Putting the System Ahead of People

by nonewsisnew


I read this article on labor and the minimum wage, and I thought of Henry VIII and Anglicanism — not because of any specifics, but because how how both this article and Henry VIII put the system they existed under ahead of people living in those systems.

The article above talks about selling your labor at a profit.  What is left unstated is that there are many who cannot make a profit on their labor because the jobs they do are so menial.  This is one of the major problems with capitalism: in captialism jobs exist that aren’t worth doing.  People end up employed in those jobs because living in poverty is better than living without anything at all.  A job, to worth doing in Catholic theology, needs to provide enough wealth so that a person might have their needs met “on the material, social, cultural, and spiritual level“.  After these needs are met at a basic level, then account can be made for productivity of work and different salaries can reflect that different value.  However, if a job pays so little these needs are not met in the most vital sense, then the job becomes unjust.  In America today, unjust jobs exist and are filled by those just trying to fulfill merely their material needs, but with nothing left over to partake in society, our culture, or to tend their spirits.

The author from the above article sees unjust jobs and simply part and parcel of life under capitalism — the underpaid worker should simply sell themselves better to employers.  Henry VIII saw having a son as simply part and parcel of his duty as king — his wives should either produce sons or be executed/divorced.  It’s how the system works.  for similar reasons to why Catholicism denies that workers should be abused by the system of capitalism, so too does Catholicism deny that wives should be abused by the system of monarchy.

Henry VIII started off life as a devout Catholic, even going so far as to write a book against Luther.  After his brother died, he was granted a special dispensation to marry his dead brother’s wife, Catherine.  Subsequently she gave birth to a girl (Mary Tudor), as well as having several miscarriages.  This prompted Henry VIII to start looking elsewhere for a son.  After he knocked up Anne Boleyn, he had to move fast because they had to be married before she gave birth if the child was to be a king.  So he said the pope didn’t have authority in England (a heresy beyond Gallicanism, which held pope and crown had equal authority) and promptly had Archbishop Cranmer grant him a divorce.  To Henry VIII’s great consternation, Anne also ended up having a girl (Elizabeth) and miscarriages but no son.  Therefore he moved onto Jane.

Henry and Jane, sitting in a tree,
First comes love,
Then comes a beheading Anne to end your second marriage,
Then comes a baby in the baby carriage!

The point of all this is that he saw the importance of a son for the monarchical line, and he used wives as tools to get that son, disposing wives when they were no longer needed or looked like they would fail to give him what he wanted to meet the needs of the system he was under.  This is greatly similar to the article above, which bows to the demands of capitalism and accepts the fact of payment for labor which is so little that one cannot fully partake in life.