Project Canterbury




An Analysis in Dialectic Terms






Oratory of St. Mary and St. Michael

Cambridge, Massachusetts


Reproduced with permission.


An Analysis in Dialectic Terms


Frederic Hastings Smyth, Ph.D., Superior, S.C.C.


David Hecht, Ph.D., S.C.C.

With Historical Chart

designed by

Arcangelo Cascieri

Copyright, 1948, by the Oratory of St. Mary and St. Michael

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher.


1. D. Guest, A Textbook of Dialectical Materialism. New York, 1939.

2. D. Hecht and G. L. Mosse, "Liturgical Uniformity and Absolutism in the Sixteenth Century," Anglican Theological Review. July, 1947, Pp. 158-167.

3. A. Miller, The Christian Significance of Karl Marx. London, 1946.

4. T. Nersoyan, A Christian Approach to Communism. London, 1943.

5. H. Pirenne, Medieval Cities. Tr. Princeton, 1925.

6. H. Pirenne, Economic and Society History of Medieval Europe. Tr. New York, 1937.

7. H. M. Robertson, Aspects of the Rise of Economic Individualism. Cambridge, Eng., 1935.

8. G. Salvemini and G. LaPiana, What to Do with Italy? New York, 1943.

9. F. H. Smyth, Discerning the Lord's Body. Louisville, 1946.

10. J. Strachey, The Coming Struggle for Power, London, 1933.

11. R. H. Tawney, Religion and the Rise of Capitalism. New York, 1926.


An Analysis in Dialectic Terms

The primary object of this pamphlet, together with its historical chart, is to bring home to members of the Anglican Communion the unique task which is laid upon them in the contemporary social crisis. The chart and text, which should be used in close conjunction, present a dialectic interpretation of the period of hi story covered. From this analysis it emerges that Anglicans today are in a position of holding the key to the only Christian structure which can integrate within itself the secular structure of the imminent future. The peculiar social role which they can play in the revolutionary situation of our time is both sobering and challenging. It is hoped that the historical perspectives here presented may both recall many Sacramental Christians to a fresh sense of corporate vocation, and guide them to a proper understanding of their opportunities and duties. And, among other things, it is also hoped that the ensuing discussion may provide a well-defined and much needed intellectual content to the boast, all too often but vaguely defined, that the Anglican Communion is "both Catholic and Protestant."

The Christianity which we know today is torn internally by divergences of doctrine, and it expresses itself externally under forms of almost innumerable sects and atomistic "Churches," both Catholic and Protestant. To find our way through this bewildering and shifting maze, we need to begin by clarifying an understanding of the social structure and culture of medieval Western Europe, and of the place of the Catholic Church within the feudal society of the High Middle Ages.


Feudal-manorial society in Western Europe was founded principally upon the cultivation of the land. The great manors, the basic economic enterprises of those times, were largely self-contained. Under a system of so-called "usufacture," they produced almost exclusively to satisfy their own subsistence needs in clothing, food, and household appurtenances. This was a subsistence economy. Commerce, the exchange of manufactures or of raw materials beyond manorial confines, and the circulation of money in trade, by the time of the tenth century, were at an extremely low ebb.

The ethos of feudal social culture was relatively static, anti-commercial, or, as we should say, strongly "anti-business." Secular class stratifications were stiffly fixed. A society of noble lords, exploiting the labor of serfs--together with a priestly hierarchy, functionally integrated within the secular framework--was looked upon as a securely persisting reflection of an eternal ordination of human life under the conditions of this world. The hierarchical Church not only both expressed and sanctified the feudal structure within the level of religious ideology; it also furnished the soaring capstone whereby the pyramidal edifice of feudalism, firm on a foundation both broad and deep within the land of this material world, rose aloft to part and overpass the clouds of the floor of heaven.

Yet the feudal-manorial economic structure, in spite of its own fundamental presuppositions and attitudes, could not be a completely self-contained one, nor could it succeed entirely in excluding every trace of trade and commerce. Certain necessary and vital supplies, of which salt was an outstanding example, and certain luxury items, such as spices from the Orient, had to be brought from a distance to the great manorial estates. To supply these needs that had developed within an [2/3] essentially non-commercial society, we find, as the slow course of the Middle Ages moved on, ever-increasing numbers of adventurers--often part-time pirates--and vagabond peddlers or mercatores. These men were unattached to the land of any particular estate. Unlike the serfs, who were so attached by ancient law and custom, the mercatores were men coming and going from East to West, men neither serfs nor lords, but tradespeople in a primitive way, acquiring goods in distant parts, or wherever they might be available, and selling them at a profit--often "unjust" in the language of the School-men's casuistry--to others who could not make or obtain them within their own estates. In this class of often piratical, and always errant, merchants, so little at home in the structure of the fixed manorial economy, and yet, paradoxically, so necessary to the welfare and continuance of the latter, are seen the germs of what was to become the bourgeois merchant class of a later age.

