The Daily 202: Marco Rubio thinks Catholic social doctrine can save capitalism

THE BIG IDEA: Marco Rubio regrets mocking philosophy majors.

“Going back to when I ran for president, one of the moments that people remember is when I talked about how we need more welders and less philosophers,” the senior senator from Florida said in an interview. “Since that time, I’ve actually been reading philosophy a little bit. Like the Stoics. I am, actually, maybe not so negative on philosophy anymore.”

Rubio said his underlying point about the importance of vocational education remains, but he’s come to recognize the need for a more intellectual approach to modernize conservatism and save the country. The senator argues that the primary purpose of capitalism is to provide for human dignity. He has concluded since losing the Republican nomination to Donald Trump in 2016 that corporate executives, by prioritizing shareholders above workers and quarterly profits above the national interest, have caused an existential crisis of confidence in the underpinnings of the free-enterprise system.

I scanned this article, it’s deep, it’s long, it’s probably about 6 printed pages but I am posting it as a resource, it seems to lend itself to “social justice” so those interested can read on it more. I’d almost like to hear him or someone more knowledgeable explain it.

He has concluded since losing the Republican nomination to Donald Trump in 2016 that corporate executives, by prioritizing shareholders above workers and quarterly profits above the national interest, have caused an existential crisis of confidence in the underpinnings of the free-enterprise system.

Has Rubio truly detected “an existential crisis of confidence in the underpinnings of the free-enterprise system”? And if he has, does this mean he is expecting the free-enterprise system to collapse under its own weight? Or is he just trying to show the voters that he is a more thoughtful and more cultured man than Trump?


Is capitalism worth saving?

While I hold that it’s “better” than socialism, it certainly has its drawbacks, and unfettered capitalism is a great way for rich people to exploit poor people. Plus it rises and falls on people’s willingness to spend money.


Distributism is sort of the Catholic version of capitalism, where they have a lot in common, but a lot is different—

“Distributism is just like capitalism, except that we differ on the nature of man, the purpose of economic activity, usury, the maximization of token wealth, the role and legitimate exercise of the state, empirical economics, the meaning of subsidiarity, subordination of economics to the higher sciences, our ends, our means, what money is, what wealth is, what a free market is, production and consumption, regulation, free trade, the moral and divine law in the social and economic order, and, yes, what liberty means.” — Richard Aleman

Back in the early part of the 20th century, there was a lot written on the subject. It was especially poignant because you had things like Pullman towns, or the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, or all the powerful financiers and industrialists who exploited workers. In other words, there was a direct line between capitalism leading to slavery (not chattel slavery, but economic slavery), just as the early 20th century experiments in socialism and communism led to economic slavery as well.

Today— most of that stuff has been imported overseas, and we don’t notice it so much. Yeah, we have people who work factory shifts at $11/hr with long hours and difficult working conditions and minimal rest breaks/restroom breaks, but they’re nothing like the Nike sweatshops in Indonesia or Apple’s Foxconn in China.

On the other hand, it would take a global economic collapse in order for distributism to truly become the default economic platform-- where you don’t have the majority of the computer hardware manufacturing economic pie being held by Apple/HP/Dell/Fujitsu/Lenovo/Toshiba/Samsung/LG, and everyone else battles over the scraps. Instead, you’d have a thousand different local computer hardware manufacturers. Or you wouldn’t have the majority of the distilled spirits industry controlled by Diageo/Pernod Ricard/Beam Suntory/Bacardi/Brown-Forman/Moet Hennessy/Gruppo Campari, and everyone else battles over the remainder of the pie… but instead, you’d have 100,000 different distilleries and a reliance on local product.


George W. Bush said the same thing. He called is compassionate conservatism.
The thing is that there are just too many greedy people in this world. They never seem to be satisfied with what they have. They want more and more and more and more, etc.


One need not try very hard to accomplish that goal. As Ryan George says “Super easy. Barely an inconvenience.”


Yes, but back in the primaries in 2016 Trump won and Rubio lost. Is he planning to try again this time?

I like Rubio.


Of course not. 2024 maybe, but he is backing Trump in 2020.

Thank you very much for posting this. I supported Rubio in the GOP primaries in 2016 and really liked that he had some different things to say. I was happy when he decided to go ahead and seek another Senate term after he was defeated by Trump. But I haven’t paid a lot of attention to him since then unless he happens to be in the news. This interview is very interesting, a politician who kind of thinks like I do. Rare indeed. Thanks so much.

