Christian churches in the West have been focused on redistribution of income rather than the creation of wealth, says Brian Griffiths in this week’s Acton Commentary.

Through much of the post-war period in the West, the formation of economic policy was dominated by Keynesian activism on the part of governments seeking an increasing role in providing public services, reducing material poverty, and reshaping income redistribution.

In the United States, President John F. Kennedy launched the New Frontier program and his successor, President Lyndon Johnson, soon after embarked on what came to be called the Great Society. In both cases, emphasis was placed on increasing the role of the state in order to solve problems of poverty and destitution. In intellectual terms, the economist John Kenneth Galbraith made the case for trade unions and government becoming “countervailing powers” in capitalist economies in order to check the power of large corporations. In Britain, Harold Wilson nationalized various industries, developed a national plan, a comprehensive prices and incomes policy, and extended the scope of the welfare state. Across the Channel and Rhine, the Social Democrat Willy Brandt was a major influence in extending the role of government in social policy throughout West Germany.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton News & Commentary and other publications here.

  • Aaron

    Helpful article. I’d like to see more documentation of the quoted sources though. Found myself wanting to read more.

  • All of the virtues which are alleged for socialism are borrowed from elsewhere. The English idea of fair play; the Christian ideals of charity and compassion, the Jewish example of community, all are the true coin of which socialism is the counterfeit. Government expropriation of society’s high achievers, on the presumption of their unworthiness to possess their own wealth, is no recipe for justice, never has been, and never can be.

  • Sus

    Good start, but needs to mention how crony capitalism and central banks’ cheapening the currency by their creation of money out of thin air contribute to poverty and lack of equal access to success.