Here is an explanation for the case that it is impossible to be a true Socialist and Catholic simultaneously.
Someone complained that the article “Catholics and Socialism” (Spero 11-25-08), declaring that “socialism is a dirty word,” failed to explain why that's the case. The article demonstrated that those who authoritatively speak for the Catholic Church affirm socialism's inherent evil but didn't explain their reasons for such a position. Pro-socialists can argue that the Catholics are wrong - it's a free country (for a while longer, any way) - but they can't argue (truthfully) that Catholicism supports them.
Mister Critic also questioned the distinction between Christian “communism” and Marxist socialism (or communism). After all, weren't the early Christians “communists?” And, if it was good enough for them…
In a nutshell, Christian “communism” – placing all one's material goods where they can be used in common by all “the brothers” – is the personal choice of an individual, freely embraced, in the context of total submission to God, the author of creation, for the sake of charity. Those elements make it a virtuous act.
Marxist Socialism, on the other hand, is an imposed, “universal” economic ideology/praxis. What that means is:
Socialism is coercive (since it only works if everyone is playing in the game, those who don't want to play must be forced - or, as the Chinese and Russians did, killed). Therefore, as socialism isn't, in most cases, a personal choice, it isn't, per se, an act of virtue. One isn't virtuous for doing what one is compelled to do (though, through heroic suffering, there are always opportunities for acts of virtue).
Socialism is unjust - there is no natural reward for hard work and no natural punishment for laziness (and I do recognize that the natural world can be unjust, too. That said, in the natural world, the injustice is “accidental”, that is, it isn't essential to the system - hard work will usually pay off, if there isn't a drought or catastrophic illness, etc. Socialism, however, builds injustice into the system, with tremendous psychological consequences. A man will generally strive harder when he thinks he has a chance of prospering. Similarly, as 20th century history proves, over and over, he will tend to produce only the bare minimum if he sees it doesn't make a bit of difference, one way or the other.)
Socialism is ordered toward the materialistic – the intention that all men in the State are to enjoy an equal share of its “goods”, whether they equally have worked for them or not. Christian “communism”, by contrast, is ordered to the spiritual, out of charitable motives. (The Christian “communist” is concerned that his brother is decently fed and clothed but isn't obsessed that there's an equal distribution of material wealth – in fact, general indifference to such matters is considered laudatory).
Ideologically, socialism holds Man as the arbiter of morals (this is an essential component of socialism and not the quirk of individual socialist thinkers. Socialist thought holds that the “common good” isn't discovered by the adherence of a society to God's will but is determined by a consensus of society's citizens).
Furthermore, as an economic system, designed to help citizens prosper, socialism simply doesn't deliver. Economist Thomas Sowell writes:
The rhetoric of socialism may be inspiring, but its actual record is dismal. Countries which for centuries exported food have suddenly found themselves forced to import food to stave off starvation, after agriculture was socialized. This has happened all over the world, among people of every race. Anyone who saw the contrast between East Berlin and West Berlin, back in the days when half the city was controlled by the Communists, can have no doubts as to which system produces more economic benefits for ordinary people. Even though the people in both parts of the city were of the same race, culture and history, those living under the Communists were painfully poorer, in addition to having less freedom.
Much the same story could be told in Africa, where Ghana relied on socialistic programs and the Ivory Coast relied more on the marketplace, after both countries became independent back in the 1960s. Ghana started off with all the advantages. Its per capita income was double that of the Ivory Coast. But, after a couple of decades under different economic systems, the bottom 20% of people in the Ivory Coast had higher incomes than 60% of the people in Ghana.
Economic inefficiency is by no means the worst aspect of socialistic government. Trying to reduce economic inequality by increasing political inequality, which is essentially what Marxism is all about, has cost the lives of millions of innocent people under Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and others. Politicians cannot be trusted with a monopoly of power over other people's lives. Thousands of years of history have demonstrated this again and again.
While my desires for a better life for ordinary people have not changed from the days of my youthful Marxism, experience has taught the bitter lesson that the way to get there is the opposite of what I once thought. [Sowell, From Marxism to the Market”]
So there you have some of the “whys” authoritative Catholic sources eschew socialism. Now, go wash out your mouth with soap.
Stephanie Block is the editor of Los Pequenos, and a member of the Catholic Media Coalition. Her columns are made possible by the sponsorship of generous individuals who believe information about the development and dissemination of progressive ideology needs to be more widely understood. Please fell free to share -- acknowledging authorship -- these articles with others. If you would like more frequent publication of Stephanie Block's work, tax-deductible donations can be sent to: Catholic Media Coalition - PO Box 427 Great Cacapon, WV 25422 Attn: Progressive Watch
By Stephanie Block
Source: Spero News
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