The Catechism speaks out against both pure Communism and pure Capitalism (the free market nature of it). What are the main issues with these two economic systems in the eyes of the Catholic Church? And what would an economic system look like that was supported by the beliefs of the Catholic Church?
Church criticism of capitalism is how it is often practiced, i.e putting people before profit, which is materialism, without however stating that it is wrong in theory. Church criticism of socialism is however because it is wrong both in practice and in theory. Socialism is fundamentally atheistic and materialistic.
Here is what the Popes had to say on Socialism:
Personally, I am leaning in favor of Distributism as an alternative to either capitalism or socialism.
Communism refers to the removal of private property, the destruction of democracy, dictatorship by the proletariat, and atheism.
Capitalism refers to what you stated: competition and less regulation. The result includes concentration of wealth among a few, leading to greater suffering for many.
Given that, I think what the Church wants is capitalism with more regulation to decrease suffering, ecological damage, etc.
Slightly off topic, when did Capitalism and Communism “start”?
By this I mean, there have been other economies, like like hunter-gatherer or feudalism .
Was it the industrial revolution?
Here’s a pretty good article by a distributist on the authority of Church social teaching.
It touches on what the OP asked.
I grew up in a communist system. I remember in Soviet times, medicine (as well as education) was equally accessible and free for everyone.
But I also remember that dissent was not allowed, and everyone had to think according to the course of the Soviet Party KPSU😁
I even remember the shortage of basic toilet paper, and both the “Izvestia” and “Pravda” newspapers served instead of this toilet paper.
No, in spite of nostalgic moments, it’s impossible to return to the scoop. But its also true that modern capitalism often lacks the philanthropic qualities.
Especially the medicine, when I see that the Internet is teeming with ads of hopeless parents about saving their onco-sick children…
And what Catechism is saying about primitive societies, about slavery, about serfdom? These form existed in the history? And what Catechism is saying about postcapitalism? Are we bounded indeed that we are thinking that the capitalism is the ultimate, final stage of social economic relations?
Well - if one is reading current orthodox (nothing bad, just opposite to heterodox economy) economic literature then there is nothing about non-capitalist societies. That is why - we can say lot of bad about historical materialism, but still - it is the theory that tries to explain and frame all these systems and hence - such framework is really precious.
Historical materialism says that technological means determines the social-economic relations and my view is that current advances in AI, robotics, software, automatisian, the visibly declining wage share (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wage_share) redefines the meaning and even the possibility of traditional waged work.
It is very important to stress, that USSR was not the real socialism in the Marxian sense. Even more - Marx himself predicted that there would be efforts to introduce socialism of communism by the force and Marx called it crude form of socialism. Historical materialism states that socialism will necessarily emerge (with greater of lesser turbulence) when the technological advancements determine it. It was not the case with the USSR. Czarist Russia was still almost feudal state, even more - the initial aims of Stalin and Lenin was to introduce capitalism because historical materialism required it. But the February revolution was made without them and hence - on October their initial efforts were already on the path of their fulfillment and that is why the Leninism-Stalinism form of communism gradually emerged with the notions of totalitarianism, force and lack of democracy and - the most important - all the ultimate criminality of the regime.
I am longing for more understanding of our times. There are so many visible signs - complete lack of inflation even after more than 12 years of economic boom and recovery (and more important - even after unimaginable increase of government debt and balance sheets of the central banks, it is beyong any comprehension), meagre pay rises, emergence of gig economy, zero hours work, work taylorisation and dualisation, already mentioned constantly declining wage share. All this shows that technology already changes the supply side of economy, effectively - making it gradually limitless and uncoupled from the availability of human workforce.
All this is showing that different economic system can, may and it SHOULD emerge if we want to preserve some kind of social coherence and peace. That is way I am very much pro post-capitalism. There should be discussion and freedom to choose the future path of economic relation. I allowed - I am voting for socialism and communism.
Waiting for http://www.pass.va/content/scienzesociali/en.html to see and advance this issue at last.
