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%. THOMAS' POLITICAL DOCTRINE
AND DEMOCRACY •



BY THE



REV. EDWARD F. MURPHY, M. A.,

Society of St. Joseph for Colored Missions



DISSERTATION J

Submitted to the Faculty of Philosophy of the Catholic Uni-
versity of America in partial fulfilTnent of the require-
ments for the Doctorate in Philosophy.



Catholic University of America
.Washington, D. C.

MCMXXI 1

• I



T b /M ^



G^KCHAl^Cje



fe?>



4'(onsq



CONTENTS

Introduction i-xiv

Chapter I. — Origin of Society and State 1

Chapter II. — Power — The Motor 26

Chapter III. — People — The Source of Power 57

Chapter IV.— Rulers— The Wielders of It 81

Chapter V. — Governments — The Method of It 99

Chapter VI. — Purpose — The Object of It 139

Chapter VII. — Right and Liberties — To be Protected by It. 179

Chapter VIII. — Menaces and Problems — To be Met by It. 213

Conclusion 266



ST. THOMAS POLITICAL DOCTRINE AND DEMOCRACY



INTRODUCTION

Though the political panacea of the day, democracy is still
insufficiently understood by the many whom it affects most.
The qualities of it are better known than are the qualifications
for it ; the ends than the means. It is airily esteemed the great
emancipation, the crown of the glorified people, the tomb of
autocracy, the gate-way to the millenium, etc. But its demands
are proportionate to its favors ; and there can be no true concept
of democracy which ignores the preliminaries which induce
it and its success.

The meaning of the word, from the time of Thucydides^
who first used it, until now, is popular rule.- As one reviewer
says, "Democracy is the state of an autonomous people".'^
Still, if a people are not intellectually and ethically equipped
for self-government, a democratic regime would not be demo-
cratic at all. It would be demagogic, or ^'ihe government of the
people by the boss of the group." It w^ould be, save by miracle,
or through the discipline of experience and time, a species of
chaos.^ Tyranny and its equally odious opposite — lack of all
rigor — are none the less political calamities when they obtain
in the many. The definition of democracy would be improved
by the linking of the adjective "qualified" to "autonomous."

Democracy is an ideal form of government; but, like all
ideals, it has not always proved the best for practical purposes.
For nations have not invariably measured up to its require-
ments, and hence have not always been prepared for its privi-
leges. Since it is a system which, in a manner, makes rulers
of the many, it demands that the many have the mental and



II, 15.

2 "Demos", people, and "kratos", rule.

3 Borrell, Art. L'lcU'e de Dcmocratie, Revue de Philosophie, XII,
p. 114.

4 This is why democracy is criticized as a disintegrating force which
"dissolves communities into individuals, and collects them again into
mobs." Criticism should more justly be reserved for the abuse of
democracy and the disqualification of certain peoples for its reign.
The fault is not in democracy, but in democrats. Cf. Croiset, Les
dcmocraties antiques, p. 335.



11 ST. THOMAS POLITICAL DOCTRINE AND DEMOCRACY

moral virtues requisite to regency. Until a people have evolved
to the due political degree, democracy could only be a Pan-
dora's box in their possession. If it is the best of the forms
of government, its place in political progress is last; and the
belief that it is the best for the future implies at least a conces-
sion that it may not always have been the best in the past.

Athens was ready for a democratic era only in the Golden Age
of Pericles (445-431 B. C.) ; and even then her particular
brand of popular rule which Lloyd calls ''the most pure and
the most important democratic government the world had
ever, — nay has ever seen",-'^ was far from ideal. Theoretically,
the people ruled ; practically, Pericles. His spirit and influence
leavened the whole polity, as in a form of monarchy. The
Demos discussed and decided; but it was only a segment of
the population. In a city-state where one regarded it a real
hard-ship to have to live with less than half a dozen helots at
beck and call, and the number of free citizens, Attic-born and
bred, who alone enjoyed the right of suffrage, was a startling
minority, democracy, in our modern sweeping sense, was far
from regent.^ But the truth is that to support even this narrow
democracy, which was really but a broad aristocracy, Athens
needed a citizenry with brains. That she happened to have
it, is the great reason why the era was golden. Galton declares'''
that the average ability of the Athenian race was at the very
lowest estimate two grades higher than our own ; and this, if
so,, means that the Hellenes intellectually surpassed us quite
as much as we ourselves out-step the African negro to-day.
He recalls as evidences of the nimble intelligence and keen
aesthetic sense of the Attic, the elaborate works of literature
and art which were presented as a matter of course by their
creators for his criticism and appreciation. If Athenian morals



T) The Age of Pericles, VoL II, p. 97.