The merchant-wanderers of medieval times required some relatively protected stations to get through the winters. Travel, even for unencumbered pilgrims, was impractical during a season when the roads became mere seas of mud or wastes of snow. But the mercatores had not only to consider their own personal winter welfare, but also the safety of their valuable stocks of goods. And to this end they sought out certain already existing strongholds with room enough to accommodate them within their walls; or they found habitable areas sufficiently near such strongholds that they could be furnished with new and adjoining fortifications appropriate to their needs. Many ancient Roman towns, once thriving commercial centers within an older economy, had lingered on to take whatever importance now remained to them from the fact that they had become administrative centers of the feudal episcopal seas. Their earlier walls in general still stood and had, in fact, often been repaired and strengthened by their episcopal occupants. These were suited to the purposes of the merchants. Likewise, with the [3/4] weakening and collapse of the Carolingian Empire, and concomitantly spreading Incursions of Norman and Saracen invaders, fortified castles, or burgs, had been multi plied as centers of secular administration throughout the feudal countryside. These too, when the time arrived, could well serve the itinerant traders in their need for protection against both dangerous winters and marauding human beings. And, in addition, not a few thriving trading centers developed in medieval times on completely new sites for entirely commercial reasons.

The trading activities of the mercatores kept growing both in volume and in commercial importance. As a result, their commercial requirements finally outgrew the accommodations of both burgs and episcopal cities. An emergent merchant class began to build its own walled towns beyond the precincts of the fortifications of its earlier feudal hosts. Thus, in the course of time, trading cities outside the burgs and other fortified sites--forisburgi or faubourgs--spread out and grew to important sizes. By the end of the Crusading era, the western European mercatores, now in significantly large numbers all-year round residents of their towns, were growing into a new economic class of people, not only traders, but also producers in many cases of the things they sold: the "burghers," or the "bourgeoisie." And notwithstanding a long-attempted accommodation to the cramping requirements of the feudal structure (by means of corporate and hierarchical urban-guild organization), over several hundred years of uneasy growth within feudalism, these "new men" did ultimately free them selves from the impeding bonds of a feudal-manorial economy, law and custom. There arose a saying: Stadtluft macht frei. "Town air makes people free"! For even the feudal serfs could escape from their land-ties by entering towns and working for the merchants. And the bourgeoisie ended by overthrowing the old feudal social system entirely, by conquering political power, and by establishing a new commercial structure and an [4/5] accompanying new culture of their own. It is worthy of note that In this process, even many of the old feudatories and great land-holders, adjusting themselves to the new money economy spreading from the commercial towns, entered into a long-term "agricultural revolution" which in the end was to transform their former strictly feudal structure into a society of profit-making agricultural entrepreneurs.

In the terminology of dialectic analysis, the feudal-manorial structure is called the thesis of this historical process. The trader class, antipathetic by reason of its mobility and commercialism to the feudal thesis, and yet arising necessarily from the needs developing within its own framework, is the antithesis. This antithesis, in the course of time becomes so strong, and yet remains not only continuingly, but increasingly, antipathetic to the thesis which gave it birth, that it overturns the thesis itself in what we call the Bourgeois Revolution. In the course of centuries there issues finally from this overturn the synthesis of that bourgeois, industrial, individualist society which we have known in the modern world.


The Catholic Church of the medieval period had, as we have seen, been a true religious expression of the genius of the feudal-manorial structure. The Church both expressed and sanctified the static, hierarchical, and anti-commercial character of the High Middle Ages. But the new individualism, roving and exploring freedom, and adventurous commercialism of the rising bourgeoisie, demanded a new religious sanction, as well as new modes of spiritual expression. These could not be found within an unmodified medieval Catholicism. The ascendent bourgeoisie therefore finally found its own religious correspondence predominantly in what came to be called Protestantism, a new form of Christianity which [5/6] emphasized private judgment in matters of man's relations with God, individualistic piety, tolerance of religious enquiry and of reinterpretation of the ancient and hitherto fixed dogmas of the Church. Thus, as it were, riding upon the surface of the primary social dialectic which moved in the level of the deep economic change from manorial economy and feudalism to bourgeois industrialism and "free enterprise," there moved a kind of secondary or dependent dialectic within the religious superstructure. Protestantism, beginning as the spiritual sanctification of the secular bourgeois antithesis with in manorial-feudalism, became by this very fact a religious antithesis within that Catholicism which was the ancient religious expression and sanctification of the static medieval economy. But Protestantism triumphant, in correspondence with the primary initial bourgeois anti thesis, continued at first many of the corporate social characteristics of that older feudal thesis which it was in process of overthrowing. For the bourgeois trader class did not at the outset develop a society of completely competitive and individualistic free enterprise. Under the aegis of absolutist and semi-absolutist monarchs, it first set up that society of monopolistic state-chartered enterprises called mercantilism. Victorious Protestantism too, with its initial political dependence upon secular princes, had in its corresponding beginnings a much more corporate consciousness than it knows today. And this consciousness, furthermore, was enhanced by the preaching of social submissiveness by Luther and other Reformation divines. But eventually, when the bourgeois revolution had further fulfilled it self, Protestantism too developed its correspondingly almost completely individualist religious ethos to match the stark individualism of laissez-faire and a politically "liberal" society. Thus modern Protestantism has emerged in the end as a genuine religious synthesis, corresponding to the secular synthesis which gives us bourgeois industrial capitalism. The feudal-manorial structure of the Middle Ages had been overthrown; the [6/7] structure of that medieval Catholicism which sanctified and expressed it has, however, only in part been over thrown. In part it survives in the form of the Roman Catholic Church, a kind of case-hardened structure with a continuing "life of its own," an entity which can be labelled a remnant-thesis.

