Lincoln on Labor and Capital

Sunday, September 4, AD 2016



It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor in the structure of government. It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor. This assumed, it is next considered whether it is best that capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent, or buy them and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded so far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are either hired laborers or what we call slaves. And further, it is assumed that whoever is once a hired laborer is fixed in that condition for life.

Now there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed, nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are groundless.

Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community exists within that relation. A few men own capital, and that few avoid labor themselves, and with their capital hire or buy another few to labor for them. A large majority belong to neither class–neither work for others nor have others working for them. In most of the Southern States a majority of the whole people of all colors are neither slaves nor masters, while in the Northern a large majority are neither hirers nor hired. Men, with their families–wives, sons, and daughters–work for themselves on their farms, in their houses, and in their shops, taking the whole product to themselves, and asking no favors of capital on the one hand nor of hired laborers or slaves on the other. It is not forgotten that a considerable number of persons mingle their own labor with capital; that is, they labor with their own hands and also buy or hire others to labor for them; but this is only a mixed and not a distinct class. No principle stated is disturbed by the existence of this mixed class.

Again, as has already been said, there is not of necessity any such thing as the free hired laborer being fixed to that condition for life. Many independent men everywhere in these States a few years back in their lives were hired laborers. The prudent, penniless beginner in the world labors for wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land for himself, then labors on his own account another while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him. This is the just and generous and prosperous system which opens the way to all, gives hope to all, and consequent energy and progress and improvement of condition to all. No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty; none less inclined to take or touch aught which they have not honestly earned. Let them beware of surrendering a political power which they already possess, and which if surrendered will surely be used to close the door of advancement against such as they and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon them till all of liberty shall be lost.

From Lincoln’s Annual Message to Congress, December 3, 1861

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10 Responses to Lincoln on Labor and Capital

  • “Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed.”

    This is certainly true. Every human production results from labour, of hand or brain, applied to the free gifts of nature. Tools, plant, machinery and buildings are, so to speak, labour stored up or saved, to be drawn on in the process of further production. The same is true of infrastructure, roads, railways, harbours that allow both raw materials and manufactures goods to be transported and distributed.

  • Of course labor by itself is insufficient to produce advanced economies. For example no amount of labor would have produced the Egyptian state of antiquity without a whole host of developments that had little or nothing to do with labor.

  • Donald R McClarey wrote, “a whole host of developments that had little or nothing to do with labor.”

    If we include the mental labour of devising, planning, organizing that went into their development (not to mention the domestic labour that went into rearing the planners, feeding them, clothing them, housing them) it can all be resolved into the labour of hand or brain applied to raw materials furnished by nature.

    It is merely the enormous complexity of the web or network bringing them together that obscures this fact.

  • That is too broad a definition of labor. For example, the religion of Egypt had an enormous impact upon how the Egyptian state functioned but the various gods of the Egyptian pantheon were not invented due to considerations of labor. Military developments from outside Egypt had a huge impact on Egypt, but once again were not developed with Egyptian labor in mind. The unique geography of Egypt had the decisive impact on how the Pharoahnic state was organized, and no amount of labor could have changed that factor. Egypt in antiquity fed the world and now Egypt cannot feed itself, once again factors of which labor is only one producing this about face.

  • Here we go.
    Economics is the study of how are allocated relatively scarce goods/resources – Supply – among relatively larger wants – Demand. In pre-post modern economics Price was the means of allocation for Demand and Supply.
    All economic activity revolves around three inputs: land, labor and capital. All three must be present for functionality. And, they overlap. In this discussion capital and labor can be seen to coincide when we examine the relation of entrepreneurship to the equation. Here the entrepreneur uses both his labor (not manual but still a form of labor – creative, human input) and capital to bring about the economic good.
    To make the paradigm out to be envy and hatred between labor and capital is not economics. It’s progressivism. And, it serves no good purpose.

  • You callin’ Karl an’ Freddie progressives?
    He asked in a fake-brooklyn accented huff.

  • T Shaw wrote, “All economic activity revolves around three inputs: land, labor and capital”
    That is true, if we expand the definition of “land” to include all natural resources, indeed, the whole given environment.

  • MP-S: Precisely. I reiterated education and training concepts from real estate appraisal courses and textbooks which are often provided to students (bankers and real estate professionals) without extensive, formal economics education.
    Ernst, Likely Karl and Freddie would fall in with Democrats at any time since the party was established: consistent corruption, class envy and hatred since (what?) 1832. .

  • T. Shaw, I;m stealing that line from you. It will go something like this on the bumper sticker. “The Democrat party: Consistent corruption, class envy and hatred since 1832!”

  • The thing to remember though is that Jackson is Trump with a better record of achievement.
    I’m partial to Democrats; the party of slavery, segregation, sodomy and sedition, myself.

Rosie the Riveter

Saturday, September 3, AD 2016


Something for a Labor Day weekend.  Rosie the Riveteer.  Written in 1942 the song celebrated the fact that with some sixteen million American men being called into military service, American women were going to have to pick up the slack if America was to win the battle of production, the decisive battle of World War II.  Women, especially young women, were absolutely critical in this task.  In 1944 1.7 million unmarried men were involved in war production, compared to 4.1 million women.  The war of the factories was won for the US by middle aged married men, many of them World War I veterans, and young women, many of them daughters of the older men they labored beside.  Below is a film, Women on the Warpath, made in 1943 by Ford honoring the women involved in assembling B-24 bombers at the Willow Run bomber plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

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2 Responses to Rosie the Riveter

Opus Dei

Monday, September 7, AD 2015


King David: That soldier who laid his hands on the Ark – he was only trying to be helpful.

Nathan the Prophet: It is not for us to question the ways of the Lord.

King David: I question nothing, yet the sun was hot that day, the man had been drinking wine, all were excited when the ark began to fall. Is it not possible that the man might have died naturally from other causes?

Nathan the Prophet: All causes are of God.

Screenplay, David and Bathsheba (1951)



Not that Opus Dei.  When my son Larry died on May 19, 2013 he had just completed high school on the Friday before he died.  He had one day of rest and then he died.  I had always wondered about what work I could find for Larry to do after he graduated from high school.  Because of his autism he could never have held down a regular job.  I planned for him to come to my office, although I wondered just what we could have him do.  It is quite possible he would have spent most of his days in a spare office room, watching TV and playing computer videos.  My secretary Chris painted the office room a deep orange, a color chosen by Larry, and I purchased a large new couch and had it put into the room.

Larry never spent a day in the room.  I assumed that God had work for my son to perform in Heaven, and I thought it had something to do with speech.  Larry died on Pentecost which struck home with me.  In life he was only able to answer yes and no questions and state the names of items.  It was impossible to carry on a normal conversation with him.  In the next world I was certain this would not be the case, so I had inscribed on Larry’s tombstone, “In Heaven He Speaks of God’s Love.”

At the time of my son’s death, my secretary Chris was recovering from her first bout with breast cancer.  The cancer came back in November of last year and Chris died from it on August 28 of this year.  She worked throughout as she battled this terrible illness, taking daily naps on the couch in what would have been Larry’s room.  Hours before she died, Chris was talking to Larry, she having been quite fond of my son during his life.

A mass was said in my parish for Larry yesterday, a date chosen at random by our priest, one of several masses we have had said for Larry since his passing.  I was stunned by the first and third readings:

Thus says the LORD:
Say to those whose hearts are frightened:
Be strong, fear not!
Here is your God,
he comes with vindication;
with divine recompense
he comes to save you.
Then will the eyes of the blind be opened,
the ears of the deaf be cleared;
then will the lame leap like a stag,
then the tongue of the mute will sing.
Streams will burst forth in the desert,
and rivers in the steppe.
The burning sands will become pools,
and the thirsty ground, springs of water.

Isaiah 35: 4-7

Again Jesus left the district of Tyre
and went by way of Sidon to the Sea of Galilee,
into the district of the Decapolis.
And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment
and begged him to lay his hand on him.
He took him off by himself away from the crowd.
He put his finger into the man’s ears
and, spitting, touched his tongue;
then he looked up to heaven and groaned, and said to him,
“Ephphatha!”— that is, “Be opened!” —
And immediately the man’s ears were opened,
his speech impediment was removed,
and he spoke plainly.
He ordered them not to tell anyone.
But the more he ordered them not to,
the more they proclaimed it.
They were exceedingly astonished and they said,
“He has done all things well.
He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Mark 7: 31-37

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21 Responses to Opus Dei

  • How sad, but somehow a deeper beauty comes through. What does a person do without God as the center of all things?