I lived in these times too. I don’t want to go into discussion about that. But 2 nice things there vere definitely:
- USSR celebrated science and technology and there was this passion to automate the jobs as much as was possible by the current system, there was this humanistic outlook on the workers. Current capitalism is different. EU is speaking not about automation but about “job creation” - this social democratic notion which definitely include its moral on creating jobs just to keep people dependent, even if those jobs are digging with spoons. Profit and not the humanity is the main force of automation in the capitalism. That is why there is eye surgery robots, but the slaughterhouses and food processing and agriculture still require a lot of manual work, although scientists and startups have more or less developed automation tools (youtube has lot of videos for such robots, e.g., https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FCivsotZEjk). The situation in agricultural jobs is very harsh even in the s.c. humanistic European Union, it is really a shame. The USSR has different attitude. Yes, the military required its share, the incentives for science were dubious but there were this very humanistic thoughts about less harsh life for simple workers. And it was really, really good. I am looking on China and especially in Xi Jinping for renewal on this outlook;
- well, on a personal matter. There was this day - around the end of April when the Lenin was born (or died? how knows?) and these were special weeks around that day. Spring, rising Sun, firs flowers, such happiness and calm. I don’t know similar festival season now. But, maybe it is just childhood.
Medicine was free but I have doubts that sophisticated surgical operations were accessible to all.
Medical researches required means, that’s why traditionally elites probably were going secretely abroad for treatment of some types of cancer… Until this day…
But I agree that for proletariat its incomparable with modern recketeering in hospitals.
The education was free and accassable but if we talk about education, we should mention that many subjects were under propaganda machine.
History, literature interpretation, philosophy…
Unique intellectuals and even scientists were even in prisons; some national liberation thinkers even perished in mysterious circumstances.
KPSU watched you, and had many spies.
Even if you as a foreigner came to hotel, in another room was the agent with dictophone…
My mom used to be hotel administrator in intourist Hotel, so I know from her stories how it was.
I wonder only about sport results during Soviet times.
There was no profit interests but the sportsmen in spartan conditions achieved a lot.
Now the fighters in combat sports have so good modern equipments, football players earn so much but, there are no results like in that Soviet era.
Yea, but workers… Factories… Collective farms… There was a lot of pretending.
Workers pretended they work, payment cantor pretended that its paid them
In my youth I was preparing to enter a medical university and worked as a nurse assistent. The sanitar.
In a Soviet time, and early post Soviet time of ambulance team, orderly I was the third in rank. The first was the doctor, then the paramedic and I, - a nurse.
By the way, today, at modern time, there is only a paramedic without doctor or nurse.
I remember during my work we had to carry stinky alcoholics for free, and I had to wash a stretcher.
All people had to be treated for free.
But in those days, just after collapse of communism there was no medicine. Alcoholism spoiled many people, even doctors. It seems to me that the collapse of the USSR became the cause of alcoholism for many.
The time changed.
Today, the ambulance will not arrive for free, and you have to think well before calling ambulance.
Of course many elder people, in pro-Russian areas have nostalgy for the past.
It seems to me that the problem here is the lack of established insurance medicine.
I think its fair enough, if you don’t pay monthly for health insurance, whom do you expect to pay for you?
Capitalism calls to sober mindedness and responsibility.
But in many countries this type of health insurance medicine is not established yet.
Papal criticism of socialism is essentially of Marxist socialism, not of all forms of socialism. There are many kinds of socialism, such as guild socialism and Christian socialism, that do not seek to eliminate private property, are not fundamentally atheistic, and other issues raised as inherently problematic.
Who are the profound messangers of socialism today?
I think that today the task is not in the implementation of socialism, like both of these thinkers believe, but the task is to make capitalism really philanthropic, to work it better for the benefit of humanity, for creating more jobs, to support the weakest and give the opportunities for prosperity for more and more people.
I watch how in popular political Russian talk shows they are criticizing America, praising their Soviet legacy, even there are ideas of a return to socialism (they have no other heritage because before socialism there was feudalism and bestial serfdom) But for some reason, the children of all these ideologists who fool the multi million population on TV, study in the West, and the higher the leaders or speakers, the more prestigious American universities study their children.
It’s so low hypocrisy.
If they demonize America, why their kids, their future do nt stay at home?
