Religion and the Modern State

By Christopher Dawson | Go to book overview

PREFACE

DURING the last few years it has become increasingly clear that the whole social structure of the modern world is undergoing a process of change which not only affects politics and economics but also raises fundamental moral and religious issues. It matters little whether we regard this development as tending towards State-socialism or State-capitalism, whether we describe it as collectivist or totalitarian; the vital point is that it invokes a new relation between society and the individual and a new conception of the nature and function of the State.

Now I believe that it is a mistake to condemn this tendency out of hand as intrinsically immoral or anti‐ Christian. It may well be the case, as M. Lucien Romier and others have argued, that it is the inevitable result of the mechanization of modern economic life which involves a corresponding mass organization of political and social life. Indeed it is obvious that the political institutions and ideals which were the creation of a limited and privileged class in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are no longer suited to the needs of our modern mass-democracies with populations numbering from fifty to one hundred and sixty millions.

But while this tendency to mass organization is in itself neither good nor evil, it may easily become the vehicle of spiritual forces which claim to dominate not only the State or the economic order but the human soul itself. And this is what we are witnessing at the

-vii-

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