  • God bless your son and Chris, their strife is o’er, everlasting joy to them.

  • Yes. In your first report to us of Chris’s death, you told us of her talking with Larry in her last days in this vale. That really “spoke” to my heart . I told a couple of different people who are now dealing with the mystery of death about how your son, disabled as you knew him, was Able to bring peace and help to Chris and her family from heaven. I will give them this update. We trust God’s marvelous provision.

  • I suspect Larry watches loved ones plus certain autistic people in various countries and intercedes for them and for others assigned to his heart. It’s not work in Heaven since the onerous doesn’t enter there. It’s extremely delightful interceding which Christ does until history ends as said here:

    Hebrews 7:24-26 Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA)

    24 But this, for that He continueth for ever, hath an everlasting priesthood,
    25 Whereby He is able also to save for ever them that come to God by him; always living to make intercession for us.

  • Donald McClarey said; “I see the hand of God in this.”. Absolutely!
    His love is not held back from you our your wife in relationship to this difficult event. To those with little or no faith it might seem that God had taken your love away, yet that is not the case. He, God, loves Larry so much that one more hour without him in Heaven was not an option. This grace you share with us is proof of His Love for you and your whole family, including Larry. The readings, the conversations Chris had with Larry.

    The room you set up for Larry was love, and the author of that love said, Wait until you see the room I’ve prepared for our son Larry. You will see it. Your wife too. For this room is filled with memories that brought the greatest smiles to Larry. This room is overflowing with love, and the speech Larry is preparing to give you when you go home, will overflow with river’s of precious peace this other room called your heart. He has so much to tell you. So very much.

    God love you and yours.

  • Orange, Chris’ labor of love, Pentecost, Tongues of Fire, autism, Chris speaking to Larry, the reality of Heaven — just a few of my thoughts about your beloved son, Larry, and your devoted secretary, Chris. I would probably hang a Crucifix in that room that you and Chris prepared for Larry.

    Your writings about Larry and Chris give me hope and courage in this Vale of Tears. The thought of Heaven brings strength to me. May God continue to comfort you and your family.

  • Mr. McClarey, the good Lord, in His infinite wisdom, saw fit to burden you and your family with the cross of Larry’s autism, a cross that he also had to bear. As you know, life is not fair and God decides when it is time to leave this world. Larry provided you and your family with joy that cannot be replicated and is worth more than all the gold in the world.

    I can sypathize in a small way. We have lost three babies due to miscarriage. Only the last one were we able to bury and the only item we have is an ultrasound picture of a little baby with no heartbeat.

    Every so often, I think of my dad and my uncle and all the other relatives I have lost over the years. I wich my sons could ahve known these people. I am grateful to have two healthy, normal little boys. It would have been nice to have a larger family bout one needs to learn to be happy with what God gives him.

    Have a great Labor Day.

    I know hot weather isn’t your favorite thing, so this will soon pass. As for me, I’m a little sad to know the warm weather will soon go, because we are fast approaching the time of the year when the leaves fall off the trees, the flowers will die and the fruit and grain will be completely harvested. This coincides with the end of the liturgical year when Holy Mother Church remembers those who have gone before us and reminds us that death is a certainity to us all.

  • Thank you and may God bless you all.

  • Mr. McClarey, thank you so much for this beautiful posting. The Lord brought me to your blog and it gives me so much joy and sustenance. I lost my dear mother a year and 1/2 ago at the age of 90. Shortly after that, my brilliant, sweet husband was diagnosed with Alzheimers at age 64. and now I’m having serious medical problems as well. My husband and I weren’t blessed with children and unfortunately, after my mother’s death, one of my beloved nieces stopped talking to me over something I said to her mother (my sister) on the day of my mother’s death (I asked her to please stop b*tching about the Catholic Church for just this one day). My nieces were always like my children and I doted on them all their lives. Now our families no longer speak despite many attempts on my part. My sister has been suffering from some serious, unaddressed mental issues for some time. They are all hard-core atheists, to the point that they believe that all churches everywhere should be destroyed. I’m so sorry for them because I can’t imagine what they go through without the solace of the Lord, especially now because they adored my mother and we were such a close family. I pray for all of them constantly.

    Sorry for blathering on, can you tell I’ve been a shut-in for the past 5 weeks? I’m having surgery again next week, hope this fixes my medical issue. Anyway, I just want to tell you how much your blogs means to me, and I’m sure to many others. I copied and pasted this blog entry into MS Word so that I can refer back to it. It fills my heart with joy to think of Larry & Chris, happy and without pain. And I thank the Lord for giving you the very special gift of being able to find just the right words to put things into a clarifying and spiritually meaningful perspective.

  • Don, I knew that Larry’s h.s. diploma was a major accomplishment. After reading today about his limited speaking ability, I understand how major. Whenever you mention Larry, I always think of your earlier description of reading to him in early morning, the daily father and son time that was so special.
    My adult sons are arriving today for a brief visit. The older one is in from the west coast and his schedule of work and socializing on the east coast keeps changing which is frustrating for my husband and me. However after reading this post I’m going to let the irritants go. Only God knows how many of us will be at the next family gathering.
    Penguin Fan, I have been told that parents whose children pre-decease them never get over the loss of a child no matter the stage of development or the age. I am sorry for your and your wife’s many losses. I do enjoy the change of seasons. The green is gone, but the colors of fall are awesome and the peace and beauty of the landscape after a snowfall reminds me that God is omnipresent. What a wonderful plan of God’s to schedule the birth of His Son in the bleakness of winter. In fact my favorite Christmas hymn is In The Bleak Midwinter.
    Back to the present, all I hope can enjoy the holiday.

  • I’m just finishing up a novena for your secretary and everyone affected by her passing. (I might be on Day 10. I always lose track.)

  • CAM, I concur that each season has its charms. One thing about a winter snowall is the quiet. No birds, no crickets. I find amazing when there is a night-time snowfall and the sky isn’t dark. From where I live, just such a snowfall blots out the sounds of the planes approaching the Pittsburgh airport and the traffic on I-79. Having said that, I think I can stand to be amazed by a January and February where every day it’s in the 60s and 70s, like where my brother lives in Tampa.

    I hope everybody enjoyed their Labor Day. I took my oldest son to the wave pool, which was packed due to the hot weather and it being the last day of the season for the outdoor swimming pools. He wore me out.

    There are a lot of important feast days coming up. Tomorrow, Sepetmber 8, is the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. September 12 is the Most Holy Name of Mary, in commemoration of the victory of the Christian forces at Vienna over the Ottoman Turks on September 11, 1683 (Veni, vici, Deus vincit – King Jan III Sobieski). September 14 is the Exhaltation of the Holy Cross. September 15 is Our Lady of Sorrows. Ember Days are September 23 through September 26 and the Feast of St. Michael is September 29 (the Feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael in the Ordinary Form calendar).

  • Thank you Pinky and thank you for all your kind words my friends.

  • Thank you for sharing this.

  • Penquin Fan, I vaguely remember seeing Ember Days noted on the calendar and church bulletins. To refresh my memory I read the history of them at the Catholic Encyclopedia which led to opening more threads. Thanks for noting the various feast days. I knew about the Winged Polish Hussars and Jan Sobieski’s victory over the Turks in Vienna, but had forgotten the actual date. Our youngest son’s birthday is Sept 11. He’s part Polish and my mom always said he looked like Karol Wojtyla. Since 9-11 he hates his birthday; now he knows how important another Sept 11 was.

  • Thanks Don for your profound witness of faith, hope and charity. May God confer many blessings on you and all your love ones. And may God help us to accept His will in our lives and sorrows as we try to understand the many benefits of His often mysterious actions.

  • What a beautiful tribute and memory. Thank you for sharing them.