6 Wilson in The State, p. 600, mentions the difference between ancient
and modern democracy. (a) The former was immediate; modern
is immediate, or representative, (b) In the former the officers were
the State— unimpeachable, and accountable only after their term;
in the latter, all officers are representative, (c) Ancient democracy
was really a glorified aristocracy; in modern, citizenship is co-extensive
with population and suffrage is as wide as qualified citizenship, (d) In
former, the individual lived for the State; in modern, the State exists
for the individual.

7 Hereditary Genius, p. 342.



ST. THOMAS' POLITICAL DOCTRINE AND DEMOCRACY iii

measured up to Athenian minds,^ perchance the fate of the
most famous of ancient democracies would have been less swift
and tragic. This classic example is of much modern political
importance.

The need for democracy is not solely rule by and for the
people, but much else which this entails. The faculty of reason
must be strong and active in the people; without it there can
be no genuine autonomy. Secondly, a sense of responsibility
must animate the populace ; else law and order would be tossed
to death on the crest of passion's wave. Thirdly, there must
be a constant increase in personal intellectuality and powers
of determination, for knowledge is never exhausted, nor is
moral judgment ever too perfect. The field for advancement
in these regards is vast. And, besides, the difference between
a democracy and a pure, or ideal, democracy admits of a
myriad degrees. The individual must be awakened as never
before, his mind wide open to the day, his heart strong, his
arm ready ; otherwise the theory of self-government were fan-
ciful. Democracy means the rise of the individual to a kind
of kingship. It is not primarily a political scheme of votes,
privileges, exemptions, or reforms; but rather a spiritual
force arousing the individual to self-consciousness, apprecia-
tion, ambition, expression, and service in civil society and state
affairs. It does not equalize men in the concrete. What could
do that but a dream, and who but a dreamer ?'' But it does
make them equal in a legal sense, and does, as Tocqueville
would have it, equalize opportunity. Maumus writes that
democracy necessitates an application to the social order of
four principles:



1 — The equality of all citizens before the laws.

2 — The possibility of all citizens attaining civil honor and
service without any title other than personal merit.

3 — The proportional division of public charges, or relative
equality in the matter of taxation.

4 — The right of all to be heard, directly or through repre-



Idera, p. 343.

0(1) See Hill's Ethics, p. 265. Cf. Montesquieu's, Uesprit des
lois, VIII, 2.



IV ST. THOMAS POLITICAL DOCTRINE AND DEMOCRACY

sentatives, when there is question of legislation or of the form
of government.io

The nature of these principles indicates the need of morality
and intelligence for their realization in civil society. Just
laws require just legislators. The offices of the State should
be open only to the competent; and if they are to be open to
all, all must be competent. Only the voice of truth has a
right to be heard in the State; and if all voices enjoy such a
right, all should be ethical.

Hence democracy seems primarily moral, then social, and
at last political. It must first arouse the individual to a keen
knowledge and sense of right and wrong, and a robust ap-
preciation and pursuit of right. It thus renders him an im-
portant item of the group-life in which he moves; an asset to
the sum and quality of its thought; an increase to its power.
The greater the number of rightly thinking minds and rightly
feeling hearts in society, the greater is the practicabilitj^ of
a popular form of government.^i

And so a defintion, accrediting all this, might be: Democ-
racy is the state of a people who, individually qualified by
intellectual and moral progress, and eager for further advance-
ment, rule themselves either by themselves, or through their
representatives. A corollary would be that such a people
with such a regime enjoy "the maximum of self-expression
with tlie minimum of restraint," or, as Pasteur expresses it,
"the true democracy is that which permits every individual
to put forth his maximum strength. "i-



10 L'vglise et la drmocratie, pp. 18-19.

11 Cf. Nelson, — How Christ would ovfianize the iroj'ld. p. 23: "Democ-
racy is an ideal, which must develop and exist in the hearts of a
people before it can become an established principle of their gov-
ernment."

