Several respondents to last week’s column for Aleteia, “Free-Market Catholics Are Losing Their Faith (in Capitalism),” rejected my observation that a significant number of politically conservative Catholics are changing their attitude to the state, to a new assertion not just of the limits and dangers of the market but of the need for a welfare and regulatory government. The reasons ranged from “I don’t see it” to “It can’t be!”
It is as I say an exercise in connecting the dots and one can always connect them wrongly. In this week’s column, The New Catholic Economics, I offer more reasons to think this is a real and significant movement and some more analysis of what it means. For example, a response from a Facebook discussion of “Free-Market Catholics.”
My friend Jay Richards (another convert, as it happens) challenged my description. His Twitter name is “@freemarketjay” and he was understandably skeptical. He’d seen no “economically literate” Catholics — Catholics who’d read and understood Hayek, basically — turn to the left in the way I’d described.
A young man closely involved in conservative, free-marketing enterprises responded: “I think there is quite a large group of people who are intimately familiar with free market arguments and would have proudly called themselves capitalists or libertarians at some point in the past, but have changed their minds about economics in light of Church teaching or other developments in their philosophical understanding.”
He rejected the claim that “they just don’t understand the arguments” because the people who offer it have rarely taken the time to understand the anti-capitalist Christians’ arguments. “My generation of politically aware Christians grew up with Hayek and Novak type arguments all around us, and it is not for lack of familiarity that many are choosing St. Thomas and MacIntyre and so forth over them. But I am biased because I consider myself one such person and a friend of many others.