  • Thank you for sharing this beautiful post Donald. God only takes the best. May we be half as pleasing in Gods eyes as Larry and Chris. His wonder and love shines through His faithful servants. If only to keep us going here through our own “Vale of Tears”.

  • Wow, thank you for sharing. Oh what deep beauty shines through these events.

  • “Hours before she died, Chris was talking to Larry, she having been quite fond of my son during his life”

    Don, this is not the first time I have been told of a Christian, in the throes of death, talking to another Christianwho had died earlier. God is so awesome; He is so good to us! Even in our very death, He can use us to provide comfort and joy to others. Thank you for this post.

A Great Victory Courtesy of the American Worker

Monday, September 7, AD 2015


Seventy years ago American industry was converting from wartime to peacetime production.  American workers during the War had performed a miracle.  The figures of the items produced are absolutely stunning.

During the War the US produced 324,000 military planes, 102,410 tanks, 2,382,311 other vehicles, 257,390 pieces of artillery, 105,055 mortars, 2,679,840 machine guns, 124 carriers, 8 battleships, 48 cruisers, 349 destroyers, 245 submarines, and 35,000 landing craft.  These figures only scratch the surface as the US also had to produce the tens of thousands of other categories of items, ranging from uniforms to Liberty transport ships, without which American, and Allied, forces would have ground to a halt.

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5 Responses to A Great Victory Courtesy of the American Worker

Worker Songs

Saturday, September 5, AD 2015


Something for a Labor Day weekend.  A parody of The Internationale, the marching song of Communism.   In America, the most popular songs about working tend to be fairly apolitical.  Sixteen Tons, written and recorded by Merle Travis in 1946, became a million record seller with Tennessee Ernie Ford’s rendition in 1955:


Clearly stating the terrible conditions for many mine workers in the forties of the last century, it does not call for revolution or, indeed, any sort of political action.   There are much more political songs about working in the US of course, but they are of limited popularity.


My personal two favorite work songs are from Disney:


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2 Responses to Worker Songs

End of Summer, Feed Is Working Again, and The French Revolution

Monday, September 1, AD 2014

It’s the unofficial end of Summer and it’s my annual gratuitous post of myself day.  The pic below was taken in mid-July, but I waited to fix the feed to The American Catholic in order celebrate the Summer.  Needless to say, it’s fixed and the Summer is almost over.

During the Summer I asked my fellow blogger Don for some book recommendations for the French Revolution.  Of the few he did mentioned, I picked up Simon Schama’s ‘Citizen’.  The reading is in-depth, interesting, and balanced.  I’m a bit over halfway finished of the 948 pages and am so far impressed.  Considering that we are in the post-Cold War era, I wanted to know a bit more on the French Revolution since their errors have already engulfed Europe and has almost metastasizing here in the United States.  The book is good and if there is any criticism of Simon Schama’s work it’s that he views Christianity, in particular the Catholic Church, through a materialistic lens.

My opinion on the subject is that the French Revolution is the confluence of anti-Christian ideas emanating from the so-called era of enlightenment.  These very same ideas unleashed the short-term devastation of the rape of nuns, the execution of priests, and the degradation of houses of worship.  The long-term affects have furthered the cause of eliminating God from all aspects of life blossoming further in the Communist Revolution in Russia and continued to bear the fruit of death in World Wars I & II.  From this compost grew what we now call modern liberalism & democratic socialism.

End of Summer Tito Edwards Simon Schama Citizens 500x625Happy Labor Day!


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36 Responses to End of Summer, Feed Is Working Again, and The French Revolution

  • The best histories of the French Revolution probably remains those of two Catholic historians, Hilaire Belloc and Lord Acton.
    Belloc brings out the central rôle of Carnot, the War Minister and effective head of the Committee of Public Safety and gives full credit to the “generation of genius,” Kléber, Moreau, Reynier, Marceau, and Ney commanding the army of Sambre et Meuse, Hoche, Desaix, and St. Cyr on the Rhine and, above all, Bonaparte and Masséna in the Appenine campaign.
    Acton rightly divined the underlying political motive. “The hatred of royalty was less than the hatred of aristocracy; privileges were more detested than tyranny; and the king perished because of the origin of his authority rather than because of its abuse. Monarchy unconnected with aristocracy became popular in France, even when most uncontrolled; whilst the attempt to reconstitute the throne, and to limit and fence it with its peers, broke down, because the old Teutonic elements on which it relied – hereditary nobility, primogeniture, and privilege — were no longer tolerated. The substance of the ideas of 1789 is not the limitation of the sovereign power, but the abrogation of intermediate powers.”
    The love of equality, the hatred of nobility and the tolerance of despotism naturally go together, for, If the central power is weak, the secondary powers will run riot and oppress The Empire was the consummation of the Revolution, not its reversal and Napoléon’s armies gave a code of laws and the principle of equal citizenship to a continent.

  • Thanks Michael!

    Those recommendations are going on my Reading List for next Summer, awesome!

  • Simon Schama’s ‘Citizens’ was published for the bicentenary of the French Revolution. It is regarded as the best work on the subject in the 20th century. The French hated it, calling it ‘Thatcherite history’. Its main thesis, that the violence of the Revolution was inherent, particularly upset them.

    In particular, Schama makes the point that pre-Revolutionary France was not an ossified feudal society but one that was obsessed with modernity. He also stresses that when the revolutionaries destroyed the Church they destroyed the social welfare system with drastic results in the 1790s.

    People tend to mythologize their revolutions. Englishmen did so regarding 1688; Americans still do over theirs (even though many of the mythologizers are well-educated) and the French are no exception.

  • Odd that Michael Peterson-Seymour (who sounds as if his ancestors fought at Waterloo) should be an unreconstructed Bonapartist. All the more so since one assumes that he is a Catholic.

  • I find a 948 page book to be daunting.

    I am eagerly awaiting the shortest book in history: subject what Obama did right.

  • I want to clarify that the criticism of Simon Schama’s book, Citizen, is my own. He refers to nuns and monks and unfulfilled citizens, it, not meeting any of their potential because they are cloistered. I am not sure if he was be sarcastic, which would be fine, or serious, which would explain my criticism.

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  • My complete recommendations to Tito:

    “In regard to the French Revolution a good starting point is Citizens by Simon Schama:

    Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France still cannot be beat as an analysis of the early Revolution and is eerily prophetic. Carlyle’s History of the French Revolution is quite dated, and written in his usual odd style, but has valuable insights overlooked by many modern commenters.

    The late Henri Lefebvre, although a Marxist, did valuable work on both the French Revolution and Napoleon and I recommend his tomes. His style is dry as dust, but his research is impeccable.”

  • Um, what beach was that?

  • Tito Edwards: I expected you would look more like Padre Pio. You look happy.

  • Tamsin,

    An undisclosed location on the gulf coast of Florida.

    Mary De Voe,

    LOL. Very happy, my wife was there with me, but she had to take the picture. 🙂

  • My brother Mike lives on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Say “Hi” to him for me.

  • Thank you for fixing the feed!

  • Tito, I share your view of the French Revolution. It lives on in the Social Radicalism that permeates so much of our politics. Social Radicalism is a phenomenon that bears close scrutiny. It transcends the individual with a mindset all its own. If not scrutinized and moderated the mindset morphs into moral chaos. This can happen in slow creeping fashion or with the rapidity of revolution. The French Revolution is a signal example. It started with the whole nation seeking to justly address a financial crisis but rapidly resolved into open rebellion and uncontrollable rage. Carlyle describes it thus: “On a sudden, the Earth yawns asunder, and amid Tartarean smoke, and glare of fierce brightness, rises SANSCULOTTISM, many-headed, fire-breathing, and asks; What think ye of me?” Do I engage in hyperbole when I compare the presentable, well-clothed and well-intended modern social radical with the maddened mob of Paris? Yes but to make a point. I cross a Robespierre and risk the guillotine, the loss of my life. The modern well-dressed social-radical only asks that I risk my soul. Who does me less violence?