A critic might suggest that feudalism too remains in a present bourgeois world as a corresponding secular remnant-thesis in the persons of the hereditary aristocracy of European society. In a sense this is also true. However, the case of the surviving ancient nobility is somewhat different from that of the Roman Church. In most countries of Europe, the feudal nobility has, to be sure, survived in part, but not after the manner of an organized entity such as that exhibited by the medieval Church. It is true that in parts of Europe feudal primogenitures and entails still bestow economic power, often very significant, upon certain individuals. But whatever feudally inherited political rights the aristocracy retains by reason of its titles, as for example in modern England, are now of only token importance. The last significant political powers of the House of Lords had been shorn from it by the decade of the twenties. On the continent the position of the nobility has been reduced even more obviously to the level of mere upper-crust "society." The nobles are now mere parasites upon the dominant social group of the bourgeoisie, although they are often suffered gladly in this role by their bourgeois hosts as a ladder of snobbery and social climbing. It is interesting that in England, while the House of Lords now has little structural relation to the political and economic organization of the state, the economic position of the aristocracy clearly shows its dependence upon bourgeois capitalism. The ranks of the lesser nobility especially, are filled with merchants, industrialists, professional men and financiers, whose social relevance is of a completely capitalist determination; while the members of the higher nobility too [7/8] have become industrial stockholders, rentiers, or diplomats and military and naval leaders whose vestigially medieval ranks have nothing to do with their actual social functions.


The dialectic process of history never ceases to move. And the triumphant bourgeois structure has now developed its own antithesis within itself. The bourgeois class, which once played antithesis to the feudal lords who had, in an earlier age, monopolized political, as well as material, power, now finds itself in the position of a new thesis within which an antithetical class of wage-workers has matured in such strength and numbers that the bourgeois thesis finds itself threatened in its turn with a new political power turnover. Furthermore, this political turnover has already taken place within the USSR, and with this beginning, a new social world-synthesis is now in the making. This will almost certainly issue in the socialist order of the future. But one of the most notable features of this contemporary social dialectic is that it expresses it self exclusively in secular, and what it is pleased to call "scientifically material," terms. Whereas the feudal-bourgeois revolution made full, indeed almost exclusive, use of the terminologies of its corresponding religious ideologies in setting forth its social analyses and in expressing its conflicts, controversies, and aims, the secular revolutionary forces of this age almost violently disavow any religious ideological connections whatever. In other words, the secular dialectic process has now moved out from under its former religious superstructure, and has left this superstructure hanging in mid-air.


Before going further, we must return to the bourgeois revolution in its Protestant Reformational aspect; for the movement within the religious structure of that age presents some interesting and rather complicated anomalies. The secular revolution, with its political and economic overturn of the feudal thesis by its bourgeois antithesis, moved on to realize itself in the synthesis of full capitalist nineteenth-century "free enterprise." In this movement it succeeded by and large in drawing its religious correlative, Protestant Christianity, along with it. It drew it first through an antithetical break with medieval Catholicism, next through the more or less organically corporate religious structures of which Lutheranism and Calvinism were outstanding examples, and finally into the completely corresponding religious synthesis of modern individualist Protestantism. But while the secular structure of manorial feudalism was, in this revolution, completely overturned by its secular antithesis, and then subsumed in wholly transformed relations within the ensuing synthesis of capitalism, the medieval superstructural religious thesis of Catholicism was not thus completely overthrown in organized form. This is, no doubt, due to the fact that the religious dialectic of the Reformation was, as has been hinted, a secondary dialectic, borne along upon the deeper and primary movement within the secular level. Neither did the portion of the Catholic Church which survived the bourgeois revolution permit itself, after the manner of the broken secular structure of the feudal nobles, to assume the position of a mere parasite upon the new capitalist order. On the contrary, much of the original thesis not only survived the shock of the disappearance of that feudal-manorial structure of which it had been a functional expression; it still survives to day as an organized remnant-thesis alongside that religious synthesis of a Protestantism which is the present [9/10] sole expression of Christianity corresponding function ally to the secular capitalist synthesis which engulfed manorial feudalism. The position of this organized Roman remnant thesis within a capitalist world is therefore anomalous. It manages to "get along" with capitalist individualism by the expedient of presenting its religion in terms of private pietism and of individualist, next-worldly, extricationism (i.e. "soul saving"). For the time being it apes the ethos of Protestantism in this regard. But for a surviving medieval Catholicism, this presentation of its religion must always remain an opportunistic compromise of the moment. The corporate, organically social and hierarchical nature of this Catholicism, corresponding to the feudal-manorial structure--again, unlike the secular feudal structure of the nobility--still survives unchanged. Developed Protestantism, with its essentially individualist character and spirituality, is the only true contemporary religious synthesis which, by virtue of its very nature, can express without com promise, reservation or simulation, the individualist genius of full capitalism. The Roman Catholic Church of the western world today is the old religious thesis of a medieval secular order now long since vanished from beneath it. Post-Reformational Roman Catholicism--consolidated in its own "Counter-reformation"--is therefore a surviving religious remnant-thesis seeking restlessly hither and thither for some new secular structure within which it may again become functionally anchored. We shall see presently what the character of this anxiously sought structure, in the nature of the case, must be.


