The current issue on Money opens with D.C. Schindler‘s question, in dialogue with Socrates, What is the meaning of Money? The discussion continues with Giorgio Buccellati on monotheism, slavery, archeology, and human value; Thomas Storck on Usury (is it still a sin?); Wendell Berry on the economy and community; Mark Shiffman on the polis and the family; Nathan Schlueter on Berry, Dante, and the community of the family; and finally, Charles Péguy on “Money.” In this selection from Péguy’s 1913 essay “L’Argent,” the French author addresses the initial question of the value of money by separating it from power and politics and returning it to the measure of daily bread:
Why mix questions of money and questions of governance. Would it be to honor questions of money, by mixing them with questions of governance. But money is highly honorable, we can’t say it enough. When it is the price and the money of one’s daily bread. Money is more honorable than governance, for one can’t live without money, and one can live very well without exercising governance.
The essay “On Money” was an introduction in turn to a particular issue of the journal Péguy edited, Cahiers de la Quinzaine, and happens to include a few remarks about the journal itself and its readership. Since these remarks may be of interest to Communio’s readership as well, here they are for you to enjoy. The entire article is well worth reading: the issue can be ordered here.
I must do this justice to our subscribers who in this governance of liberty have remained admirably faithful to us. It’s an honor to them. And to us. I have often reproached our subscribers that there aren’t enough of them. And this year I reproach them at least as much as ever. But I confess that it’s a reproach that is aimed all the same a little more at those who aren’t there than at those who are. Those who are have understood perfectly, I want to say that they knew in advance just as well as ourselves the mores of genuine liberty.
A journal is only alive if, each time an issue is published, it displeases a good fifth of its subscribers. Justice consists only in that it shouldn’t always be the same people who are in this fifth. Otherwise, I want to say that when one sets out not to displease anyone, one falls into the system of these enormous journals that lose millions, or that earn them by saying nothing. Or rather, in order to say nothing.
Our subscribers have understood perfectly, we must give them this honor. Just as much as we, they have a taste, a respect for liberty. They showed us this in their beautiful fidelity of fifteen years. There are, just as much as ever, not enough of them. But the ones that are with us, remain.
This hard method, this unique system of recruitment, does not at all reveal a common abasement founded on an incessant exchange of mutual concessions that is passed incessantly from one to the other. Rather this is how, little by little, our cahiers were formed as a place shared by all who don’t cheat. Here we are Catholics who don’t cheat; Protestants who don’t cheat; Jews who don’t cheat; freethinkers who don’t cheat. That’s why we are so few Catholics; so few Protestants; so few Jews; so few freethinkers. And in all, so few people. . . . A certainty of instinct, a certainty of race, the only instinct they have, which can only be compared with the profound certainty with which the mediocre recognize and support the mediocre. But at bottom isn’t it the same. And aren’t they the same. If only we honest people were faithful to honesty like the mediocre were faithful to mediocrity.