Centesimus Annus and Key Elements of John Paul II’s Political Economy

 

Dr. Richard J. Coronado, Benedictine College Department of Economics
 
(This paper was prepared for the Missouri Valley Economics Association meeting in Kansas City, Mo., in October of 2009.  It was updated for the Website on Feb. 15, 2011.)
 
This paper is not to be quoted, cited, or used without the expressed permission of the author.
 
INTRODUCTION
The original impetus for this paper was a four article debate between an Austrian economic thinker, Gregory Gronbacher, and a non-Austrian economist, Daniel Rush Finn, in the pages of Markets and Morality. The issue was over the extent to which John Paul, in noting the importance of economic initiative, creativity and entrepreneurship, and of the market in general, was inaugurating a new era in Catholic social teaching that might be particularly receptive to the ideas of free market economists. Gronbacher suggested that John Paul’s thought exhibited a personalism that is more favorable to market behavior than was present in the existing body of social encyclicals. Particular elements of this personalism believed to be oriented to the market were the individual dignity and worth of the person, the nature of the person as subject in the realm of action, the need for the person to participate in the life of society and the overriding importance of freedom. Finn’s counter-arguments pointed to the socially conditioned nature of property rights; the strong importance of forms of community not based on self interest but on support for the common good; the expansive nature of John Paul’s “juridical framework” - not a minimalist property rights and court system to enforce said rights, but acceptance of a system of extensive regulation of markets; and on the strong critique of individualism found in Centesimus Annus.[1]
 
Their disagreement left me wondering if one could identify and articulate John Paul’s fundamental vision of economic life as well as point to possible implications for a political economy. I have chosen, therefore, to give Centesimus Annus a very detailed look; this is partly because many people are unfamiliar with the specifics, as well as the tenor, of John Paul’s encyclical. Mainly it will help us to understand John Paul’s theological anthropology and its view of the essential elements of human nature. The question of John Paul’s economic personalism seems to resolve itself into the issue of his view of what constitutes human nature and what is required for fulfillment and full development of the person. It is such requirements that provide the basis for what I take to be some possible points of political economy for John Paul II. We must begin by fleshing out the view of human nature that appears in Centesimus Annus. 
 
 
PART I
In 1991, on the centenary of the 1891 social encyclical by Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum, Pope John Paul II (JPII) issued Centesimus Annus. This papal letter to the entire Church gave John Paul the opportunity to offer his reflections on capitalism in the period after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He was writing both to give guidance to former Eastern bloc countries and to the developed and less developed countries of the West. He proceeds by praising the wisdom of Pope Leo XIII in his use of the Christian view of the person both to condemn socialism in Rerum Novarum and to point out the weaknesses of the liberal economic and political system of the time. In the process, John Paul speculates on the nature of the ‘new capitalism’ that is emerging and of ways to ensure that human dignity is sustained in the process of its growth and development. Part I of this paper provides a look at key parts of John Paul’s theological anthropology, the underpinning of his views on the nature of the person and hence on human needs that must be met for the fulfillment and integral development of the person.
 
Human Dignity and Rights
Created in the image of God, the human person possesses an inherent and inalienable dignity, which is never to be violated. Although one earns dignity by one’s acts, the human possesses a prior and irreducible level of dignity which we are all obliged to accord to one another. John Paul states that the key to reading Rerum Novarum is the dignity of the worker and the dignity of work itself(6,1). He agrees fully with Pope Leo XIII and states that this vision of the dignity of the person is precisely the Church’s contribution to the political order(47,3). Human dignity is the source of rights in Catholic social teaching inasmuch as rights are the means for ensuring the dignity of the person. Rights protect the dignity of the person in turn by insuring the conditions for the fulfillment and development of the entire person. Much of Catholic social teaching is focused on the rights and duties of all persons, particularly of workers and employers, of the proper role of society and the state and of the conditions under which economic and social justice is to be obtained, especially for the poor. 
 
Human rights span the full range of human activities; for example we have the right to life, to live in a united and moral family environment, the right to develop our intelligence and freedom to seek and know the truth, the right to establish a family and rear children(47,1). John Paul points out various economic rights. There is the right to private property in the means of production as a central right. Other rights include the worker’s right to support the family in a life with dignity. This requires the right to a just wage as well as a right to employment. These rights follow from the strict obligation of each person to preserve one’s own life and the life of one’s family. Workers in today’s world can only procure their livelihood through their work; hence they have a right to employment(8,1-2). Workers have the right to a limitation of total work hours and to legitimate rest(7,2). Based on the natural right of association and in line with our social nature, workers have the right to form private associations of workers. For its part, the state is bound to protect natural rights and must support this right of association(7,1). 
 