But still another thing happened at the time of the Reformation. Protestantism moved on its own logical way to become the religiously autonomous expression of individualist capitalism. Feudal Catholicism, unlike its secular analogue, managed to survive in the form of the Latin Church owing sole allegiance to the See of Rome. [10/11] But in England the logical fulfilment of the religious dialectic was, as it were, caught in mid-flight. Here, for nationalist reasons of state consolidation, Protestantism was neither permitted to go forward to its normal synthesis as the functional expression of secular individualism, nor was the ancient thesis of Catholicism permitted to continue an independent and autonomous "life of its own." Emergent Protestantism and surviving Catholicism were forcibly conjoined within a new and artificially contrived structure known as the Anglican Communion. Within this Anglican structure, therefore, the dialectic action and counter-action between Catholic thesis and Protestant antithesis were congealed, or temporarily petrified. They ceased to function in a moving interpenetration proper to a live thesis and antithesis. Tensions between them remained, to be sure--and have remained to this day. But these are not now the pregnant tensions of a dialectic process; for by an over-ruling and often violently imposed will of English state power, insisting upon a secular national unity at all costs, the religious dialectic process within Anglicanism was immobilized at the time of what is most appropriately called the Elizabethan Settlement.

The fulfilment of the Reformational dialectic took place outside of Anglicanism. Calvinism, Lutheranism, and later, Puritanism separating itself from Anglicanism, proved to be the true foundations or beginnings of the religious synthesis of that complete Protestant individualism required by later western capitalism. Anglicanism, therefore, by a freak of history contains within a single legalistically contrived structure, a Protestantism caught in its emergent antithetical form, Simultaneously, it contains a Catholicism still possessing the potentialities for dialectical interplay and development with its Protestant antithesis, caught before the latter could engulf it in the Protestant synthesis--but a Catholicism also which has been prevented from being hardened into that independent remnant-thesis which has [11/12] been the fate of the Catholicism centered in Rome. And this is why the Anglican Communion is not a true religious dialectic synthesis following the logic of the Protestant Reformation. It is instead a synthetic structure which catches a portion of the dialectic flow of the religious thesis and antithesis of the Reformation in a kind of chrysalis. But this is not said in derogation of the Anglican structure, but rather in its present praise; for t may be precisely out of this now dormant, but still living chrysalis, that the wakened being of the Catholicism of the new age shall before long emerge to spread its fresh and gorgeous wings.

But Anglican Christianity, so long as it remains frozen and dormant in its present pupal state, is literally powerless to make any constructive contribution to the current dialectic movement of history. While the rigid and internally self-contradictory religious immobility of the Elizabethan Settlement persists--and is, furthermore, sedulously fostered by conservative power and authority--every attempted forward step in either a Catholic or a Protestant direction is immediately cancelled and nullified by a corresponding absolute and static contradiction artificially ensconced within the Anglican structure. For the existing tensions within Anglicanism are, as we have said, not the tensions of a fruitfully moving dialectic, but are logical contradictions arbitrarily fused together by an Elizabethan force majeure. And the result is, as any candid critic must admit, a complete present historical sterility. The official movements of current Anglicanism do, in fact, remind one of those feeble squirmings which one can induce in a winter chrysalis by poking it with a stick long before the warmth of spring arrives. The dialectic of contemporary Anglicanism still remains as frozen as it was in the sixteenth century. indeed, modern Anglicanism is even more socially ineffective than it was in that earlier time; for the immediate and local purpose which its artificially contrived structure once did [12/13] really serve, that of bolstering a budding English mercantilist nationalism, has long since ceased to have any meaning whatever. Therefore the present condition of Anglicanism is merely prophetic of future potentialities, potentialities which are visible only to a discerning and dialectically practised eye. They will come into actuality only with a radical reactivation of the dialectic within the entire structure of the Anglican Communion.


