Religion and the Modern State

By Christopher Dawson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
THE RELIGIOUS SOLUTION

ALTHOUGH the forces of social and national idealism that are behind the new political order have in many cases brought forth evil fruits they are far from being evil or contemptible in themselves. We must admit that the passion for social justice and national renewal and the spirit of self-dedication to a common cause are good and even holy things. But on the other hand we must recognize that these ideals are neither final nor exclusive: that programmes of humanitarian or national reform, however successful, will not suffice to conquer the forces of social evil, and that if they are based on false principles they may even prove to be their ally. Above all we must remember that an exclusive and one-sided devotion to a particular object often ends by defeating the very end that it has in view. Just as German militarism ended in military defeat and the Russian Five Year Plan produced a state of general scarcity not far removed from famine, so, too, an insistence on higher wages may help to increase unemployment, and a campaign for the abolition of poverty may end in the pauperization of a whole society. If once the forces of moral indignation are enlisted on behalf of a particular political course, there is no saying what injustices and absurdities may not be perpetrated in the name of social justice.

It is the great danger of social idealism that it tends to confuse religious and political categories. The theologian says that it is better that the world should perish rather than that a single creature should commit a single

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