The fragments of secular society
in Catholic literature and secularisation in France and England, 1880–1914
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This chapter discusses the ways in which French and English Catholic writers perceive and portray secular society's potential for individualistic fission. This is viewed as a result of the Reformation or the Revolution of 1789 and is encouraged and epitomised by particular groups, notably Jews and Freemasons. The chapter also explores the secularising trends identified by French and English Catholic authors in several important areas of societal life, including politics, economics and education where State centripetalism or State arbitration of individualism had become the modi operandi. These models of contractual society unwittingly establish secular parodies of the Church, both in their assumptions concerning the autonomous individual and with regard to their solution for life in society. Politics and economics are simply not estranged from religion but also unfold in a world invested with divinely ordered meanings and purposes.

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