Henry VIII and his thuggish nobility nationalized the Churchrnin England—monasteries and parishes pro’ided charity to thernneedy.rnIn Christian Europe, the scope and powers of the state—ifrnit is fair even to use such a word—were severely limited, andrncutting across all political loyalties was the Christian’s loyaltvrnto his church. The twin powers of Pope and Emperor werernpoles around which gathered quite different social energies. Ifrnkings and emperors were supposed to maintain law and orderrnand defend their subjects, the Church provided moral guidancernas well as spiritual and material comfort.rnWhat we could now call welfare—food, clothing, shelter,rnmedicine—was distributed by the Church to members of thernlocal parish. The monasteries, on the other hand, gave emergencyrnrelief to strangers and beggars. The Church in medievalrnEngland can be seen as a vast network of nonpolitical associationsrnproviding relief and welfare to those in need. On the evernof the Reformation, at least three percent of monastic incomernwas devoted to relief of the poor—a really vast sum, and thernwills of well-to-do Christians specified what sums should bernspent on food and clothing for the poor. These were oftenrnquite significant, although few could match Richard II’srnscheming uncle, John of Caunt, whose will provided 50 silverrnmarks a day for 40 days after his death, 300 more on the eve ofrnhis funeral, and 500 on the day of his burial—a staggeringrnfortune.rnIn addition to monasteries and parish relief, England wasrndotted with religious hospitals that provided health care as wellrnas food and shelter to those in need. Most of this vast systemrnof Christian charity was destroyed when Henry VIII suppressedrnthe monasteries in order to enrich himself and his friends. Inrncreating a new class of fabulously wealthy protocapitalists, hernalso destroyed the only welfare system that could have amelioratedrnthe problems created by the growing disparities inrnwealth and the oppression of the poor.rnI lenry VIII created the welfare problem in F.ngland, and byrnhis and his successors’ efforts to centralize political authority,rnhe made it impossible to do anything about it. Each step thernEnglish have taken has only made matters worse: outdoorrnrelief as administered by the parish encouraged idleness, butrnindoor relief and workhouses divided families and made beggarsrnwards of the state. Ultimately, England resorted to the cradle-rnto-the-grave social insurance that has degraded the Englishrnworking classes to the point that if it were not for Pakistani andrnJamaican immigrants the whole country w ould grind to a halt.rnThis is the model for the American future, whether yve reelectrnBill Clinton or elect one of the Republican look-alikes that arernalready asking for our support.rnThis English socialism—as inappropriate to multiethnicrnAmerica as it is—is the godparent of our own welfare state, butrnin recent years, the Tory variety of socialism has also found arnhome in a nation besieged by Thatcheritcs. And what do theyrntell us? I suppose the code word is empowerment, a termrnborrowed from the 60’s left that really sums up the main driftrnof British socialism. If one is to believe the Anglo-AmericanrnThatcheritcs, there is a federal obligation to enable the poor tornget on their feet, buy up pubic housing, and start small businesses.rnIn the Bush-Clinton administration, HUD has been a focalrnpoint of this empov’erment cant, and both Jack Kemp andrnHenry Cisneros have advocated massive schemes of wealthrntransfer under the guise of privatization and enterprise zonesrnand the like. Under Kemp’s plan, public housing units couldrnbe “sold” to the inhabitants at a cost to the taxpayer of only—rnthe price of a decent house here in Rockford.rnEmpowerment, which means giving people the right torntake what does not belong to them, is alien to the Americanrntradition. Marxism and other forms of socialism are exotic importsrnfirst brought into America by refugees from the revolutionsrnof 1848. The true birthplace of Marxism is not Germanyrnbut England, whose poorer classes lived a nightmare existence.rnIf Marx and Engels had stayed in Germany, they might neverrnhave gone half so far as they did, and if they had spent morerntime in the L’nited States—by which I do not mean New YorkrnCity, which even in those days was a foreign city—they mightrnhave given up on socialism entirely.rnIn England Marxism seems to make sense. Herman Melvillernwas astonished by the sight of “poverty, poverty, poverty, in almostrnendless vistas” and commented that in America “such arnbeing as a native beggar is almost unknown; and to be a bornrnAmerican citizen seems a guarantee against pauperism.”rnDecades later, the sentimental Marxist Jack London, who wasrnalways complaining about the oppression of the poor in thernUnited States, had to go to London to write People of thernAbyss. Since 1902, when London plunged into the East Endrnof London, the rulers of the United States have more andrnmore chosen to walk in England’s footsteps, and whatever thernCongress decides to do with the Clintons’ plan for managedrncompetition, a national system of socialized medicine is in ourrnfuture.rnThe mainstream Republican response has been very discouraging,rnand—what is worse—the conservative responsernhas been trifling; let’s not do it yet—let us wait for statesrnto try it out; it will cost too much; it is impractical. All true, butrnnot the basis of a counterattack. The best Republican proposalrnis Senator Cramm’s bill to establish medical IRAs, but the ultimaterneffect would be to empower the federal government asrnthe nation’s nurse. The other so-called conservative solutionsrnto yvclfare are only lukewarm leftism, a dog’s breakfast NewrnDeal. If the devil was, as Dr. Johnson observed, the first Whig,rnthen the first conservative might have been some devil’s sonrnwho had heard rumors of what hea’en was like but refused tornoppose Satan on the grounds of party loyalty. “Besides,” he wasrnfond of saying, “a true conservative conserves the status quo; herndoes not try to turn back the clock.”rnDo the French Jacobins murder priests and nobles, confiscaternthe Church’s property, and level all social distinctions?rnWhat is the conservative response, once there is a restorationrnof monarchy? Why, to pass laws securing the sanctitv’ of stolenrnprivate property. Do a weak-minded girl and her homosexualrnhusband invade her father’s kingdom with a Dutch army, corruptrnhis top military officers, and send the old man running forrnhis life? Why then the conservatives will hail it as the GloriousrnRevolution and prate like Burke of the settlement of 1688rnthat is the foundation of liberty and order. And when a cynicalrnMachiavellian bribes the people with their own money,rndrags them into a ruinous war, and imposes something approachingrna total state upon their backs, what is the conser’ativernresponse to FDR and his New Deal? It is to defend itrnas a bulwark against communism, and while criticizing itsrnexcesses, to refuse to strike at the beast’s head.rnThe conservative response to the welfare state since thern1940’s, with the honorable exception of a few lovable cranks.rn12/CHRONICLESrnrnrn