August 29, 2014

Defining Capitalism and Some Thoughts for the Church

An interesting post on First Things by Michael Novak, “ Caritas and Economics.” Novak discusses the different understandings embodied in the six different Latin words for love. In anticipation of some of my own work looking at private property in light of the tradition of the Orthodox Church, my attention was drawn to Novak's definition of capitalism. I think he is correct in his assertion that, “ Especially in Europe, capitalism is a term supposed to be spoken with faint—or not so faint—moral disapproval.' He continues that, at least among those who are self-appointed and anointed right thinker, “It is what all are supposed to be opposed to, not only by Marxists, who spent more than a century vilifying (and misdefining) the term, but also by humanists, poets, playwrights, churchmen, journalists, and all sensitive spirits.” The key to his criticism of the critics is, I think, the charge that most of those who reject it do not understand capitalism. While he doesn't say this, in my … [Read more...]

Roepke was right

Wilhelm Roepke

In my Winter 2007 article on economic globalization for AGAIN Magazine, I quoted economist Wilhelm Roepke: Economically ignorant moralism is as objectionable as morally callous economism. Ethics and economics are two equally difficult subjects, and while the former needs discerning and expert reason, the latter cannot do without humane values. In light of all that has happened with the U.S. economic meltdown in the last few months, I continue to subscribe to the following statement from the same article: ... there is no real understanding of "social justice" without an understanding of basic economic principles. These principles explain how Orthodox Christians work, earn, invest, and give to philanthropic causes in a market-oriented economy. Economic questions are at the root of many of the problems that on their face seem to be more about something else -- poverty, immigration, the environment, technology, politics, humanitarian assistance. I remain a convinced … [Read more...]