As we have said, we are now in the midst of a new dialectically revolutionary movement. The secular antithesis of the wage-working proletariat now moves to overturn its bourgeois capitalist thesis. The new synthesis of a socialist society is in its incipient making. But the secular dialectic of today moves in dependently and without feeling the need of homologizing with itself a superstructure of religious ideologies either to explain or to bless it. In this, the con temporary secular revolution differs greatly from that of the age of the Reformation. Furthermore, again in contrast to that earlier revolution, that of today carries men not from a corporate organic social order to one of extreme individualism, but quite the other way round. Currently we move from the extreme individualism of the bourgeois world, to a new corporateness and non-individualist communalism of a scientifically planned socialist order.

But while our present secular revolution now moves as one disdaining all homologous religious integration, there nevertheless remain in our world those Christian religious structures we have here canvassed: the medieval "remnant-thesis" of the Roman Church, the bourgeois religious synthesis of individualist Protestantism, and the Anglican Communion. This latter now world-wide structure, by a trick of insular English national history [13/14] out of which it has grown, stilt enshrines, as we have secular structure can ever hope to offer. Where may we now demonstrated, something of both Catholic thesis and Protestant antithesis of immediately pre-Reformational times. And in this Anglican structure, Catholic thesis and Protestant anti thesis have been arrested before their dialectic interaction has moved to its completion. These two antithetical elements are therefore, for the time being, dialectically inactive; but for this very reason they still possess a potentiality for further dialectic movement in history if only once again their forces can be released to act. On the basis of this analysis we may be able in a general way to assign the roles which these three Christian structures will play as the current secular revolution moves to its climax. For those who believe that Christianity enshrines man's deepest and truest insights into that real world in which he finds himself, cannot follow Marxists and certain other lesser humanists who now think that within an achieved socialist order all religious ideologies will simply and quietly disappear. Reflective Christians, on the other hand, hold that in the end the social organism of the Incarnation will subsume within its sacrificial structure whatever socialist order the future age achieves. This will mean the establishment of nothing less than a single sacramental order of human life as a whole, one in which the Christian religious structure no longer plays the role of a mere compartment in human life, but instead, comes to include every phase of life within its own all-embracing order. Be it noted that this envisages a radical advance beyond the position of traditional Christianity, even in its best previous moments within Western history. For, let us be frank, Christianity--at any rate since its official state recognition under Constantine--has continuingly permitted itself to be maneuvered into the position of an epiphenomenon relative to its contemporary secular world. We, on the contrary, are here envisaging a Christianity which will once again "move in" upon the secular process and ordain it to an Incarnational and sacramental redemption which no mere [14/15] secular structure can ever hope to offer. Where may we now find the seed of this future Christian form? We shall now consider severally from this point of view the three presently available Christian structures.


Firstly, Protestantism, in so far as it remains a religion of individualist personal relations with God (i.e. insofar as it remains Protestantism), will be in principle unable to provide a corporate religious structure within which the approaching corporate secular structure may be integrated. Furthermore, the individualist spirituality of Protestantism has, in the course of its history, developed a strong non-sacramental--in certain quarters, even an anti-sacramental--bias. This bias has been the logical outcome of an emphasis which views all religion as at its highest a "purely spiritual" matter; and which therefore finds it possible to dispense with material objects as the necessary agents with in every spiritual relation, as the necessary bearers of every spiritual movement, in which men are involved. The Christian Sacraments in Protestantism, in so far as they persist, have become psychologically subjectivised. And this abandonment of materially mediating Sacraments as essentially necessary to all Christian spiritual advance has placed Protestantism in an idealistic, rather than in a functionally related, position over against the material social order. Protestantism has thus set up a theoretically based dichotomy between man's "soul" and his body, even while this may now be contrary to the present inclinations of many humanitarianly-minded Protestant individuals. Such Protestants are therefore concerned with the social order in some sense in spite of, rather than because of, the theoretical position of their professed religion. And Protestantism has thus robbed its version of Christianity of that central resource of Incarnational sacramental religion which [15/16] will enable the latter to become structurally (rather than idealistically) integrated with a future rationally organized, materially socialized, human order.

Protestants in large numbers may well go along with the current secular revolution, both in thought and action, but they can integrate themselves with it only as they embrace the new humanist corporateness of that revolution. For their own religious ideology, because of its prior historical role as the spiritual analogue of bourgeois individualism, remains completely antipathetic to a communal order which must, by its very nature, have a certain dialectic priority allotted to it over the individuals who compose it. The real Protestantism of spiritual individualism may therefore be expected to serve as one of the bastions of the bourgeois status quo. Hence we may expect it either to be overturned completely by the current secular revolutionary process; or it may linger on as an essentially non-functional and more or less harmless Protestant religious remnant-thesis (e.g. as the Baptists survive in the contemporary USSR). This remnant-thesis may well be carried forward from the bourgeois world into a Socialist one, much as the Roman Church has remained in the capitalist order as the religious remnant-thesis of a vanished feudalism.