Both Rerum Novarum and Centesimus Annus note that rights and duties extend to all participants of the economic system, though the focus of Rerum Novarum was that the poverty of its time was unacceptable. Both documents stress that individuals and the relevant social, political, economic and cultural institutions and intermediary groups of society must accept responsibility for the conditions of the time. Rerum Novarum initiates the idea that the State must help the poor by standing up for their rights; the poor have a claim to special consideration by virtue of their particular vulnerability, stemming from their lack of resources. Accordingly, John Paul affirms the Church’s more recent “preferential option for the poor,” which he defines as a special form of primacy in the exercise of Christian charity. John Paul proposes solidarity – “a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all,”(SRS 38,6) and networks of solidarity, as the most appropriate responses to ensuring the human dignity of all(CA10,3). The response in solidarity to human need brings forth the transcendence of the self in service to another and serves as the necessary antidote to what John Paul regards as key problems, the individualism and materialism of our age. In addition to its role as an essential virtue, he cites solidarity as a fundamental principle of the Christian view of social and political organization(10,3).
 
 
Universal Destination of Goods and Private Property
John Paul details a number of principles of Catholic social teaching but points to one in particular as the “characteristic principle.” This is the principle of the universal destination of the world’s goods, a principle which serves to set limits to the use of private property. The principle is that the goods of the world are intended to benefit everyone because God originally gave the world to the entire human race for the benefit of all people, “without excluding or favoring anyone.”(31,2) The principle works together with other principles, such as our creation in the image of God and our innate social nature to link us together through duties and obligations to each other.
 
The three principles just discussed work to condition other principles necessary for social and economic life, such as private property, a central principle of Catholic social teaching. John Paul reaffirms its ‘natural’ character, following the thinking of Pope Leo XIII. Private property is necessary for the autonomy and development of the person and family and is, indeed, an extension of human freedom (30,1:30,3). It allows one to maintain oneself and one’s family and to contribute to the common good. Pope Leo XIII used this principle as a key argument against socialism, for private property of the means of production must be respected fully. The rightful possessor of the productive property must not be robbed of his property, nor the working person be made to suffer from the chaos that would follow the appropriation of private property(12.4). John Paul concludes similarly as to the reasons for the inefficiencies of the Eastern bloc system, which he sees as a cause of its final crisis. He finds the reason is at base “a consequence of the violation of the human rights to private initiative, to ownership of property and to freedom in the economic sector”(24.1).
 
John Paul follows Pope Leo’s distinction between the ‘use” of goods, which must be common, in the sense that all persons must benefit from them, in line with the universal destination of material goods, and ownership, which should be private(30,2-3). It is our responsibility both not to hinder others and actively to cooperate with them in having their part of God’s gift(31,2). The teaching is clear that the “use” of goods is subordinated to the original common destination as created goods; there is therefore an inherent social limit on the use of private property, sometimes called a “social mortgage” on private property: 
 
It is necessary to state once more the characteristic principle of Christian social doctrine: the goods of this world are originally meant for all.78 The right to private property is valid and necessary, but it does not nullify the value of this principle. Private property, in fact, is under a "social mortgage,"79 which means that it has an intrinsically social function, based upon and justified precisely by the principle of the universal destination of goods”(SRS 42,5).
 
Persons are fulfilled both by using their property to help others along the process of development, by working with private property to fulfill personal and social goals, as well as by providing work for others. Accordingly, John Paul finds that because work is the primary means by which people are able to provide for themselves and their families, private ownership of the means of production is justified in the creation of “opportunities for work and human growth for all”(43,4). Private property is illegitimate if it is not used in such a way, or if it is used to impede the work of others in order to gain a profit by exploitation or break the solidarity of working people(43,3). 
 
Social Nature of the Person and Justice
The individual person, in Catholic social teaching, has inestimable worth. The person is made in the image and likeness of God and is the subject of rights to protect that dignity. John Paul fully accepts the critique of socialism made by Pope Leo XIII, and adds that the fundamental error of socialism is anthropological in nature: “Socialism considers the individual person simply as an element, a molecule within the social organism, so that the good of the individual is completely subordinated to the functioning of the socioeconomic mechanism”(13,1). Indeed, it is the person who builds the social order by one’s moral decisions and actions(13,1).
 
