Images de page
[ocr errors]

carried out, and apart from social life such education would be morally impossible, especially in view of the number of arts that would have to be acquired by each. From a consideration, then, of man's merely material needs, one sees that nature has made him a social animal.'

This conclusion is confirmed from a consideration of more intangible factors in man's existence. From association with his fellows man acquires a knowledge of natural and supernatural truths and of the details of the moral law, as to which be it noted that the acquirement of such wisdom is no less useful and necessary than the imparting of it is pleasant. This, indeed, is human intercourse at its best, full of charm and solace, and is the flower of friendship. All this would be lacking if civil society did not exist, and since nature has created us with cravings which can only be satisfied in this way, it is clear that social life is natural to man. Molina concludes his proof of this point with a sketch of the murders, seditions, rapines, thefts, deceits, and frauds, oppression and misery' in a non-social existence, which recalls Hobbes (“and the life of man nasty, brutish, and short '). For an Aristotelian who believes in the Fall (and to some extent, even for one who does not), Rousseau's dream of a Golden Age before commonwealths were is as ridiculous as anything well can be.

Having thus established the necessity for mankind of living in political society, the question arises as to the power vested in the commonwealth over its members, the problem of political sovereignty. Here Molina does not go into details with the minuteness of Suarez. He quotes the teaching of Vittoria and Soto that natural law bestows upon a newly-constituted community the power to govern its members, to administer justice and to punish. According to Rousseau, this power is simply the sum total of rights ceded by the associates. Vittoria rejects this, as it were, in anticipation, for, as he says, it is an imperative ineluctable demand of nature which leads men to coalesce into a State, and consequently all necessary political authority proceeds from God, the author of nature and natural law : the case is quite different if we are considering subordinate associations, formed by men for their own convenience, and by them invested with such legitimate authority over themselves as they choose to bestow. Rousseau's doctrine may be true with respect to clubs, trade unions, and the like, but it is utterly false as regards


[ocr errors]

the State. Sovereignty is in the community as a whole (until it has, at least implicitly, assigned it to other hands) but it proceeds from God Himself, and has behind it Divine sanction.

Vittoria confirms this by pointing out that by common usage and Scriptural teaching the State has the right to punish criminals even by death, a power denied to individuals by the Fifth Commandment, and one which can therefore come from God alone. Before accepting this (the scholastic) doctrine on sovereignty, as he eventually does, Molina raises certain difficulties against it. Perhaps individuals who are not yet incorporated in a state possess this power of punishment for their own protection ? No, he decides ; for if true it would follow that in some cases the power of punishing criminals, even after a State was formed, might be reserved to individuals, at least in default of State action, and this would lead to social disruption. (The Unwritten Law' finds no approval here.) Besides, if social authority came from individuals, some might withhold their assent to its exercise over themselves, and every child coming to the age of emancipation would have to be asked if he conceded authority over himself, both of which are absurd conclusions.

A final difficulty remains. On Molina's own teaching if a ration is still in so barbarous a condition that families or villages live in political independence, each of these groups possesses, as necessary to its very existence, the right to punish external and internal malefactors. Perhaps when these coalesce into a political community, the latter's power to punish is simply the aggregate of the rights of its constituent members ? Molina rejects this, too, on the ground that no legitimate reason can be given why the power which, in the smaller groups, is not and cannot be an aggregate of the rights of their individual members should be such an aggregate in the Great Society formed by groupcoalescence. Consequently, he accepts the doctrine that the sovereign power is from God and not from men, the primary subject of it being the community.

Thus are the foundations of the State and social order well and truly laid in human nature and God's ordinance, as manifested in the natural law, in accordance with the usual teaching of the School. We have now got, by logical

1 De Justitia, Tract. 2, Disp. 100 ; Tract. 3, Disp. 2. 2 Ibid., Tract. 2, Disp. 22.



analysis, a community formed normally of coalescing families or village communities, with political authority vested in the commonwealth viewed

