41 — To
does not belong to Caesar
article of Louis Even, first published in the December 15, 1960 issue of
the Vers Demain Journal.)
Pharisees, anxious to trap Jesus in His talk, sent to Him their
followers along with the Herodians, who were supporters of Rome, to pose
this question: “Is it lawful to pay tribute to Caesar, or not?”
those days, “tribute” was something different from the income tax
paid by our free citizens today. Tribute implies subjugation: it was a
contribution exacted of the vanquished by the conqueror. (Rome had
conquered Palestine by force.)
Lord answered by first exposing the trap prepared by the Pharisees:
“Hypocrites, why do you thus put Me to the test?” He then asked them
to show Him the coin of the tribute, on which was engraved the image of
Caesar. Then he said to them: “Render, therefore, to Caesar the things
that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.”
A curtailed quote
those who quote this line of the Gospel do it to stress the duty to pay
taxes. And they do so with much eloquence. Besides, most of the time,
they quote the first part of the text only — that which concerns
Caesar. The latter part, concerning God, is usually passed over in
silence, these speakers being so much preoccupied with the importance of
even when people quote this first part, they seldom draw attention to
the limitative nature of the words “what is Caesar's”. We say
“limitative”, because Caesar does not own everything. But
apparently, if one listened to the “tax preachers”, one should give
to Caesar all that he demands. Caesar usually has a good appetite,
caring little whether there are things that are also due to those he
milks by taxes.
understand that Caesar means the government, or more exactly, the
governments, since there are as many Caesars as there are levels in the
political structure of a nation. In Canada, there are municipal Caesars,
provincial Caesars, and a federal Caesar. And before long, to top it
all, perhaps we will also be afflicted with a supranational Caesar with
result of this hierarchy of Caesars, stretching up and up, has been the
exacting of larger and larger “tributes”; the ears of these Caesars
have become more and more distant from the voices of the people, while
their sticky fingers reach down into every strata of society, sucking
every bit of our incomes, squeezing all they can from every economic
does something belong to Caesar simply because he demands it?
au pouvoir de César
a speech delivered in the House of Commons on July 6 (1960), during the
debate on the Bill of Rights, Noel Dorion, the MP for Bellechasse (and a
few months after, a minister in the Conservative cabinet), quoted the
reply of Jesus to the Herodians. However, Mr. Dorion did not use it in
favour of taxes. On the contrary, the topic debated in Ottawa that day
was human rights, and not the rights of Caesar. Mr. Dorion rightly
“It is Christ who really set forth the
first charter of human rights, summing it up in these succinct words
which, after two thousand years, are still timely: Render
to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are
Dorion did not elaborate further on this statement. But considering the
subject of the debate, he certainly meant that man, the human person,
belongs to God and not to Caesar; that Caesar has not the right to
encroach upon what belongs to God; that Caesar must respect the dignity,
freedom, and the rights of each and every citizen, including the right
to life, the right to those conditions which will permit the full
development of their personality. The rights of Caesar are limited by
the prior rights of the human person.
a paper given in Melbourne in 1956, and later reproduced in booklet
form, Eric Butler, an Australian journalist, quoted Lord Acton:
“When Christ said, `Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's', He gave to the State a legitimacy it had never before enjoyed, and set bounds to it that had never yet been acknowledged. And He not only delivered the precept, but He also forged the instrument to execute it. To limit the power of the State ceased to be the hope of patient, intellectual philosophers, and became the perpetual charge of a universal Church.”
Lord Acton meant was that the Church of Christ has the duty to make sure
that Caesar does not go beyond his rights. This function of the Church
had been exercised and acknowledged during Christian centuries; it
prevented several Caesars — little and big ones as well — from
ruling like absolute dictators over the people. But, added Eric Butler:
“Unfortunately, however, the perversion of Christianity has reached the
stage when even large numbers of the Christian clergy, instead of
striving tirelessly to limit the powers of the State, are helping to
urge that society be reformed by the power of the State. They are in
fact appealing from God to Caesar. Every increase in the power of the
State, or of monopolistic groups, irrespective of the plausible
arguments used to try and justify the increase, must inevitably take
from the individual his right to personalize his life by the exercise of
his free-will.” (Social
Credit and Christian Philosophy, p. 13.)
Butler is a Protestant, and he is talking here about the clergy of his
Church. We leave others to decide if this remark also applies to the
Catholic clergy, and if it does, to what extent.
The human person before Caesar
Butler, and Noel Dorion therefore see, in the words of Our Lord, a
limitation to the power of Caesar, instead of a justification for any
kind of tax. This is because they quote it in full: “Render,
therefore, to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's.”
Caesar what is Caesar's — no more than that; and everything does not
belong to Caesar.
is precisely to protect the citizens from the all-powerful State, to
make Caesar the guardian of the rights of individuals — at least in
principle — that, on August 4, 1960, the Canadian Parliament
unanimously voted in the Bill of Rights, however incomplete it was.
presenting this bill, on July 1, 1960, Prime Minister Diefenbaker
himself stressed its purpose: “To keep and safeguard the freedom of
the individual from the governments, even the all-powerful ones. Why?