Secondly, on the other hand, the Roman Church, surviving as it does from the days of a corporate feudal order, in spite of all its current bourgeois accommodations to spiritual individualism, can still offer a highly corporate and hierarchical structure for those who seek it there. But the distinctive attribute of this Roman structure is that it remains medieval! It survives as the thesis of a long bygone time whose dialectically active days are completely played out with the overthrow of the feudal system. Its Protestant antithesis long since overturned its functional relationship with the manorial-feudal order; and the Protestant synthesis, leaving Rome "high and dry," then fulfilled itself in [16/17] the bourgeois order. Therefore this surviving feudal Church, crystallized since its own Counter-reformation in an ever more rigidly authoritarian hierarchy than it possessed in medieval times, cannot move dialectically forward to integrate itself with the future socialist order. It can do no more than call men nostalgically back to the shadow of that dead medieval world with which it was once integrated. And a feudal hierarchical structure, re-presented today in the framework of a disintegrating capitalism, is no more nor less than a fascist corporate state. Hence the Roman Church's propensity for alliances with secular fascism, as in Mussolini's Italy; and its eagerly offered support to such contemporary clerical fascist states as Spain and Portugal. Men of good will who seek a corporate Christianity befitting the future secular communality for which they also now work, need to be wary of the specious blandishments of the Roman claim to have ready to hand that which they require; for here is corporateness in the religious level which is impotent to move forward with the current secular dialectic. It can only trap men into the static corporateness of an extreme and remote medieval reaction.


Before analysing the position of the Anglican Communion relative to current secular history, we must digress to consider an interesting religious phenomenon of the moment called the "Oecumenical Movement." Protestantism, as a religion of individualistic spirituality, seeks quite naturally, in the last analysis, to maintain the individualistic secular culture of bourgeois capitalism. This is, in fact, the only culture in which it can be thoroughly at home, and to which the developed doctrines of the Protestant synthesis, those of the so-called "unique value of the individual," alone in the sight of God and apart from a necessary corporate human context, apply. The belief of Protestantism is that even [17/18] the corporateness of the Church, in so far as this emerges at all, is but a secondary outgrowth from the "free" association of atomistically "saved" individuals. And if this seems a radical denial of social Incarnational theology, it is, nevertheless not an unfair generalized appraisal of the Protestant position.

The Roman Church, on the other hand, with its surviving feudal corporateness, seeks a much more radical reaction. She seeks such a re-presentation of feudalism as may be suitable to what even Rome now recognizes, however reluctantly, as an irrevocably industrialized age. This modernized feudalism give us, as has already been said, the corporative states of fascism exemplified in Spain, Portugal, and lately in Argentina. But current organized Protestantism and Rome are now discovering that they possess one highly important point in common. They both would prevent by every means the advent of Socialism. Rome detests Socialism because this stands for a democratic material emancipation of the working masses from am hierarchical, undemocratic control, by members of the present privileged owning class, over the means of industrial production. Rome fears--and quite properly--that her own hierarchical spiritual authoritarianism, culminating in an "infallible" Roman pontiff, will be overthrown in any such mew, free and democratic communality of secular organization. And organized Protestantism hates Socialism because, by and large, the supporters of the Protestant Churches are precisely those members of the owning class who will lose their present economic power with the advent of Socialism.

Therefore, in this age, a significant religious movement is taking shape. This is an urgent drawing together, not only among the divided sects of Protestants themselves, but between the Protestant World Council of Churches and the Vatican. Rome, to be sure, would return to feudalism. Protestantism would do no more than pre serve the bourgeois status quo. Temperamentally it would [18/19] prefer not to go all the feudal way with Rome. But both are quite clear about the fact that they do not wish to go forward in a dialectic overturn of capitalism, and into a democratic socialist synthesis. In the shadow of the threat of Socialism, the controversies and divisions of the beginnings of the bourgeois revolution and of the Protestant Reformation, now pale into insignificance. And disagreement about the extent of intended social reaction are held in abeyance. This is precisely the tactic of European Rightest political groups. The Protestant World Council of Churches and the Vatican discover that they have "many practical aims" in common, for the preservation of what is euphemistically called "Christian civilization."

It is true that in certain levels of thinking considerable antipathy to Rome still survives among Protestants. Thus, Protestant opposition is found against the use of public secular funds to assist in one way or another the conduct of American Roman parochial schools. During both the Roosevelt and the Truman administrations, Protestant bodies, as well as influential individuals, have tried to force the recall of the President's "Personal Envoy" (an Ambassador in everything but name) from the Vatican. Also, a few Protestant leaders bravely warm against Rome's intentions for an over-extreme political reaction to feudal fascism. But in the light of the existing deeper agreement between the vast majority of present Protestants and the Vatican in a common opposition to socialist revolution, historical realists will evaluate these superficial frictions between the two great divisions of 'Christianity" as relatively unimportant. The radical opposition of Re formation days between Rome and Protestantism is a thing of the past and does not correspond to present material realities. Protestantism, because its progressive antithetical role upon the dialectic stage of history is played out in the mature bourgeois synthesis, now ceases to protest. And if it comes to an attempt to range [19/20] Protestantism as a whole against the Vatican's reactionary world politics, and to gain positive official support for a socialist and proletarian overturn of capitalism, a mere dispute about parochial schools--or even present Protestant warnings against Rome's fascist plans--will turn out to be but weak reeds for progressives to lean upon. Witness the fact that President Truman pays no attention to a request from a section of his own Baptist Church to withdraw his envoy to the Pope: and another group of Baptists pay homage to His Holiness, telling him to pay no attention to their protesting brethren. Top level Protestantism is already murmuring: 'Le Capitalisme vaut bien une messe'!

