August 21, 2011
Catholic Theories Of Capitalism

John C. Médaille takes the left-Christianist line:

In the standard theory of economics, only freedom is considered in the belief that justice will take care of itself. But the Church responds by saying that freedom itself is dependent upon justice, and to ignore the latter is to destroy the former. Freedom cannot be reduced to a mere competition of unrestrained desires. This describes not freedom, but license, and licentiousness always doubles back on itself to destroy freedom. No, true freedom starts with justice. And our Easter freedom means moving away from not just personal injustice, but also from those “structures of sin” (as the Blessed John Paul called them) into the freedom of Christ.

This is not merely an otherworldly call; every religion, but particularly an incarnational religion, has meaning in terms of our concrete social, political, and economic systems. And as Christians, it is our task to make the gospel concrete within our social institutions. Indeed, that is the whole reason for renewing our baptismal vows.

Robert T. Miller’s riposte:

The magisterial doctrines of the Catholic Church entail very little about economics or even politics. They do not, for example, make any particular form of government morally obligatory, and thus the autocracy of the Roman Empire, the constitutional monarchy of Elizabethan England, and the democratic republicanism of the United States are all morally permissible. Similarly, Catholic doctrine does not make any form of economic organization morally obligatory; rather, a wide range of systems, including both capitalism and distributism, are morally permissible.

Now, I suppose the editors asked my opinion on this question because they expected me to argue that capitalism has some special moral standing in Catholic doctrine. Although I will not go that far, I will defend a more modest proposition, namely, that, for people like us in a society like ours, capitalism is the most reasonable choice among the various economic systems we might adopt.

  1. ataxiwardance reblogged this from letterstomycountry and added:
    interesting.
  2. queerkegaard reblogged this from letterstomycountry
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