  • John Nolan wrote, “Odd that Michael Peterson-Seymour (who sounds as if his ancestors fought at Waterloo) should be an unreconstructed Bonapartist. All the more so since one assumes that he is a Catholic.”
    Another Catholic, G K Chesterton described the tragedy of England:
    “A war that we understood not came over the world and woke
    Americans, Frenchmen, Irish; but we knew not the things they spoke.
    They talked about rights and nature and peace and the people’s reign:
    And the squires, our masters, bade us fight; and scorned us never again.
    Weak if we be for ever, could none condemn us then;
    Men called us serfs and drudges; men knew that we were men.
    In foam and flame at Trafalgar, on Albuera plains,
    We did and died like lions, to keep ourselves in chains,
    We lay in living ruins; firing and fearing not
    The strange fierce face of the Frenchmen who knew for what they fought,
    And the man who seemed to be more than a man we strained against and broke;
    And we broke our own rights with him. And still we never spoke.”
    Hilaire Belloc, too, another Catholic, whose grandfather served in the armies of Napoléon, declared, “Those who ask how it was that a group of men sustaining all the weight of civil conflict within and of universal war without, yet made time enough in twenty years to frame the codes which govern modern Europe, to lay down the foundations of universal education, of a strictly impersonal scheme of administration, and even in detail to remodel the material face of society—in a word, to make modern Europe—must be content for their reply to learn that the Republican Energy had for its flame and excitant this vision: a sense almost physical of the equality of man.”

  • William P Walsh wrote, “It started with the whole nation seeking to justly address a financial crisis but rapidly resolved into open rebellion and uncontrollable rage.”
    Certainly, it did start with a bankrupt government, but here is the curiosity: this bankrupt nation found itself able to sustain twenty years of war against the whole of Europe and to raise and maintain an army to fight it. For most of that period it had 700,000 men in the field. As for “open rebellion,” it crushed it wherever it showed itself, in Brittany, in Lyons, in the Vendée. It takes something rather more than “uncontrollable rage” to do that.

  • “It takes something rather more than “uncontrollable rage” to do that.”

    1. Mass murder against opponents.
    2. Mass repudiation of the debts of the Old Regime.
    3. The military genius of Napoleon and some of the other generals and marshals that rose to the fore as a result of the Revolution.
    4. Total War-no longer was war the sport of kings but rather the preocupation of peoples.

  • Donald R McClarey

    “3. The military genius of Napoleon and some of the other generals and marshals”

    I would certainly agree with that. There is a sense in which Napoléon, Dumoriez (despite his later defection), Kellerman, Hoche and Kléber were the French Revolution – It is their legacy.

    “4. Total War-no longer was war the sport of kings but rather the preoccupation of peoples.”

    The levée en masse and all that it entailed was the achievement of Carnot, but we sometimes forget what an astonishing achievement it was. The army was increased from 645,000 in mid-1793 to 1,500,000 in September 1794. The unbroken succession of victories, from Fleurus in June 1794 to Marengo in June 1800 were all, in a sense, his. He was ably seconded by Lindet, in effect, minister of food, munitions and manufacture.

    The political will and administrative skills needed to raise, equip, train, discipline and provision armies on that scale was enormous and quite without precedent. Much of the credit must go to the Committee of Public Safety, which was, in effect, the War Cabinet and to the brilliant innovation of seconding the “Deputies on Mission” from the National Assembly, as political commissioners to the armies.

  • Michael points out my inattention to the economic situation in France. I admit to a lack of formal study of that dismal science. I have yet in mind the diabolical ingredient of revolution. The first revolution starts with Lucifer’s “Non Serviam” and every revolution carries that sentiment in its bloodstream. The laws of economics are swept away when everything can be stolen from rightful owners. The State can be most efficient when it can murder the opposition. “If God does not exist, all things are permitted”. The Social Radical who looks so benign in his well-tailored clothing can do great injustice with a pen-stroke. If the end justifies the employment of any means, we are living in a state of moral chaos. We are then lunatics pulling down our house upon us. But I sing to the choir, as I sort out my thoughts.

  • I can assure Tito that Schama when referring to cloistered religious is not giving us his own opinion, but that of the revolutionaries whose construct of what constitutes a ‘citizen’ is an important theme of the book.

    I am an admirer of Belloc but he was fundamentally wrong on two counts – all his life he believed a) that the French Revolution was a ‘good thing’ and b) Dreyfus was guilty.

  • John Nolan
    I think both Belloc (and Chesterton, too) wrote a great deal in reaction to the way the Revolution and Napoléon were portrayed in England.

    There is a print, which can still be seen in the bar parlours of some country inns, of the handshake of Wellington and Blucher after Waterloo. They must have been produced by the million

    Chesterton summed up the whole business pretty well.

    “Our middle classes did well to adorn their parlours with the picture of the “Meeting of Wellington and Blucher.” They should have hung up a companion piece of Pilate and Herod shaking hands. Then, after that meeting amid the ashes of Hougomont, where they dreamed they had trodden out the embers of all democracy, the Prussians rode on before, doing after their kind. After them went that ironical aristocrat out of embittered Ireland, with what thoughts we know; and Blucher, with what thoughts we care not; and his soldiers entered Paris, and stole the sword of Joan of Arc.”

    To both Belloc and Chesterton, the fall of Paris to the Allies could only be compared to the sack of Rome by the Goths.

  • An interesting summary of an enormous matter,re. the French Revolution: “It started with the whole nation seeking to justly address a financial crisis but rapidly resolved into open rebellion and uncontrollable rage.” – William P. Walsh
    However, from whence came the bitterly murderous hatred of the Catholic Faith and its individual servants, only the abyss could cough up that demon.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    Chesterton wrote ‘The Crimes of England’ in 1916. It’s a polemic, brilliant in parts, but it ain’t history. The author’s unreasoning ‘Teutonophobia’, his withering scorn for Pitt, Castlereagh and Peel (in contrast with his hero-worship of Charles James Fox) and his take on the French Revolution and Bonaparte simply parade his prejudices. Comparing the Allied occupation of Paris in 1814 with the sack of Rome by the Goths takes hyperbole to new heights, especially since French armies had looted and plundered their way across Europe for the previous twenty years. Historical method requires conclusions to be based on evidence. Both Belloc and Chesterton were counter-historical, if not positively anti-historical. They rightly challenged the consensus of the Whig historians, but what they put in its place was too intuitive and subjective. Since it did not rely on evidence it could be sometimes right, but more often wrong.

    Simon Schama’s book is revisionist, not least in that he uses the narrative approach which was unfashionable in 1989 (Orlando Figes does the same in his study of the Russian Revolution ‘A People’s Tragedy’). But both men are historians; Belloc and Chesterton, for all their brilliance, were not.

  • The errors of the french revolution came from somewhere!
    The protestant reformation shaped Europe and the world in ways we are still discerning. That “reformation” preceded the Enlightenment, which came to the “spirit” of revoltion of the 18 and 19 centuries everything from the very un- “reason”able reign of terror to marx to the culture kampf– and what follows in russia and mexico and china and on and on and on

  • John Nolan wrote, “Comparing the Allied occupation of Paris in 1814 with the sack of Rome by the Goths takes hyperbole to new heights…”
    Hardly. In both cases, the capital of civilisation fell to the barbarians from beyond the Rhine.
    Belloc’s evaluation of the Revolution is not all that different from the great French historian of the Revolution, Louis Blanc. Blanc, one recalls, during his exile in London (he had fought on the barricades during les journées de juin 1848), had access to Croker’s unrivalled collection of manuscripts and pamphlets.
    Acton summarises Blanc’s principle: ”He desires government to be so constituted that it may do everything for the people, not so restricted that it can do no injury to minorities. The masses have more to suffer from abuse of wealth than from abuse of power, and need protection by the State, not against it. Power, in the proper hands, acting for the whole, must not be restrained in the interest of a part.” That was also the view of the great Dominican, Lacordaire, “Between the weak and the strong, between the rich and the poor, between the master and the servant, it is freedom which oppresses and the law which sets free.”
    This was a principle Belloc and Chesterton would have heartily endorsed. It is the negation of Liberalism and its doctrine of laissez-faire.

  • “In both cases, the capital of civilisation fell to the barbarians from beyond the Rhine.”

    Please. Even as hyperbole that is over the circus top. The French Revolution was a complex historical event, but by the time Napoleon fell it had devolved into one of the first military dictatorships in modern times, one with delusions of grandeur. It was a very good thing for the peace of Europe that Napoleon fell in 1814 and that he was soundly thrashed in 1815 at Waterloo which brought an end to his “Golden Oldies” attempt at a Bonaparte revival.

