Our Ignorance of Socialism is Dangerous


CCC 2425 seems to be getting a lot of attention here, perhaps because it contains the words “socialism” and “communism” and therefore turns up in quick internet searches, but 2425 is only a tiny part of the section on the Seventh Commandment.


Anyone who wishes to stamp out socialism (or just argue about it) should read it all.


I suppose that, despite the Soviet Gulags, despite the Nazi death camps, despite the North Korean concentration camps, despite the killing fields of Pol Pot, despite the desperation of Venezuela and the murderous reign of Castro and Che Guevara, despite the 94 million deaths recounted in “The Black Book of Communism,” one could always hold out the hope that the next century of communism and socialism would be less deadly than the previous century.


Saying the Church condemns socialism in every instance is meaningless unless you can apply that judgement to real examples. Which, if any, of these nations are rejected today because if their socialism: Australia, Norway, Denmark, Israel, Canada, Germany,
United States. (I concede China, Venezuela, Cuba, Russia, North Korea, and some others)


In my book socialism just means government provided healthcare and state benefits. In the UK it’s a term associated with the political left and even if you take a more right wing view it’s not considered that negative a word


You realise socialism doesn’t imply communism right?

Germany were socialists. Russians were comminists. They were fighting against eachother.

There are many socialist countries currently that are absolutely not comminist.


I trust that you are not being so naive as to say that the Nazis , who were right wing thugs , were socialists because they gave themselves the name “Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei” .

Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Lutheran pastor in Germany. He emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps. He is perhaps best remembered for his postwar words about the Nazis : " First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist .Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist.Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me . "

The Nazis demanded that Germans accept the premises of the Nazi worldview and live their lives accordingly. They tolerated no criticism, dissent, or nonconformity. Hitler’s political opponents were the first victims of systematic Nazi persecution , and at the top of the list were communists and socialists .

When the Nazis occupied a territory, communists, socialists and anarchists were usually among the first to be repressed; this included summary executions.


…which does not imply that principle proceeds from practice, rather than the other way around. Would you argue that objective principles of morality proceed from subjective circumstances?


No, but I would argue that your inability to state one single contemporary application of the principle shows me you do not understand it.


The unironic truth is that all of those examples mentioned are actually just examples of capitalism.


Rather, your failure to cite a single source other than a paragraph from a Catechism issued in the 1990s, your inability to even address my arguments, and confusion between principle and practice demonstrates that you do not understand why the Church condemns socialism. Now, if you’d like to argue that the Church approves of socialism, then try to actually support your position instead of setting up strawmen against mine.

Now, if you’d like an example, I’d point to Cuba; its entire economy is run by the state, and healthcare and education are all managed and administered by the government. And if you’d like a more recent source than encyclicals from 20th-century popes, here’s one: “The State which would provide everything, absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person—every person—needs: namely, loving personal concern” (Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, 28).


And if you read my previous response to you, you would know that I already conceded Cuba. I asked about some less obvious cases, specifically:

Australia, Norway, Denmark, Israel, Canada, Germany.

Think of this not so much as challenging you or the Church, but rather as an attempt to find out what the Church considers socialism. Does the Church reject the systems of any of these nations on the grounds of having socialism?


Not having live in any of these countries, I cannot speak definitively, but the point remains: if, in principle, the systems employed in any nation fit the description given by Benedict XVI in Deus Caritas Est, 28, then it must be opposed, as it is contrary to Christian charity.


If those nations are Communist/socialist then a planed economy is evil, but as you suggest if they aren’t “true” Communist/Socialist that means every major attempt at planed economics failed, so they are unachievable and should not be attempted as they always end in horrible misery.

Welfare isn’t inherently socialist those nations have mixed economy’s, also lets not forget about the other western nations like Greece or Portugal funny how no one likes to use them as examples of socialism.


If those nations are Communist/socialist then a planed economy is evil, but as you suggest if they aren’t “true” Communist/Socialist that means every major attempt at planed economics failed, so they are unachievable and should not be attempted as they always end in horrible misery.

I didn’t say they weren’t “true communism”, I said they were capitalist. Fundamentally their economies functioned in the same way as the liberal or fascist economies at the time - that is, they were based on the exchange of commodities (and therefore the circulation of money) and the exploitation of wage labour to valorise capital, and produce a profit. This isn’t even necessarily a rejection of these places as “bad.” The early Soviet Republic was quite rightly recognised as capitalist by Lenin, but this was seen as a progressive development of capital in a “backwards” country, and the Bolsheviks at the time mostly understood what communism was and what the goals of the communist movement should be despite this.

Communism isn’t a “planned economy”, and the USSR was not even a planned economy in the way the term is understood. Much of the economy was relatively decentralized and outside of the control of the state, particularly agriculture. Communism is the abolition of capital, wage labour and exchange (and therefore money). It’s the centralisation of all of the means of production under the whole of society, something that can only be realized globally. There are no national forms of socialism, as a lot of the states from the mid-20th century imagined there to be.


I don’t think anyone here is defending socialism in general. In fact I have cited numerous socialist nations that are obviously perfect examples of what various Popes have condemned, such as Venezuela. The issue that is implied but not explicitly mentioned is whether these proscriptions apply to specific policies under consideration today, such as universal government-guaranteed health care, rent controls, minimum wage, etc. These are all things that are associated with socialism, or socialist leaning government. To that end, a general statement like “The Church condemns socialism” is not a useful principle to apply without some elaboration. That seems to be what the Catechism has attempted to do - to elaborate on this general principle so that we as faithful Catholics can make decisions consistent with our faith. Section 2425 identifies specific characteristics of Socialism that are the cause of its condemnation - namely, atheistic and totalitarian. This helps us see that Chinese communism is condemned because it is atheistic in the way it tries to replace faith in God with faith in Chinese nationalism. It is also totalitarian in that it assumes the authority to control every aspect of the economy.

But when we try to apply this elaboration to something like universal health care, the situation is less clear. Seeing how this has been applied in various nations, it is clear that it need not be atheistic or totalitarian.


Finally. Someone who knows history and isn’t hood winked by the ‘name’…thank you


I think the problem is that nobody wants to give a clear definition of socialism. Is Canada socialist because they have government run healthcare?


This is because labels are meaningless, and analysis is made on the justification of a nation’s acts made in common. Label a democracy the best one there is, and immediately people ignore it and analysis on the common denominator. They seek the true soul of a nation. Establishing a constitution at the birth of a nation, is one of the most useful documents for the world to analyze a nation’s performance from an external viewpoint. For instance, but not exclusively, a nation that expounds the virtue of child safety has already lost credibility when it’s majority(democratic system) subjects pass legislation to murder infants in the womb.


I wonder what is with kids nowadays supporting socialism? Back when i was growing up,Socialism was bad. One of my parents came from a country that got ruined by Socialism. Also i would like kids to name one country that didn’t get ruined by socialism,like the former USSR,Yugoslavia,Vietnam,China,Cuba,N Korea,and such.


thought this was funny

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.