, for later discussion; it cannot adequately be dealt with apart from utilization of the whole Leonine corpus.

Here, however, a few comments on the theme of liberty are appropriate. On the contrary, the Pope affirms these ancient Christian political doctrines—briefly indeed, since their development was not to his purpose, but firmly enough. The new kind of polity was condemned because it embodied the principle of totalitarianism, the unitary character of society, the oneness of sovereignty, the primacy of the political. The main point of this article has been to clarify this fact, which unaccountably tends to get lost, not only in non-Catholic, but even in Catholic, interpretations of Immortale Dei.

For the rest, the enemy in view in the Encyclical is the rationalist concept of freedom as based on the absolute autonomy of human reason and the consequent absolute equality of all men. This concept is in fact but an aspect of the primary enemy, social monism. Catholics were horrified.

Liberals had threatened Catholic schools, or at worst to wrest control over the appointment of bishops. Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler represented something new, and something even more alarming. They were claiming total allegiance over their subjects, body and soul. Both were critical of the Churches, which after all represented alternative principles of law and morality in states that were aggressively trying to turn a variegated population into a unified whole. In the face of totalitarianism, Catholics confronted the very real possibility that their ability to receive the sacraments, let alone attend Catholic schools, might soon be abridged.

As Europe hung in the balance between Hitler and Stalin, the notion that some kind of Catholic political revival was in the offing seemed preposterous, and dangerous to even consider Hitler had sensitive antennae for such things. This led Catholics, from the papacy to the parish, to reimagine the nature of their Church. Their goal was no longer to offer an alternative to modernity, nor to even imagine that the Church would be at the centre of some future society.

The goal, instead, was to use modern language to make claims on secular states so that Catholics could protect the Church, and see at least some Catholic principles codified into law. It was in these years, and for these reasons, that Catholics accepted human rights, religious freedom and secular modernity. Catholics in the s were faced with an agonising set of choices. If the holistic Catholic renewal they had long dreamed of was off the table, what should take its place? Where should the Church stake its claim? Most Catholic leaders and thinkers opted to retrench around the family.

For the first time, Catholics placed sexual and reproductive ethics at the very centre of their social and political mission. They did so for two reasons.

The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe – review

First, Catholics reasoned that control over the family, as a site of moral education and instruction, would ensure institutional survival in a world that seemed to be falling apart. Secondly, Catholics reasoned with some justice that Catholic family ethics would be acceptable to secular politicians, whether it be Hitler or Franklin Roosevelt. These figures, after all, had their own reasons to oppose contraception, divorce and homosexuality.

T he choices that Catholics made in the s have ricocheted to the present. Catholics have organised with immense success around same-sex marriage, abortion and other reproductive issues, pressuring secular states to encode Catholic teachings into law. This has never been the only way to theorise a Catholic modernity, however. Ever since the s, a dissident faction has observed that this focus on the family has been counterproductive, leading the Church into alliances with forces that in other ways have been antagonistic to Catholic values. They have not rejected Catholic teaching on these matters, but they have disputed the overwhelming emphasis on them, and they have sought to recover other elements of the long Catholic tradition that are more concerned with economic, racial or ecological injustice.

It is no secret that these two wings of the Church coexist today. Pope Francis has expressly questioned the over-emphasis on sexual matters, seeking to recover a broader notion of what a Catholic modernity might entail. The threat therefore remains nascent even in seemingly highly democratic modern societies, although Fromm did not advocate a relativism that would blur the lines between imperfect democracies and dictatorships. Fromm, like Taylor, holds that positive notions of freedom can be of constructive value in counteracting political and social distortions and pathologies.

In particular, a social democratic society that provides the individual with adequate resources and a sense of autonomous personal development can do much, he held, to reduce the appeal of totalitarian ideologies and to promote mental health and social ethics:. We must replace manipulation of men by active and intelligent cooperation, and expand the principle of government of the people, by the people, for the people to the economic sphere.

Its political diagnosis of Nazism, in particular, has been faulted even by sympathetic critics on several counts:. Nor did Fromm point to the discredited Social Darwinist premises behind the Nazi quest for Aryan purity…. His hypothesis about the lower middle class has not held up. The Nazis gained votes from all classes.

Friedman, In his later work, Fromm extended his classic work on human aggression and destructiveness, providing psycho-biographies of totalitarian leaders such as Hitler, Himmler, and Stalin. Throughout her work, the American political theorist Judith Shklar stressed the importance of seeing liberalism not as a utopian or perfectionistic ideal, but rather as a bulwark against tyranny and cruelty. In effect, she claimed that liberalism ought to be defined more by its opposition to oppression and nastiness than by anything else. Shklar traces the roots of liberalism to the struggle for religious toleration in Reformation and Baroque Europe.

In her model, a progressive consensus emerged in Western thought, holding that cruelty is supremely wicked. Early figures in this development include Montaigne and Montesquieu, whom Shklar contrasted with Machiavelli on this question. This implies an affirmation of memory over hope, and of sensitivity to the horrors of oppression over utopian aspiration. Not merely property rights, cultural pluralism, and the rule of law, but anti-tyranny first and foremost define the modern liberal perspective.

If liberalism is rare historically and globally, this has more to do with the widespread character of cruel delusion than with any intrinsic defect on its part. For Shklar, we ought to remember at all costs the disastrous consequences of not putting cruelty first:. We must…be suspicious of ideologies of solidarity, precisely because they are so attractive to those who find liberalism emotionally unsatisfying, and who have gone on in our century to create oppressive and cruel regimes of unparalleled horror.

