Sunday 24th September 2017

Home » Featured Today » Currently Reading:

Neither Left Nor Right, But Catholic… Heinrich Pesch And Solidarism: Time To Be Rediscovered?

January 7, 2014 Featured Today No Comments

By STEPHEN M. KRASON

(Editor’s Note: Stephen M. Krason is professor of political science and legal studies and associate director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville. He is also cofounder and president of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists. He is the author of several books, including The Transformation of the American Democratic Republic [Transaction Publishers, 2012], and most recently published an edited volume entitled Child Abuse, Family Rights, and the Child Protective System [Scarecrow Press, 2013]. This column originally appeared in Crisis
magazine.com and the Krason column appears monthly in The Wanderer. All rights reserved.)

+    +    +

The passing of the eminent American Catholic economist, Dr. Rupert J. Ederer, at the age of 90 on Thanksgiving Day 2013 calls attention to the great, but equally unsung, economic thinker and system that he devoted most of his career to furthering: Heinrich Pesch, SJ, and solidarism. Pesch, who died in 1926, was thought to have inspired Pope Pius XI’s great social encyclical Quadragesimo Anno five years later. In spite of Pesch’s relative obscurity, Ederer called him an economic “system builder,” on par with Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes — although the system he constructed was based firmly on Catholic teaching and the natural law. The word “solidarism” rings of the principle of solidarity, which has been stressed more recently in Catholic social teaching. In fact, solidarism is also referred to as “the solidarity work system.”
There is some indication that Pesch’s solidarism influenced the famed Solidarity trade union movement in Poland that rose to prominence a generation ago and led the way to the collapse of Eastern European Communism.
What, broadly, are the basics of solidarism? First, it rejects both individualism and collectivism and seeks to uphold the good of both the individual and society. In short, it embraces the common good as understood by sound ethics.
Second, there is a solidarity among all men because of, simply, their common humanity. There is also a more particular solidarity among people in the same nation and within the same occupation or industry or area of the economy. That means that there is or should be solidarity between employers and workers; both need each other to achieve successful economic results. This does not mean that there may not be competing interests on each side — so that, say, labor unions don’t have a purpose — but that these interests can be balanced and reconciled. Class conflict is not inevitable. Its stress on such solidarity distinguishes solidarism from both economic liberalism and Marxism.
Third, the worker cannot be reduced to a mere factor of production, nor can economics be made the be-all-and-end-all, so that everything is reduced to economic calculation. This is what Pesch termed “economism,” a term picked up by both the German economist Wilhelm Roepke and Pope John Paul II.
Fourth, the market and its advantages are accepted as givens by solidarism and economic freedom is a good thing. Neither, however, may be unrestrained. While competition is valuable and plays a crucial role in economic life, it cannot be its ordering principle. That can only be human dignity.
Fifth, in line with this, while there are certainly market inclinations and forces (e.g., supply and demand) they cannot be treated as rigid “laws” (a notion that came from the Enlightenment). While market forces may help allocate resources effectively, solidarism rejects the notion that if the economy is just left alone the results will almost automatically work out to the good of everyone (indeed, this is the very thing that Pope Francis recently addressed). While self-interest, like the interests of labor and management, is legitimate, it can also be destructive and so — like what James Madison said about factions — must be regulated and channeled in a way that does not undermine the common good.
Like Roepke, solidarism believes that economics cannot be separated from ethics, requires a sound social and cultural context, and there is an appropriate role for state action.
Sixth, the sense of solidarity motivates the solidarist to promote occupational groups or other sorts of arrangements of those taking part in a particular industry — which must be voluntarily agreed to, and not imposed by the state — which would aim at a kind of enlightened self-regulation. The state could thus step back and not engage in the heavy regulation and micromanagement that we have become so accustomed to (with all their attendant problems) — though it would continue to oversee economic activity and intervene where appropriate in its role as the chief guarantor of the common good.
Quadragesimo Anno gave an approving nod to a reorganization of industrial economies along such lines.
Seventh, solidarism has no illusions about economic reorganization as some kind of panacea. The proper shaping of the human soul, of course, is a prerequisite. This requires formation of the virtues in the individual, which leads to the realization of such virtues as justice and social charity in the context of society that, in turn, makes possible solidarity. Proper personal formation requires serious religious commitment and sound family life. Even in his time, Pesch lamented the weakening of the family. Solidarism does not say that there must be a substantial restoration of a family-based economy — a position that some distributists would take — nor that industrialization inevitably undercuts the family, but it is aware of the serious strains put on family life by a certain version of “capitalism” (whose economism meant excessively long work hours and paid scant attention to the worker’s family needs).
Eighth, solidarism strongly defends private property, although private ownership — whether on the individual or large-scale corporate business level — can never be separated from the obligation of its social use (i.e., the concern about others and the community in the use of one’s property). The notion of absolute rights bestowed by ownership came from the economic liberalism that became ascendant in the 19th century and collided with the traditional classical-Christian understanding. Thus, the solidarist would very likely espouse the view of some Catholic writers in the first half of the 20th century that large companies take on a kind of semi-public character, so they can be subject to more regulation and restraints for the sake of the common good.
