I am asked some interesting questions by a reader and will answer, with the indulgence of my other readers.
What is my assessment of King George III or his successors prior to Elizabeth II?
In simple terms, I think the monarchy began to improve under King George III and the recognition of his position by both the Pope and the Cardinal Duke of York (the true King of England) enhanced his legitimacy.
Thereafter, I think, we may safely assume that the Hanoverian dynasty gains sufficient legitimacy by the simple fact of its secure establishment and longevity, together with recognition in international law and by the Pope and the real claimant, and an attempt at restoration of the Stuarts, especially as they no longer made a claim, would have been morally doubtful.
George IV was fat and idle and abandoned his real – and Catholic – wife and William IV was a debauchee, having 10 children by Mrs Jordan, his mistress, giving rise to many Fitzwilliams and Fitzclarences (he had been Duke of Clarence before he was King).
Nevertheless, I think the time had probably passed to contemplate overthrowing them in favour of the Stuarts.
However, the American, and particularly the French, Revolution had opened up a whole new – and terrifyingly immoral – concept of rebellion and revolution and many now sought to overthrow the Hanoverian monarchy for entirely immoral, spurious and wholly anti-Christian reasons.
Thomas Jefferson was one such spurious and hypocritical revolutionary.
I do not admire revolutionaries and Jefferson is no exception. Indeed, he is exceptionally unattractive since he kept slaves, had a child by a slave whom he further kept as a slave, and yet bleated loudly about “freedom” and “liberty”.
It was of him that Dr Johnson said “Why is it that the cries for liberty come loudest from the drivers of slaves?”.
Jefferson also supported the French Revolution, at least to start with, and even said that “the tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants” meaning King Louis XVI who was, by no stretch of the imagination, a tyrant. Indeed, Jefferson was more of a tyrant than Louis XVI.
It is true that Jefferson would almost certainly have supported the South in the War between the States but that is not enough to exonerate him.
Jefferson had, however, some good ideas about States’ Rights and was generally a decentralist which is good and reflects the Catholic concept of subsidiarity. But he was otherwise deeply anti-Catholic and hostile to the Catholic Church.
Robert E. Lee was, as I have said, a Christian gentleman – not perfect, of course, since he was not yet a Catholic. He supported the Constitution, even though it had been forged by revolutionaries, because, by his time, the idea of restoring the British monarchy to America was impossible and so he had a moral obligation to be loyal to the Constitution as it then was – which he did and which is why he fought for that Constitution and, in particular, the States’ Rights guaranteed by it.
I am asked what I think of Alexander Hamilton but I think it unwise to say as I do not know enough about him.
I am also asked what I think of the growth of capitalism and whether I am against it, as I appear to be, and if I am against it then wouldn’t I be deprived of the Internet without it.
Well, it depends what one means by capitalism. If one means “free enterprise” and “industry” then who can be against those except some crazy Communist or mad Marxist? And manifestly industry gave us the Internet.
But if one means Capitalism, with a big “C”, and/or a system of unrestricted capital accumulation by a few, or by anyone who can so accumulate, without regard to the moral laws that must bind the community of men, then, yes, I am against it.
In particular, I am against the sin of usury, condemned by the Catholic Church, solemnly and repeatedly, at more than one General Council, this being re-affirmed, but with appropriate distinctions, by Pope Benedict XIV in his Encyclical letter, Vix Pervenit, of 1745.
Usury is a form of theft because it consists in selling both money AND the use of money, as well as selling time (i.e. time to pay back the loan). This is to sell something which does not exist or is not one's own to sell, which is theft.
In modern conditions, the meaning of the usury ban is unchanged but its application is much more complex.
I might do a post on this one day.
Suffice to say, the goods of the earth are not meant for just a few men but for all - but not in equal proportions.
Equally, this does not mean that the wheelers and dealers – still less the crooks and swindlers – should be given the lion’s share and ordinary families only a small share.
In a properly run society more regard is given to hierarchy and to recognising that those who rule and take responsibility deserve to be rewarded for having greater responsibility.
This was the original rationale for a ruling class, based upon family, with the Royal family at the apex of the hierarchy but with each class and stratum of society having rights and obligations to each other, guided by justice and moved by charity to serve each other, each in their own class and manner.
Every man is, and must be, in a Christian society, a servant to others, be he never so high. Hence the Pope is called servus servorum Dei - servant of the servants of God. So, too, was the Emperor.
The higher up the social class scale one is, the greater the obligation to society as a whole.
Thus the nobility had a special vocation to rule, to risk their lives in war, to adminster justice, to adminster the public patrimony and to care for and provide for their people as if they were an extended part of their own family.
This was the ideal but not always attained, of course.
The Capitalist ethos does not see the rich having any such intimate responsibility for the poor, the marginalised, the dispossessed and the weak.
Capitalism, of the unrestricted, self-interested kind, is essentially unchivalrous and is selfish and rapacious and enriches a man by unfairly exploiting others. This sort of Capitalism is not desirable.
Responsible free enterprise (by which I do NOT mean Socialism) enriches individuals and society. The wide distribution of capital is particularly to be encouraged but by incentive not by Socialist prescription.
Private social welfare is also preferable to state provision but almost impossible without a large network of the sort that existed in the Middle Ages through the Church and the monasteries.
Let us not forget that was an entirely PRIVATE system of social welfare and was most emphatically NOT state Socialism or anything like it, as some Leftists like to pretend.
On the hand, the Adam Smith school of thinking which claims that there is an automatic “hidden hand” which automatically and inevitably helps society by individual men seeking to enrich themselves by capitalist accumulation, is also not right, in my view.
Yes, it is good for men to work, invent, devise and plan to enrich themselves and others but it does not follow that ALL such self-enrichment is necessarily good.
My preference is for the system approved by St Thomas: the balanced constitution consisting of monarchy, nobility and democracy.
That, indeed, was the model of the old world and especially the Holy Roman Empire which was the prime model for Christendom of old.
This model is equally adaptable to the modern age. Indeed, there is no reason why a modern republic could not be modelled on similar lines. The United States, if it were Catholic, might readily become such a model and, indeed, it seems to be moving more in that direction than modern Europe which is rapidly abandoning all of its glorious Catholic past.
But that’s probably enough from me for one day!