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A Turning Point in History

CHRIST & NEIGHBOR

By John C. Cort | April 1984

With this issue we inaugurate a new col­umn, Christ and Neighbor by John C. Cort, to appear in each issue of the New Oxford Review. In 1936 John join­ed the Catholic Worker Movement in New York City, and subsequently be­came a founder of the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists, a labor jour­nalist, a C.I.O. union officer, and a Peace Corps official in the Philippines. Current­ly he is a freelance writer living in Nahant, Massachusetts. — Ed.

 

Smart historians are reluctant to point to any one event as a major turning point. History is too complicated. But some points do stick out.

Back in the 1920s Pope Pius XI said, “The great scandal of the nineteenth century was that the Church lost the working class.” In America we don’t appreciate that lament because in this coun­try it never happened to the extent it happened in Europe.

In Europe that loss created a vacuum that was filled by Marxism; and Marxism produced Lenin and Bolshevism; and these produced the Soviet Union; and the Soviet Union has not produced but contributed to the explosive mess we are in today. (We in the West have also contributed significantly to that mess.)

And what was the turning point? I nominate the evening of June 25, 1848. It was the fourth day of savage fighting in the streets of Paris, brought on by the government’s termination of work-relief projects that had kept large numbers of unemployed workers in a state of relative submis­sion. The Revolution of February 1848 had been almost bloodless, but now was the bloody time.

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