I had a post planned for today that would follow up on two distinct points in my post from yesterday. Sadly, Ruccio managed to beat me to both of them.
The first point is regarding a growing dissatisfaction with capitalism:
Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, a new BBC poll has found widespread dissatisfaction with free-market capitalism. In the global poll for the BBC World Service, only 11 percent of those questioned across 27 countries said that it was working well.
More than 29,000 people in 27 countries were questioned. In only two countries, the United States and Pakistan, did more than one in five people feel that capitalism works well as it stands.
Almost a quarter – 23% of those who responded – feel it is fatally flawed. That is the view of 43% in France, 38% in Mexico and 35% in Brazil.
And there is very strong support around the world for governments to distribute wealth more evenly. That is backed by majorities in 22 of the 27 countries.
The second point is to address the canard that teaching Marxism is somehow out of line with Catholic Social Teaching. There is certainly a case to be made that practicing Marxism goes directly against the teachings of the Pope. However, some recent writing in the Vatican’s newspaper should at least shore up any doubts about pedagogy. The Times of London has the goods:
Karl Marx, who famously described religion as “the opium of the people”, has joined Galileo, Charles Darwin and Oscar Wilde on a growing list of historical figures to have undergone an unlikely reappraisal by the Roman Catholic Church.
L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, said yesterday that Marx’s early critiques of capitalism had highlighted the “social alienation” felt by the “large part of humanity” that remained excluded, even now, from economic and political decision-making.
Georg Sans, a German-born professor of the history of contemporary philosophy at the pontifical Gregorian University…said that Marx’s theories may help to explain the enduring issue of income inequality within capitalist societies…
Professor Sans argues that Marx’s intellectual legacy was marred by the misappropriation of his work by the communist regimes of the 20th century. “It is no exaggeration to say that nothing has damaged the interests of Marx the philosopher more than Marxism,” he said.
This overturns a century of Catholic hostility to his creed. Two years ago Benedict XVI singled out Marxism as one of the great scourges of the modern age. “The Marxist system, where it found its way into government, not only left a sad heritage of economic and ecological destruction, but also a painful destruction of the human spirit,” he told an audience in Brazil.
Then again the Pope has been busy reappraising modern capitalism. Benedict’s latest encyclical, Charity in Truth, offers a direct response to the recession, arguing that global capitalism has lost its way and that Church teachings can help to restore economic health by focusing on justice for the weak and closer regulation of the market…
Professor Sans’s article was first published in La Civiltà Cattolica, a Jesuit paper, which is vetted in advance by the Vatican Secretariat of State. The decision to republish it in the Vatican newspaper gives it added papal endorsement.
Of course, this flies in the face of those who argue that Marx’s teaching is so out of sync with CST that it should not be taught at a Catholic institution. It warms the heart to know that the Vatican’s newspaper is more open-minded than many reactionary defenders of neoclassical economics’ hegemony.