12 Other corollaries could be drawn also, and pass for definitions,
such as Mr. Gilette's sociological appreciation: "I shall therefore
proceed to define democracy as the riglit of the masses to participate
in all the essential satisfactions of life and of their future right to
control the social agencies by means of which those satisfactions are
distributed." — Publications of the American Sociological Society, Vol.
XIV, Art. Democracy and Partisan Politics, p. 39; and Mr. Bailey's
politico-psychological concept: "Democracy is a state of society. It
is such a constitution of the social order as allows each member to
develop his personality to the full and at the same time to participate
in public affairs on his own motion." — What is Democracy?, p. 35.



ST, THOMAS POLITICAL DOCTRINE AND DEMOCRACY V

Thus understood, democracy is far from conflict with
Catholic conceptions. The Church has never forgotten the
practical side of life in her appreciation of the spiritual and
ideal. Through her fundamental teaching, "upon which in
the last analysis", a writer observes, ''all advance of democracy
must be based'V'^ dignifies each man as the image of his Maker
and claims for all men the same purpose of existence, she
has ever recognized that there is a wide twilight zone of human
individual differences between this common origin and end.
She has consistently hoped and allowed for racial progress.
She has never committed herself to a policy of thrusting
governments into the control of multitudes unprepared to
receive them, appreciating that the people must be guided
until such time as they are capable of guiding themselves;
but she has never discountenanced that a people, individually
or collectively, should evolve their powers to the fullest. For
to deny or combat this, would have been to discount her very
doctrine that men must tend to their end which is excellence
itself — God, And so we find her wielding her influence in
medieval and modern times to promote the advance of indi-
vidual and society, warning against temerity indeed, but in
season welcoming any theory of government which honestly
precludes peril and promises success.^^ She has never frowned
on democracy as such, and could not. Rather she has ex-
haled its spirit in her teaching from the start; so much so
that it is no longer considered absurd to suggest that back in
the Middle Ages, in the calm of the cloisters, long before
Protestant monarchs snapped their fingers at Rome, and, as
some writers say, it became expedient for Catholic scholars
to wither royalty in order to water the Pope, the doctrine of
the sovereignty of the people was born.

One ought not forget that kings did not rise to supreme
power in Europe until the Medieval Era had almost passed.
In the period of the Popes, feudalism was tempered by the



13 Chas. B. Macksey. Sovereignty and Consent, p. 1.

14 In his encyclical, Immortale Dei. Pope Leo XIII asserts that
"the right to rule is not necessarily bound up with any special mode
of government," and that "it may take this or that form, provided
only that it be of a nature to ensure the general welfare."



vi ST. Thomas' political doctrine and democracy

guild system. The people were in process of formation for
self-government ; only their own handicaps, incidental to their
late emergence from barbarism, delayed the inevitable day of
their return to their civil birth-right.

But theories of government, contrariwise to Catholic, came
to dim the prospect; notwithstanding that the Reformation
is wrested by some of its fervent admirers to explain the
birth of modern democracy. The Wittenburg friar's wanton
injunction to princes as to the treatment of the underlings —
''drive, beat, choke, hang, burn, behead, break upon the
wheel"!-'' — appears to express a pathological hostility, if any-
thing, to the democratic ideal. Calvin, around whom swirled
popular blood in Geneva ; high-handed Henry and equally
autocratic Elizabeth: these betray little regard for the people
and less interest in releasing political power to them. Royal
might, in the sixteenth century, seized on the ecclesiastical;
and under this unbridled assumption the masses seemed more
menaced than ever.^^ Stemmed w^as the promising tide of
civil liberty, and weakened was the hitherto increasing con-
sciousness of responsibility which animated Christian rulers.



mWerke. Erlangen Ed., 15(2), 276. Quoted by Rahilly, Studies,
Art. The Catholic Origin of Democracy, Mar., 1919, p. 4.

16 John Neville Figgis, From Gerson to Grotius. p. 81: "In fact, the
religion of the State superseded the religion of the Church. Its first
form was the Divine Right of Kings. Luther and Machiavelli were
two of the most important factors in the change." The extravagant
mental juggling which Figgis indulges to justify this extreme claim
of "divine right" by kings is of interest: "The only way to escape
from the fetters imposed by traditional methods was to assert from
the old standpoint of a Scriptural basis and to argue by the accus-
tomed fashion of Biblical quotations, that politics must be freed from
theology and that the Church must give up all attempts to control
the State. The work of the Reformation was to set men free in all
departments of thought and inquiry from subjection to a single
method and a single subject. In the case of politics the achievement
of this result was possible only through claiming at first theological
sanction for the non-theological view of politics. Only when the
result is achieved will politics be free to develop theories which

shall be purely philosophical or historical Politics were able

to enter upon their modern age, only because the theory of Divine
Right having done its work had emancipated them from m,edieval
fetters and had in so doing become obsolete itself." The passage is a
classic of subterfuge, and abundantly speaks for itself. See Figgis,
The Divine Right of Kings, pp. 259-260. Rahilly disallows any ne-
cessity of seriously refuting "this practical joke which converts
Henry VIII and James I into far-seeing democrats."



