Point 134. Associations of mutual adreement

1. Wherever there is lack of stable equilibrium among families, they tend to make free associations together in order to collaborate in the production and consumption of goods. The benefit of this understanding prevails over any antagonism of interests and leads to their harmony. This is the whole area of spontaneous contracts whence results the second ecological equilibrium; sale, rent, lease; salaries, businesses, credit, commerce.

These economic relationships are marked by their origin, by the proximity of the contracting parties, the families of the proprietor and of the tenant, of the lender and of the borrower, of the merchant and of the client, etc. It is one factor of the humanist equilibrium, object of the second “ utopia ” or ideal ecological norm: the rigorous pursuit of profit is again tempered or governed by spontaneous elements relating to prudence, tranquillity of the neighbourhood, security of the future, simplicity of agreement, the advantages of friendship, etc.

2. There is every advantage in granting these contracts and associations the greatest freedom, before any intrusion by the authorities and administrative regulations, since the ecological equilibrium here finds its own level and maintains itself unaided. Where family responsibility comes first, mutual justice proceeds from a prudence that constructs a fraternity, and the honest advantage of all parties results in stability.

These associations, the fruits of freedom, still remain based on a natural harmony, for any excess or any injustice rapidly finds itself sanctioned by an opposing violence resulting in the dissolution of society. Antagonism, therefore, is a lack of ecological prudence; solidarity, on the other hand, is wisdom.

3. Human organisation and civilisation grow in proportion to the development of these agreements in free association and collaboration. These agreements yield more for the strong than for the weak and are said to develop inequality and injustice. This is true when the society is based on individualist principles but if it is governed by a sovereign and paternal authority, inequality is naturally protective. These agreements are one of the means to prevent the weak from being crushed for inequality is tempered here by fraternal human relationships and by family wisdom.

An ecological order more than a thousand years old was established on the foundations of these social relationships where justice, resulting from the prudence of the contracting parties, became the law ruling the institution. In this way, great nations and very high civilisations were able to live and prosper in a spontaneous economy, morally regulated by religion, protected by the political powers, but self-managed and conserved in a general balance that was human rather than mathematical, natural and not technocratic, self-regulated rather than planned. It was an equilibrium where the virtue of prudence prevailed over the barbarous law of profit.