Shklar, We always have to be afraid of political power; that is the central liberal insight. Nor does this fear by itself make for an adequate theory of political power. We must address the uses of power as well as its dangers. Then we try to enforce those policies, carefully if we are wise, remembering the last time we were fearful, and acting within the limits of liberal negativity.

Walzer, If this is correct, then the strong anti-totalitarianism of the liberalism of fear should be seen as setting boundaries against tyranny, rather than final limits to progressive social policy. Positive liberty is thereby affirmed, within strong democratic boundaries. This means not treating human beings as less than human, as mere machines, animals, or inanimate objects.

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For Margalit, even if a society is just institutionally and procedurally, it may nonetheless denigrate its citizens and subjects in diverse institutional ways, thereby rendering it formally civilized but indecent. Without denying the value of social justice and the rule of law, Margalit has claimed that philosophy and political theory long neglected decency, which is every bit as important as justice.

In so doing, they could not do justice to one of the main forms of oppression: institutional and state contempt for individuals. In The Decent Society, Margalit contrasts totalitarian and gossip societies. Both these types of society are, for Margalit, indecent in not respecting individuals and their own legitimate social space. Gossip societies allow for a considerable range of imperfection, but lack decency in their absence of respect for privacy, and their non-institutional or cultural humiliation of alleged non-conformists.

In their radical perfectionism, totalitarian societies have no respect for individual privacy, and they systematically and institutionally obliterate communal and family structure between the individual and the state. They are thus agents of ultimate indecency, for Margalit. Friendship among anti-totalitarian dissidents is thus especially valuable and intense, because of the potentially life and death solidarity that is generated by opposition to supreme state and bureaucratic indecency.

The violation of such friendships by forcing dissidents to reveal sensitive information about others to the state is, for Margalit, one of the worst aspects of totalitarianism:. Totalitarian societies have proved to be a prescription for and guarantor of brave friendship, since friendships in regimes of this sort are conspiracies of humanity against the inhumanity of the regime. Margalit, In particular, the general core question of the balance to be struck between decency and justice raises fundamental questions about value priority:.

By treating people in accordance with justice, society denies them one sound reason to feel rejected from humanity, however much they may actually feel that way…. Patten, It should be clear that Margalit in no way wishes to deny the value of justice. This may well be a strong challenge to attempts to reduce the firm priority of justice in political life.

Eric B. Totalitarianism Totalitarianism is best understood as any system of political ideas that is both thoroughly dictatorial and utopian. The American Pragmatists on the Values of Pluralism and Democratic Debate It is by no means surprising that American pragmatists should have responded to the challenge of totalitarianism in the mid-twentieth century. Furthermore, Dewey held that the rise of modern dictatorships was in part a reaction to an excessive form of individualism that isolated human beings from each other, and that offered only modern capitalism in mass society as a choice: The negative and empty character of this individualism had consequences which produced a reaction toward an equally arbitrary and one-sided collectivism.

Contemporary pragmatists have, in different ways, attempted to respond to such criticisms by stressing the great value of democratic society in upholding value pluralism and open-ended inquiry: …democracy is not just one form of social life among other workable forms of social life; it is the precondition for the full application of intelligence to the solution of social problems.

Popper explained the appeal of historicism as a product of a false conception of the power of social science and historiography, combined with alienation and dissatisfaction: Why do all these social philosophies support the revolt against civilization? Isaiah Berlin on Liberty Throughout his career, Isaiah Berlin devoted a considerable amount of attention to the question of totalitarianism. In the case of totalitarian democracy, this state is precisely defined, and is treated as a matter of immediate urgency, a challenge for direct action, an imminent event: [Human beings,] in so far as they are at variance with the absolute ideal they can be ignored, coerced or intimidated into conforming, without any real violation of the democratic principle being involved.

This criticism implies holds that understanding key ideas and movements requires an understanding of their class background: A petit-bourgeois movement like Jacobinism, or a proletarian movement still based on the same individualist assumptions like Bavouism is particularly liable to demand a completely general unanimity at a time when it is least possible. Hannah Arendt on the Origins and Implications of Totalitarianism In her seminal book, Hannah Arendt attempted to show how totalitarianism emerged as a distinctly modern utopian problem in the twentieth century, growing out of a lethal combination of imperialism, anti-Semitism and extreme statist bureaucracies.

Arendt wrote: The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction that is, the reality of experience and the distinction between true and false that is, the standards of thought no longer exist.

In particular, a social democratic society that provides the individual with adequate resources and a sense of autonomous personal development can do much, he held, to reduce the appeal of totalitarian ideologies and to promote mental health and social ethics: We must replace manipulation of men by active and intelligent cooperation, and expand the principle of government of the people, by the people, for the people to the economic sphere. Later Work a.

For Shklar, we ought to remember at all costs the disastrous consequences of not putting cruelty first: We must…be suspicious of ideologies of solidarity, precisely because they are so attractive to those who find liberalism emotionally unsatisfying, and who have gone on in our century to create oppressive and cruel regimes of unparalleled horror.

The violation of such friendships by forcing dissidents to reveal sensitive information about others to the state is, for Margalit, one of the worst aspects of totalitarianism: Totalitarian societies have proved to be a prescription for and guarantor of brave friendship, since friendships in regimes of this sort are conspiracies of humanity against the inhumanity of the regime.

In particular, the general core question of the balance to be struck between decency and justice raises fundamental questions about value priority: …one might take the view that the best way for a society to strive to become decent is by promoting justice. The Authoritarian Personality. Arendt, Hannah.


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Where Did the Papacy Come From?

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