One example might be that laws could legitimately stop a company from just moving its plant facilities almost overnight to another part of the country or overseas when the economic effect on a community and employment would be disastrous.
Nevertheless, solidarism would reject the suppression of private ownership of the means of production and distribution by something like the sweeping nationalization of a sector of the economy. It doesn’t outright exclude government ownership, but this would have to be the exception (e.g., mail service, local government ownership of utilities). It rejects socialism, but aims for socialization (a term mentioned by Pope John XXIII in Mater et Magistra, and grossly misunderstood). Socialization simply means ensuring that all in an economy benefit, and like John Paul II the solidarist understands that this is not necessarily or even likely accomplished by government ownership.
It is in line with what in Catholic social thought is now called the universal destination of created goods — that God has given man the bounty of the earth’s resources for all to partake of.
The concern for socialization and the universal destination of created goods perhaps underlies the ninth and tenth points. While the state could step back with a solidaristic-type economic restructuring, its role cannot be minimal. Besides the proper kinds of interventions in the economy it must provide what in the Reagan period first came to be called a “safety net.” While — consistent with the principle of subsidiarity — the family and religious and other civil-society-type groups should be the first to take care of the needy, the state as a matter of justice must help out when this is insufficient. Also, it cannot be indifferent to the situation of wealth distribution; disparities of wealth have to be addressed.
This was not originally a Marxist idea as some might think, but goes back to Aristotle who seemed to advocate that an acceptable range of wealth-holding — avoiding a situation of extremes — was necessary to sustain a good and stable political society.
This isn’t to say, however, that the solidarist would countenance an aggressive program of redistribution that would penalize achievers and reward the indolent.
Finally, the state in promoting the common good must play a role — in association with the private sector and observing subsidiarity — in economic planning. Individuals, families, and businesses plan economically, so certainly it is necessary for nations to do so.
Eleventh, solidarism stresses the need for a just wage. This has direct implications for the state’s social welfare role: A just wage across the economy would mean that there would be less demand for public assistance programs. In line with its belief that nothing happens automatically in economic life, market forces alone cannot be the sole determiner of wage levels. Nor does merely the agreement of the parties make a wage contract just; a dignified life for oneself and his family must be the governing standard. From a public policy standpoint, the solidarist looks positively at such approaches as profit-sharing and family-wage escalators to help accomplish a just wage.
Twelfth, solidarism is concerned about justice in pricing (which, interestingly, is an area that has not been developed much in the social encyclicals). A just price is one that both covers costs and yields the producer or trader a reasonable gain (a profit). While Pesch provides much more analysis about this, some of his key points are that the consumer has no right to the lowest possible price (the workers producing a good, after all, must receive a just wage), the price should reflect the true value of a good or service (while the solidarist believes that the satisfaction of wants, and not just needs, is legitimate, some wants — say, for moral reasons — clearly should not be pursued), and that no one should be allowed to make an exorbitant gain (including profit) at another’s expense.
Profit-making, like competition, cannot be the governing principle. An acceptable profit would be one that conforms to the normal level of profit for a company’s country or occupation, although a higher one could be acceptable if it were in line with the value of what one provides.
Thirteenth, any tax levied must be truly necessary, must take into account persons’ level of wealth, may be heavier on, say, investment income than income earned from work, and must be used to fund activities that will promote the common good and not merely the private good of some (e.g., interest groups).
The fourteenth and final point is one that certainly collides with prevailing economic thinking: Completely free trade must be rejected. This is because of commutative justice: Certain countries are unable to derive the same advantage as others in a free trade regimen. Some would be hurt, as when cheap foreign products flood their markets and overwhelm their domestic producers. There is no problem with some measure of protectionism.
These are just highlights about solidarism. Pesch laid out his whole system in his mammoth 13-volume Lehrbuch (whose translation into English, like most of his works, we owe to Ederer). It is obvious — not surprisingly — that it sounds like the social teaching of the Popes. One of my very capable students years ago commented after our class had finished Pesch’s Ethics and the National Economy (his short distillation of his thought) that she thought she was reading another social encyclical.
To be sure, Pesch’s thought could not just be picked up across the board and applied to our contemporary economy. He died almost 90 years ago, and it would need analysis and updating to address the many changes that have occurred since then. Popes such as John Paul II did not mention economic restructuring, although the participatory norm he stressed certainly was part of it. Maybe John Paul thought that with the moral and cultural decline since 1926 we have to think about more basic things.
What is needed is for Catholic economic scholars and other social scientists to rediscover Pesch and consider how solidarist ideas could apply today. It also offers Catholics of a politically conservative bent economic analysis — at the systemic level — that genuinely respects private property and a rightful role for the market but avoids a view of “capitalism” that is at odds with Catholic social teaching. While needing updating, it is a theory addressing the economics of modern — as opposed to, say, medieval — times, but is rooted in the classical-Christian tradition instead of the mindset of the Enlightenment.
Perhaps it’s time to rediscover and think about Pesch and solidarism, especially at a time when Pope Francis asks us to consider whether at least significant aspects of our current thinking about economics is correct amid widespread, serious economic inequalities and conditions of poverty in the world.

