Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Socialism, The Church, and Utopia

GOP3's Brian is carrying on a very solid discussion of the canard that 'the Catholic church is [the philosophical home] of Socialism'.

That's simply not true--and no less than Fr. Fessio, the Jesuit founder of Ignatius Press, and a well-known student of one Mgr. Jos. Ratzinger (now known as Benedict XVI) is also involved in the correspondence on the post.

Brian goes on to opine:

I would say that particular aspects of the divine nature of interpreted truth within the Catholic Church lend themselves to oppose socialism even moreso than others - especially with regard to individually ascertained, self-appointed truthseekers (zing!) who wish to remake society, change society in one’s own image. Fundamentally, it all goes back to Whittaker Chambers discussion of the great faith of mankind and then the second great faith of mankind. (Ok, I won’t quote Chambers).

Well, maybe.

On the other hand, Ignatius Press just published a book by Lucy Beckett, In the Light of Christ, and we find her quoting St. Augustine (c. 400AD):
As it arises on the foundation of nature, power is primarily self-affirmation, whether it be the affirmation of an individual, a group, or a people; and it involves the overpowering and subjugation of others...Where it prevails by means of oppression, thinking that it alone is right--whether on the basis of the theory that "might is right" or of the ideology that says that a race or class must assert itself with all available means, because it represents some peerless good, some quasi-absolute in the sphere of the relative--it has become demonic.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately it is largely a straw man. Any state management of a public good is called 'socialism'. Probably the biggest mistake I've seen regarding conservatives is the inflation of private property. They seem to think the encyclicals are merely saying everything has to be titled. The concept of private property in Rerum Novarum and the rest is considerably narrower. The Church has consistently taught against usury for example, and she has consistently advocated for the squatter.

Dad29 said...

If you mean that the definitions are sloppy, that's usually the first problem with any debate...

The issue of 'private property' is more a matter of USE of such than of titling. Approximately speaking (I'm not going to look it up right now) the Church recognizes the right to PP, but not the mis-use thereof.

Accordingly, if someone owns 10,000 acres but cannot USE but 3,000 of them, the Church would encourage disposition of the other 7,000 to others.

But the Church would not condone some sort of State mechanism to expropriate the least under the usual conditions...

And the Church's definition of "usury" has changed from "no interest" to "reasonable interest."

We CAN debate about the meaning of "reasonable."

Anonymous said...

Yes, I do mean the definitions are sloppy.

The issue of 'private property' is more a matter of USE of such than of titling.
I am glad we are in agreement. I would add that it is ordered to the promotion of the family primarily. I'm not sure we would disagree on that though.

But the Church would not condone some sort of State mechanism to expropriate the least under the usual conditions...
You are correct, generally no. In RN, explicit provision is made that justice may demand such. I can think Shawn at the ironically named Rerum Novarum blog who argued that it was injust for Taiwan to redistribute all the land from the 8 people who owned it.

In regards to usury, we could use another encyclical on the matter to reflect current times. Any arguments regarding usury are pretty much arguing past circumstance with the present. While one could be right in the transposition, it would be nice if the Vatican wrote authoritatively on the topic again.

Dad29 said...

You'll find a LOT of Fr. Sirico-influenced folks out there arguing (with some NeoCons) that the Church simply has no arguments with Capitalists.

They're wrong, of course--but the solutions proposed by the USBishops under the enlightened 'guidance' of Rembert were not exactly solutions, either.

Tito said...

Straw man or not, stuff like this is par for the course at 'Catholic' blogs such as Evangelical Catholicism.