An Orthodox Catholic Socialism?

An Orthodox Catholic Socialism? September 29, 2016

Others will argue that socialism is incompatible with Catholic Social Teaching. This is true and untrue. Again, when the popes have written against socialism, they have written against two real dangers: the complete abolition of private property and the complete assumption of all authority by the state. For example, Rerum Novarum:

To remedy these wrongs the socialists, working on the poor man’s envy of the rich, are striving to do away with private property, and contend that individual possessions should become the common property of all, to be administered by the State or by municipal bodies. They hold that by thus transferring property from private individuals to the community, the present mischievous state of things will be set to rights, inasmuch as each citizen will then get his fair share of whatever there is to enjoy. But their contentions are so clearly powerless to end the controversy that were they carried into effect the working man himself would be among the first to suffer. They are, moreover, emphatically unjust, for they would rob the lawful possessor, distort the functions of the State, and create utter confusion in the community.

And again, Leo XIII:

The fact that God has given the earth for the use and enjoyment of the whole human race can in no way be a bar to the owning of private property. For God has granted the earth to mankind in general, not in the sense that all without distinction can deal with it as they like, but rather that no part of it was assigned to any one in particular, and that the limits of private possession have been left to be fixed by man’s own industry, and by the laws of individual races. Moreover, the earth, even though apportioned among private owners, ceases not thereby to minister to the needs of all, inasmuch as there is not one who does not sustain life from what the land produces. Those who do not possess the soil contribute their labor; hence, it may truly be said that all human subsistence is derived either from labor on one’s own land, or from some toil, some calling, which is paid for either in the produce of the land itself, or in that which is exchanged for what the land brings forth.

But, as I have shown above, socialism as such is not necessarily interested in the abolition of all non-communal property, nor must it mean a distorted use of government authority. Theorists such as Proudhon and Ellul would be horrified to hear someone say their beliefs imply an overreaching state apparatus! Let alone Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin!

I am not technically a Tradinista, and I had nothing to do with the writing of the Manifesto; it was thrust upon me as it was thrust upon the world—through the internet.

I cannot say yet whether or not I support all of its conclusions, as I have to read it again, and more carefully. But I do think it’s worth your time, worth the time of anyone who feels caught between a faith preaching the common good and society preaching self-interest,  anyone who feels overwhelmed by the age of sloganeering and secularism.

It may or may not be the time for a radically pro-life, tradition-rich anti-capitalist party. That I cannot say, but I can say the Manifesto is worth your read.

Below, you will find a few resources for anyone interested in exploring the intersection between Catholicism and socialism:

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