Institutions vs. Corporations

In the first issue of The Catholic Worker appeared this essay:

Institutions and Corporations

Jean Jacques Rousseau says:
“Man is naturally good,
but institutions make him bad,
so let us
overthrow institutions,”
I say: Man is partly good
and partly bad,
but corporations,
not institutions,
make him worse.
“An institution,” says Emerson,
“is the extension
of the soul of a man.”
Institutions are founded
to foster the welfare
of the masses.
Corporations are organized
to promote wealth
for the few.
So let us found
smaller and better
and not promote
bigger and better

Some Institutions

Round-Table Discussions
to learn from scholars
how the things would be
if they were
as they should be.
Campion Propaganda Committees
for the indoctrination
of the man of the street.
Maternity Guilds
for the welfare
of needy mothers
bringing young children
into the world.
Houses of Hospitality
to give to the rich
the opportunity
to serve the poor.
Farming Communes
where the scholars
may become workers
so the workers
may be scholars.

American Institutions

The American Constitution,
the American Congress,
the American Supreme Court
are also considered
as institutions.
The American Constitution
was devised
by the American Founders
to protect the individual
against the majority,
whether in Congress
or government.
The American Supreme Court
was established by the Founders
to watch over the Constitution
so as to prevent
its misrepresentation
and its misapplication.


Bureaucracy has failed,
whether in America,
in France or Germany.
In France we say:
“Plus ca change,
plus c’est la mime chose.”
[The more it changes,
the more it remains
the same thing.]
Governments change
but the bureaucracy remains.
Political corruption
has made the French people
disgusted with their politicians.
The most efficient bureaucracy
was the German bureaucracy.
And the faith in bureaucracy
was so great
that they failed
to create a public opinion
for democratic reform.
So the Nazis beat them to it.
And created a public opinion
for racial demagogy.
The Catholic Worker
is trying to create
a public opinion
for Communitarian reform.

Five Definitions

A Bourgeois
is a fellow
who tries to be somebody
by trying to be
like everybody,
which makes him
a nobody.
A Dictator
is a fellow
who does not hesitate
to strike you over the head
if you refuse to do
what he wants you to do.
A Leader
is a fellow
who refuses to be crazy
the way everybody else is crazy
and tries to be crazy
in his own crazy way.
A Bolshevist
is a fellow
who tries to get
what the other fellow has
and to regulate
what you should have.
A Communitarian
is a fellow
who refuses to be
what the other fellow is
and tries to be
what he wants him to be.

They and We

People say:
“They don’t do this,
they don’t do that,
they ought to do this,
they ought to do that.”
Always “They”
and never “I.”
People should say:
“They are crazy
for doing this
and not doing that
but I don’t need
to be crazy
the way they are crazy.”
The Communitarian Revolution
is basically
a personal revolution.
It starts with I,
not with They.
One I plus one I
makes two I’s
and two I’s make We.
We is a community,
while “they” is a crowd.

A New Movement

The Nazis, the Fascists
and the Bolshevists
are Totalitarians.
The Catholic Worker
is Communitarian.
The principles of Communitarianism
are expounded every month
in the French magazine Esprit (the Spirit).
Emmanuel Mounier,
editor of the magazine,
has a book entitled
“La Revolution Personnaliste et