Sunday, July 29, 2018

The Socialist Temptation

From Crisis:
Socialism never goes away. A quarter century after its collapse in Eastern Europe and Russia, and the success of market-oriented reforms elsewhere, many people once again see it as the ideal. This is true even in the Church. Not so very long ago Saint John XXIII reaffirmed the teaching of Pope Pius XI that “no Catholic could subscribe even to moderate socialism.” And Saint John Paul II pointed to “the fundamental error of socialism,” namely, that it “maintains that the good of the individual can be realized without reference to his free choice.”

That was then and this is now. Today we find people, some of them serious and well-informed, who call themselves Catholic socialists. This is not about bad or stupid people believing false and destructive things. Rather, there are good and intelligent people who believe these things. Why is that? Many people find socialism irresistible. Life is unfair, as we all know, but unfairness can often be remedied. When this is the case, justice seems to call for the remedy to be applied. And if similar situations keep arising—which they do—it can seem right to make the remedy a matter of routine backed by public authority. After all, shouldn’t a government establish justice?

Apply this line of thought again and again and you end up with a comprehensive bureaucratic control of social life for the sake of fairness. In a prosperous modern society, fairness could include providing everyone with all things necessary for well-being. Anything less would leave some harms unremedied. (Read more.)

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