ST. Thomas' political doctrine and democracy vii

To minimize Rome, Protestantism magnified monarehs; and
the disastrous slogan "The king can do no wrong" rang out
the death-knell of the democratic promise and possibility of
medieval political principles. The goodly solidarity which a
common Faith, doctrine, and spiritual leadership had afforded
Europe, was shattered. A synthetic force yielded to one of
disintegration. Individualism was doubtless thus enhanced
and the purpose of future democracy served ; but the crowning
glory of Medievalism, ''individuality through communal uni-
ty' V^ which could not but induce a most desirable type of
democracy, had vanished. The civil power, become minotaur,
had devoured all.

Saurez, as also his twin gladiator, Bellarmine, essayed to
slay the injurious pretension with the sword of Catholic tradi-
tion.i^ Standing in the morning of the Modern Age, this
celebrated later Scholastic, in the spirit and tone of the ecclesi-
astical era, indeed in the very voice of the Angel of the
Schools, vindicates the rights of the people and thus preambles
the long and mighty drama of popular emancipation. He
maintains that, fundamentally there is no reason why one
man should have political jurisdiction; also that the subject
of political power is not the individual, nor any number of
individuals, but the community. ^^ In order that such power
might pass by just title into the hands of one man, it is neces-
sary that the people consent.^o

Alfred Rahilly has attested the heavy debt which democracy
«owes to its correct and courageous exposition by the doctrinal
aggressor of King James and able representative of medieval
political theory. He sees it struggling to life in the unrest
and aspirations of the English Whigs and Puritans and burst-
ing into rich blossom in our own American Declaration of
Independence, whose principles of natural equality and pop-



17 Cram, The Great Thousand Years, p. 47.

18 Figgis, The Divine Right of Kings, p. 104: "Doleman, Bellarmin
and Suarez are the hetes noires of Anglican divines. Against them
as the preachers of resistance and inventors (?) of the theory of
original compact, the heavy artillery of the royalist pamphleteers
is always directed."

19 De Legibus, Lib. Ill, cap. Ill, 1.

20 Idem, Lib. Ill, cap. IV, 2.



vi ST. Thomas' political doctrine and democracy

guild system. The people were in process of formation for
self-government; only their own handicaps, incidental to their
late emergence from barbarism, delayed the inevitable day of
their return to their civil birth-right.

But theories of government, contrariwise to Catholic, came
to dim the prospect; notwithstanding that the Reformation
is wrested by some of its fervent admirers to explain the
birth of modern democracy. The Wittenburg friar's wanton
injunction to princes as to the treatment of the underlings —
''drive, beat, choke, hang, burn, behead, break upon the
wheeF'^-'^ — appears to express a pathological hostility, if any-
thing, to the democratic ideal. Calvin, around whom swirled
popular blood in Geneva; high-handed Henry and equally
autocratic Elizabeth : these betray little regard for the people
and less interest in releasing political power to them. Royal
might, in the sixteenth century, seized on the ecclesiastical ;
and under this unbridled assumption the masses seemed more
menaced than ever.^*^ Stemmed was the promising tide of
civil liberty, and weakened was the hitherto increasing con-
sciousness of responsibility which animated Christian rulers.



in Werke. Erlangen Ed., 15(2), 276. Quoted by Rahilly, Studies,
Art. The Catholic Origin of Democracy. Mar., 1919, p. 4.

