I’ll end this week’s string of Dorothy Day quotes with this one.
In the last generation, Chesterton, Belloc, Eric Gill and Father Vincent McNabb were the great distributists who opposed the servile state, the ‘providential state’ as Pius XII recently called it. Of the four only Eric Gill was a pacifist and anarchist. The others would have feared the word, ‘anarchist,’ and understood it only in its popular connotation. I myself would prefer the word ‘libertarian,’ as less apt to offend. pg. 267 The Long Loneliness
I find it fascinating for perhaps all the wrong reasons. I’m no libertarian myself, but I think it interesting that Dorothy might have leaned that way…though of course who knows what the label meant back then. What comes up as a regular theme in Dorothy’s work is a distrust of the ever-providential State. One ought to beware the idea that the State can provide for all of us or ought to.
Blessed Franz Jaegerstaetter is a little-known Austrian fellow who was the only man in his town who voted against the annexation of Austria to Nazi Germany. His reason? One of them that his biographer gives is that Jaegerstaetter did not believe that the German National Socialist promise of care for the poor and the ill was appropriate. The care of the littlest one is our responsibility, at the local level. It is not for the State to come in and usurp our authority by usurping our responsibility.
This is the point that many today miss within the Social Teaching of the Church. If you wish the State to come in and take over, then you have given up your responsibility. Of course the flipside is this: If you wish the State to get off our backs and stay in Washington, then what are you doing to meet the needs of the littlest ones in your community?