On the return to Christian unity and the predicament Christianity is in now

It has been replaced by "State-inspired public opinion and by the mass organisation of society on a purely secular basis"

This is part 8 of my notes on the thoughts and ideas of Christopher Dawson. (In brackets the page numbers of each quote from TRBRAC, unless another book mentioned. “PwG” refers to my own thoughts.)     

Dawson: “Either Europe must abandon the Christian tradition and with it the faith in progress and humanity, or it must return consciously to the religious foundation on which these ideas were based.” (p. 225)

Dawson: “true foundation of European unity is to be found not in political or economic agreements, but in the restoration of the spiritual tradition on which that unity was originally based.” (p. 227, my emphasis)

Totalitarianism and the totalitarian state [are] a force that impedes the restauration of the Christian tradition in Western Culture. (p. 227)     

Dawson: “Thus the difference between the dictatorships and the democracies is not so much one between the totalitarian and the non-totalitarian as between a Community-State that has made a deliberate breach with the old liberal tradition and is aggressively conscious of its totalitarian character, and a Community-State which has evolved gradually from the Liberal State without any violent cataclysm and which disguises its totalitarian character by a liberal ideology. The Christian community is therefore faced with similar problems in all the modern States that have attained a high degree of mechanisation and economic organization.” (p. 228-29) (Beyond Politics, 1939)     

Dawson: “The leading characteristic of all the new regimes and political movements that have arisen since 1917 has been the tendency to merge the State in the community and to assert the supremacy of the common will over every legal and constitutional limitation.” (229) (Beyond Politics, 1939)

Dawson ascribes the growth of this new type of state to the spiritual unrest and maladjustment resulting from the secularization of culture. (p. 229, my emphasis)

Dawson: “Thus the political problems of the modern world are in the last resort religious. The rise of the new State may be regarded as the culmination of the process of secularisation in Western history and the unification of our culture on a purely materialistic basis. But on the other hand it may equally be regarded as the result of a spiritual reaction against the materialism of nineteenth century bourgeois society: as an attempt to find some substitute for the lost religious foundations of society and to replace the utilitarian individualism of the liberal-capitalist State by a new spiritual community.” (p. 229, my emphases) (Religion and the Modern State, 1936)

The totalitarian movement, in the opinion of Dawson, . . . has been present in the Democratic States, and he says that it is highly probable that a totalitarian state may develop in England and the United States, though it will be a different type from that found in Russia, or Germany, or Italy. (231-32)

Dawson: “I do not believe that it will be anti-Christian in the Russian sense or that it will be inspired by any conscious hostility to religion.” (232) (Religion and the Modern State, 1936)

Nevertheless, he does realize that such a State, by its very nature, must endeavour to govern the whole of life and to bring every activity into conformity with the standards which it sets. (232)

Dawson: “They will govern the whole of life. It will be impossible to go one’s own way, as in the old days, and leave the State in control of politics. For there will be no department of life in which the State will not intervene and which will not be obliged to conform to the mechanized order of the new society. . . . The great danger that we [Christians] have to meet is not the danger of violent persecution but rather that of the crushing out of religion from modern life by the sheer weight of a State-inspired public opinion and by the mass organisation of society on a purely secular basis.” (232-33, my emphases) (Religion and the Modern State, 1936)  

The materialistic concept of life leads Communism [and the modern welfare state, PwG] to place the end of human life in this present world and in material things, whereas the spiritual concept of life upheld by Christianity teaches man that material things are not the most important concern of life, that they are in fact only means to an end, and that the end is to be found not here on earth but in the Kingdom of Heaven.  (233)

Dawson: “Communism, in fact, challenges Christianity on its own ground by offering mankind a rival way of salvation.” (234) (Religion and the Modern State, 1936)

Dawson: “Protestantism, Liberalism and Communism are three successive stages by which our civilization has passed from Catholicism to complete secularism. The first eliminated the Church, the second eliminated Christianity, and the third eliminated the human soul.” (235) (Religion and the Modern State, 1936)

(PwG:) Regarding the last quote: Catholicism needs to investigate a) why it couldn’t prevent Protestantism from happening and b) what it could have done (and do, in future) better to re-unify the Church.