16 John Neville Figgis, From Gerson to Grotius. p. 81: "In fact, the
religion of the State superseded the religion of the Church. Its first
form was the Divine Right of Kings. Luther and Machiavelli were
two of the most important factors in the change." The extravagant
mental juggling which Figgis indulges to justify this extreme claim
of "divine right" by kings is of interest: "The only way to escape
from the fetters imposed by traditional methods was to assert from
the old standpoint of a Scriptural basis and to argue by the accus-
tomed fashion of Biblical quotations, that politics must be freed from
theology and that the Church must give up all attempts to control
the State. The work of the Reformation was to set men free in all
departments of thought and inquiry from subjection to a single
method and a single subject. In the case of politics the achievement
of this result was possible only through claiming at first theological
sanction for the non-theological view of politics. Only when the
result is achieved will politics be free to develop theories which

shall be purely philosophical or historical Politics were able

to enter upon their modern age, only because the theory of Divine
Right having done its work had emancipated them from medieval
fetters and had in so doing become obsolete itself." The passage is a
classic of subterfuge, and abundantly speaks for itself. See Figgis,
The Divine Right of Kings, pp. 259-260. Rahilly disallows any ne-
cessity of seriously refuting "this practical joke which converts
Henry VIII and James I into far-seeing democrats."



ST. THOMAS POLITICAL DOCTRINE AND DEMOCRACY VU

To minimize Rome, Protestantism magnified monarchs; and
the disastrous slogan ''The king can do no wrong" rang out
the deatli-knell of the democratic promise and possibiUty of
medieval political principles. The goodly solidarity which a
common Faith, doctrine, and spiritual leadership had afforded
Europe, was shattered. A synthetic force yielded to one of
disintegration. Individualism was doubtless thus enhanced
and the purpose of future democracy served ; but the crowning-
glory of Medievalism, "individuality through communal uni-
ty'V^ which could not but induce a most desirable type of
democracy, had vanished. The civil power, become minotaur,
had devoured all.

Saurez, as also his twin gladiator, Bellarmine, essayed to
slay the injurious pretension with the sword of Catholic tradi-
tion.i^ Standing in the morning of the Modern Age, this
celebrated later Scholastic, in the spirit and tone of the ecclesi-
astical era, indeed in the very voice of the Angel of the
Schools, vindicates the rights of the people and thus preambles
the long and mighty drama of popular emancipation. He
maintains that, fundamentally there is no reason why one
man should have political jurisdiction; also that the subject
of political power is not the individual, nor any number of
individuals, but the community.^*' In order that such power
might pass by just title into the hands of one man, it is neces-
sary that the people consent.^"

Alfred Rahilly has attested the heavy debt which democracy
♦owes to its correct and courageous exposition by the doctrinal
aggressor of King James and able representative of medieval
political theory. He sees it struggling to life in the unrest
and aspirations of the English Whigs and Puritans and burst-
ing into rich blossom in our own American Declaration of
Independence, w^hose principles of natural equality and pop-



17 Cram, The Great Thousand Years, p. 47.

18 Figgis, The Divine Right of Kings, p. 104: "Doleman, Bellarmin
and Suarez are the hrtes noires of Anglican divines. Against them
as the preachers of resistance and inventors (?) of the theory of
original compact, the heavy artillei-y of the royalist pamphleteers
is always directed."

19 De Legibus. Lib. Ill, cap. Ill, 1.

20 Idem, Lib. Ill, cap. IV, 2.



Vlll ST. THOMAS POLITICAL DOCTRINE AND DEMOCRACY

ular consent, intentionally or not, are unmistakably Suare-
zian.-i And the doctrine has re-flowered in the famed and
familiar utterances of Woodrow Wilson, in a manner to fill
the race with enthusiasm.

If it is true that, tracing back the rise of modern democracy,
we at length find ourselves clasping the hand of a Spanish
Jesuit, it is also a fact that the latter represents the writings of
one Thomas of Aquin, and in this wise links the modern
period with medieval political doctrine. Much as is the in-
debtedness of the son of St. Ignatius to the son of St. Dominic,
however, some mild protest must be made against Dr. William
Dunning's possibly semi-facetious assertion that "where Aquin-
as is unclear or incomplete, it is Suarez's aim to clarify and
supplement; wHere Aquinas takes an untenable position, Su-
arez reverently and with the subtlest distinction and discrimina-
tions proves that the master must have meant something dif-



21 See Art. Suarez and Democracy. Studies, Vol. VII, No. 25, Mar. 18.

Equally interesting, too, is the assertion of Mr. Gaillard Hunt, of
the Library of Congress, that Thomas Jefferson was a borrower of



Online LibraryEdward F. (Edward Francis) MurphySt. Thomas' political doctrine and democracy → online text (page 1 of 29)