Thus the 'Oecumenical Movement' gets under way, with new rapprochements in the religious level, sinking Reformational divergences (once of such vital historical import in the earlier times they served) in forming a modern united front against the common enemy of "Western Democracy"--now turned into monopoly capitalism: The approaching Socialist Revolution.

That this anti-socialist united front shall be made the more effective, Protestantism itself has many divisions to heal. The very breath of life for Protestantism has been historically its spiritual individualism. This individualism ought, it would sees, logically to lead to the establishment of as many "Churches" or sects as there are individual Christians, each man making for himself his own "free" interpretations of Christian "truth." Protestantism has never quite come to this logical extreme, but denominational sects have multiplied in extraordinary numbers. These sects are really a natural religious expression of the competitive spirit of bourgeois capitalism. In the earlier days of their proliferation they were viewed as signs of genuine spiritual vigor and health. Now, all that is past. Sectarian differences are now discovered to be "unimportant." Protestants discover that they ought not to squabble about [20/21] "minutiae" of doctrine. The main thing is to be "Christian," and to "follow Christ as Lord and Saviour," on a sentimental, rather than on an intellectually agreed (i.e. rational), basis, it seems that this present 'spiritual' drawing together of Protestantism is in complete correspondence with the disappearance of genuine bourgeois business competition, and with the advent of large-scale cartel business monopolies.

On this non-doctrinal, vaguely "spiritual," and sentimentally irrational basis, Protestantism begins to achieve the unification of its sects. By and large, to modern Protestants, sectarian divisions no longer appear to make sense. Since the business organizations of the greater capitalists now transcend an earlier bourgeois competition, why should such capitalists compete in Church? Why not devise a "spiritual cartel"? Religious competition, like genuine industrial competition, is now seen as inefficient. This inefficiency is particularly evident and grievous in the foreign mission fields where Christian mission organizations are often being called upon to combat highly corporate people movements,--for "Christian" purposes called "red atheism,"--as in China today. And in a somewhat more superficial, but none the less important level, Protestants of the upper classes find that in secular social life in their own countries--the life that really natters--they no longer have cause for ideological antagonisms. These people find perfect social harmony in their secular schools, their universities, their business offices and their clubs. Why should they preserve a merely traditional but outmoded disharmony in Church? And all this, of course, is also another excellent illustration of the secondary, derivative and epiphenomenal character of most "Christian" thinking.

Moved by the exigencies of deep material forces the pressure for a new "spiritual reunion" among Protestants grows apace, as befits people who are drawn objectively [21/22] together in what is for them the really vital level of a common front against proletarian movements, as these threaten a materiel position the task of whose preservation clearly transcends all other and earlier ideological divergences. And so an increasingly agglomerated Protestantism, through its organized World Council, flirts even with its former most bitter enemy, the Vatican. Here it suggests that a common "Christian action" be laid down within this crisis. And to further this "Christian unity' a Protestant President of the United States, referring (unconstitutionally, of course, as well as statistically inaccurately) to his own country as a Christian country," courts the Roman Pope for united political action to preserve our "Christian ideals." In this he seems untroubled by the fact that the outposts of a "Christian" United States are now being builded in a Muslim Turkey and Saudi Arabia, in a Taoist--Buddhist China, and in a Buddhist-Shinto Japan. At the same time he excludes by implication from his own "Christian" circle the many millions of Orthodox Catholics in the Soviet Union and the rest of the ancient Christian East.

All this cozy getting together of Western bourgeois "Christendom" into what is becoming ever more clearly a united front to invigorate with pious religious emotions the primary material capitalist drive against Socialism and a democratic people's Communism, goes under the name of the "Oecumenical Movement." As one might expect, this sentimental and anti-rational "movement" is still some what formless. So far, it is scarcely more than a congenial sentiment which sparkles the eyes and pricks the ears of reactionary Christian romantics everywhere. Appropriately enough, the prime movers within it seem to have been the Protestant Episcopal and Presbyterian Churches, notoriously the religious bodies chiefly sup ported by the wealthiest members of the bourgeoisie. In some of the older missionary regions, the movement has been supported by other Protestant--and rather less [22/23] "nice"--sects, the Methodists, the Baptists and the Congregationalists. And within its vague boundaries the Oecumenical Movement has also collected a certain number of adherents from among declassed Christian idealists in the labor movement; and, of course, support has been found among certain members of the leisured remnant-aristocracy.

