It is nice to know that we here at Acton have friends in high places.  This article at Catholic Exchange by George Weigel points out that Blessed John Paul II had some keen insights into what makes economic life flourish:

“John Paul taught that what the Church proposes is not simply the free society, but the free and virtuous society.

It takes a certain kind of people, possessed of certain virtues, to make free politics and free economics work toward genuine human flourishing.

Democracy and the market are not machines that can run by themselves, so a vibrant public moral-cultural life is essential to disciplining both the market and democratic politics.

In fact, in the Catholic vision of the tripartite free and virtuous society—democratic polity, free economy, vibrant moral-cultural sector—it’s the latter that’s most important over the long haul. The habits of heart and mind of a people are the best defense against their allowing their political and economic liberties to become self-destructive.”

  • Anonymous

    The problem, as I see it, is that capitalism fails to reward virtue.  The reason the market cannot run by itself is because it is engineered to reward sin.

    Any system that rewards sin and punishes virtue, that encourages the abuse of freedom in politics and economics, is one good Catholics should rightly oppose.

  • Roger McKinney

    Tedseeber, you have a false, Marxist idea of capitalism.
    Adam Smith was a moral theorist first, and an economist second. He wrote his
    book in order to demonstrate how capitalism creates virtue. Competition forces
    businesses to please consumers and thwarts greed. Capitalism rewards thrift,
    self-control and hard work. The division of labor encourages cooperation. Socialism
    not only promotes envy and covetousness, it raises them to the level of virtues.

  • Ldaxon

    Roger, have you ever considered perhaps, just perhaps, showing a wee-bit more courtesy to those with whom you disagree? It really wouldn’t take much, you can still make your argument and it does strike me as a little more Christian.

  • Ldaxon

    Roger, have you ever considered perhaps, just perhaps, showing a wee-bit more courtesy to those with whom you disagree? It really wouldn’t take much, you can still make your argument and it does strike me as a little more Christian.

  • J.E. Rendini

    Assuming Capitalism does fail to reward virtue, with what are we to replace it? Socialism? Does anyone remember the twentieth century? Socialism didn’t promote very much virtue in any of its 20th century manifestations.

    What’s left? Syndicalism? Mercantilism? Feudalism? Hunting and Gathering?

    The only thing that promotes virtue is freedom. The most revolutionary thought in the history of mankind is that which says that the fruit of your labor belongs to you. Free markets represent both the source and summit of Western society. Any attempt to coerce market outcomes insults human dignity, perverts the information carrying functions of markets – an assault on truth (which, btw, sets us free) – and smacks of oriental despotism. It also creates bubbles, which temporarily enrich the chosen beneficiaries of despotism but ultimately waste the resources of society as a whole.

    Capitalism is a gloss on free markets. It is an offshoot of money, which is one of the most astounding inventions in the history of man, as incredible a concept as language or counting or writing. Money is actually the abstract crystallization of the value of human labor. A dollar bill is actually the embodiment of the value of someone’s work, perhaps someone who lived long ago and far away. Capitalism, by its ingenius mental constructs, enables that work to go on working, to go on earning, to be translated into different forms and transfered across time and space.

    In a properly functioning capitalist “system,” the value of labor is never lost and becomes cumulative, from nation to nation and from generation to generation. This is why we are richer and more productive that our fathers; this is why the degradation of money, inflation, is such a crime.

    I could go on, but I just don’t see how this remarkable product of human genius –  spontaneous, organic, democratic – can be dismissed in a single line as not producing virtue.  Perhaps it doesn’t, but neither does fire. Fire does, however, keep you warm in cold, cold world.

  • Roger McKinney

    ldaxon, I didn’t intend to be rude. What do you think was rude in what I wrote?