Because the individual, the human person, is sovereign before Caesar.
Diefenbaker knew it, and said:
“The sacred right of the individual consecrates him sovereign in his relationship with the State.”
Pius XI wrote in his encyclical letter, Divini
“The human person ought to be put in the first rank of earthly realities.”
the first rank, therefore before any other institution, before any
Pius XII wrote in his letter to the chairman of France's social weeks,
July 14, 1946:
“It is the human person that God put at the top of the visible universe, making him, in economics and politics as well, the measure of all things.”
is not Caesar who is at the top; it is the human person. The human
person therefore does not belong to Caesar; it is rather Caesar that
must belong to the human person, who must serve him by exercising his
function of guardian of human rights.
Allard, the MP for Sherbrooke, Que., also said during this debate on the
Bill of Rights:
“The individual must not become a tool or a victim of the State; it is the State which, while making laws, must favour the numerous freedoms of man.”
has therefore not the right to skin people alive through taxation, not
even the right to allow the human person to be deprived of the
necessities of life.
MacLellan, the MP for Inverness-Richmond, Nova Scotia, was no less
“The individual comes before the State... The only purpose of Government is to guarantee individual freedoms.”
statements of politicians lead us to believe that it is not through
ignorance of principles, but by not implementing them into legislation,
that Caesar — either the federal, provincial, or municipal Caesars —
too often manipulates people, pushes them around, and throws them into
poverty, whereas it exists to do the opposite.
one must render to Caesar what is Caesar's. Render to him not all that
he wants or can seize, but only what belongs to him.
what does belong to Caesar? We think it can be defined as follows: What
is necessary to carry out his functions.
definition seems to be implicitly accepted by Caesar himself, by the
government, since the government says to those who complain about the
burden of taxes: “The more services people demand, the more means the
government needs to provide these services.”
is true. But in order to carry out his proper functions, Caesar must not
have recourse to means that prevent people, families, from carrying out
in order to increase his importance, Caesar is always tempted to take
over functions that normally belong to the families, to lower organisms,
and not to the State. Moreover, the citizens would not need so much the
help of Caesar, if Caesar first removed an obstacle that only he can
remove: the artificial obstacle created by a financial system that is
not in keeping with the huge physical possibilities to satisfy the basic
material needs of every individual, of every family of our country.
Caesar does not correct this situation that only he can correct, Caesar
then goes beyond his proper role and accumulates new functions, using
them as a pretext for levying new taxes — sometimes ruinous ones —
on citizens and families. Caesar thus becomes the tool of a financial
dictatorship that he should destroy, and the oppressor of citizens and
families that he should protect.
life of the individual does not belong to Caesar, but to God. This is
something that belongs only to God, something that not even the
individual can suppress or shorten deliberately. But when Caesar puts
individuals in conditions that shorten their lives, then Caesar takes
what does not belong to him; he takes what belongs to God.
human person and the family are a creation of God, that Caesar must
neither destroy nor take over; that he must, on the contrary, protect
against whoever wants to undermine their integrity and rights.
deprive a family of its home because it cannot pay the property taxes,
is to act against the family, against God. Caesar does not have that
many other infringements on the rights and belongings of the individuals
and of the families could be mentioned!
In front of Caesar's needs
Caesar has indeed some functions to carry out that cannot be entrusted
to individuals. There are some services and goods that can only be
obtained from Caesar — for example, an army to defend our country in
case of war, a police to keep order against those who disturb it, the
building of roads, bridges, the public means of communication between
the various towns of our country. Caesar must have the means to provide
the population with these services.
but what does Caesar need to provide these services? It needs human and
material resources. It needs manpower and materials.
needs one part of the production capacity of our country. In a
democratic system, it is up to the elected representatives of the people
to determine what part of the country's production capacity should be
used for the needs of Caesar.
one thinks in terms of realities, one must admit that there is no
difficulty whatever in giving Caesar one part of the country's
production capacity, while leaving, at the disposal of private needs, a
production capacity that can easily meet all the normal needs of the
us use the verb “to tax” in the sense of “making rigorous demands
on.” One can say then that private and public needs tax (make demands
on) the production capacity of our country. When I demand a pair of
shoes, I tax the capacity to produce shoes. When the provincial Caesar
has a kilometre of road built, it taxes the capacity to build roads, for
the length of one kilometre. With today's production capacity, the
construction of roads does not seem to hinder the production of shoes.
is only when one stops considering the situation in terms of realities,
and rather expresses oneself in terms of money, that difficulties arise.
Taxes then take another appearance, and “make rigorous demands” on
wallets. If Caesar takes from my income $60 as a contribution to his
road, then he deprives me of the equivalent of a pair of shoes, in order
to build his road. Why, since our country's production capacity can
supply the road without depriving me of a pair of shoes?
Because the money system falsifies the facts.
“But Caesar must pay his employees, he must pay for the materials he
uses,” some will say.
