restricted access The Blackshirts. To the Editor of The Church Times
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[ 13 The Blackshirts1 To the Editor of The Church Times The Church Times, 111 (2 Feb 1934) 116 Sir, – The letter of Mr. Pierce-Butler in your issue of Jan. 26 seems to me to express an attitude towards Fascism, on the part of pious Christians, which is likely to spread, and which therefore deserves close examination.2 I am perfectly ready to accept Mr. Pierce-Butler’s testimony gathered among the young people of his acquaintance, and I am very glad to hear it.3 But, with all due respect, I believe that he misses the point. The point is not whether a large number of people, with or without the inspiration and example of Sir Oswald Mosley and Lord Rothermere, are both zealous Fascists and devout Christians. The human mind is capable of containing the most contradictory ideas at once, especially when in a state of emotional excitement. The point is, not what some people at the moment actually maintain, but whether the Christian and Catholic idea and the Fascist idea are, in themselves, compatible. I am not answering this question, but putting it; for it is a question which Mr. Pierce-Butler does not answer. The most authoritative statement of Fascist principle, I suppose, should be the one statement which Signor Mussolini has made, which he contributed to the Encyclopaedia Italiana, and which is published by the Hogarth Press for a shilling, under the title of The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism.4 From it I extract the following propositions, which are relevant to the present inquiry: 1. “War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have the courage to meet it.” [11] 2. “Absolute monarchy has been and can never return, any more than blind acceptance of ecclesiastical authority.” [19](N. B. – The question here is that of the differentiation between acceptance, and blind acceptance, of ecclesiastical authority; and how this difference differs from the difference between acceptance and blind acceptance of temporal authority.) 3. “Fascism conceives of the State as an Absolute.” [21]5 Essays, Reviews, Commentaries, and Public Letters: 1934 14 ] 4. “Peoples which are rising, or rising again after a period of decadence, are always imperialist.” [25] I am not taking upon myself to criticize these assertions; I only suggest that every Catholic who inclines to sympathize with Fascist politics should make it his business to meditate upon them. In conclusion, I should like to call attention to the excellent article by Mr. Christopher Dawson in the current issue of Theology.6  T. S. Eliot 24, Russell Square, London, W. C. 1. Notes 1. The CC is dated 30 Jan. 2. An editorial summary in the Church Times of 19 Jan 1934 criticized Lord Rothermere’s front-page article in the Daily Mail of 15 Jan 1934 entitled “Hurrah for the Blackshirts!” in which he pledged his support to the Fascist movement in England. The Church Times editor stated that “everywhere Fascism is necessarily a danger to the Christian religion” (59). Rev. Rollo Pierce-Butler (1885-1950) wrote the following week to contest this claim, arguing that “an intimate knowledge of British Fascism, as expounded and lived by the followers of Sir Oswald Mosley, utterly disproves this very sweeping remark” (84). 3. Pierce-Butler, who was the chaplain of the branch of the British Union of Fascists to which he belonged, recounted: “A prominent young officer from Headquarters told me that he was first brought to appreciate the glory of the Catholic Faith through Fascism. . . . Day by day I am among these young enthusiasts; . . . and never once have I heard or seen a word or act of opposition to real religion . . . wherever I go among them, I find a respect and affection for my sacred calling” (84). 4. TSE’s copy of Benito Mussolini’s The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism, trans. Jane Soames (London: Leonard and Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, 1933), published as no. 18 in the series Day to Day Pamphlets, contains his marginalia. It was first printed in the July-Sept 1933 issue of Political Quarterly. Mussolini contributed the article in 1932 to the fourteenth volume of the Enciclopedia italiana. 5. Mussolini has “absolute.” 6. “Civilization and the Faith,” Theology, 28 (Feb 1934) 67-77. There Dawson writes: “There is no longer any danger of Christians attempting to force their beliefs on others at the point of the sword or of their trying...


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