Fr. Barron comments on Michael Moore’s “Capitalism: A Love Story”


Fr. Barron is spot on here:

He always does a great job of presenting a balanced view.

As Catholics we recognize on the one hand that, yes, Capitalism can be very good – but it can also be bad. So we should not hold up Capitalism as necessarily absolutely good. But we also recognize that the freedoms and rights inherent to Capitalism are very Catholic and good. We just need to recognize that at times it needs certain controls or intervention to keep it that way. How we do that and who does the controlling is an honest debate.

On the other hand, any knee jerk reaction towards socialism should be rejected. It seems many get caught in a false dichotomy of choices. They think it’s either unbridled capitalism or more Federal government control (socialism). That’s what Federal politicians (those in line to receive such additional power and control) have convinced us of. How convenient.

6 comments Add comment

Aaron November 16, 2009 at 11:58 am

Yes, capitalism isn’t inherently good or bad; it’s just the word that describes how free people trade goods and services when they’re allowed to own and trade property. Capitalism is more the lack of any other -ism than a “system” in itself. Within such a system, people may do good or ill with that freedom, which is why many have observed that a free economy can only survive when combined with a moral culture. Popes have criticized some of the excesses that have grown within capitalist societies (although those excesses are nearly always an outgrowth of regulations which cause imbalances), but not the basic ideal of capitalism. In fact, the Catholic economic concept of distributism can’t exist without the underlying capitalistic principles of private property ownership and trade.

Socialism, on the other hand, is inherently harmful, and has been condemned as such by the Church. So as Catholics, we should be wary of the flaws in our system of regulatory capitalism (which could also be called facism), but that certainly shouldn’t cause us to experiment with socialism.

Bill November 16, 2009 at 1:20 pm

What Moore and just about NO ONE mentions is that what is that Free Market economies are NOT necessarily Capitalism which is only one facet of the Free Market. What Moore has spent his life promoting is NOT some Christian based criticism of “Capitalism” but a promotion of the destruction of Capitalism in favor of an Anti-Christian Marxism which is evermore intrinsic evil and subjugates the free will of men to the superiority of the state. What’s more, in order to be successful, a socialist economy REQUIRES BY DEFINITION a successful and vibrant Capitalist system in order to redistribute wealth from. Socialism is a parasitic system…it does not create wealth it simply takes it from the free market and redistributes it. This is why every system based on Marxist theory so far has failed…because it sought to destroy Capitalism or was put into practice where there was no successful free market to begin with. More uses his faith as a prop only when it suits him in order to claim some phony moral high ground. What is lacking in “Capitalism” or free markets, which was pretty much taken for granted up until the 20th century, was the moderating influence of RELIGION on free markets. You will not see Moore or any other socialist promoting the Church as a strong voice of moderation within free markets. In that case NO economic system can be successful.

Michael November 16, 2009 at 10:08 pm

I agree with Matt that Fr. Barron is spot on target. I think both parties agree that capitalism is the way to go for the US economy (those that think the Democrats are socialist need to stop reading the scare tactics of the GOP and get back in touch with reality). The real issue between the Dems and the GOP is how much regulation there should be of our capitalist system. That is truly a debate with a lot of room on both sides for Catholics to agree or disagree on. Unfortunately Aaron’s comment where he says that the excesses of capitalism “are nearly always an outgrowth of regulations which cause imbalances”. show that he desperately needs to study some history. The capitalist system in the US had children chained to textile machines 12 hours / day; it was the capitalist system in Endgland in which Karl Marx saw members of his family starve that inspired the Communist Manifesto. Its also important to remember that no labor union was ever formed except in response to abuses of the workers by management. The reason for all this? Its simple: original sin. when one side has all the power it is only (corrupted) human nature to abuse the powerless one. The powerful one is capital; the powerless one is labor, the worker. That being said: capitalism is not evil if action is taken to redress the imbalance of power. And that is what the US system tries to do, both Democrat and Republican. Its finding the right balance that is so tricky.

Clay Barham November 17, 2009 at 3:33 pm

First off, dump the word “capitalism.” It was coined by Marx who experienced European mercantilism, not individual freedom and the resulting free market which proved itself the best for prosperity. Now, can there be wrongs with individual freedom? Sure, there are the Jesse James’ who pursue their own interests contrary to the rest of us, but, for the greater part, we all benefit from self-interests being more important than community interests which is the slant of the communitarian left, such as Obama and Michael Moore.

Jen November 19, 2009 at 8:18 pm

Michael Moore is soooo not even close to being a Roman Catholic. He’s just a nut. You can say you’re… whatever… but it doesn’t mean you are.

Matthew Warner November 24, 2009 at 3:33 pm

I think Fr. Barron is VERY generously fair to Michael Moore in his assessment. If you look beyond the movie itself, it is obvious that Moore’s intention is to undermine Capitalism entirely (not to reform it) and to move us to a type of socialist or communist form of government – which of course is not “Catholic” at all.

Michael – at what point do you think that “capitalism” that is run, owned, or largely controlled by the federal government becomes socialism? There is no question that what Obama’s goal is for, say, Healthcare is a socialistic system. Those aren’t right wing talking points. That’s by his own admission of what he wants health care to be. So let’s not belittle such a claim. It’s a key point. Socialism is not good. And what the fed government is attempting to do lately is just that. They want to control the entire health care system to a point that, yes, we are dealing with socialized medicine. The problem is that many Americans WANT that. They just won’t admit it in those terms because they know “socialism” is a bad word in this part of the world.

Further, I don’t understand how giving so much control to one party (the federal government) is accomplishing a balance of power? It actually does just the opposite. people make “corporations” out to be so big and bad and corrupt. The US Fed Gov is the absolute biggest, baddest, and most corrupt “corporation” in the country. So if anything, we should be taking power AWAY from them if we want to fix the problem – not giving them more.

The illusion is that the current reform takes power away from big Corporations and gives it back to the people. In fact, all it is doing is taking control away from lots of big corporations and giving it to the biggest, most corrupt one – the fed gov.

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