sexta-feira, 7 de janeiro de 2005

Links between Catholicism and liberalism

READINGS ON ETHICS AND CAPITALISM: PART I: CATHOLICISM Memo to the Volker Fund by Murray N. Rothbard Dated: May 1960

"(...) I should like to conclude our investigation of Catholicism and the ethics of capitalism with a discussion of the important article by a French pro-free market Catholic economist, which appeared, translated in Modern Age. The reference is: Daniel Villey, “Catholics and the Market Economy,” Modern Age (Summer and Fall, 1959).

(...) (2) Secondly, the psychological and historical position of the Church must be realized. The Church was deeply shaken by the Reformation, and its Counter-Reformation was a great reaction against it, one which, understandably, went too far. In particular, in closing ranks against the Reformation, the Church tended also to oppose those other modern institutions which grew up along with Protestantism and atheism, e.g.: all the modern institutions going beyond the stationary, feudal society of the Middle Ages. As a result, “The Church is uneasy in the modern world,” and its attitude tends to be one of distrust and hostility.

(...) Having set forth and criticized the various sources of Catholic hostility to liberalism,Villey proceeds to inquire what are the possible links between Catholicism and liberalism. He warns again that he is not trying to make liberalism “the Catholic economic doctrine”or of deriving the market from the Bible.

But are there any links, parallels, etc., between liberalism and Catholicism, common grounds? In the 19th Century, authoritarianism seemed to correspond to the ideas of transcendence and God, while freedom coincided with agnosticism and relativism (which is why Pope Pius IX condemned freedom andliberalism so bitterly in his Syllabus of Errors.)

Nowadays, liberalism is more linked toGod and transcendence, while scientism has been associated with agnosticism (Nazis,Soviets.) In short, liberalism may stem either from skepticism or from faith.

The Christian view is that since God does transcend the world, this means that the world exists apartfrom God, and therefore nature is governed by its own autonomous natural laws. Since only God is unitary and transcendent, the Christian must consider nature as discontinuousand pluralistic, just as liberalism considers it. Therefore:“The Catholic mind is thus prepared to admit the heterogeneity of economic interests, themultiplicity of centers of economic imitative and the autonomy of economics in relation topolitics. This Catholic outlook harmonizes easily with the essentially pluralistic concept ofthe world which is peculiar to liberals.

(...) Villey then asserts that when Catholic philosophy was being hammered out in the MiddleAges, the market economy did not exist, and the economic thought of modern Catholic corporativism, trade unionism, solidarism, etc. - still bears a medieval flavor.

Yet, there is,particularly in the advanced modern economy, no “middle way” anymore, between themarket [and] the planned economy. One or the other - the market or the government - mus tdecide on the allocation of productive resources. There is now no room for the handicraftor guild way of life, with its direct adjustment of supply to demand. We cannot - without crisis, famine, and retrogression - turn the clock back to handicrafts; we must choose, with no middle way, between the free market economy and the planned economy. There can be part of the economy devoted to the market and part to a plan; but there is no “third” or“middle” system to choose from.

And many Catholics concede that total economic planning requires a totalitarian state, and therefore must be rejected. Once they realize that there is really no “midd1e” or third way out, they will have to choose the market economy. The Encylcicals have been interpreted (by Ropke, Baudin) as compatible with capitalism,and further they certainly both condemned Socialism.

Villey ends his article with a call to Catholics (if not the Church per se) to join the defense of Western ideals: which include the free market, along with human rights, dignity, and democracy.

He calls on them to rehabilitate private property, profit, the market, and even speculation, to abandon nostalgia for the Middle Ages. He ends by noting that he hascalled the stock exchange “the temple of human rights” - a phrase which. has shocked Catholics and others, because they do not understand the central importance of stock speculation in the market economy.- "

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