"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Monday, October 05, 2015

To Francis & Bernie re Catholic Social Teaching: Pope Leo on Why Socialism Sucks

Nowhere in the Bible will you find Jesus say
"Go thou to the rich man's house, take his stuff and give it to those who have less."

The wind lifts Pope Francis' mantle as he delivers his speech in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, on Sept. 26, 2015.

Long after Pope Francis's musings on global warming and capitalism [as he understands it] are likely obviated and forgotten, Pope Leo's XIII's bedrock Rerum Novarum, "of revolutionary change," (1891), written as the dust and smoke and dirt and noise and grime of the great Industrial Revolution finally began to settle, will likely continue to stand as the bedrock of modern Catholic social thought.  

Center-left organs such as Time magazine have taken a shine to the Catholic Church of late, that Francis is just a continuation of Catholic social science's congeniality to the modern progressive welfare state. But this is not so. Leo. 100 years later, it's eerily prophetic:
The door would be thrown open to envy, to mutual invective, and to discord; the sources of wealth themselves would run dry, for no one would have any interest in exerting his talents or his industry; and that ideal equality about which they entertain pleasant dreams would be in reality the leveling down of all to a like condition of misery and degradation…
Socialists may in that intent do their utmost, but all striving against nature is in vain. There naturally exist among mankind manifold differences of the most important kind; people differ in capacity, skill, health, strength; and unequal fortune is a necessary result of unequal condition. Such unequality is far from being disadvantageous either to individuals or to the community. Social and public life can only be maintained by means of various kinds of capacity for business and the playing of many parts; and each man, as a rule, chooses the part which suits his own peculiar domestic condition… 
But although all citizens, without exception, can and ought to contribute to that common good in which individuals share so advantageously to themselves, yet it should not be supposed that all can contribute in the like way and to the same extent. No matter what changes may occur in forms of government, there will ever be differences and inequalities of condition in the State. Society cannot exist or be conceived of without them… 
[N]either justice nor the common good allows any individual to seize upon that which belongs to another, or, under the futile and shallow pretext of equality, to lay violent hands on other people's possessions.
This is "conservatism" of the sort practiced around here, BTW, although we prefer the term "classical liberalism." Leo was a Thomist, after all.

[Bernie Sanders is not.]

HT: Ed Feser. Read the whole thing.

2 comments:

Mrs. Webfoot said...

My Cuban friends do a little thing with both hands. They put one on top of the other as though they were holding a baseball bat. Then they kind of do a grinding motion back and forth with their hands. They really don’t say anything because someone might hear and report them, but that gesture says it all.

The system they are living under is grinding them all down - all of them no matter what the profession.

I read part of an article from the NY Times the other day. It was about income inequality in Cuba now that there is more economic opportunity. I couldn’t read it all it was so absurd. Now that more capital is entering the country they are worried about income inequality? My friends are worried about income of any kind. Income equality sucks.


My friends also have a little saying. We act like we are working and they act like they are paying us. Anyway. Good post, Tom. Thanks.


Tom Van Dyke said...

Rerum is a heckuva a document. An important part of natural law is that it not ignore the realities of human nature. Otherwise it's just abstract theory, and Cuba proves what happens when we try to rely on that.