Founding families (3)
By Mgr Henri Delassus | 1 February 2023
This is the eleventh in a series of twenty-one articles, drawn from Mgr Delassus’s two-volume work, The Problem of the Present Time: Antagonism of two civilisations (1905), in which he examines the conditions for the restoration of Christian society and the return to social truth. The section of his work translated for this series considers the role of the family as the origin and model of all society and the disastrous effects of human tampering with this institution so manifestly wanted by God and nature. This series began on the 20 April 2022 with “How states are formed”.
The civil code has killed our founding families.1 By the perpetual liquidation it imposes, great families have been condemned to diminish, generation by generation; it makes it impossible for bourgeois families to raise themselves up, and even to maintain themselves for long at the level where the effort of their members has brought them. Working families are trapped in their condition.2 Le Play said:
“Let us suppose that, at the cost of long and laborious thrift, and thanks to the cooperation of a benevolent patron, the peasant father of a family, a worker or an employee, comes to be the full owner of his home. Death takes him, and behold, straight away the lawyers and taxmen intervene in the name of the law prescribing equal shares of all movable and immovable goods. They force their way into the home and draw up an inventory; finally, the house itself is put up for sale. Everything is to begin again. And who profits from the sale? Is it the children? Not at all. It is the taxmen and lawyers.3
Gaston About said:
“The code has undone perhaps one million fortunes at their very beginning. The father founds an industry and dies; everything is sold and shared out; the house does not survive its master. One son has courage and talent: with his little share of the paternal capital, he founds another house, succeeds, almost becomes rich and dies; a new sharing out, a new destruction; everything to begin again, with new fees.”
We now have, at least legally speaking, only unstable families. The spirit and the letter of the civil code are opposed to all consolidation, to all propagation. It only attaches to the family the idea of a momentary society which is dissolved at the death of one of its contracting parties. Hippolyte Taine said:
“Whilst previously there were a quantity of families rooted in the same place for a hundred years, two hundred years, and more. Not only among the nobility, but also in the bourgeoisie and the third estate, the heir of a work was to continue it… Small or great, the individual did not end at himself; his thought stretched towards the future and into the past; from his ancestors to his descendants, along the indefinite chain in which his life is but one link… When, by virtue of interior discipline, a family kept itself upright and respected in one place for a century, it could climb a step and usher one of its own into the higher class.”
Ernest Renan also said:
“A code of laws which seems to have been made for the ideal citizen — the newborn foundling and the dying bachelor, a code in where everything is for life, where children are an inconvenience for the father, where all collective and perpetual work is forbidden, where moral unities (which are the only true ones) are dissolved upon death, where the prudent man is the egoist who disposes himself to have the fewest possible responsibilities, where the man and the woman are thrown into the arena of life in the same conditions, where property is conceived not as something moral but as a pleasure on which one can put a price; such a code, I say, can engender only weakness and pettiness. With their stingy concept of the family and of property, those who so drearily liquidate the bankruptcy of the revolution… prepare a world of pygmies and revolts.4
For France to still have a future, there is nothing more fundamental, nothing more necessary, than to restore to the French family the faculty to place itself once again under the rule of founding families. Having a perpetual workshop (field, factory, company) charged with providing, not only one’s own daily bread, but for old age and for giving children their start; having one’s home also charged with the education of the young generations according to ancestral traditions; when this freedom is returned, a certain number of families will embark on this path of their own accord and, after a few generations, will find themselves naturally above those who have remained unstable. By this very fact, the social hierarchy will be redrafted. At the same time, society will be reaffirmed and ultimately reconstructed.
This series will continue next month with “Founding families (4)”.
1. In our own times, the centenary of the promulgation of the civil code was pompously celebrated, which is as much as to say that the most certain element of dissociation amongst a people ever devised was celebrated.
This code was made to destroy families, abolish inheritance, annihilate local traditions and isolate individuals; made to progressively annihilate and destroy all territorial and industrial influences, to the benefit of anonymous and cosmopolitan capital, that is Jewish capital. Today, it carries its full consequences in the form of a universal weakening of public morality and the ruin of the nation.
2. One could say that this was expected and wanted by Napoleon. On 6 June 1806, he wrote to his brother, Joseph king of Naples:
“I want one hundred families in Paris, all raised at court and alone remaining considerable. All but them will be disseminated by the effect of the civil code. Establish the civil code at Naples; all those who are not attached to you will be destroyed within a few years, and those who you wish to conserve will be consolidated.”
In the eighteenth century, Queen Anne also applied forced equal shares to Irish Catholics, reserving the faculty of validation by English laws to Protestants; thus the land of Ireland passed little by little into the hands of Protestant lords.
3. The numbers also have a certain eloquence. Le Play cites, in the North, six lots of land sold for a total price of 36 francs: they demanded 758 francs 85 in charges. In the same department, lots sold for 51, 58, and 55 francs resulted in charges amounting to 210, 250 and 501 francs 92 respectively. In Pas-de-Calais, 37 ares of land were sold for 845 francs and the initial charges amounted to 1,862 francs. After many other examples, he said, “We could add a hundred thousand other facts of the same nature. They are reproduced endlessly in each of our localities.”
Georges Michel demonstrated that, in the sale of small inheritances, the sum of the charges is always greater than the auction price. (Une iniquité sociale: les frais des ventes judiciaires d’immeubles). It is true that the law of 1884 exempt immovable goods of a value less than 2,000 francs from certain charges, but the official statistics establish that the legal fees of the sale are the same, if not higher than previously. There are too many of them and too many formalities. On top of 100 francs, the tax office takes 90 francs, while the lawyers’ share represents barely 10%.
4. Preface of Questions contemporaines.