Natural Inequalities Should Also Exist in a True Democracy

May 16, 2013

[Pius XII] distinguishes between true and false democracy. The former is a corollary of the existence of a true people; the latter, on the contrary, is the consequence of reducing the people to the condition of mere human masses.

Young Woman Helping an Unfortunate Family, Painting by Michel-Martin Drolling

“Hence, follows clearly another conclusion: the masses—as we have just defined them—are the capital enemy of true democracy and of its ideal of liberty and equality.

“ In a people worthy of the name, the citizen feels within him the consciousness of his personality, of his duties and rights, of his own freedom joined to respect for the freedom and dignity of others. In a people worthy of the name all inequalities based not on whim but on the nature of things, inequalities of culture, possessions, social standing—without, of course, prejudice to justice and mutual charity—do not constitute any obstacle to the existence and the prevalence of a true spirit of union and fraternity.

“On the contrary, far from impairing civil equality in any way, they give it its true meaning; namely, that before the state everyone has the right to live honorably his own personal life in the place and under the conditions in which the designs and dispositions of Providence have placed him.” (Vincent A. Yzermans, ed., The Major Addresses of Pope Pius XII [St. Paul: North Central Publishing Co., 1961], Vol. 2, 81-82)

The La Mano monument by Liss Eriksson. It stands in Stockholm, Sweden. It is a memorial to the Swedes that died in the spanish civil war. "La Mano" means "The Hand" in Spanish. It is the general starting point for various May Day demostrations.

The La Mano monument in Stockholm, Sweden. It is a memorial to the Swedes that died in the Spanish Civil War. “La Mano” means “The Hand” in Spanish. It is the general starting point for various May Day demonstrations.

This definition of the genuine and legitimate “civil equality,” and the correlated concepts of “fraternity” and “union,” clarifies, with richness of thought and propriety of expression, the true equality, fraternity, and union according to Catholic doctrine. This equality and fraternity are radically opposed to those implemented, to a greater or lesser extent, in the sixteenth century by Protestant sects in their respective ecclesiastical structures. They are likewise contrary to the sadly famous trilogy that the French Revolution and its partisans throughout the world hoisted as their motto in the civil and social orders, and which was eventually extended to the socioeconomic order by the Russian Revolution of 1917.

This observation is particularly important since these words are usually understood in the erroneous revolutionary sense when used in everyday conversation or in the media.


Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites in the Allocutions of Pius XII: A Theme Illuminating American Social History (York, Penn.: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property, 1993), 28-29.



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