Joe Carter discusses “What the Market Economy Needs to Be Moral” today over at First Things: On the Square.
He rightly points to the twin errors of collectivism and atomistic individualism, each of which have been soundly criticized in Catholic Social Teaching, for instance.
I do wonder, though, given that Joe acknowledges the role of free individuals (not to be abstracted from their social relationships and responsibilities, of course) whether we need a “third way” as he proposes, or simply a framework for evaluating a variety of acceptable ways of engaging the market (or maybe that’s precisely what he means by a “third way”).
That is, if there’s no single Christian view of the government, why would there be a single Christian view of the market? The question becomes here more one of prudence than of mandate, and the “Christian view” of the market simply outlines the broad strokes of acceptable approaches.
Indeed, if as Joe concludes Christians are to “to spend less time treating the markets as abstractions and more time working within them as models of Christ-like behavior,” then there are a variety of approaches to modeling such behavior in the context of market exchange. And why the radical juxtaposition between theory and practice when the rest of the piece is really calling for a new theoretical framework?
There are a number of other interesting elements, perhaps even tensions, in Joe’s thought-provoking piece. I hope to follow up on those in the next day or so.