Share Button

2017 The Wanderer Printing Co.

blogger

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

21 Sep 2017

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics for which he provided his illuminating insights are the Message of Our Lady of Fatima, an appraisal of the situation in which the Church finds herself in contemporary times, and the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy. (This interview appeared in three parts in The Wanderer in August 2017.) + + + Part 1 Q. We are in the midst of…Continue Reading

Bishop Schneider: priests must resist pressure on Communion for remarried

Bishop Schneider said that priests should ‘lovingly and respectfully’ tell their superiors that they cannot abandon the Church’s perennial teaching Bishop Athanasius Schneider has said priests have to follow the Church’s constant practice on Communion, even if their bishops and…Continue Reading

Popular priest disinvited from Catholic University’s seminary after protests over his LGBT book

The Rev. James Martin, a popular priest who published a book earlier this year encouraging a bridge between the LGBT community and the Catholic Church, has been disinvited from giving an address at Catholic University’s seminary. Martin, who was planning…Continue Reading

Latin Mass fans celebrate 10-year anniversary _ without pope

Fans of the old Latin Mass descended on Rome on Thursday for their annual pilgrimage, facing indifference to their cause, if not outright resistance, from none other than Pope Francis. Ten years after Pope Benedict XVI passed a law allowing greater use of…Continue Reading

Pro-gay Vatican adviser gets Catholic group suspended from Twitter

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A faithful Catholic lay apostolate was suspended by Twitter last week after Vatican adviser Father James Martin complained about a tweet that teasingly stated the pro-gay Jesuit had been bested in a theological…Continue Reading

Durbin, Feinstein and Catholic judges

Washington is currently embroiled in one of its “gotcha” controversies, which often arise when minor missteps are blown into major crimes. It’s a game both parties and a variety of activists play whenever they see political advantage in it. The…Continue Reading

Pope issues new directives on revision, translation of liturgical texts

Vatican City, Sep 9, 2017 / 08:00 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Holy See has released a new “motu proprio” from Pope Francis outlining a shift in the responsibility of local bishops and the Apostolic See for the revision and approval…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke ‘treasured’ work with deceased dubia Cardinal to oppose ‘gravely harmful confusion’

ROME, September 6, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Raymond Burke paid tribute today to fellow dubia signer Cardinal Carlo Caffarra on his passing after a long illness. In a statement to LifeSiteNews, Burke said he was “deeply saddened” by the 79-year-old’s…Continue Reading

Some Personal Reflections on the Late Cardinal Caffarra

As Steve Skojec reported this morning, our beloved Cardinal Carlo Caffarra died today, in Italy. Our hearts are broken over this news since he was such a lovable and charitable and truthful man for us. Just to know that he was out…Continue Reading

Remarks by President Trump at Signing of Day of Prayer Proclamation

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Americans have always come to the aid of their fellow countrymen.  Friend helping friend, neighbor helping neighbor, stranger helping stranger — we’ve seen it perhaps more so than at any time, so vividly at…Continue Reading

Bishop Schneider: The Pope who ‘seems to’ permit adultery bears a ‘grave responsibility’

POLAND, August 31, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia “seems to” go in the direction of a pastoral “discernment” that “allows the adulterers to continue in adultery,” says Bishop Athanasius Schneider. The consequences for many could be…Continue Reading

REPORT CARD: Faithful college praised for financial aid; Praying for Notre Dame; ‘Pride Prom’ at Marquette

With college affordability becoming an increasingly prominent (and problematic) issue, Thomas Aquinas College’s recognition by The Princeton Review’s national Financial Aid Honor Roll is especially refreshing. “We are pleased that, once again, The Princeton Review has featured Thomas Aquinas College in its annual guide,”…Continue Reading

JEFFERSON CITY’S CATHEDRAL SCHOOL RESISTS LGBT POLICY

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (ChurchMilitant.com) – The flagship school for the diocese of Jefferson City has updated its handbook with clear Catholic instruction to counter the LGBT agenda being foisted on schools. Just in time for the new school year, St. Joseph…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Today . . .

Cardinal Burke: ‘urgency’ to resolve dubia ‘weighs very heavily on my heart’

PARRAMATTA, Australia, September 22, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Two of the four dubia Cardinals seeking moral clarity from Pope Francis over his controversial teachings on marriage and family have died. But this will not stop the remaining two cardinals from continuing the “important work of resolving the dubia,” said Cardinal Raymond Burke, one of the dubia signers, in a new interview. In a wide-ranging interview with the Diocese of Parramatta’s Catholic Outlook, Burke said the “urgency of…Continue Reading

Pope: “Doctrine” does not come before mercy

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – “The door that leads to encounter with Jesus is recognizing ourselves as we are, the truth. Sinners. And He comes”. “I want mercy and not sacrifices” said Pope Francis at Mass this morning at Casa Santa Marta, commenting on the gospel song of the day recalling the conversion of St. Matthew to return

Pro-Life Speaker Ben Shapiro Answers Pro-Abortion Student’s Question With an “Epic Takedown”

Popular conservative author and speaker Ben Shapiro continued to impress his audience Thursday at UC Berkeley when he rapidly refuted a young man’s abortion arguments. Shapiro’s speech at the liberal California university drew massive media attention because of the violent protests that have broken out on campus during past conservative speakers’ talks. The university and local police increased security, and several people were arrested Thursday. Inside the sold-out auditorium, Shapiro received a huge applause when…Continue Reading

Cardinal Sarah: Reverent liturgy is essential to fighting the culture of death

ROME, September 15, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – One of the chief antidotes to a world “marked by the blight of Godless terrorism, of an increasingly aggressive secularism” and an “advancing culture of death” is to restore primacy to God in the Catholic liturgy, Cardinal Robert Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, said Thursday. The cardinal was speaking to an international gathering of cardinals, priests, religious and laity at the Fifth Roman Colloquium on Summorum…Continue Reading

Pope to new bishops: ‘Discernment’ means avoiding ‘rigid’ answers to moral questions

ROME, September 14, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis told a group of newly ordained bishops that “authentic discernment” cannot be reduced to repeating “rigid” moral formulas to persons whose situations “can’t be reduced to black and white.” Discernment, the pope said, “can’t be reduced to repeating formulas such as ‘high clouds send little rain’ to a concrete person, who’s often immersed in a reality that can’t be reduced to black and white.” He cautioned bishops…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)

Poetic Insight

By JUDE P. DOUGHERTY “Poet — lawyer — planter, and former soldier” is the description Walker Percy gives to his uncle, William Alexander Percy, the author of Lanterns on the Levee, reprinted by the Louisiana State University Press in 2011, from a 1973 edition. William Percy’s book is worth revisiting not simply for its observations…Continue Reading

A Book Review … Reflections On Our Lady’s Message Of Fatima

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Fatima and the Triumph of Mary: Reflections on the Fatima Message, by Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, (World Apostolate of Fatima, 2016); 228 pages, $17.95 available via:http://giftshop.wafusa.org/browse.cfm/4,2578.html. Fatima and the Triumph of Mary is a compilation of articles by Fr. Andrew Apostoli which originally appeared in the World Apostolate of Fatima USA…Continue Reading

A Book Review… Dispelling The False Images Of God

By MITCHELL KALPAKGIAN The Light Shines on in the Darkness: Transforming Suffering through Faith, by Fr. Robert Spitzer, SJ, Ph.D. (Ignatius Press: San Francisco, 2017), 543 pp. $19.95. Available from www.ignatius.com or 1-800-651-1531. For anyone who struggles to make sense of human suffering or to reconcile the unconditional love of God with the weight of…Continue Reading

Who Were The Colombian Martyrs Beatified By Pope Francis?

By ELISE HARRIS ROME, Italy (CNA/EWTN News) — During his six-day visit to Colombia, Pope Francis beatified martyrs Bishop Jesus Emilio Jaramillo Monsalve and Fr. Pedro Maria Ramirez Ramos, who provide testimony as the country heals from decades of conflict. Bishop Jaramillo was killed by Colombian Marxist guerrilla forces in 1989, while Fr. Ramirez was…Continue Reading

20 State Attorneys General Lauded… For Opposing Pro-Abortion Judge Orrick’s Gag Order Against CMP

By DEXTER DUGGAN PHOENIX — “It is definitely very encouraging, and it’s great news” that 20 state attorneys general filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court to oppose the gag order against videos by pro-life investigators, an official with one of the law firms representing David Daleiden and the California-based Center for Medical…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Sacrament Of Holy Orders

By DON FIER Several months ago when we began our consideration of the seven sacraments, it was noted that they can be subdivided into various categories (see volume 148, n. 32; August 13, 2015). The authors of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) chose to present them according to a threefold classification: sacraments of Christian initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. At Our Lady’s July 1917 appearance at Fatima, she stated that a war greater than World War I would break out during the pontificate of Pope Pius XI. Ambrogio Ratti chose the name Pius XI when he became Pope in 1922. No doubt Our Lady knew he would be known as Pius XI, but why didn’t she say “the…Continue Reading

The Radical Call To Follow Christ

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Sixth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: Ezek. 18:25-28 Phil. 2:1-11 Matt. 21:28-32 In the second reading today, St. Paul says we are to have in us the same attitude as Christ. As we continue through the reading we can see the attitude of Christ is marked by humility, obedience, and charity. This essentially repeats…Continue Reading

Professor Josef Seifert… Amoris Laetitia’s “Immense Threat” To The Moral Teaching Of The Church

By MAIKE HICKSON (Editor’s Note: In light of Professor Josef Seifert’s recent essay examining some of the dangerous logical consequences of Amoris Laetitia — an essay for which he was dismissed from his teaching position by the archbishop of Granada — Dr. Maike Hickson of OnePeterFive.com reached out to the Austrian philosopher to ask him some additional questions about not…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… Can Division In Worship Bring Unity Of Faith?

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Pope Francis has given authority through a new motu proprio, Magnum Principium, issued this month, to local bishops’ conferences to approve translations of the liturgy from Latin into local languages. By doing so he hopes to accomplish a couple of things. First, as we know by now Pope Francis places full trust and confidence in…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Thomas Villanova

By CAROLE BRESLIN Our Lord drew amazing men and women from the population of Spain to protect that country from the ravages that swept through Germany and the Scandinavian countries in the Reformation era. Two events marked by Augustinian monks sparked these events. In Germany, an apostate Augustinian monk who fell from grace led hundreds of thousands into error —…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Simon De Rojas

By CAROLE BRESLIN The subject of this article lived in a time of great saints, great Spanish saints, so it is not surprising that he is little known. St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) who wrote the Spiritual Exercises, St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) who reformed the Carmelites and wrote The Interior Castle, and St. John of the Cross who wrote…Continue Reading