Catholicism is not opposed to the free market

Probably one of the most significant voting blocs in America which has brought in socialist ideas, and other ideas inimical to the free market, is that of Catholics.  This is based largely on a misunderstanding of what the Church requires of its people when it comes to economics.  The erudite Tom Woods discusses this with Lew Rockwell.


8 Responses

  1. You could also say that Catholics and their faith provide them with a viewpoint that makes them understand the need for social programs like welfare and universal healthcare.

  2. Tim Weaver,

    That is a non-sequitur. Taking care of the poor does not equal social welfare programs sponsored by the government.

  3. Also, you might wish to listen to the podcast before you comment further. That first comment came up awful quick; in a shorter interval than it takes to play the conversation, I reckon.

  4. As one posting a comment after listening to the podcast, I can confirm Michael’s reckoning.

    I have nothing further to add, other than I’m interested in reading the book – especially after having read and enjoyed his Politically Incorrect Guide to American History.

  5. (I write this not having taken time to listen to the pod-cast, hoping that my remarks are broad enough not to be shot down based on the conversation between Woods and Rockwell.)

    I think part of the problem is that, first, “capitalism” and “free market economy” are use interchangeably, although one is not the other. As Chesterton remarked, “Too much capitalism does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists.”

    Second, derived from this is the problem of failing to recognize that capitalism and socialism (and, of course, the intermediary servile state) are not the only options extant. Chesterton, Belloc, et alia, drawing on the Church’s Tradition, defended distributism; Röpke offered ordoliberalism; Proudhon (Not that I intend necessarily to praise him or to advocate his theories) had mutualism. I realize that Woods is more libertarian/Austrian than I, and so he and I see eye-to-eye not on all matters, but he, and you, Michael, are quite right to note the compatibility between Catholicism and the free market — although not, I should contend, Catholicism and capitalism as it so often rears its ugly head.

  6. Nathan,

    You’ll be interested in what Woods has to say. He brings up Belloc and Chesterton for a short while.

    I’ve become a bit squeamish about using the term capitalism, only because it was actually invented by Karl Marx, of all people, in his effort to discredit it. I think there is an argument to be made that one could distinguish between the free market as such and consumerism. When many clergymen decry capitalism, I think they actually intend to put down consumerism, which is fine with me. Consumerism represents a mentality amongst the populace, rather than the given economic system as such. Hell, socialism and consumerism could exist at the same time. In fact, it does in America. Reading Weaver’s Ideas Have Consequences gave me some perspective on this: You can criticize modern consumerism without being against the free market.

    Of course, to make this distinction, one must grant that the government is not the guarantor of economic morality and justice, but I have a feeling we’re both pretty much on the same page there.

  7. I just received a copy of Ideas Have Consequence a few days ago. One of these days, I intend to get around to it.

  8. Put it at the top of your list. Really really. It’s great.

    I hint at some of its contents in my most recent post above.

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