The Oecumenical Movement ought therefore to be evaluated for what it is. No doubt it receives sincere support from many fine, if confused, people who call themselves Christian, in some sense or other, in our contemporary world. But regardless of what many or most of these people concerned in it think about themselves, the objective truth remains that this Christian "Oecumenicity" is just one more sentimental, and partly organized, propaganda tool for bourgeois reaction. It ought to be added that the Vatican is no doubt entirely clear-eyed about this situation. In so far as Rome cooperates "Oecumenically" at all in a practical political level, the level of preserving "Christian civilization in the Western world," it will be for the better furtherance, not of the bourgeois "democracy" of the Protestants, but for the achievement of that feudal fascism which is her inalterable secular social goal.

We may well expect to see the friendly cooperation between "liberal" Protestant supporters of capitalism and the fascist hierarchy of the Roman Church become more intimate and coordinated as the present historical process moves forward, in the face of this increasing intimacy, it will become increasingly difficult for professing Christians, who at the same time wish to aid the advent of the new Socialism, to be accepted by secular revolutionaries as men of genuine good will. As the Vatican continues to gain support in Protestant circles in its anti-socialist crusade, Christianity it self, as we now know it, and religion in general, will become more and more disreputable in the eyes of decent [23/24] people. This will be one of the certain fruits of Oecumenicism.


We have now rejected the possibility that modern Protestantism can be the religious expression of the Socialist economic and political structure of our nearing future. Its individualistic, non-Sacramental,--often, indeed, anti-Sacramental--spirituality is entirely the expression of a bourgeois capitalist structure soon to vanish.

Neither can the Roman Catholic remnant-thesis supply the present germ for a future religious structure appropriate to a dawning Socialism. Its rigidly authoritarian nature, rooted firmly in the fascist spiritual prerogatives of the anti-democratic Bishop of Rome, must prevent its integration with any modern secular order other than that of a fascist state.

But because the contemporary Anglican chrysalis still maintains both the democratic and individual values of Protestantism, and at the same time presents the social corporateness of ancient Catholicism, it does offer a most promising seed for the growth of a religiously integrated Socialism. In Anglicanism is enshrined a Catholicism which, because of peculiar historical circumstances, still retains its moving dialectic potentialities. And even the Protestantism in Anglicanism, since it was immobilized before it could move on, as it did outside of Anglicanism, to its later synthesis of complete spiritual individualism, still retains a certain earlier corporate character elsewhere unknown to it. It is the present task of Anglicans to reactivate that dialectic movement which lies so close to their grasp because in the reign of Queen Elizabeth it was brought to a full stop (it was Settled!) before its dynamic internal forces were spent. It is the task of [24/25] Anglicans in this generation to reactivate the Protestant-Catholic dialectic in such wise that it may move forward to a fresh synthesis, not within a now dying bourgeois social order, but within the approaching secular synthesis of Socialism.


The most interesting feature of this newly activated dialectic within Anglicanism will be that the former dialectic relationships between its Protestantism and its Catholicism will be reversed, it ought here to be pointed out that within modern Anglicanism there are now found serious infiltrations of developed bourgeois Protestantism on the one hand, and of Romanized Counter-reformational Catholicism on the other. These are both alien to the Anglican structure. Therefore, as the genuinely Anglican dialectic begins to move again, both of these alien elements will be sloughed off in their appropriate directions. Then, Anglican "early stage," or "arrested stage," Protestantism will no longer function as the antithesis to medieval Catholicism, as in its origin it began to do in Reformation times. It will now fall into the position of a religious thesis, corresponding to the dying secular thesis of bourgeois society. But Anglican Catholicism, reinvigorated, and freshly conscious of its communal and world-redeeming Incarnational vocation, providentially cut loose from a sterile Roman anchorage to a static medievalism, can assume the new role of antithesis to overthrow and to subsume a vanishing bourgeois Protestantism within itself, and cause to emerge a new Incarnational Catholic synthesis. In this way the Anglican Catholic antithesis will be moving correlatively with the antithetical material overturn of bourgeois industrialism by the latter's own proletarian antithesis, as this in turn now moves to initiate its secular socialist synthesis.

At the same time, a newly aroused and dynamic Anglican [25/26] Catholicism will have its part together with the current secular proletarian antithesis, in the destruction of the Roman feudal religious remnant-thesis, for whose fascist corporateness there can be no room whatever in a socialist world. And thus, ancient Catholicism, once again vital and active within Anglicanism, emerging now as a fresh antithesis to bourgeois Protestantism, will arise anew as a Christianity sacramentally communal and organically liturgical as of old. Then it will be transformed in all its relationships within the new world a-borning, to become the crowning Catholicism appropriate to that communal order which will be found among men made free in the Socialism of our approaching post-revolutionary age.

Project Canterbury