Sunday 28th August 2016

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

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Video: Biological males can stay overnight with female, but parents can’t be told, school officials say

NewsGenderThu Aug 25, 2016 – 2:22 pm EST ANNAPOLIS, MD, August 25, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – A Maryland school district will allow members of one biological sex to sleep in the bedrooms of the opposite sex during school activities – and…Continue Reading

Two Catholic nuns found murdered in Mississippi home

Two nuns who worked as nurses and helped the poor in rural Mississippi were found murdered in their home Thursday, and there were signs of a break-in and their vehicle was missing, according to officials. The nuns were identified as…Continue Reading

Life isn’t black and white – teach priests to discern the gray, Pope says

Vatican City, Aug 25, 2016 / 04:18 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a conversation with members of the Jesuit order from Poland, Pope Francis said the real life situations of everyday Catholics aren’t black and white, but rather vary on a…Continue Reading

Vatican newspaper article: Pope’s apostolic exhortation is magisterial teaching

August 24, 2016 Writing in the Vatican newspaper, a Spanish ecclesiology professor said that Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia is part of the non-definitive ordinary Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff to which the faithful owe religious submission of intellect…Continue Reading

BREAKING: Leaked e-mails show George Soros paid $650K to influence bishops during Pope’s US visit

August 23, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Leaked emails through WikiLeaks reveal that billionaire globalist George Soros – one of Hilary Clinton’s top donors – paid $650,000 to influence Pope Francis’ September 2015 visit to the USA with a view to “shift[ing]…Continue Reading

Catholic school faculty member sues school after she’s fired for being gay

A lesbian teacher was fired from Paramus Catholic High School after administrators learned that she was married to a woman, according to her lawsuit. Kate Drumgoole, 33, was the school’s head basketball coach and dean of guidance when the school…Continue Reading

Scottish Catholic Church denies supporting ‘mandatory’ LGBT activist school program

GLASGOW, Scotland, August 19, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — The Catholic Church in Scotland is flatly denying that it is lending its support to advancing a pro-homosexual curriculum in Catholic schools, despite secular as well as gay news sources claiming the opposite.…Continue Reading

Amid falling sales, Target responds to backlash with $20 million plan for single-stall bathrooms

target

NewsGenderThu Aug 18, 2016 – 2:57 pm EST Amid falling sales, Target responds to backlash with $20 million plan for single-stall bathrooms  #flushtarget , bathroom bills , target , transgender , transgenderism MINNEAPOLIS, August 18, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Facing…Continue Reading

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Signs New Book Deal with Bloomsbury

Indeed, it’s official. Bloomsbury is announcing that Pope Benedict has a new book coming in November 2016, entitled, The Last Testament. It appears to be 224 pages. Ever since Bloomsbury merged (“bought out?”) T & T Clark, they have been…Continue Reading

Transgender Bathroom Access Extended to All Federal Buildings–Including Prisons

The Obama administration is set to unveil a new regulation this week that will expand transgender people’s access to restrooms consistent with their “gender identity” to thousands of federal buildings and facilities across the country — including prisons. Buzzfeed News…Continue Reading

Satanic ‘Black Mass’ held in Oklahoma City

OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) — A small group attended an event held by a satanic church in Oklahoma City Monday night. The ‘black mass’ was met with Christian masses and prayer rallies. Leaders of Oklahoma City’s Church of Ahriman set the…Continue Reading

Uplifting Story . . . Gymnast Simone Biles soars to Olympic gold while grounded in Catholic faith

olympics

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, August 10, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — When three-time world champion gymnast Simone Biles flew to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic Games, the 19-year-old carried a rosary her mother gave her and a St. Sebastian medal from…Continue Reading

Newsmax

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  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 145 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

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Culture Of Life 101 . . . “An Introduction To The Problem Of Euthanasia”

By BRIAN CLOWES Part 2 (Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of chapter 23 of The Facts of Life, a 150-page treatise on all of the aspects of euthanasia, e-mail him at bclowes@hli.org.) + + + We have covered the definitions of the varieties of…Continue Reading

Today . . .

For David Daleiden, Soros money shows Planned Parenthood in a panic

Washington D.C., Aug 26, 2016 / 10:55 am (CNA).- A leaked grant report from the Open Societies Foundation seems to show Planned Parenthood and its allies in a panicked effort to raise millions of dollars to counter a series of investigative videos alleging the abortion provider broke the law. For undercover journalist David Daleiden, it’s a sign of hope. “It shows that the issue of selling baby body parts for profit is an issue that…Continue Reading

Meeting Point Sex Ed Program Not Ready for Catholic Schools

The Meeting Point: Course of Affective Sexual Education for Young People (http://www.educazioneaffettiva.org/) is a high school-level sex education program developed by “a group of married couples in Spain,” supported by the Spanish Bishops’ Conference and released online by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family in July 2016.  It is intended for use in Catholic high schools, parishes and homes. Although The Cardinal Newman Society does not formally review educational materials, we have taken a…Continue Reading

