In Integral Humanism (1936, first U.S. edition in translation 1968), Jacques Maritain writes as follows in his first chapter on the Historical Ideal of New Christendom:
The world will not soon be done with the ultimate phase of materialistic imperialism, which invokes the dictatorship of the proletariat or reacts against it, and there will be necessary perhaps upheavals of world dimensions, if it is true that it is a question of liquidating a whole age of civilization.
Howsoever this may be, by a remarkable dialectical process, the Christian absolutism (at least Christian in appearance) which succeeded the mediaeval world has been ejected by an anti-Christian liberalism, and the latter having been evacuated in its turn by the sole fact of its success, the place is ready for a new absolutism, this time materialistic (with an avowed materialism or with a disguised materialism) and more enemy than ever of Christianity.
All along the course of this evolution, even and especially during the liberal and individualist democratic period, something has constantly increased and magnified its claims: the State, the sovereign machine in which political power takes flesh, and which imprints its anonymous countenance on the social community and on the obeying multitude.
While awaiting the results of the full ascension of promises, and without taking account of its own responsibilities, rationalism laments that the youth of the entire world manifests for the moment a lively appetite for collective forms and spiritual standardization, in despair of the unity which is lost. It sees with astonishment a romantic distress which could find no reason for living succeeded by a joy in command and the fascinations of a bravado which satisfy themselves with the most superficial reasons for living. It realizes too late that only a faith superior to reason, vivifying the intellectual and effective activities, can assure among men a unity founded not on constraint, but on interior assent, and make of joy in existence, which is certainly natural, but which nature itself alone cannot safeguard (pagan wisdom held that the best fortune were never to have been born), an intelligent delight.
I would be grateful for any pointers about whom Maritain had in mind as having held that “the best fortune were never to have been born.”