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European Journal of an American Christian Socialist

CHRIST AND NEIGHBOR

By John C. Cort | April 1991

Armed with a Eurail pass, insufficient funds, inadequate French, and a prepared talk on “Christian Socialism and U.S. Capitalism,” I launch forth on a lecture tour of Europe.

Austria, September 21-23; 1990: Christian socialist friends in Vienna too busy, because so nervous about feared losses by Socialist Party in upcoming election, to arrange a talk. Expected losses turn into a gain of one seat, while principal opposition party loses 17 seats. Socialists retain control of government.

I ask one of my favorite questions of this trip: “Will the collapse of Communism be good or bad for democratic socialism?” The consensus, with which I agree, is that it will be bad in the short run and good in the long run. Bad will turn into good as soon as socialists are successful in reminding people that Communism never was, is, or will be the same thing as socialism, which is inseparable from democracy. Also, the bad will turn to good when the people of Eastern Europe notice that a headlong rush toward the free market cannot resolve all their ills, and can create some painful ills of its own. Happiness lies in a judicious mix of free market, economic democracy, central planning, and an overall determination to retain full employment.

Attend High Mass in the Vienna cathedral, with choir doing some gorgeous Palestrina. I begin to notice that church attendance in Europe is more mixed age and sex wise than I had expected, but there is not as high a percentage of communicants as in the U.S.

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