  • Donald R McClarey wrote, “[B]y the time Napoleon fell it had devolved into one of the first military dictatorships in modern times.”
    That is to misunderstand the nature, both of the Republic and the Empire. Napoléon was no more a military dictator than Augustus or Charlemagne. As Chesterton said, “French democracy became more democratic, not less, when it turned all France into one constituency which elected one member.”
    Elizabeth Barrett Browning (Swinburn’s “Sea-Eagle of English feather”) understood:
    “And kings crept out again to feel the sun.
    The kings crept out — the peoples sat at home.
    And finding the long-invocated peace
    (A pall embroidered with worn images
    Of rights divine) too scant to cover doom
    Such as they suffered, cursed the corn that grew
    Rankly, to bitter bread, on Waterloo.”

    Those “carrion kings, unsheeted and unmasked,” described by Michelet, the great historian of the Revolution.

  • “That is to misunderstand the nature, both of the Republic and the Empire. Napoléon was no more a military dictator than Augustus or Charlemagne”

    Augustus was a military dictator, the last man standing of the ambitious warlords/politicians who murdered the dying Republic. Charlemagne was not a military dictator but the scion of a family that had been running the chief of the Frankish states for some time. Napoleon owed his position to his military brilliance and his willingness to use military force against civilian rule and nothing more.

    “French democracy became more democratic, not less, when it turned all France into one constituency which elected one member.”

    That quote always had my vote for the dumbest thing written by Chesterton.

  • M P-S, the ‘barbarians from beyond the Rhine’ produced Lessing, Schiller, Goethe, Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven, to name but a few. I’m sure those German citizens, living in their peaceful towns and villages, often in the shadow of old-established monasteries on which the local economy depended and which were soon to be destroyed, were overjoyed at the arrival of Revolutionary French armies with their portable guillotines. Germany in the eighteenth century was civilized in the real sense that the local ‘civitas’ enforced its own laws for the benefit of the citizens. It is telling that the incidence of capital punishment in the German states was far lower than in France or England.

    Michael, get off your hobby-horse and face facts. Bonaparte has a good record when it comes to establishing (or more correctly re-establishing, since the Revolution had destroyed much) institutions in France; but he also erected a police state. His hubristic lust for conquest led (as in the case of Hitler, with whom he has much in common) to eventual nemesis. And France only recovered its 1789 levels of foreign trade in the 1830s by which time Britain had far outstripped it.

  • “I can assure Tito that Schama when referring to cloistered religious is not giving us his own opinion, but that of the revolutionaries whose construct of what constitutes a ‘citizen’ is an important theme of the book.”
    The sovereign personhood of the newly begotten human being (His body and his soul) constitutes the nation from the very first moment of existence. His absolute moral and legal innocence are the standard of Justice and the compelling interest of the state in its duty to deliver Justice and in protecting the newly begotten human being. Francisco Suarez says that: “Human existence is the criterion for the objective ordering of human rights.”
    The newly begotten human being who constitutes the state from the very first moment of his existence and through his sovereign personhood endowed by “their Creator” is the citizen. At birth the new citizen is given documents to prove his citizenship and a tax bill.
    The French Revolution must have been dealing with the loss and denial of citizenship by the state as in “persona non grata”. Religious persons, priests and nuns, do not forfeit or surrender their God-given sovereign personhood and/or citizenship by answering their vocation. A higher calling, in fact, purifies their citizenship and brings “the Blessings of Liberty”.
    It is nothing less than communism, oppression, for another individual or the state to tell a person who is a citizen that he is not a citizen without indictment for a capital offense, treason. It appears that being a religious person in France during the French Revolution was treason, the absolute reversal of the truth.
    This same separation of citizenship and soul is happening here in America, where having a soul has become treason, treason in the land of atheism.

  • Donald R McCleary wrote, “’ French democracy became more democratic, not less, when it turned all France into one constituency which elected one member.’ – That quote always had my vote for the dumbest thing written by Chesterton.”

    And yet it was, in effect, endorsed by Walter Bagehot, a man politically poles apart from Chesterton. Writing of the nephew, that shrewd cynic observed, “The nature of a constitution, the action of an assembly, the play of parties, the unseen formation of a guiding opinion, are complex facts, difficult to know and easy to mistake. But the action of a single will, the fiat of a single mind, are easy ideas: anybody can make them out, and no one can ever forget them. When you put before the mass of mankind the question, ‘Will you be governed by a king, or will you be governed by a constitution?’ the inquiry comes out thus—’Will you be governed in a way you understand, or will you be governed in a way you do not understand?’ The issue was put to the French people; they were asked, ‘Will you be governed by Louis Napoleon, or will you be governed by an assembly?’ The French people said, ‘We will be governed by the one man we can imagine, and not by the many people we cannot imagine.'”

  • “The French people said, ‘We will be governed by the one man we can imagine, and not by the many people we cannot imagine.’”

    Preposterous. The plebiscite of 1851 was instituted only after wannabe Napoleon had instituted repression. It had as much validity as one of Stalin’s show trials in the thirties. Like his much greater uncle, wannabe Napoleon owed his imitation imperial title, eventually granted him officially through another plebiscite with an unimaginative 97% yes vote, to the bayonets he controlled rather than the ballots he manufactured in pretend plebiscites.

  • Donald R McClarey
    Louis Napoléon may not have been supported by a numerical majority of the nation, that’s as may be; but there is no doubt that he had the support of a determinant current of opinion—determinant in intensity and in weight, that is, as well as in numbers. That was true of his uncle also and it needed no plebiscite to establish this obvious truth.

  • “but there is no doubt that he had the support of a determinant current of opinion”

    Nope, like his uncle he had control of the military and crushed all opposition. Speculations about his “true” popularity among the people or the elite are meaningless when he made certain that his opposition had no voice.

  • Mary De Voe’s, “It is nothing less than communism, oppression, for another individual or the state to tell a person who is a citizen that he is not a citizen without indictment for a capital offense, treason. It appears that being a religious person in France during the French Revolution was treason, the absolute reversal of the truth. . This same separation of citizenship and soul is happening here in America, where having a soul has become treason, treason in the land of atheism.”, nails it.
    In America today, the newly begotten human being is no longer protected, the person who is religious, a veteran, a supporter of Constitutional rights is a potential domestic terrorist. Remember Andrew Cuomo’s saying that a supporter of the Second Amendment has no place in New York State. If he becomes President, that may apply to the whole country.

  • I started to watch Simon Schamas tv program about judiasm since i enjoyed his shows about England. I caught an episode in the middle and what amazed me was that the program seemed more of a rant against the injustices perpetrated upon the Jews by Christians than a true unbiased history of Judaism.
    I was a bit shocked but it may explain this “book is good and if there is any criticism of Simon Schama’s work it’s that he views Christianity, in particular the Catholic Church, through a materialistic lens “

A Chesterton Poem For Labor Day

Monday, September 1, AD 2014

Saint Joseph and Christ
King Alfred was but a meagre man,
          Bright eyed, but lean and pale:
          And swordless, with his harp and rags,
          He seemed a beggar, such as lags
          Looking for crusts and ale.

          And the woman, with a woman’s eyes
          Of pity at once and ire,
          Said, when that she had glared a span,
          “There is a cake for any man
          If he will watch the fire.”

          And Alfred, bowing heavily,
          Sat down the fire to stir,
          And even as the woman pitied him
          So did he pity her.

          Saying, “O great heart in the night,
          O best cast forth for worst,
          Twilight shall melt and morning stir,
          And no kind thing shall come to her,
          Till God shall turn the world over
          And all the last are first.

          “And well may God with the serving-folk
          Cast in His dreadful lot;
          Is not He too a servant,
          And is not He forgot?

          “For was not God my gardener
          And silent like a slave;
          That opened oaks on the uplands
          Or thicket in graveyard gave?

          “And was not God my armourer,
          All patient and unpaid,
          That sealed my skull as a helmet,
          And ribs for hauberk made?

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4 Responses to A Chesterton Poem For Labor Day

Kipling for Labor Day

Monday, September 2, AD 2013





The twenty-seventh in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here , here and here.