We are, at the same time, no less social beings than we are individual beings. Our social nature is fulfilled by a full range of communities as well as by the State. The family is the first and most important intermediary community, for it is here that we learn about truth and goodness, what it means to love and be loved and what it means to be a person(39.1). We belong as well, however, to economic, social, political, and cultural groups which themselves stem from human nature(13,2). These are real communities of persons which exercise primary functions and give rise to networks of solidarity, thus strengthening the social fabric. They prevent society from becoming an anonymous and impersonal mass, with society collapsing around two poles represented by the State and the marketplace. A person is fulfilled in the interrelationships on the many levels provided by intermediate communities; hence society becomes personalized only when society is filled with intermediate communities which are based on the nature of the person(49,3).
 
The importance of our social nature to John Paul II is clear in his discussion of transcendent solidarity: 
 
“When man does not recognize in himself and in others the value and grandeur of the human person, he effectively deprives himself of the possibility of benefitting from his humanity and of entering into that relationship of solidarity and communion with others for which God created him. Indeed, it is through the free gift of self that man truly finds himself. This gift is made possible by the human person's essential "capacity for transcendence". Man cannot give himself to a purely human plan for reality, to an abstract ideal or to a false utopia. As a person, he can give himself to another person or to other persons, and ultimately to God, who is the author of his being and who alone can fully accept his gift”(41.3).
 
We are only fulfilled as human by being part of and helping to create loving families, communities, associations, and societies. It is only when we can find ways of living in authentic human communities that we will be able to rise above the structures of sin to which we so often fall prey. An important role of authentic human communities, those which foster that capacity for transcendence and full development of the person, is to destroy structures of sin, those forms of organization as well as habits in our behavior which stand in the way of the integral development of the person and full communion with others(38.2).
 
It may be surprising to American economists, especially given the practice of at-will employment in the U.S., that John Paul II fully extends his view of community to the business firm: “In fact, the purpose of a business firm is not simply to make a profit, but is to be found in its very existence as a community of persons who in various ways are endeavouring to satisfy their basic needs, and who form a particular group at the service of the whole of society. Profit is a regulator of the life of a business, but it is not the only one; other human and moral factors must also be considered which, in the long term, are at least equally important for the life of a business”(35.2). He finds that human work itself is fulfilling in its larger sense if it unites persons and calls forth solidarity(27,3). He describes the operation of a business firm in a chain of markets in the following way: “Man works in order to provide for the needs of his family, his community, his nation, and ultimately all humanity. Moreover, he collaborates in the work of his fellow employees, as well as in the work of suppliers and in the customers' use of goods, in a progressively expanding chain of solidarity”(43.3).
  
John Paul charges both society, in the sense of communities, groups, associations and organizations discussed above, and the state with social responsibilities as groupings of people with a natural social end. Both society and the state have the responsibility to control markets to guarantee the basic needs of the society(35,2); to defend the collective goods that are the framework for the legitimate pursuit of personal goals by the individual(40,1); and to oversee and direct the exercise of human rights in the economic sector(48,2). Indeed, regarding the protection of human rights in the economic sector, he places primary responsibility on individuals and on the groups and associations that make up society(48,2). This view vividly highlights the primary importance he places on society. In speaking of the individual person, John Paul insists that in order to maintain human dignity, the person must always remain the subject of economic activity. Similarly, the subjectivity of society can only be maintained when all the intermediary groups, from the family through the economic, social, political and cultural groups stemming from human nature can behave autonomously, always with a view to the common good(13,2).
 
The common good is another key element of Catholic social teaching that reflects our social nature. The Pastoral Constitution on the Church, Gaudium et Spes, describes the common good in the following passage: 
 
“Every day human interdependence grows more tightly drawn and spreads by degrees over the whole world. As a result the common good, that is, the sum of those conditions of social life which allow social groups and their individual members relatively thorough and ready access to their own fulfillment, today takes on an increasingly universal complexion and consequently involves rights and duties with respect to the whole human race. Every social group must take account of the needs and legitimate aspirations of other groups, and even of the general welfare of the entire human family”(Gaudium 26,1).
 
John Paul states that the common good “is not simply the sum total of particular interests; rather it involves an assessment and integration of those interests on the basis of a balanced hierarchy of values”(CA 47.2).
 
