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Peter Maurin and Dorothy Day

Here is another grand statement from Dorothy Day that ought to give us a good deal of pause. It is also from The Long Loneliness (pg. 222).

When we began our work there were thirteen million unemployed. The greatest problem of the day was the problem of work and the machine.

The state entered in to solve these problems by dole and work relief, by setting up so many bureaus that we were swamped with initials. NIRA gave plan to NRA, and as NRA was declared unconstitutional another organization, another administration was set up. The problem of the modern state loomed up as never before in American life. The Communists, stealing our American thunder, clamored on the one hand for relief and on the other set up Jeffersonian schools of democracy.

Peter [Maurin] also quoted Jefferson – ‘He governs best who governs least.’ One of his criticisms of labor was that it was aiding in the creation of the Welfare State, the Servile State, instead of aiming for the ownership of the means of production and acceptance of the responsibility that it entailed.

The Servile State

You should know that Peter Maurin helped “create” the Dorothy Day we know today. Maurin provided Dorothy with the intellectual understanding of the Church’s Social Teaching which at that time was even less known that it is now.

Note that she does not exactly say that she adheres to Maurin’s position, but just relates what his is. But how can we doubt that he had a great influence on Dorothy’s thought. Elsewhere, though I could not find the quote, Dorothy decries those Catholics who want us to give up Holy Mother Church for Holy Mother State. Peter and Dorothy did not believe social responsibility required socialism.

Therefore, position of the contemporary social justice apparatchik that the “New Deal Democrat” is the authentic Catholic position would, it seems, have a lot to explain to Peter Maurin and to Dorothy. Beware those who wish to make the State the mother of all invention.