Two frequent targets of Kipling’s ire over the years was Kaiser Wilhelm, who Kipling viewed as a buffoon and a menace long before World War I, and anything that smacked of socialism.  In the poem An Imperial Rescript (1890), Kipling got to attack both his bête noirs when the Kaiser unveiled a program of social reform to “help” working men.  I rather think the Kaiser’s heart was in the right place on this occasion, even if his head was not.  Kipling viewed the plan as rubbish since most men, the acolytes of Alfred. P Doolittle (see video above) excepted, work for the well-being of their families, a well-being that he thought governments would prove ill-equipped to preserve, and therefore they would work as hard as they were able for the wife and the kids.  It is an arguable point, although Kipling’s view is directly contrary to what passes for the common wisdom of our day, which could mean that Kipling might very well be correct!


Now this is the tale of the Council the German Kaiser decreed,
To ease the strong of their burden, to help the weak in their need,
He sent a word to the peoples, who struggle, and pant, and sweat,
That the straw might be counted fairly and the tally of bricks be set.

The Lords of Their Hands assembled; from the East and the West they drew --
Baltimore, Lille, and Essen, Brummagem, Clyde, and Crewe.
And some were black from the furnace, and some were brown from the soil,
And some were blue from the dye-vat; but all were wearied of toil.

And the young King said: -- "I have found it, the road to the rest ye seek:
The strong shall wait for the weary, the hale shall halt for the weak:
With the even tramp of an army where no man breaks from the line,
Ye shall march to peace and plenty in the bond of brotherhood -- sign!" 
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Saint Joseph the Worker and Dad

Sunday, September 1, AD 2013

Saint Joseph and Jesus




Every Labor Day weekend two men always pop up in my mind:  Saint Joseph the Worker and my Dad.  When I was growing up I always associated Saint Joseph and my father.  I thought of Saint Joseph as the strong, silent type.  The Gospels recall no speeches or quotes of Saint Joseph, but it does remember his actions:  the refusal to expose Mary publicly when he initially assumed that she had betrayed him, his leading his family into Egypt on the warning of the Angel, the years of Christ’s growth to manhood when Saint Joseph labored to support his family.  That was my father, a man of actions and not words.  My father was not a talkative man, he simply was always there when anything needed to be done.  From going off each day to cut steel in the truck body plant where he worked, to repairing broken items around the house, to fixing a furnace for an old widow who couldn’t pay a professional to come to fix it and then asking my mom to buy the widow a sack of groceries because he saw she had no food in her house, to defending me from a child hood bully, I grew up under the protection and inspiration of my silent father.

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8 Responses to Saint Joseph the Worker and Dad

  • That is a really beautiful tribute, Don. Thank you for sharing it.

  • Much Thanks Donald. Your a loving son and always will be.

    I have been “using” St. Joseph at many death beds of our residents for the past twelve years. He has brought so much peace to the families as their loved one prepares to sail on to another shore.
    To ponder the great possibility of Jesus and Mary at St. Josephs own death bed.
    Then, humbly imploring Joesph to call on Mary & Jesus to be present for our loved one.
    The Carmelite order has Beautiful respect and Honor for St. Joseph…and rightfully so. St. Joseph pray for us.

  • There is much to learn today from St. Joseph’s actions. He, first of all, saw the goodness of the Mother of our Lord and obeyed to His messengers to be able to protect and provide.

    Our culture of many absent fathers, some of whom ironically revere Mary, have ignored the example of the Holy Family and rejected the idea of the work of their hands. Reliance on running water, electricity, sound dwellings, and food hasn’t produced a supply of competent tradesmen. It’s as though ignorance of St. Joseph’s life brought, is bringing, indolence into the role of men who leave their fatherhood for a means of income from the state. Pieces of shattered souls around who could never imagine the richness of your reminiscence.

    Had my father read your post, he might have said it was ‘writ by hand’ if he were pressed to comment.

  • You are so lucky you had a dad like him. I also envision my dad as industrious as Saint Joseph. And you are right, I haven’t really read a lot of Saint Joseph in the bible. I wish there was really some details on what kind of a dad he really was. But I think Jesus had a good man as an example as he grew up to be one fine young man himself. I should let my husband read this.

  • You had a good and earnest dad; so does your daughter she will probably grow up to marry a man who reminds her in some ways of her dad- even if she doesn’t recognize it at first
    The family is how God forwards love in the world.

  • Thank you all for your kind comments. I have always considered myself lucky in my parents. My sainted Mother would often invoke the Holy Family, Mary, Jesus and Joseph, especially in time of crisis, or after my brother or I roused her ire after doing something foolish/bad! I think that helped and I have always remembered the Holy Family as a result.

  • So beautiful! My dad never even got to the 8th grade but he worked and worked and worked. There was nothing he couldn’t do. He was a jack of all trades and he mastered them all. He died so young, only 52 but his efforts left my mother and the boys complete financial security. If he didn’t know how to do it he educated himself until he did it “and did it well”. He was a lifelong Republican and the night before the Kennedy win, he alerted us kids, “If I wake up tomorrow morning and John Kennedy is president of the United States, you are going to see a grown man cry!” When John Kennedy was assassinated he bawled like a baby. He was devastated. When we asked him about it he said, “That man was the president of all of us, not just me. The president no matter what party deserves our respect and prayers even if we don’t agree with him. This is a terrible thing for our country.” I am trying to hang onto that thought now as I truly do not have good feelings about this administration. Maybe St. Joseph could help me with that.

  • I love this image of Christ and St. Joseph. Do you know anything about it, title or artist?

The Yorktown, the American Worker and Three Days

Monday, September 3, AD 2012

We must have this ship back in three days!

Commander of the Pacific Fleet, Admiral Chester Nimitz


On Labor Day we honor the American worker and the repair of the USS Yorktown tells us why.  Badly damaged at the battle of the Coral Sea, it was estimated that the Yorktown would take three months in drydock to repair.  That was unacceptable.  With the battle of Midway looming the Yorktown had to be gotten back into action if the US was to have any chance at all against the Japanese fleet with its heavy advantage in flattops.

What happened next was a true miracle.  1400 civilian dockyard workers and sailors swarmed over the Yorktown, working night and day for 72 hours.  Hawaii Electric staged rolling blackouts in Honolulu to generate the enormous power necessary for the mammoth repairs.  The Yorktown sailed for Midway on May 30, 1942 with civilian workers still on board, completing the repairs.  At Midway, four days later, Yorktown’s role in the victory was absolutely crucial,  her planes sending the Japanese carrier Soryu to the bottom before the Yorktown herself was sunk.

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6 Responses to The Yorktown, the American Worker and Three Days

  • The arsenal of democracy . . . .

    OT: My handy-dandy calendar (a Christmas present) tells me that (not sure about the veracity) 3 September 1777 was the first time that patriots carried the Stars and Stripes into battle. It was in a revolutionary contingency operation at Cooch’s Bridge, Delaware.

  • Prime example of industry and manufacturing efficiently with purpose.
    Those words that are on banners in plants (that remain on this soil) for ‘motivation’ of workers would probably be better understood by presenting the story of the Yorktown as an ideal to all levels of employees.

    “who cares, whatever, establishment, corrupt, bigots, racists, benefits, them/us … ? in it for me, graft, theft, black marketing …”

    … and then there’s the problem stated in that last sentence of Gen. MacArthur in the Sept. 2, 1945 post.

    Instead of ten trillion to sixteen trillion in three years, there’d be ten down to five and counting.

  • T. Shaw says:

    OT: My handy-dandy calendar (a Christmas present) tells me that (not sure about the veracity) 3 September 1777 was the first time that patriots carried the Stars and Stripes into battle. It was in a revolutionary contingency operation at Cooch’s Bridge, Delaware.

    I pass Cooch’s Bridge several times a week and never knew why there were cannons and military paraphenalia. A lot more respect the next time I pass. Being from New Jersey, Rockingham, Washington Rock, the Battle of Monmouth, the Battle of Trenton. Thanks T. Shaw, a lot more respect.

  • Mary,

    God bless the working man and woman.

    God bless the brave men and women that made us free and today all over the World keep us free. Bless them all.

