Skip to content

Capitalist-Socialist-Distributist Conference

July 19, 2009

Here is something you all may be interested in.

On April 4th, Thomas Storck, Dr. Charles Clark, and Michael Novak participated in the conference “Catholicism and Economics,” a presentation and debate featuring three economic systems: capitalism, socialism, and distributism. They were tasked with presenting their positions, discussing their viability, and relating them to Catholic Social Teaching.

From the account presented here, I can only say that I wish I could have been there. The author promises that in the near future video recordings of the debate will be available on the website. I know I’m looking forward to it. This may be a biased account, but it sounds like Storck presented the best argument while Novak ventured off into the bizzare and semi-offensive. And with Caritas in Veritate now out, I can only imagine that the cases for distributism and laissez-faire capitalism have respectively grown stronger and weaker within Catholic circles.

11 Comments
  1. Smith permalink
    July 19, 2009 10:19 am

    I was hoping you would clarify for me what you meant when you said this;

    “I can only imagine that the cases for distributism and laissez-faire capitalism have respectively grown stronger and weaker within Catholic circles.”

    Thanks🙂

    • Joe Hargrave permalink
      July 19, 2009 2:12 pm

      Well, CV made a lot of points against the notion of the economy as “self-correcting”, which is a notion that is often present in apologia for the unregulated market. While defending profit as legitimate in itself, CV also insists that space must be made for productive enterprises that do not have profit as their sole aim. And the pope insists that businesses have responsibilities – duties – that go beyond increasing shareholder value, that there are duties to local communities, to workers and their families, and so on, that cannot be ignored.

      I suppose it depends, in the end, on how rigidly one wants to define and defend ‘capitalism’. A flexible, non-dogmatic capitalism is clearly fine within Catholic social thought. A capitalism that insists that profit maximization is the only effective incentive for organizing production and meeting human needs, that insists that the most important responsibility of a firm is to its major investors and shareholders, and that employers shouldn’t have to deal with unions or labor legislation is not legitimate within Catholic social thought.

      And this kind of ‘capitalism’ exists in many third world countries and there are plenty of politicians and businessmen who would like to exist here as well. It is a capitalism with all of the heavy emphasis on “rights” but almost no emphasis on “duty” – an emphasis that Benedict makes in CV, and I think is reflected in the provisions outlined above. The right to private property comes with a corresponding duty to use it in a certain way.

      Meanwhile I think the Pope continued the Papal tradition of support for Distributist ideas.

  2. July 19, 2009 11:44 am

    Joe,

    I join you in wishing to have been there. Please keep us updated on the video. Looks to be interesting!

    Pax

  3. July 19, 2009 11:45 am

    “I can only imagine that the cases for distributism and laissez-faire capitalism ”

    Who is really promoting Laissez-faire Captialism as the term is currently understood? I really wished that term was not as used as much and perhaps people can start taking a tad of direction from the Vatican that used market economy on purpose because certain terms could be used in incorrect ways

    • Joe Hargrave permalink
      July 19, 2009 2:17 pm

      “Who is really promoting Laissez-faire Captialism as the term is currently understood?”

      As a whole package? Not that many people in the United States. But in bits and pieces? I think a lot of people on the right. To me “laissez-faire” means an economy without the intervention of politics or morality beyond force and fraud prevention. It is a notion that the market will automatically (or eventually) allocate resources just where people and society want them to be without any external prodding.

      And plenty of people argue along those lines.

  4. Brendan permalink
    July 19, 2009 1:49 pm

    “Envy never travels under its own name; it prefers prettier names, good names to which it has no right: ‘justice’, ‘fairness’ and the like.” ~Michael Novak

    • Joe Hargrave permalink
      July 19, 2009 2:22 pm

      And asinine evasions, what name do they travel under? “The collected quotations of Michael Novak”?

      This is a load of nonsense, just like the people who, every time they hear a Bible passage they don’t like, say “the devil can quote scripture for his purposes” – something they wouldn’t know if they didn’t know, from Scripture, that the devil did exactly that.

  5. Mark DeFrancisis permalink
    July 19, 2009 3:16 pm

    Callousness never travels under its own name; it prefers more handsome names to which it has no right: ‘self-reliance’, ‘personal responsibility’ and the like.

    • Brendan permalink
      July 19, 2009 4:52 pm

      Aha…..the “Green Worm of Envy” rears its ugly head.

  6. Mark DeFrancisis permalink
    July 19, 2009 5:44 pm

    Why don’t you follow through with a geneaology of all Christian morals?
    Love as resentment…

  7. Justin Nickelsen permalink
    July 19, 2009 8:52 pm

    I met the guy (or one of the guys) that runs the group which sponsored the debate/event when he was visiting a friend here in SW Washington just outside of Portland. Seemed like a nice fellow. 🙂

    jn

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: