Oeconomia Suffocato: The Origins of Antipathy Toward Free Enterprise Among Catholic Intelligentsia

Open access


What is the source of the antipathy of Catholic intellectuals toward free markets? That is the issue addressed in the present paper. We see the antecedents of this viewpoint of theirs in terms of secular humanism, Marxism and mistaken views of morality and economics. One of the explanations for this phenomenon are the teachings of St Augustine. He greatly distrusted the City of Man, seeing it as anarchic and chaotic. In contrast, his City of God is more orderly, but far removed from the hurly burly of free enterprise. Another source of the rejection of capitalism on the part of Catholic intellectuals is liberation theology, which is Marxism minus the atheism of that doctrine. Both economic and cultural Marxism have played a role in the alienation of such intellectuals from the tenets of laissez faire capitalism. Are there any counter currents? Yes, the School of Salamanca, which has been all but forgotten in this community.

1. Augustine. The City of God = De Civitate Dei, London: Dent, 1945.

2. Augustine. The Problem of Free Choice = De Libero Arbitrio, Transl. by M. Pontifex, Westminster: Md., Newman, 1955.

3. Barnett, W. Human Nature, the Bishops, and the American Economy, Loyola Law Review 33, 203, 1987-1988.

4. Block, W. Focus on Economics and the Canadian Bishops, Vancouver: The Fraser Institute, 1983.

5. Block, W. Neglect of the Marketplace: The Questionable Economics of America’s Bishops, Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy, 2, 1, 1985, pp. 125-160.

6. Block, W. Liberation Theology and the Economy, Grail: An Ecumenical Journal, I, 3, September, 1985, pp. 75-85.

7. Block, W. The U.S. Bishops and Their Critics: An Economic and Ethical Perspective, Vancouver: The Fraser Institute, 1986.

8. Block, W. Economics of the Canadian Bishops, Contemporary Policy Issues, VI, 1, January, 1988, pp. 56-68.

9. Block, W. Discussion, The Preferential Option for the Poor, R. J. Neuhaus (ed.), Grand Rapids, Mich.: William E. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1988, pp. 87-114.

10. Block, W. Hayek’s Road to Serfdom, Journal of Libertarian Studies: An Interdisciplinary Review, 12, 2, Fall, 1996, pp. 327-350.

11. Block, W. E. Religion and Libertarianism: Ayn Rand was wrong, June 18, 2008.

12. Block, W. E. Ayn Rand, Religion and Libertarianism, Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, 11, 1, 21, July 2011, pp. 63-79.

13. Block, W. & and G. Yeatts. The Economics and Ethics of Land Reform: A Critique of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace’s ‘Toward a Better Distribution of Land: The Challenge of Agrarian Reform,’ Journal of Natural Resources and Environmental Law, 15, 1, 1999-2000, pp. 37-69.

14. Booth, P. (ed.). Catholic social teaching and the market economy, London: Institute of Economic Affairs, 2007.

15. Brookes, E. H. The conversion of Constantine and the establishment, Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory, 35, 1970, pp. 31-34.

16. Carden, A. Christian Ethics, Formal Institutions, and Economic Growth, American Review of Political Economy, 5(1) 2007, pp. 34-53.

17. Casilli, R. Why the Pope Just Asked Protestants for Forgiveness, Newsweek, Reuters, 17 May 2016.

18. Chafuen, A. A. Christians for Freedom: Late Scholastic Economics, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986.

19. Chafuen, A. A. Faith and Liberty: The Economic Thought of the Late Scholastics, Studies in Ethics and Economics, Lanham: Lexington, 2003.

20. Engels, F. Principles of Communism. www.marxists.org N.p., 1999. Web. 02 May 2017. A draft document by Engels published posthumously. First Published: 1914, Eduard Bernstein in the German Social Democratic Party’s Vorwärts.

21. Grice-Hutchinson, M. The School of Salamanca: Readings in Spanish Monetary Theory, 1544-1605, Auburn, Ala.: Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 2009 [1952].

22. Gwartney, J., R. Lawson & W. E. Block. Economic Freedom of the World, 1975-1995, Vancouver, B.C. Canada: the Fraser Institute, 1996.

23. Hayek, F. A. The Road To Serfdom, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1944.

24. Hill, F. Bill Gates Has Done More To Help People Than Mother Teresa, December 8, 2013.http://www.telemachusleaps.com/2013/12/bill-gates-has-done-more-to-help-people.html

25. Huddleston, T. Jr. 5 Times Pope Francis Talked About Money, www.fortune.com. Fortune, 15 Sept. 2015. Web. 8 May 2017.

26. Leo XIII. Rerum Novarum, 26 Mar. 1967. 2 May. 2017. Web.

27. Lewis, P. Who’s better? Bill Gates or Mother Teresa? February 3, 2017. http://www.wnd.com/2017/02/whos-better-bill-gates-or-mother-teresa/#GmYMfdHx5SFA5D6z.99

28. Light, Ch. & W. E. Block. Christianity, the Free Market, and Libertarianism, Studia Humana, Vol. 6, No. 4, 2017, pp. 34-44.

29. Marx, K. A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right 1844. Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher (1844): n. pag. Marxists.org. 7 Feb. 1844. Web. 8 May 2017.

30. Martin, R. The Two Cities in Augustine’s Political Philosophy, Journal of the History of Ideas 33.2, 1972, pp. 195-216.

31. McElroy, W. Can a Principled Libertarian Go to War? July 6, 2011.

32. Nash, R. H. (ed.). Liberation Theology, Milford, Michigan: Mott Media, Inc., 1984.

33. North, G. Tools of Dominion: The Case Laws of Exodus, Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics, 1990.

34. North, G. Millenialism and the Progressive Movement, The Journal of Libertarian Studies, 12, 1, 1996, pp. 121-142.

35. Novak, M. The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism, Simon & Schuster: New York, 1978.

36. Novak, M. The Denigration of Capitalism, Washington D. C.: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy, 1979.

37. Novak, M. (ed.). Capitalism and Socialism, Washington D. C.: American Institute for Public Policy Research, 1979.

38. Novak, M. (ed.). Liberation South, Liberation North, Washington D. C.: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy, 1981.

39. Novak, M. The Liberal Society as Liberation Theology, Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy, V. 2, 1, 1985.

40. Nozick, R. Anarchy, State and Utopia, New York: Basic Books, 1974.

41. Ogus, A. I. Law and Spontaneous Order: Hayek’s Contribution to Legal Theory, Journal of Law and Society, 16.4, 1989.

42. Parker, G. Success And Failure During The First Century Of The Reformation, Past and Present, 136.1, 1992, pp. 43-82.

43. John Paul II. Laborem Exercens, 15 Sept. 1981. 2 May. 2017. Web.

44. Paul IV. Populorum Progressio, 26 Mar. 1967. 2 May. 2017. Web.

45. Ritenour, S. Foundations of Economics: A Christian View, Wipf and Stock: Publishers, 2010.

46. Rockwell, Jr. & H. Llewellyn. Free Market Economists: 400 Years Ago, The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty, 45, 9, 1995.

47. Rothbard, M. N. Economic Controversies, Auburn, Alabama: Ludwig Von Mises Institute, 2011.

48. Rothbard, M. N. New Light on the Prehistory of the Austrian School, In. E. G. Dolan (ed.), The Foundations of Modern Austrian Economics, Kansas City: Sheed & Ward, Inc., 1976, pp. 52-74.

49. Rothbard. M. N. An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought, London: Edward Elgar, 1995.

50. Rothbard, M. N. Just War, In J. V. Denson (ed.), The Costs of War: America’s Pyrrhic Victories, New Brunswick, N. J.: Transaction Publishers, 1997.

51. Schall, J. V. Liberation Theology, San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1982.

52. Schall, J. V. Religion, Wealth and Poverty, Vancouver: The Fraser Institute, 1989.

53. Schansberg, E. D. Turn Neither to the Right Nor to the Left, Christian Life and Public Policy Series, Alertness Books, 2003.

54. Sebast, E. Mother Teresa or Bill Gates? May 23, 2016; https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/motherteresa-bill-gates-eric-sebast

55. Sirico, R. A. Moral Base for Liberty, Irvington-on-Hudson, N.Y.: Foundation for Economic Education, 1996.

56. Sirico, R. A. Capitalism, Morality and Markets, London: Institute for Economic Affairs, 2001.

57. Huerta de Soto, J. New Light on the Prehistory of the Theory of Banking and the School of Salamanca, The Review of Austrian Economics, 9, 2, 1996, pp. 59-81.

58. Huerta de Soto, J. Juan De Mariana: The Influence of the Spanish Scholastics, 2004, https://www.scribd.com/document/328171967/Juan-de-Mariana-the-Influence-of-the-Spanish-Scholastics.

59. Huerta de Soto, J. Biography of Juan de Mariana: The Influence of the Spanish Scholastics (1536-1624), August 1, 2007, https://mises.org/library/biography-juan-de-mariana-influence-spanishscholastics-1536-1624.

60. The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. Templar Religious Military Order, Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., n.d. Web. 8 May 2017.

61. The Holy Bible: Containing the Old and New Testaments with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

62. Vance, L. M. Christianity and War and Other Essays Against the Warfare State, Pensacola Florida: Vance Publications, 2008, 2nd edition.

63. Vance, L. Is Libertarianism Compatible With Religion? March 15, 2011, http://libertarianchristians.com/2011/03/16/is-libertarianism-compatible-with-religion/

64. Watner, C. ‘All Mankind is One’: The Libertarian Tradition in Sixteenth Century Spain, The Journal of Libertarian Studies, 8, 2, 1987, pp. 293-310.

65. Whitehead, R, Walter E. Block, & P. Tinsley. Christian Landlords and the Free Exercise Clause: Sinners Need Not Apply, Oklahoma City University Law Review, 33, 1, 2008, pp. 115-150.

66. Woods, T. E. Jr. Catholic Social Teaching and Economic Law: An Unresolved Tension, 2002, http://www.mises.org/asc/2002/asc8-woods.pdf.

67. Woods, T. E. Jr. Morality and Economic Law: Toward a Reconciliation, 2004, http://www.mises.org/fullstory.asp?control=1481

68. Woods, T. E. Jr. The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy, Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 2005.

69. Woods, T. E. Jr. An Open Letter to the Catholic Community in Behalf of Ron Paul, November 21, 2007, http://www.lewrockwell.com/woods/woods83.html

70. Woods, T. E. Jr. The Attractiveness of Austrian Economics, July 21, 2013, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DStLhWMRERM

Journal Information


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 210 210 19
PDF Downloads 67 67 8