Monday, October 26, 2009

"Nothing is more useful..."

...than to look upon the world as it really is." This migh be mistaken for one of Koz's fundamental assertions, but this quote in fact comes from Pope Leo XIII, in his criticism of socialism in Rerum Novarum, section 18. Since Koz has additionally asserted that what passes for Catholic Social Doctrine includes "Economics for Leprechauns and Unicorns," my goal with this series of posts is to explore whether the difference in apprehended reality can be accounted for by 1) the Church's social doctrine is incorrect or deficient in some aspects; 2) Koz's opinions, on the contrary, suffer from those defects; or, 3) what Koz is criticizing is not actually church doctrine, but popularized versions used by factions within the Church for political ends.

"Capital cannot do without labor, nor labor without capital [R.N. 19]," for example, seems to be another principle at odds with what Koz says is claimed by the Catholic left, which apparently implies that the Church should be more concerned with laborers than with capitalists. I would like to see a reference to where this is claimed, though I don't dispute that this is indeed claimed by many. The problem with this position, the distorted 'liberal' view, is also documented by Pope Leo, when he writes:
The great mistake made in regard to the matter now under consideration is to take up with the notion that class is naturally hostile to class, and that the wealthy and the working men are intended by nature to live in mutual conflict. So irrational and so false is this view that the direct contrary is the truth [19].
I would agree that there is largely a knee-jerk notion smoldering in areas of the American Church that capitalists, those who provide capital for the benefit of laborers, are basically evil people. Obviously the Church does not teach this, and by emphasizing the necessity of harmony between classes would actually seem to be closer to the Reaganometric 'trickle down' theory than, say, an Alinskian agitprop strategy. We will see, however, that this is far from a clear endorsement of a completely free market or 'unbridled captialism', though the extent to which the Church is clear on the precise duties of capitalists is still very much openly disputed by conservative Catholic economists. We have much more to wade through before weighing in on that dispute, but for today, suffice it to say that if Koz's criticisms are aimed at real assertions by real people, I would hold that they do not speak in accord with Leo XIII.

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