We must not imagine that we can behave according to the whims either of our spirit or our senses. Neither must we be guided by the partial truths of religions or philosophical systems. By his instinct of self-interest, by revelation and also by the free play of his intelligence man has learned how to guide himself, but only in a limited way. He has achieved a partial ascent but, at intervals, he has gone astray and whole nations have fallen into the abyss. None of his attempts have fully succeeded. Classical civilization, the Middle Ages, Liberalism, Marxism and National Socialism have all failed.
Philosophical principles are, and always will be, incomplete since they only express the prejudices of one man. Materialism and idealism are equally false; hence their downfall. Whoever leans entirely on the spiritual, the intellectual or the material is equally doomed to failure. Separately, the priest, the teacher and the doctor are incapable of ensuring the success of life; they can only do so by pooling their knowledge.
The success of life is compatible with many faults and errors. But lying, duplicity, apathy and inactivity are completely opposed to it. In primitive life inactivity and weakness are always punished by death. Lying and treachery are of human invention. Dante places traitors in the deepest abyss of hell, in the well of ice where Satan himself resides.
Liberalism and Marxism have not been able to give men the conditions necessary to the development of life.
Liberalism is designed for the property-owning classes. It lacks that passionate element which alone drives men to action. It offers a narrow philosophy and meager abstractions of reality. It has distorted the spirit and, because of this, it has not succeeded. The Liberal Bourgeois is the elder brother of the Bolshevist.
Marxism does possess the passionate element and the ideal of the liberation of the oppressed but it is based on a philosophical doctrine. It has saints and martyrs; it has a titanic grandeur. In Marxism, passion engenders resentment; the battle of the dispossessed against the possessors, the oppression of the rich by the poor.
The break-up of Western civilization is due to the failure of ideologies, to the insufficiency both of religion and science. If life is to triumph, we need a revolution. We must reexamine every question and make an act of faith in the power of the human spirit. Our destiny demands this great effort; we ought to devote all our time to the effort of living since this is the whole purpose of our being on earth.
All men who are determined to make a success of living in the widest sense should join together as they have done in all times. Pythagoras made the first attempt, but it is the Catholic Church which has hitherto offered the most complete of such associations. We must give up the illusion that we can live according to instinct, like the bees. True, the success of life demands, above all, an effort of intelligence and will. Since intelligence has not replaced instinct we must try to render it capable of directing life.
None of the acquisitions made by humanity must be set aside. By utilizing at the same time intellect and faith, science and religion, mathematics and love, we shall be able to do what science and religion, acting separately, have been incapable of doing.
The road to the triumph of life is a royal road. It does not consist in the search for happiness. Man is so constructed that, consciously or not, he spends his life seeking it. Yet this pursuit has always been fruitless. The moralities of pleasure and utilitarianism have not kept their promises.
Happiness cannot be attained directly nor is it what we usually imagine it to be. The only happiness man can attain is that which results from the perfect functioning of body and soul and from the accomplishment of the destiny which the order of things assigns to him.
The only means, therefore, of attaining happiness is to aim at the widest possible fulfillment of life. It is useless to pursue happiness as an end in itself; when life succeeds as a whole, happiness appears as a by-product.
Let us begin by changing ourselves, something which each one of us is capable of doing. Then we shall all be on the same road and we shall all contribute to the common strength and the common joy.