Land for the People
by Fr. Vincent McNabb
Readers, and especially Distributist readers, of G.K.'s Weekly, must share the good news that has come to re-kindle the fires of Distributist hope. Before me, as I write, there lies a new journalistic venture called, convincingly, Land for the People. Its title-page tells us that it is the Organ of the Scottish Catholic Land Association, and that its editor is one not unknown to G.K.'s Weekly, the Rev. John McQuillan, D.D.
I think I am speaking the mind of the Editor of the organ, who is also President of the Association in saying that the Association has come of a conviction that the withered hand can be cured only by being stretched out. Propaganda by the spoken and the written word is of (chronologically) first importance, because "in the beginning is the word." But in practical matter words must end in deeds, because the doing of the work is of (really) first importance. To quote the wise wisdom of Aquinas; "Finis est principium in operabilibus" (in practical matter the end is the principle).
It was easy to see but hard to accept the fact that if Distributist energy was to be expended merely on the spoken or written word, the enemy could quietly advance its fighting line and halve its fighting forces. Distributism, in order to live, had to take action.
Only two forms of action promised victory. Distributists could take political action, or both political and economic action. Moreover, that action to be effective would have to be taken at once against an enemy always alertly active and now entrenched in an almost impregnable position. What Soviet Russia is now attempting as a mere experiment in Marxian Socialism England, may be driven to attempt, as the last effort, to prevent destruction. Mass production with collective, servile labour is being applied to Russian agriculture, not in order to justify Russian Marxian Socialists. But English and Scottish agriculture, with all its attendant crafts, is in such a state of ruin that, all other experiments having failed, no argument could be urged against the methods of Big Business, Mass Production and Servile Labour.
To some Distributists a campaign of mere words seemed as helpful for economic salvation as the fiddling of Nero was helpful when Rome was burning. Something, of course, had to be said: indeed, something had to be said again and again and again. Thank God, G.K.'s Weekly was saying it, with an emphasis and distinction which gave it a place apart in journalism.
But something had to be done as well as said, if only to justify what was being said by the men whose craft was the word and the saying of the word. We, pulpit-craftsmen of the world, know how useless would be the best of all we say if nowhere in the world there were homes and cloisters living in the principles that are proved only by being lived.
It is to the credit of the Scottish Catholic Land Association that, leaving Distributist political action to others, they have determined to face salvation by taking economic action by leading men, women and children from the dens of Glasgow to the glens of Scotland.
Though nt all, nor perhaps not many, of the Scottish Land Association are Distributists, yet the starting-force of the Association was a borrowing from Distributism. How much the Association already owes to its first President it can hardly be expected to know. Nor again can the President know the extent of his indebtedness to the group of writers and thinkers that ahve made their orbit round G.K.'s and its two predecessors.
But the President and his fellow-Distributists have thought their best repayment of their borrowings was to do in Scotland what their creditors were asking men and women to do in England.
The rest may be told in the "Stater of Objects" in the Land for the People.
The Scottish Catholic Land Association has been formed for the following objects. -
1. The acquisition of land for distribution among Catholics.
2. The acquisition of information regarding Land Settlement, and the furthering of, by lectures and other propaganda, the transfer of Catholics from the town to the country.
3. The education of Catholics in the working and use of land.
4. The financing of Catholic prospective farmers to enable them to settle on th eland.
5. The formation of a Land Bank or Co-operative Trust, or both.
6. The doing of all such other lawful acts as are identical or conducive to the attainment of the above object.
7. Collecting monies for the advancement of the above objects.
I can best end this article by quoting from a letter occassioned by my sending the Land For The People to the West Country.
"Dear Rev. Father, __ Many thans for the Land For The People, which arrived this morning. The first paragraph of your article was illustrated to me only yesterday.
A farmer's wife came to see me. She told me of how they now have the wireless and a motor-car and a piano and her girls go to dances, and her boys have money in their pockets. They had never dreamed of such ease and comfort. 'But we are no happier than when I was a girl, an' us had none o'these things. And we all stayed at 'ome together, and all of us from grandfather to the baby discussed the farm and the family.' Then she wept. 'I don't think we'd a been so hard on George (a younger son who got into a scrape and was banished the farm) if we'd all just talked about him together. We seem to be losing our common sense.'"
But at any rate there seems an untouched bed of common sense and even heroism North of the Tweed.