Why this diocese is ditching Common Core for liberal arts

Marquette, Mich., Aug 24, 2016 / 03:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Diocese of Marquette in Michigan says it is already experiencing success in their process of adopting a Catholic liberal arts curriculum for all its schools, rather than using Common Core State Standards. The schools in the diocese previously had no set curriculum. The adoption of a classical curriculum comes at a time when two bills that would repeal and replace the Common Core State

Baton Rouge Establishes Special Flood Victims Fund

By KATHLEEN NAAB The Diocese of Baton Rouge, La., is welcoming assistance as so many thousands of people have lost homes or property and many have been killed in the massive flooding affecting the state. “The historic flooding that has taken place has impacted nearly every corner of our diocese, and our parishes and schools are struggling to recover in an effort to provide for the spiritual and educational needs of their parishioners and students,”…Continue Reading

Catholic Politician Defends Abortion, Says Catholic Church Doesn’t Think Unborn Babies are People

Minnesota state Rep. John Lesch is a Catholic and a politician in the conservative mid-west. He also supports abortions. Lesch, a board member of the pro-abortion group Catholics for Choice, wrote a column for The Hill this week explaining why he supports abortion and why other Catholic politicians should, too. “I came of age in a time when we learned to respect a woman’s conscience-based decisions, and we were more cautious of the institutional church’s…Continue Reading

It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN “I did it my way,” crooned Sinatra. Donald Trump is echoing Ol’ Blue Eyes with the latest additions to his staff. Should he lose, he prefers to go down to defeat as Donald Trump, and not as some synthetic creation of campaign consultants. “I am who I am,” Trump told a…Continue Reading

Government: New 700,000-Word Regulation Is Good For You

By TERENCE P. JEFFREY The nine-second video of two federal bureaucrats the White House posted on its blog the past week was notable for something it omitted. That something was very big — and putting it on display might not have fit with the apparent propaganda purpose of the video. The video itself starred EPA…Continue Reading

With Different U.S. Policies… Imagine The Possibilities In Africa

By FR. SHENAN BOQUET (Editor’s Note: Fr. Shenan Boquet is the president of Human Life International. He and Brian Clowes, HLI’s director of research and training, recently went on a pro-life mission to Tanzania; see the article on the front page of The Wanderer, August 18, 2016. In the article below, Fr. Boquet thanks all…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred… “The Expense Is Reckoned, The Enterprise Is Begun; It Is Of God”

By JAMES MONTI The recent slaughter in odium fidei of the 85-year-old French priest Fr. Jacques Hamel on July 26 shortly after two terrorists stormed into the church where he was celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is a vivid manifestation that the price for being a faithful Catholic has been rapidly escalating of…Continue Reading

Summer 1916 . . . The Second Apparition Of Angel Of Portugal

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY The previous article on this topic (April 28, 2016, p. 8A) looked at the first of the three apparitions of the Angel of Portugal, or the Angel of Peace, to the three Fatima seers, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, and Lucia dos Santos, in the spring, summer, and autumn of 1916. This…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

The Marvel Of The Catholic Church . . . The Four Senses Of Sacred Scripture

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA Part 15 Since the first heresies attacked the early Church, and all the way up to Luther and to the ecclesiastical dissenters of our days, Bible interpretation has been a source of division. Ever since the Devil concocted the idea that every Tom, Dick, and Harriet could interpret the Bible allegedly by the “light of the…Continue Reading

The Mystagogy Of The Celebration Of Baptism

By DON FIER The baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River marked a turning-point in His life. Having lived in a hidden manner in obedience to Mary and Joseph for thirty years (see Luke 2:51), our Lord now began His public ministry by freely submitting to the penitential baptism of St. John the Baptist. Although unblemished by sin and in…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. Can you possibly provide the name and e-mail address of the bishop of the “renowned” Catholic Vice President Joe Biden? This latest mockery of his faith — officiating at the “marriage” of two men — cries for some type of action from the shepherd of his flock. I would like to be able to communicate my concern to the…Continue Reading

Prepare For Eternal Life

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Twenty-Third Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: Wisdom 9:13-18b Phmn. 9-10, 12-17 Luke 14:25-33 In the first reading the question is asked about who can know God’s counsel or conceive what the Lord intends. We know that God’s ways are not our ways; we know that God looks into the heart while we look at…Continue Reading

Divine Mercy And Justice

By Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke Part 2 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the Consecration Weekend, The Marian Catechist Apostolate, Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, La Crosse, Wis., July 23, 2016. Because of its length, we are publishing it in two parts; part 1 appeared in last week’s issue. And also because…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Euphrasia Eluvathingal

By CAROLE BRESLIN In 1605 Fr. Robert De Nobili, a Jesuit priest, arrived in India to evangelize the people. He found them to have a noble bearing and a deeply spiritual life filled with fasting, prayer, and meditation. Difficulties presented themselves to him as he struggled to convert them: “If these people did not see me do such penance, they…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Joseph Of Cupertino

By CAROLE BRESLIN Now that the school year has begun, students — especially Catholic students — will find recourse to their favorite patron saint of studying. Some may choose St. Thomas Aquinas or St. Augustine of Hippo. For those students who find it difficult to retain what they read and write about it, perhaps this saint will encourage them: St.…Continue Reading