    I hear there are annual Monmouth Battle re-enactments.

    I twice have been to the Continental Army’s main line of defense in the Battle of Brooklyn on tours led by historian-author Barnet Schechter – The Battle of New York and The Devil’s Own Work, etc. The line ran across what now is the high point of Greenwood Cemetery, wherein are buried many famous Americans of the 19th and 20th centuries, including Boss Tweed. The plaque on the Minerva Monument reads, “The Place Whereon Thou Standest is Holy Ground.”

    And, God Bless America!

  • Thank you, Donald for the post about the skirmish at Cooch’s Bridge in Delaware. When I read Head of Elk, it hit me, as I live in Elkton. When I was growing up and young men would ask to where I wanted to go, I would ask to go to Washington Rock from where one could see the whole of central New Jersey. It is truly breathtaking. I read and reread Smugglers’ Woods by Arthur Pierce about the smugglers turned privateers to raid the British supply fleets. My dad would bring us to the Old Barracks where there was displayed lead balls, chewed, with teeth marks in them because there was no anesthesia. Casimir Pulaski is buried near here as he was wounded and died here in Maryland. Route 40 is named the Pulaski Highway. a new birth of FREEDOM.
    T. Shaw, my favorite person of the Battle of Monmouth is Molly Pitcher because she had courage I only hope I have when the time comes. Thank you both very much.

Prayer to Saint Joseph

Saturday, September 1, AD 2012

Something for the weekend.  The video above supplying music and images to the prayer to Saint Joseph seemed very appropriate for a Labor Day Weekend.  There was a reason why God chose as His guardian and the husband of His mother a humble carpenter, instead of some great and powerful king.  God does not see as we see.  We judge too often by outward appearance while God judges by the soul and character.  A simple concept one would think, but one that is hard to live by as we too often judge people by their jobs or clothes or any of the other superficial differences between us that loom so large on this earth and which are less than nothing in eternity.

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7 Responses to Prayer to Saint Joseph

  • Donald,

    This post offers me the opportunity to ask you a question about a book recommendation while keeping the comment tangential to the post:

    Considering your Illinois roots and interest in history and politics, have you come across a book that you can recommend about the US Labor movement in the late 1800-early 1900s?

    Specifically, I looking for the Catholic influence on the labor movement (Cardinal Gibbons, for instance). I thought of you when I learned that, although she traveled near and far, Mother Jones was from Chicago. Another Catholic who was prominent was Terrence Powderly, and I’m sure many others.

    I’m trying to understand the US labor movement from the perspective of the teaching of the Church on social justice, and I thought you might know of a book that deals with this specifically.

    (BTW, will you be bringing back the TAC Football Poll?)

  • This was beautiful! Thank you for posting it.

  • I have been told that the Crusaders carried this St. Joseph prayer into battle, that they would not perish by the sword, fire or drowning, and ultimately, that they would have a happy death. St. Joseph pray for us. For someone who has been healed of ulcers through the intercession of St. Brother Andre Bissett at St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, Canada, I carry and say the prayer often.

  • It is a beautiful prayer Mary, but it actually came out in 1950. There is a lot of fake history about it on the net, claiming it goes back to 50AD, etc. Complete rubbish.

  • “although she traveled near and far, Mother Jones was from Chicago.”

    She is buried in the Mount Olive Cemetery in Mount Olive, Illinois, a small town along the original Route 66 about 30 miles south of Springfield. She requested to be buried there with miners who were killed during a coal strike in nearby Virden in 1898; these miners she always referred to as “her boys”. At this link are pictures of her funeral, which was held in Mount Olive’s Catholic parish:

    The link also notes that on Aug. 1 of this year, there was scheduled to be a celebration of her birth and baptism in Cork, Ireland.

  • “I’m trying to understand the US labor movement from the perspective of the teaching of the Church on social justice, and I thought you might know of a book that deals with this specifically.

    (BTW, will you be bringing back the TAC Football Poll?)”

    Not a book in particular, although there is a huge amount on the net as to Cardinal Gibbons and the labor movement. I will try to do a post on Labor Day regarding Cardinal Gibbons and the knights of labor.

    In regard to the TAC Football poll I do not know. My ignorance on sports is so vast, that I have gladly ceded that aspect of the blog to my co-bloggers who can distinguish the Chicago Bears from the Chicago Cubs, and who can understand the undying enmity that exists between Cubs and Socks fans! 🙂

  • Elaine,
    Thanks for the information. I had heard of the magazine “Mother Jones” in the past, but it seemed too leftist for my tastes. But, it colored my impression of the real Mother Jones. When I learned that she was Catholic, with a brother who is a priest, and who was buried with a funeral Mass, I began to reassess her. I read that despite her association with the Socialist Party, she didn’t really agree with it in the end.

    I’ll look forward to your post on the Knights of Labor and Cardinal Gibbons.

    Oh, yeah … Geaux Tigers!

5 Responses to God Bless The USA!

  • must not we avoid an uncritical nationalism? how many ‘good’ catholics went along with mussolini, hitler, and franco? we are not there yet; but how an we know how to discern what is ‘loyal’ and what is faith directed?

  • Somehow Paul I suspect that few fans of Il Duce, Der Fuhrer or El Caudillo will be singing along with this song. I do have a feeling that lots of Catholics will be singing along who agree with 2240 in the Catechism:

    “2240 Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country:

    Pay to all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.45
    [Christians] reside in their own nations, but as resident aliens. They participate in all things as citizens and endure all things as foreigners. . . . They obey the established laws and their way of life surpasses the laws. . . . So noble is the position to which God has assigned them that they are not allowed to desert it.46

    The Apostle exhorts us to offer prayers and thanksgiving for kings and all who exercise authority, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way.”47”

  • Anyhow, it took him two days before making the “Yeah, but . . . ” dig at the great satan.

    And we see from whence this leftist guy comes.

    FYI: Franco was the savior of his country and the Roman Catholic Church in Spain.

    NB: This dude represents the fruits of public schools and lib universities feeding their “charges” ideologies not educations.

  • He also broke one of the rules about how not to appear crazy in comments. Hey Paul, you see that button the left-hand side? It’s the shift key. If you hold it down you can form capital letters. Although I suspect you may have broken the button when typing your name.

3 Responses to Hymn to Saint Joseph

  • St. Joseph, Provider, for and Protector of, the Holy Family, pray for us.

    St. Joseph, chaste and faithful spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, pray for us.

    St. Joseph, foster father of Our Savior, pray for us.

    St. Joseph Worker, pray for us.

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  • I’ve heard a quite recent oratorio composed by an Italian priest, F.Carlo Colafranceschi (R.I.P.) – “Il Custode del redentore (Redemptoris Custos)”, but this one is a celestial one. I can only associate the music with the theological Frenchman masterpiece, ” Le Mystère de Joseph, by F. M.D.Philippe o.p. And finish with a wonderful image of the Redeemer with his foster father published by “l’Osservatore Romano”, on march , 19, 2003: the picture characterizes the main virtues of our Saint, humility and purity, and spiritual joy that comes from them, alleluia! Thank you very much for this divine deed!

Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the Stone

Monday, September 6, AD 2010

On Labor Day it is good to recall Saint Joseph the Worker.  When God decided to partake in our humanity, He could have had anyone for His foster father, and He chose a humble carpenter, a man who worked with his hands.  Why?

The Bible gives us no indication that Saint Joseph was intelligent, brave or resourceful.  He may have been all these things, but the Bible does not tell us.  We know that he was of the House of David, but judging from all indications in the Bible he lived in humble circumstances.  What made Joseph stand out to God other than the fact of his heritage?

Kindness I think, simple human kindness.  This was graphically demonstrated at the very beginning when Saint Joseph first is mentioned in the Gospel of Saint Matthew 1:18 and 19:

Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.

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4 Responses to Jesus, Mary, Joseph and the Stone

Subsidiarity at Work

Monday, September 7, AD 2009

dilbert subsidiarity

Everyone here at the American Catholic hoped that you all have had a happy Labor Day weekend.

The principle of Subsidiarity states that government should undertake only those initiatives which exceed the capacity of individuals or private groups acting independently.

