domingo, maio 28, 2006

Da nova escravatura

Tal como o Rafael, também eu preciso de saber se existe algum lugar neste mundo onde se encontrem dias de quarenta e oito horas. Na verdade, o dever profissional assoberba-me e esmaga-me - e ao que parece também a vários bloguistas amigos… -, deixando-me quase sem tempo para a família e para o lazer pessoal, que para mim é, antes de mais, sinónimo de cultivo espiritual. Numa estranha tendência do mundo moderno neopagão - e comentava isso com o meu amigo Rafael há uns dias atrás -, o trabalho intelectual ou manual, que em si mesmo é um dever de todo o homem bem formado, subtil mas determinadamente vai-se transformando numa opressiva escravatura sem grilhetas físicas. Eis, pois, uma excelente ocasião para se reflectir neste importante texto do grande historiador católico franco-britânico Hilaire Belloc, extraído do seu ensaio "The New Paganism", constante da compilação "Essays of a Catholic", publicada em 1931 e presentemente reeditada pela Tan Books:

In the sphere of social texture the New Paganism must also inevitably and of its nature, wherever it gives its tone to society, reintroduce that status of slavery from which our civilization sprang and which only very gradually disappeared under the influence of Christian ethic.

This revival of slavery must not be confused with the spread of mechanical restriction applicable to all. They are cousins, but they are not identical. Slavery is the compulsion of one man or set of men to work for the benefit of others. It is a compulsion to work, backed by the arms of the State. The way has been prepared for it by that already half-Pagan thing - industrial capitalism, of which I write on a later page; and the steps whereby the New Paganism will achieve slavery develop naturally from industrial capitalism. It is a thesis I have developed at greater lenght in my book "The Servile State"; I here only touch on it as a main social result to which the New Paganism will give birth. That this novel status will bear the name "slavery" I doubt; for it is in the nature of mankind, when they are proceeding to call that good which once they called evil, to avoid the old evil name. In the same way fornication is not called fornication but "companionate marriage". Probably slavery, when it comes, will be called "permanent employment"; and a century hence, a rich man will say to his friends, talking of his new gardener: "He's a permanent. Paid for him at the Bureau only last Thursday".

In the form of security and sufficiency for the men who labor to the profit of others, and in the form of registering and controlling them in the form of an organized public supervision of their labor, slavery is already afoot. When slavery shall suceed it will suceed through the acquiescence of those who will be enslaved, for they will prefer sufficiency and security with enslavement, to freedom, responsability, insecurity and the threat of insufficiency.

As yet, during the transition, there is an illogical, and therefore an ephemeral mixture of the old and the new. The old freedom sufficiently survives in the mind of the wage earner to give him the illusion that, while accepting insurance and maintenance from the capitalist state, he can still be a full citizen. He thinks he can have his cake and eat it too. He is mistaken. The great capitalists who procured these regulations from the politicians knew what they were at. They were catching their proletariat in a net, and now they hold it fast.

The New Paganism will then, I say, give us, in those societies over which it shall obtain the control of the mind, increasing restriction against general freedom and increasing restriction against the particular freedom which left some equality between the man who worked and the man who exploited him under a contract - it will replace that idea of contract by the older idea of status. In saying this, my object is to point out that the discussion of the New Paganism is not a mere academic discussion, but, as I have called it, one of immediate pratical importance. If we adopt it we must be prepared for its consequences; if we abhor those consequences, it is our business to fight the New Paganism vigorously.

And here I have, as on so many other points, a quarrel with those moderns who will make religion an individual thing (and no Catholic can evade the corporate quality of religion), telling us that its object being personal holiness and the salvation of the individual soul, it can have no concern with politics. On the contrary, the concern of religion with politics is inevitable. Not that the Christian doctrine and ethic rejects any one of the three classical forms of government - democracy, aristocracy or monarchy, or any mixture of them - but that it does reject certain features in society which are opposed to them because they spring from a denial of free will.


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