The Scandal of Wealth vs the Scandal of Poverty

Jacques Attali is one of, perhaps the most fascinating French intellectual alive, one of our few polymaths left, with enormously wide-ranging interests. Attali is an economist and a futurist with a keen interest in the history of ideas.While tooling around on YouTube, I found out that Attali gave a speech (in French) outlining his thesis on the origins of capitalism. As Attali tells it, as soon as you had organization, the state created the market to get its wealth (shades of Polanyi) but … [Read more...]

Towards A Catholic Economic Anthropology (4) : Further Implications Of Market Co-Creative Service


In the previous column, I outlined how I think Catholic theology should look at markets: as avenues for co-creation and service. Here, I want to draw out two implications of that view that I think are very important for having the proper view of markets.1) Positive sum exchanges.It is simplistic, but it is worth keeping in mind the lesson from economics 101 : in any economic transaction, both participants are better off, otherwise we wouldn't have traded. The good or service I buy from … [Read more...]

Towards A Catholic Economic Anthropology (3) : Markets As Avenues For Co-Creative Service


In the previous column, we explored how Catholic economic theology needs to be rooted in scriptural anthropology, and specificially in the Genesis narratives. We found that the two important aspects of scriptural anthropology for our purposes, drawn from Genesis, are man's sinful nature and his divine call to be co-creator. And we found that markets are the economic mode of organization best-suited to those characteristics. Markets work by and through our sinful nature, because they aggregate … [Read more...]

Towards A Catholic Economic Anthropology (2) : Man As Economic Co-Creator


A good, properly Catholic theology of the economy must start with a good anthropology. A good anthropology must have a healthy understanding of original sin. As we saw in the previous column, in the economic realm, a healthy understanding of original sin leads us to prefer markets as a mode of economic organization, since markets work by and through human limitation.What else does Scriptural anthropology tell us about human nature ?In the Genesis creation accounts which form the bedrock … [Read more...]

New Distributism 5 — Towards A Catholic Economic Anthropology (1) : Markets And Original Sin


I am writing a series of columns on Catholic social doctrine. Here’s all of them.–A possibly apocryphal story holds that, during a state visit to San Francicso, the Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev was so impressed by the abundance of goods in the city's stores that he asked to meet the person in charge of supplying them. Today this story makes us smile, but the answer to the Communist leader's question—no one, and it works much better that way—is actually deeply counter- … [Read more...]