3 OCTOBER 1947, Page 15


SIR,—What your correspondent this week failed apparently to realise was that the very brief attempt at Communism made in the earliest days of Christianity at Jerusalem resulted in fraud and dire poverty. So much was this the case that appeals had to be made to other Christian com- munities years afterwards for the poor saints at Jerusalem. Anyhow, it would seem from the Acts that this disastrous experiment was not repeated elsewhere. This does not imply that a small community could not live happily on Communistic principles. Many brotherhoods, in fact, both monastic and secular, have achieved this objective. But early Christian Communism on a large scale has never been a success, since to deny the material rewards of success to ability and industry, so far from producing social justice, results in an absolute negation of it. Even in Communist Russia there is a wide difference between the standard of life of the com- missar or the successful inventor or author and that of the moujik or agricultural worker. Nor would a visit to the Opera House at Moscow on a gala night foster the idea that anything like the Communism of the very early Christians prevailed there. Hence the story in the Acts may well be one intended for admonition rather than for imitation.—Yours