Certainly. But, when all is said and done, what does Caesar do when he
pays, for example, an engineer $400? He allows this engineer to buy $400
worth of goods or services, to make demands on the production capacity
of our country for the value of $400. So, in order to meet the needs of
the engineer, is it necessary to deprive me of the right to buy a pair
of shoes? Cannot our country's production capacity meet the needs of the
engineer without reducing the production of shoes?
the whole point: as long as the productive capacity of our country has
not been exhausted, there is absolutely no need to tax the private
sector in order to finance the public sector.
production capacity of our country is actually far from being exhausted,
since today's problem is precisely to find jobs for people who want to
work, and for idle machinery.
the means of payment constitute a problem, it is because they do not
correspond to the means of production. The tickets (money) that allow us
to draw on the production capacity of our country are insufficient for
the available production capacity.
shortage of tickets is an unjustifiable situation, especially when
today's money system is basically a system of figures, a bookkeeping
system. If the monetary bookkeeping does not correspond to the
production capacity, it is neither the fault of the producers nor of
those who need this production. It is the controllers of the money and
financial credit who ration the tickets, in spite of an unused
production capacity that is just waiting to be used.
citizens alone cannot correct this falsification of realities by the
financial system. But Caesar can! Since Caesar is the government, since
he is charged with taking care of the common good, he can — and must
— order the controllers of the financial system to put their system in
tune with realities.
long as Caesar refuses to make this correction, he makes himself the
servant, the tool of the financial dictatorship; he gives up his
function of sovereign, and the taxes that he demands, because of this
financial falsehood, are actually not owed to him. “Modern taxation is
legalized robbery,” said Clifford Hugh Douglas. Caesar has not the
right to legalize robbery.
denies Caesar the right to tax the production capacity of our country
for the public needs — at least, as long as the part he takes leaves
enough to meet the demand of private needs. There again, it is the job
of the governments to see to it. Unfortunately, parliaments too have
come to limit their sight to the limits fixed by the money system.
all the production capacity of our country were represented by an
equivalent financial capacity in the hands of the population, then one
could prevent the population from using it all for its private needs, in
order to leave some of the production capacity to Caesar and his
essential services. Yet, even in such a situation, it should be done
without depriving the individuals and families of their share, in a
sufficient quantity, of the production capacity, to provide for their
basic needs such as food, clothing, shelter, heating, medical care, etc.
us repeat it: such is not the case! The production capacity of our
country is not only partially used, but the population cannot
collectively pay for all that it produces. Private and public debts are
the best proof of it!
sum of debts for goods that are already made, plus the sum of the
privations caused by non-production due to a lack of money, represent
the sacrifices required by the financial dictatorship, by Mammon.
is not a legitimate Caesar. We must render nothing to Mammon, because
nothing belongs to him. Mammon is an intruder, an usurper, a thief, a
has become the supreme sovereign, above Caesar, above the most powerful
Caesars in the world.
has become the instrument of Mammon, a tax collector for Mammon.
Caesar needs one part of the production capacity of our country to carry
out his function, he also badly needs to be watched by the population;
he must be reprimanded when, instead of being an institution at the
service of the common good, he makes himself the servant, the lackey of
great disorder, which spreads like a cancer, when fantastic progress in
production should have freed man from material worries, lies in the fact
that everything is being connected with money, as though money were a
reality. The disorder lies in the fact that private individuals have
been allowed to regulate the conditions of the issue of money, not as
accountants of realities, but for their own profits, and to strengthen
their despotic power over the whole economic life.
Money created with production
is another occasion that is quoted less often (than the coin of the
tribute), where Jesus had to deal with taxes. And this time, it was not
about a tribute to the conqueror, but the didrachma — a tax
established by the Jews themselves, for the maintenance of the Temple
(Matthew 17:24-26). Those who collected this tax came to Saint Peter,
and said: “Does your Master (Jesus) not pay the didrachma?” Jesus
said to Peter: “Go to the sea and cast a hook, and take the first fish
that comes up. And opening its mouth, you will find a stater; take that
and give it to them for Me and for you.” Peter, a fisher by trade,
handled it very well.
time, money was created with production. The government cannot do
miracles, but it can easily establish a monetary system in which money
is based upon production, that is in keeping with production. In other
words, it must put a figure on the production capacity of our country,
and put the means of payment in keeping with that figure, to finance
both the public and private sectors. It would be more in keeping with
the common good than to leave the control of money and credit to the
arbitrary will of the high priests of Mammon.
Pius XI wrote that the controllers of money and credit have become the
masters of our lives, and that no one dare breathe against their will.
refuse this implacable dictatorship of Mammon. We condemn the decline of
Caesar, who has become the lackey of Mammon. We do not acknowledge that
that kind of Caesar, who has become the slave of Mammon, has the right
to deprive individuals and families for the benefit of Mammon, nor the
right to abide by Mammon's false and greedy rules.
dictatorship is the enemy of Caesar, of God, of the human person created
by God, of the family established by God.
Social Crediters work to free men from this dictatorship. At the same
time, they work to free Caesar from his subjection to Mammon. The Social
Crediters are therefore in the vanguard of those who concretely want to
render to the human person created in the image of God what is his, to
render to the family established by God what is its, to render to God
what is God's.