How the Catholic Church Build Western Civilization

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* Book: Thomas Woods. How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization.


Allen Butcher:

" as Catholic monasticism grew and became increasingly corrupted by its own growth in wealth and power, a reform movement arose after 525 A.D. which systematized monastic life, including required hours of work along with a schedule of prayers. This was part of the Rule of St. Benedict, which was adopted by nearly the entire mo­nastic movement in Western Europe.

Thomas Woods in his book, How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, explains that by the year 1300 the Benedictine Order alone had, “supplied the [Catholic] Church with 24 popes, 200 cardinals, 7,000 archbishops, 15,000 bishops, and 1,500 canonized saints. At its height, the Benedictine order could boast 37,000 monasteries.” With a system­atized model of organization, monasticism became so successful that by the year 1200 the estates of all of the various monastic orders occupied perhaps as much as a quarter of the exploited land of the Euro­pean countryside. (Durant, 1950, p. 766; Knowles, pp. 96-7; Woods, p. 28)

Now with the vacation-credit labor system, secular communal society has what Catholic monasticism has had with Benedict’s Rule, a means of organizing a communal, labor-sharing economy without the use of money, and in the case of egalitarian community, with a participatory as opposed to an authoritarian form of governance. Kat Kinkade’s labor system innovation may prove as important as Benedict’s Rule if Western civilization goes through another dark age as did Western Europe after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, this time perhaps due to climate change, resource depletion, economic depression, or a perfect storm of these and more disasters.

Kenneth Rexroth in his book, Communalism, writes that after the fall of Roman civilization, “Many monastic leaders in the West were quite conscious of their role as preservers of civilization.” (Rexroth, p. 33) Subsequently, the practice of transcribing important Christian writings spread among monasteries throughout Europe, just as the Essenes had transcribed the Dead Sea Scrolls centuries earlier in their Jewish monastic community at Qumran.

As Thomas Woods writes, while the monastic achievement in agriculture is impressive, it is their mechanization of industry that is the most significant and least known. While the classical civilizations of Greece and Rome did not develop mechanical systems on a large scale, other than for military and construction purposes, monastic societies in the Middle Ages provided the organization

necessary for the invention and dissemination of the technology of industrial mechanization.

Centuries before the Industrial Revolution the communication networks within various Catholic Orders shared water-power technology between monasteries a thousand miles apart. Cistercian monks used water power for milling grains, making cloth, and tanning leather throughout their network of hundreds of monasteries. Thomas Woods quotes Randall Collins’ statement that, “These monasteries were the most economically effective units that had ever existed in Europe, and perhaps in the world, before that time.” (Woods, p. 33)

To build their water-powered machines the monks needed iron, and for that, “the Cistercians were the leading iron producers in the Champagne region of France.” (Woods, p. 35) Learning how to make iron hardware and tools for their own use, the monks then sold their surplus in the emerging European markets. And they did all of this without the use of monetary economics within their monasteries." (