Pope Leo XIII developed the principle in his AD 1891 encyclical Rerum Novarum.  The principle was further developed by Pope Pius XI in his AD 1931 encyclial Quadragesimo Anno.


To learn more about Subsidiarity click here.

To read Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum click here.

To read Pope Pius XI‘s encyclical Quadragesimo Anno click here.

For more Dilbert funnies click here.

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6 Responses to Subsidiarity at Work

  • I think the author of the first link oversimplifies the application of the principle — which is prudential in the first place — and makes something appear to be “obvious”.

    I’m actually very skeptical of the whole project of the Acton institute.

    If someone were a Catholic and told me they were a committed “liberal feminist Democrat” — I would inquire about their definitions of “liberal” and “feminist” before proceeding to make a judgment. If they were using authentically Catholic definitions for these relative terms, I’d have nothing else to say.

    If someone were a Catholic and told me they were an ardent laissez-faire free market capitalist, I’d ask as well what do those terms imply because while the philosophy is not in and of itself evil and it is certainly far from perfect — I would be interested as to how the Catholic reconciled their faith entirely with a philosophy largely born of the Enlightenment if there is no difference between the Catholic free market capitalist and other free market capitalists — it’d seem the philosophy transformed the Catholic not the other way around.

    While I think the Acton Institute does make extraordinary points at times, I find other things quite dubious. This is one of those points.

    I will go further into it, if time permits it later.

  • Eric,

    Thank you for the input.

    I don’t know much about subsidiarity so these postings are part of my path towards a deeper understanding of the principle.

  • I hope to learn more as well and look forward to your next post, Eric.

    The Welfare State is not one I want to live in, but I also would not want to have been an African American in Alabama waiting for my local community to let me in the front of the city bus.

    My own experience has been mixed, where sometimes the fed. government has gotten in the way of people taking on the socially responsible and moral challenges of the day, but more often the fed. govt. has had to come in when local authorities and communities for that matter have failed. And it is every so often a wonderful thing to feel a national sense of community when the federal government does something that we as a people want it to do: preserve Gettysburg and Yellowstone, develop the Apollo Program, help hurricane victims and give veterans health care benefits that are not dependent upon just local resources because they didn’t fight for their town, they fought for their country.

    Fr. Bosnich’s article makes some good points, but it also makes some surprising overstatements in my opinion:

    “The Bishops have not learned the key lessons of the 1980s: the success of free market economics and the failure of collectivism. The top-down, centralized planning of the Soviet system could not succeed because it contradicted the subsidiarity principle.”

    Yes, the Soviet system did not succeed, it was dehumanizing and it was cruel, but not because it was “collective” it failed because it was authoritarian and draconian and oppressed freedom of speech, thought, travel and of course the democratizing influence of market forces and personal wealth creation. But it is hard to claim that things like national reforms of health care are equivalent to the Soviet Union.

    Fr. Bosnich also wrote, “Consolidation is the weapon of tyranny, but the friend of liberty is particularism.” True, but the consolidation of money into 5 big banks and the consolidation of information into 5 big media companies and the consolidation of health care into a couple of insurance companies for each state and the consolidation of … well you get it. These all breed economic tyranny and yet these are the direct result of the laissez faire economic policies that I assume he would encourage. This begins to smack of Ayn Rand’s objectivism in which helping others or voting to help others leads directly to living for others and this destroys society.

    In another paragraph Fr. Bosnich say “Baum defines subsidiarity as “de-centralization” and socialization as “centralization”. In other words, in this view, Catholicism teaches the principle of de-centralization and the principle of centralization simultaneously!” I haven’t read Baum or anyone else that he quotes, except for de Tocqueville, so I don’t know. But it also seems apparent to me that Catholicism does teach individualism and collectivism simultaneously. I don’t see that as bad, I see it as realistic, natural and moral. The monastic tradition is the very embodiment of wrapping the two together in the most purposeful way possible. The Catholic Church is a rather singular example of a centralized hierarchy and I have to say with some sadness that the federalist and staunchly individualist tendencies of the Founding Fathers came more from the ancient Saxon, Iroquois and Protestant tradition (and Deism) than from Catholic tradition.

    It was during the Progressive Era in American history that began the last resurgence of the type of voluntary associations that de Tocqueville and the author would have praised. The Progressive Era was a time of strengthening communities, hundreds of clubs and the strengthening of labor unions and women’s suffrage. These traditions, some might say collectivistic tendencies, formed a particularly strong sense of rights and responsibilities.

    I think Fr. Bosnich gets caught up in the idea of statism and ignores even bigger issues – the we do not live in the 19th century anymore; that globalization is redefining what “local” and “national” really mean; that kids growing up today are thinking of themselves not as Idahoans or Atlantans, but as Americans or even world citizens; that we are not merely economic beings who only need protection from government price controls for aspirin; that humans are also ecologically tied to every other life form on Earth and that this bond has a spiritual nature as well.

    The principle of subsidiarity has at its heart the age-old conflicts of the individual vs. the group and rights vs. responsibility. Each is a balancing act and societies (especially American society) tend to teeter toter between each extreme rather than stay long at an equilibrium. As someone who most closely admires Jefferson and being from a relatively rural state, I certainly believe in that self reliance is a virtue and the least government being the best government. However I also believe that globalization and urbanization (not liberalism) have overwhelmingly placed most people in a position of compromised dependency – lots of people in big cities working service jobs and changing homes several times in their lives. We can pretend that smaller, simpler organizations will be able to take care of most of our needs, and in someways the internet and new urbanism is trying to do just that, but when large corporations drive the economy and when environmental degradation starts to cross borders and affect oceans, not just nearby valleys, then it is necessary for larger levels of governments to take a more active role and sometimes that role will be morally necessary, in my opinion.

  • Oh I forgot to add to Fr. Bosnich’s view on the lesson of the 1980’s … Another lesson of the 1980’s is that top-down economics (trickle down, deregulated industries) also encourage unrestrained mergers, economic bubbles and the decoupling of Wall Street capital from Main street workers which lead to an economy that eventually collapsed in 2008. Maybe each local Elks Club in the country could have a bake sale and replace everyone’s 401k.

  • MacGregor,

    Have you received the email I sent you?

  • From your first post, you make some very good points, Macgregor, although I think you may be erring slightly in your 6th paragraph by conflating two separate issues in the Soviet Union, politics and economics.

    In no way do I disagree with your analysis of the draconian, authoritarian aspects of Soviet political rule, but that is not what Fr. Bosnich was referring to, if I’m reading him correctly, in describing purely the economic aspects of collectivism, i.e., the top-down government control of every aspect of the economy. In and of itself such a system can never work because it is the antithesis of subsidiarity and there is no way for the bureaucrats running central planning to respond quickly to changes in supply and demand at the local levels, so they end up simply imposing a “one size fits all” solution on a vast economy, leading to massive inefficiency, shortages, etc.

    It happens to be true that in many real-life governments the two systems often go hand in hand, political authoritarian regimes and collectivist, state-controlled economies (e.g., Cuba, Venezuela under Chavez, North Korea, etc.), but I think it’s important to be clear that collectivist economies, even in the absence of political authoritarianism, cannot function efficiently.

    Sorry for the minor quibble, but I think it’s (political vs. economic government control) a vital distinction to make in relation to the Catholic notion of subsidiarity, or at least my very limited understanding of the concept! 😉

Saint Isidore the Laborer

Monday, September 7, AD 2009

Saint Isidore the Laborer

On this day on which we celebrate the workers of America, it is good to recall a simple day laborer who became one of Spain’s most beloved saints.  Also known as Saint Isidore the farmer,  he was born around 1170 and lived his entire life in the vicinity of Madrid, in service as a farm laborer to the family of Juan de Vargas.  Some of his fellow workers complained to Vargas that Saint Isidore was late for work due to his habit of attending Mass each day.  Checking up on his worker, he found Saint Isidore praying while an angel was doing the plowing!  Eventually Vargas made Saint Isidore bailiff of his entire estate.  Tales of miracles surround Saint Isidore.  One relates how he brought the daughter of his employer back to life.  Another tells how he found water during a time of drought.  He was noted for his charity to the poor and to animals.

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2 Responses to Saint Isidore the Laborer