restricted access In Sincerity and Earnestness: New Britain As I See It
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[ 109 In Sincerity and Earnestness: New Britain As I See It New Britain: A Weekly Organ of National Renaissance, 3 (25 July 1934) 274 I rather wish that these remarks were not to be headed “In Sincerity and Earnestness,” because I should like to think that my sincerity and earnestness could be taken for granted; but that is the Editor’s business, not mine.1 I suffer, like most of my generation, in not having been brought up to think about politics and economics. (But if we had, we would certainly have been taught wrong.) It seemed that politics could be left to an inferior class of people, actuated by vanity and love of power, who liked politics; and it seemed that economics was a special study for a set of people who were studying it in order to make a living by teaching it to the next generation who were studying it in order to make a living by teaching it, etc. It is probable that the politicians, bankers, economists, etc., of tomorrow will be the same sort of people as those who pursue these vocations today. They are the best qualified, for the primary reason that they are the sort of people who enjoy working these machines. They probably work the machine as well as it can be worked; and a later generation of them will probably provide the best people to run a better machine. They are moderately efficientatminorrepairsand road troubles.But theyarethelast people to believe that any better machine can be made. That is human nature. I do not suggest that all vocations will remain the same in New Britain. The Art of Newspaper Proprietorship will be a different art practised by different people; and the Art of Advertising will become a very minor profession indeed. From the Christian point of view there are two parallel postulates to be made: (1) That the Christian Life is not merely the affair of the individual, and that “Christian feeling” alone will not make a bad piece of machinery work. (2) A mere change of machinery is not going to get us anywhere without a revival of Christian ideals and Christian ways of living. It is an unpleasant fact to face; but you cannot leave all the work to Professor Soddy, or Major Douglas, or anyone else; you have got to do a lot of work upon yourself.2 It is ridiculous to expect the majority of people to lead Christian lives under present conditions. It is extremely difficult even for the very poor Essays, Reviews, Commentaries, and Public Letters: 1934 110 ] and for the stupid; it is almost impossible for the well-to-do and those who pass for intelligent. As a postscript to point (2), it is unlikely that any change of social machinery which is more than tinkering would fail to modify profoundly our spiritual life. Only, these modifications, even when plausibly offering immediate good, may just as easily work for the worse as for the better. The Churches cannot, of course, pick out any one political form and maintain that it is essential for the Christian Life; but they can and should denounce any political form which is either hostile to or subversive of the Christian Life. Nothing accordingly need be said about the necessary Christian attitude towards Communism, except to repeat the obvious warning against accepting any other form simply because it is anti-Communistic . As for Fascism, we have been told by its English exponent that it “synthesizes” the Nietzschean and the Christian doctrines.3 The Christian ought to know what to think of a doctrine which “synthesizes” Christianity with something else. And the Christian cannot possibly agree that any simply political reorganization can be “the greatest cause and the greatest impulse in the world.”4 There is another ground for rejecting Communism and Fascism, which is simply that they do not appear to have any solution, or even any awareness , of our real and urgent economic problems. Indeed, I gather from an articleinTheAdelphithatSocialCreditReformistobedeprecatedbecause it might make people so contented that they would turn the deaf ear to the spiritual consolations of Communism.5 While the Churches cannot advocate any particular political system, or any particular economic machinery, they can and should oppose openly all systems that make Christian virtue more difficult of practice. The present system is worse than that: it elevates Christian sin into worldly virtue. We cannot expect to extirpate the roots of sin, to kill the passions of acquisitiveness...


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