Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
Communism, Property, and Family *
Legionário, No. 688, October 14, 1945
As we saw earlier, a Communist will sacrifice himself to hasten the coming of future happiness that humanity supposedly will reach through ever-growing progress, exempting us from all suffering, all defects, and perhaps even death. Only evil—not moral evil, which Communists deny—but technical error, the only one they recognize, can delay that progress.
For Communists, the notion of a crime loses its raison d'être if that crime does not disturb the progress of humanity’s evolution toward happiness. Thus, many acts of culpable criminality cease to be such because their practical consequences do not appear in society to harm it. Only the usefulness of things for human progress makes them good or bad.
Hence, the State can use individuals and their aptitudes and capacities with tyrannical despotism. For example, the State sends a Communist couple to a region of the country with great cultural backwardness, tasked with bringing sufficient education, art, and culture befitting a civilized people. Like cogs in the wheel of the State, the couple makes a sacrifice to obey its imperious mandate. However, both are soon disheartened. The man wonders why to make such an effort since he will participate in the future happiness anyway. Besides, time means nothing to someone led by human motives, who ignores the moral law and will be happy forever.
Let us now compare some of the different motives that lead men to obey and analyze how a Communist mind and a Catholic mind work. Suppose a drunkard insults us and threatens us, and somehow we manage to avoid him. Tomorrow the same man presents himself to us in a police uniform, and we will respect him. Why? Is it for fear of punishment? Is it because if we do not do it, the whole community will feel it too has a right not to? Is it because there will no longer be order or peace? Or is it because it will cause me problems and it is better to obey?
If it is for the first reason, I will be able to disobey in secret. For if no one knows, there will be no punishment. No longer having a motive to obey, I will disobey without fear.
A Communist finds nothing wrong with the fact that a man has defrauded, disobeyed and deceived if the consequences of his immoral act do not appear, as it will not harm society’s progress when the time for happiness comes. A Catholic, however, would say, ‘You cannot do this because it is not lawful; you are responsible before God for the crime you have committed.’
The Communists’ behavior is flawed because they ignore God. They claim that people only behave well under police surveillance and fail to recognize, as do Catholics, the existence of a primary and divine authority from which the established authorities derive. If that were not the case, why would I obey my equal? This is the great Communist inconsistency, which requires “very intense” police activity and once made Churchill exclaim, “Socialism without the police is impossible.”
To prove this claim, we have the existence of the GPU and the Gestapo, concentration camps, and secret police networks that “eliminate” from the face of the earth people who slow down the march of the universe toward happiness.
This way of acting is fatal to communism because its adepts deny the right of property and private laws. And since they do not accept God or admit the moral law He established, they can only impose their ideology by employing brute force.
The Catholic Concept of Capital and Work
Ownership exists because of the very nature of things. Therefore, private property is an institution willed by God. At times, people can abuse this institution, as we can see in society. However, justice in the division of property can only exist when based on the right of private property. That said, let us note that this right has limitations. God, infinitely wise and good, gave men the right to private property. Now then, created goods should suffice for all men. Hence, one should never organize society in such a way as not to attain a perfect division.
Humans have not only the right to eat and drink but to feed themselves properly. Their clothing should not be just any cover to protect from the cold but a decent attire fitting the society to which they belong. Rich people who fail to share their surplus to help those dying of cold or hunger behave against Catholic principles. In this case, it is always opportune to recall the words of Jesus Christ that the gates of paradise will be closed to the rich who show no justice or mercy. Pius XI insists that the working class must have a sufficient and fair family wage. Once that happens, the Church is intolerant of the poor who receive their fair share but covet unattainable riches. A person who has his needs met and envies the wealth of others sins against the tenth commandment.
Any equality outside the above norms is nothing but a terrible illusion. While maintaining that everyone should have sufficient goods according to their social category, the Church stands against adventurers who abuse the poor’s just indignation by inciting them to become enemies of order and social hierarchy.
Having said something about the right of private property, let us delve into a critical point closely linked to the dire consequences that Marxist theories bring in their wake.
* * *
The Family: we have already said something about family law. Let us now consider divorce, which is very much in vogue and should not be confused with simple separation.
Is separation preferable when there is no happiness? Is free love always beneficial? To answer this question that people ask us so insistently, we start from the principle of St. Thomas: all things are said to be perfect when they completely fulfill the purpose for which they were created. If we judge marriage according to this Thomist statement, marriage fulfills the purpose for which it was instituted if it has the glory of fertility. On a second plane is a yearning for happiness to find a human being who understands and loves us. Man finds in woman affection, delicacy, virtue. The woman finds in the one who took her to the Lord’s altar and swore fidelity to her unto death, strength, support, sustenance, and virtue. Novels that employ alluring language seeking to deviate marriage from fertility—the purpose for which it was created—are mendacious and perverted, calling happiness anything but the stable mutual correspondence that legitimately satisfies both parties.
We now face the problem of how to achieve a lasting and happy union. There is no doubt that a good tree bears good fruit. So too, a marriage can only bring happiness if preceded by and based on solid principles of morals and religion. A bond that rests on this foundation is ready to face the physical wear and tear of mature age as—contrary to what it seems—beauty is not a condition for happiness. A future family man will attain this formation when he practices what he demands of his bride—the day he knows how to be pure.
When many people who mock purity admit its value and practice it, we can rest assured there is no danger of divorce because it will cease to exist. Sensuality leads a man to be unfaithful to his wife, harming himself, her, and their children. If both are unfaithful, they create an environment of insecurity, lies, and pretending, and that home will never be happy if both do not straighten up. The upshot will be dissolution, divorce, separating what God joined together forever. Contrary to the claims of many who see themselves as victims of a failed marriage, divorce is proof positive of man’s weakness rather than a remedy for it.
Resolute Catholics must rise fearlessly against this corrosive factor in society, a fatal fruit of communism, and against communism itself, uttering the words of Christ: Ego sum! I am a Catholic, and I do not compromise with a sect which clashes with the essential principles of the Church. I place all my confidence in the Bark of Peter, which will never disappear. In the shadow of the Cross from which all the fruits of Revelation flow, and in this hour of doubt over the destiny of our homeland, I turn to Jesus Christ, our King, praying that Brazil will always be the Land of the Holy Cross.
(*) Originally titled `Communism.’