7.0 Psychology. From a psychological perspective, communism is basic to individual and family life. Each Catholic family to a greater or lesser degree is a communist unit. The house or living space, the furniture, the food, the health care, the recreation and pets, and the mode of transportation are held in common. Husbands and wives are not landlords or capitalists charging rent or making a profit off the labor of their spouse or children. "One for all and all for one" is both a family and a communist notion. For Catholic communists the working class is our extended family.
Communists take a positive view of themselves and their class. They have a tradition of celebrating their class and defending it against the brainwashing of capitalist media, educators and clergy. They have their own patron saints, feast days, clergy, street pageants, pilgrimages, and prayers, which celebrate labor. In rural areas the symbolic rituals are related to the productive cycle, that is, the harvest year. These rituals glorify labor and productivity. illustrative of this tradition in the 17th century was Edward Bolton, a Catholic who lived in London. In 1629 he did a study of working people in the bible and of God's love of them. Some of the scripture which he quoted included that about Noah, the ark builder, and Genesis 4:20, which honors Jabel (Iabel), the father of agricultural husbandry: "Moses put into eternal monuments that Jabel was pater pastorum, the most ancient of increase." [Edward Bolton, The Cities Advocate (Norwood, N.J.: W. J. Johnson, , 1975), p. 19]. At one point Bolton compiled a list of the various "secondary" trades given praise in the bible, such as iron workers, hammer-smiths, engravers, furniture makers, and metal founders. He remarked that if these non-essentials were delighted in by God, how much more were the essential trades to be honored:
If then such honor be done by God not only to those which are necessary hand-crafts, but to those also which are but the handmaid of magnificence and outward splendor, as engravers, metal founders and the like, he shall be very hardy who shall embrace honest industry with disgraceful censures, and too unjust who shall not cherish, or encourage it with praise and worship. (Bolton, The Cities Advocate, p. 21).
Along with talking of God as a laborer, the maker of the universe, Bolton pictured Jesus and his followers as laboring people. "Each in scripture has a trade and exercises it daily," Paul the tentmaker, Peter the fisherman, Joseph the carpenter. (Bolton, The Cities Advocate, pp. 20-21). Kings, bishops, and popes claimed their positions were God's charism. Catholic laboring people countered by claiming their own skills were God's charism. Bolton wrote:
The virtuous industrious are to be cherished, yea, God himself (the only best pattern of governors) has made it known, that mechanical qualities are his special gifts and his infused, as it were charismata. (Bolton, The Cities Advocate, p. 19).Genealogy, a favorite weapon used by landlords to justify themselves, was shown by Bolton to honor laboring people, "Scripture not only makes the skill of laboring people immortally famous, but puts down their parentage, and birth places in contrast to that of many princes. Thus in Hiram's case (1 Kings 7:13-47; 2 Chronicles 2:14), the brass-founder's family is recorded." (Bolton, The Cities Advocate, p. 20). According to Bolton, Solomon was satisfied with nothing less than the best in building the temple because there was a religious quality in work well done. Thus Hiram, who was not even a Jew, but was an artisan of great skill, was asked to come from Tyre to make the bronze pillars for the temple.
The postive view which Catholic communists have of themselves and of their class conflicts with the psychology of capitalism, which is in denial about the nature of the class system. Capital uses the term "class" to refer to people who share a common level of income, status or power--as in"upper class," "lower class" and "middle class." Such a use of class leaves out the most important aspect, namely what it is that determines a person's income, status or power. This is a person's relationship to property. Communists define class as those who share a common relationship to property. Here property refers specifically to property that helps generate wealth in the form of profits, rent or interest (it does not refer to personal possessions). Someone's class status has to do with whether a person owns much, some or none of this wealth-generating property.
According to this way of looking at it, today's world contains two important classes among several others. The dominant class (in capitalist countries), in terms of power and wealth, is composed of capitalists--those people who own the large and middle-sized corporations in banking, industry, agribusiness, mining, commerce, transportation, communication and so forth. It is fair to include in this class the top managers, top government officials, military and police brass, as well as editors, broadcasters, bishops and others who are paid high salaries to protect the material and ideological interests of the capitalists.
The most numerous class is composed of workers, who do not own wealth- producing property, who work for property owners, and who depend on wages or a salary to live. It is fair to include in this class those who once worked but are presently unemployed, retired, disabled or imprisoned. Another class consists of small capitalists, those who own small businesses or farms, or are self-employed professionals or contractors who work for fees and employ few or no workers.
The communist definition of class--in terms of its relationship to property--has many advantages. First, it provides an insight into the fundamental dynamics of human history. As the Communist Manifesto puts it, "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." Though property, property relationships, and the size and character of classes have changed dramatically in history, there has been one constant: conflict has always existed between those who own property and those who do not. The owners have invariably striven to enrich themselves by oppressing and exploiting the propertyless--through high rents, high interest, high prices, high taxes, low wages, slavery and plunder. The non-property owning classes have constantly resisted such oppression and exploitation through rebellions, sabotage, strikes, petitions and revolution. Such struggles constitute the main substance of human history, and they have eliminated the crudest forms of exploitation and have advanced human freedom.
Secondly, the communist approach to class provides a way of understanding the dynamics of capitalist society today. Today as in the past, one's class position largely determines everything else about one's life-- housing, education, health care, life expectancy, life opportunities and even values and ideas. Moreover, the class divisions in the society also generate the main economic and political conflicts, from conflict between profit and wages to conflicts over trade policies, health care, taxes, education and the environment. In short, the capitalists' desire for profit repeatedly conflicts with the interests of the rest of society in a better quality of life. The most important of these conflicts is over the division of the value created by the production of commodities for the market. This pits the industrial capitalists' need for profits against the industrial workers' desire for higher wages and benefits and shorter hours. While the capitalists like to exaggerate the importance of the conflicts that are of a religious, racial, or sexual nature, they deny that there are basic class differences and extol class cooperation. Communists, on the other hand, know that the class conflicts are basic, and cannot ever be resolved as long as classes with opposing relationships to property exist.
Third, the communist approach to class provides a vision of the future. One thing is certain about the future. As long as a small class of capitalists continue to own the world's wealth, and oppress and exploit the vast majority of the world's people, the world can only drift toward increasing barbarism. The only way out is to create another future, a communist society where all wealth-producing property is owned by all. Such a future is more than the logic of right-minded people, it is the logic of history itself.
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