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Always. Everywhere. In all things.

Concupiscence. Fallen human nature. Let, right, center - all suffer from the same universal disease. Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Why? Concupiscence.

There is no broad, sweeping answer. It lies in the conversion of our individual hearts.

The problem with that?

We lack the virtue of patience, so the activist in us takes over and we vote for stupid laws which force change and make things worse.


Yes and no. Bush certainly was at his best when he articulated his compassionate conservatism and he always had a very good understanding of human dignity. There were times when I heard him talk and thought he sounds like a Catholic who really gets it. But Bush did not normally articulate the principles as well as Rubio does here and I doubt if he had a underlying philosophy as well thought out. I could be wrong on this, as he was (is) a voracious reader and his reading list was always quite impressive.

But this sounds different. It has been said, and I tend to agree with the statement despite one really obvious flaw, that democrats have never seen a concentration of power by a government they do not approve of, and republicans have never seen a concentration of power by a corporation they do not approve of. Now, admittedly the former is more dangerous than the latter, but they are both bad. To a certain extent Bush was guilty of the latter. With Rubio here, it sounds like he actually gets it. Giganticism in corporate America is not good, and it can be solved.

It has also been said that no economic system has raised more people out of poverty than capitalism. Now this certainly is true on the surface. But perhaps, I believe that it is not capitalism that has been so successful, but rather freedom of enterprise. They are not one and the same. Here in America we equate them as the same, but we don’t realize we are rather unique in that regard. One can certainly find capitalistic economies with little freedom of enterprise, and one can also find free enterprise economies that are not soo reliant on a unfettered capitalistic model. It sounds as if Rubio gets that also. And its a really refreshing to here a politician espouse such principles.

And this is a problem we will always have. We are a fallen people. The question is how to best structure society in order to work around this problem. Lots of things have been tried, most have failed.

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He’s not the only person to point out that capitalism is starting to fail, the former Governor of the Bank of India pointed out the same thing. Unchecked capitalism will be pushed against, eventually leading to a revolution, then it just comes down to what those revolting coalesce around, typically race or class.

Every college student should have to complete no less than 6 semester hours (2 classes) of philosophy, even if their major is underwater alphabet-person organic basket weaving — one semester of ancient and one semester of modern.

Good post. I would add robotics as a factor as well. Perhaps the most profound factor. We had the negative influence of exporting exploitation. But Robotics by design will eliminate large portions of viable workforce. The liesure class was one of the first phenomena to develope I the earliest known societies. Elimination of the day to day tasks of living.
We will find the working class serves no function or we must redirect to a new productive model.
The Church of course will evolve with everything else.
The opportunity is there to become a centerpiece of the new society.
Displaced workers when they reach 40% won’t only suffer the economic reality. People’s identity is formed by what they do.
In a robotics driven world, the psychological and social well being of individuals becomes a prolific problem.
Our self worth, absent faith, is 100% dependant on the external. People and society each day tell us our worth, or generate our shame.
Only faith gives intrinsic self worth. The doctrine of Divine Indwelling is a great example. God within gives one value not dependent on the external world.
I think we should rethink the emphasis of our own teaching.

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What about medieval philosophy? :frowning_face: it always gets conveniently forgotten

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OK, I was thinking in terms of the two survey courses that I took in college. Medieval philosophy, IIRC, was lumped in with “ancient”. Bottom line, students need to know the whole history of philosophy, from Aristotle and Plato, to more recent ones such as Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Marx (yes, Marx). Students need to know both how to defend truth, and how to refute error.

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He does actually talk about it. I have heard him speak a number of times and it is informative. I will have to set aside quite a bit of time to listen to this soon.

His twitter account:

He’s talking about Catholic Social Teaching and he supports Trump? Is this a cold opening for SNL?


Historically speaking, FDR and the Democrats tried many things to pull this country out of the great depression. Some things worked. Others things did not. Eventually, the country go back on its feet.
Prior to the depression, we went through a decade or more of unrestricted greed. That is what led to the collapse of the stock market.
Trying to find a way to make capitalism work with social doctrine is something we must try to do.
All we can do is try different things and see what things work.
I am not a fan of Marco Rubio. He strikes me as a typical politician. Is he saying what he truly believes or is he saying what he thinks we Catholics want to hear?

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