It’s just bcz they live like a country in the country, lies and fake, perverted news for the mob, and real life for them and their children.
Catholicism acknowledges the right to private property so that man can earn his daily bread and fulfill his duties freely according to his dignity. However, since man lives in society, there must be a civil authority to direct, coordinate, and regulate human activity toward the common good of the society, even in the economic sphere. The state should neither have totalitarian power over man’s freedom, nor be subservient to private interests or completely subordinate to market forces.
As systems, neither communism nor capitalism (aka the economic component of Liberalism) takes into account man’s or society’s whole, common good.
Must we? I think this topic has been beaten to death.
If you look at the life of nature-
birds, animals, they are so different and never will be equal.
Some are much faster than others.
If you throw bread to the birds, then the gull and rook react faster than the pigeons.
Some are born hunters, like eagles.
They all created by God.
Even wolves, snakes, rats.
Wolves can be the sanitars (orderliers) of the forests and are doing important job…
I think the nature teaches us that the equality is not possible.
Where did you see that communism is about equality? Why do you equate the Leninist-Stanlinist implementation of crude s.c. communisms in USSR with the Marxian notion of communism? Why do you do this? Why to you do disservice to the Marx as one of the 3 fathers of sociological science and one of the top-70 most cited scholars in the history?
I will later write more about this (I am busy these days that is why I didn’t responded so far), but the communism is:
- technological development that eradicate the exploitation and that creates some level of superabundance;
- and from that follows the principle “from everyone according to his skills to everyone according to its needs”. Maslov pyramid here is at work: if the work is not exploitation and the basic needs are met then the work (and the sense of being needed by someone) is the highest form of self-realisation pursued by every psychologically healthy individual.
In my other answer My history teacher is a communist I provided links to articles that explain: 1) the difference between the crude forms of communism and Marxian true notion of communism; 2) some current technological development that can be the breakthroughs and that are the technologically sufficient advancements for the phase change of social economic relationships to happen and for emergence of some kind of postcapitalism.
It is for people to decide what this postcapitalism will look like. Will it be dystopian. But the historical materialism tells us how this will happen and it predicts the free choice of individuals.
That would be a form of Naturalistic Fallacy.
PD: I am not Socialist nor Communist but I get annoyed when people try to use darwinism to justify human things. Also Theologians should explain why God would create a naturally inmoral biological system
That would be worth something, if Sociology and being cited would be valuable. But they are not.
That can be taken in two ways. Either you claim that you are more competent Marxist than Soviet leaders, which, um, requires supporting evidence. Or you fail to notice that the Soviet leaders only claimed to be “building Communism”.
As a joke goes, “Is it true that Communism was going to be built by 1980?” - “Yes, but it has been decided to hold Olympic Games instead.”.
On the contrary, see “Quadragesimo anno” (http://www.vatican.va/content/pius-xi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xi_enc_19310515_quadragesimo-anno.html), for example, “120. If Socialism, like all errors, contains some truth (which, moreover, the Supreme Pontiffs have never denied), it is based nevertheless on a theory of human society peculiar to itself and irreconcilable with true Christianity. Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.”.
See “Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church” (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html#Role%20of%20the%20free%20market), for example, “A truly competitive market is an effective instrument for attaining important objectives of justice: moderating the excessive profits of individual businesses, responding to consumers’ demands, bringing about a more efficient use and conservation of resources, rewarding entrepreneurship and innovation, making information available so that it is really possible to compare and purchase products in an atmosphere of healthy competition.”.
Free market as such is not to be rejected. It only has to be limited (“Economic activity, above all in a free market context, cannot be conducted in an institutional, juridical or political vacuum. “On the contrary, it presupposes sure guarantees of individual freedom and private property, as well as a stable currency and efficient public services”.”).
So, while it is true that Church rejects both “pure Capitalism” (as understood by Anarcho-Capitalists), and “pure Communism” (as understood by many kinds of Marxists and the like), the systems that are acceptable are going to be much more like “pure Capitalism” than like “pure Communism”.
It seems to me that the tragedy of man is that it is very easy to believe in the Marxist system, and the history really repeats itself.
But really, the schools of history cannot prevent a humanity from stepping on the same rake again?