whole. The practical difficulty arises of the satisfactory exercise of this power by a large and probably scattered collection of people, a difficulty as real in the democracies of to-day as it was in the time of Molina, though we, in the modern world of vastly improved communications, have made some attempt to surmount it by such 'methods as the Initiative, the Referendum, and the Recall. The older solutions of the problem were government by a monarch, by an aristocracy, or by a large group of citizens (Democracy). Which of these forms is to be established it is for the commonwealth to decide (for its sovereignty is not inalienable, as Rousseau assumed), and it may impose such reasonable restrictions on its governors as it chooses. It may set up a hereditary or an elective monarchy; it may limit the term of office and extent of power of an 'aristocratic' or democratic governing body, as it thinks fit; and in none of these cases can the government justly exceed its powers if the commonwealth objects. On the other hand, when a monarchy has been established, the subjects cannot diminish the monarch's power against his reasonable will, or hinder his legitimate use of it, though it may resist him if he becomes a tyrant. The reason clearly is that there is a species of pact between the sovereign and the nation (as Suarez would say) the inviolability of which is secured by the natural law. Of these three main types of government, Molina's preference is for a monarchy, which he believes more apt to secure public peace and tranquillity than the other for is are; indeed, he seems a little regretful that Venice and Genoa are not monarchies, and expressly nentions that such States could always turn themselves into monarchies by a majority vote (a majority, because it would be, in practice, impossible for any commonwealth to conduct its affairs if a unanimous vote of the citizens were required).

From what has been said, it will be seen that Molina is in full accord with Suarez and the other schoolmen on the question of the primary subject of political sovereignty. In the logical order, the community first possesses supreme authority over its members, and that by divinely-instituted natural law; for practical reasons, it may devolve this sovereignty upon a single individual or a

å group of

individuals, with such limitations as the nature of the case allows. Thereafter, just laws, promulgated by the sovereign power, are invested with divine sanction, and ruler and ruled are bound together in justice, the duty of the former being to defend the commonwealth from internal and external disturbers of the peace, to administer justice, and to promote the general welfare ; the duty of the latter to obey, according to the national constitution, and to provide the necessary means for carrying on the government, with the right to resist unconstitutional or tyrannical measures. The commonwealth cannot arbitrarily change its fundamental constitution, for, as has been mentioned above, there is a pact binding in justice between ruler and ruled.?

In the word justice, we get the key to the whole scholastic system. Modern inquirers may be struck by its insistence on the original sovereignty of the community, at least in the logical order; others may be impressed by the divine sanction which it attributes to political authority. But on neither of these points should the supreme emphasis be laid. The essential conception is that of justice; and it is in order to prove that justice must preside over all political relations that the schoolmen appeal to a pact (usually implicit only) between the rulers and the ruled. They are by no means democrats in the modern sense of the word, though their system secures every reasonable liberty for the people ; still less do they profess the 'Divine Right of Kings, though they attribute to sovereigns reigning justly the authority of the Divine Will itself. They are the protagonists of social and political justice, and their whole concern is to find a sound philosophical foundation for that great ideal. In whatever nation a stable and established government is found ruling for the general good of the community and having had at any time the community's acquiescence in its rule, justice demands that that condition of things shall continue undisturbed by sedition or revolt on the one hand, or unconstitutional legislation or interference on the other. This by no means precludes a reasonable evolution of the national constitution in order to secure the adaptation of political machinery to changing social or international circumstances, such as we have seen in these islands in the course of last century. Justice may demand political evolution quite consistently with its demand for political stability.

1 De Justitia, Tract. 2, Disp. 25. Molina also admits title by just war, but does not deal with this at any length.

2 This compact must be carefully distinguished from the Social Contract of Rousseau, both as regards parties and consequences.

In conclusion, a word may be said about an impression which sometimes obtains to the effect that the scholastic political philosophy was, at least indirectly, condemned by Pope Leo XIII's Encyclical Diuturnum illud of June 29, 1881. As a matter of fact, this Encyclical is directed entirely against the theories of Rousseau. When the Abbé Féret desired to maintain the traditional thesis 3 he wrote to Rome to inquire whether he might do so, and received a reply from a theologian of the Index to the effect that 'haec opinio nullam jacturam perpessa est.'4 The alleged incompatibility between the teaching of Leo XIII and that of the scholastics may therefore be regarded as entirely disproved.


1 Cf. De Justitia, Tract. 5, Disp. 3. 2 See Billot, De Ecclesia, Tom. 3, q. 12, § 1, 3. 3 In his book, Le Pouvoir civil devant l'enseignement catholique ; Paris, 1888.

4 Quoted by F. Cavallera, S.J., in the Bulletin de Littérature Ecclesiastique de Toulouse, 1912, p. 97. Cf. also Billot, loc. cit. ; Vermeersch, De Justitia, No. 559; G. Sortais, in Revue pratique d'apologétique, 1913, p. 161.

« PrécédentContinuer »