It is the particular task of the state to watch over the common good(11.2). In order to meet the basic needs of the entire community, the market must be appropriately controlled by ‘forces of society and by the state;’ this requires interventions into the economy, subject to the principle of subsidiarity(35.2). The process must involve the State and intermediary communities as well as the individual, the latter via the practice of self-control, personal sacrifice, the exercise of solidarity and a readiness to promote the common good(51.1). The attainment of the common good, then, is a duty which is shared by all persons and communities within the society.
 
Culture is perhaps the single most important element of our social nature. The person can be understood more fully when situated in the sphere of culture, for one approaches the world through one’s language, history and positions one takes towards the fundamental events of life(24,1). All human activity occurs within culture and interacts with culture. Each and every one of us is involved in participation and in the creation of culture; indeed, the involvement of the whole person is required for the development of authentic culture through the exercise of our intelligence, creativity, knowledge, self-control, sacrifice, solidarity, and promotion of the common good(51,1). Each culture, for example, reveals its understanding of economic life through the choices it makes in production and consumption. For this reason, the phenomenon of consumerism can arise within a culture, orienting us toward artificial new needs rather than authentic ones(36,2). It is within culture as well that we can either find alienation at work or build authentic cultures of work where the person can participate in true community, find fulfillment, help build the common good and participate in the ongoing creation of the world. The Church seeks a true culture of peace where the truth about the person and God can guide culture toward a shared responsibility for all of humanity(51,1). 
 
John Paul believes that our social nature is fulfilled by practicing solidarity. It is John Paul’s use of the concept of solidarity which reveals his use of the traditional Christian view of justice. The key to this justice is establishment of right relations in all the ways in which we exercise our personhood. That is, we are to establish right relations, the relations of brotherhood, with others, especially the poor, at the level of the individual person through the exercise of the social virtues. At the social level, we are to exercise our social personality via our participation in intermediary organizations and in the building up of the necessary customs by which we can both live and sustain the poor. At the level of the state, we are to set up a juridical framework by which to establish laws to protect natural rights and guide the common good. 
 
This overriding view of justice is sometimes defined as giving everyone what is due to them. In the context of this document, it is clear that what is due to the person is what is necessary for fulfillment and integral development of the person. This is partly captured by the different elements of justice pointed out in the document. Commutative justice is the form of justice governing fairness in exchange; about it John Paul states: “Even prior to the logic of a fair exchange of goods and the forms of justice appropriate to it, there exists something which is due to man because he is man, by reason of his lofty dignity”(34,1). That is the possibility to survive and to contribute to the common good. That takes us into the realm of distributive justice, which governs what is due to the person because of his contribution and needs. Social justice involves the reciprocal obligations that society has to provide what is due to the members of society while the members must contribute to the common good of society. Again, John Paul makes clear that what is due to the person is that which is necessary for one’s fulfillment and integral development.
 
Freedom
At the heart of the social question, as it arose historically, the freedom of the person acting in the economic sphere of life was and remains an essential element of Catholic social teaching. John Paul reaffirms Leo XIII’s conclusion in the 1891 Rerum Novarum that the right to private property is an extension of human freedom(30.3). It allows the person to have something he can call “his own, it provides the possibility of earning a living, it gives scope for personal and family autonomy, and it makes space for freedom from dependence on those who may control the ‘social machine”(13,1; 30,3). A key mistake of socialism lay in the mistaken conception of the person, resulting in a distortion of the law which defined the exercise of freedom in opposition to private property(13.1). 
 
At the same time that Pope Leo XIII condemned socialism outright, he severely criticized the liberalism of the time for the abuses of human dignity. John Paul pinpoints the problem as a problem of freedom. He praises Pope Leo’s earlier encyclical on freedom, Libertas Praestanissimum, which stressed the essential bond between human freedom and truth “so that freedom which refused to be bound to the truth would fall into arbitrariness and end up submitting itself to the vilest of passions, to the point of self-destruction. Indeed, what is the origin of all the evils to which Rerum Novarum wished to respond, if not a kind of freedom which, in the area of economic and social activity, cuts itself off from the truth about man”(4,5)? An essential element of this truth is the inalienable dignity of the human person, made in the image of God. Hence, John Paul argues that an understanding of human freedom that does not respect human dignity cuts one off from the duty to respect the rights of others. The danger is that the essence of freedom can become self-love, contempt for God and neighbor(17.1). If economic life becomes absolutized, with production and consumption of goods as the center of social life and the only value of society, ignoring the ethical and religious dimension, then economic freedom no longer maintains its necessary relationship to the person, but ends up alienating and oppressing him(39,4-5).
 
Economic activity clearly includes and requires the right to freedom. Freedom is required in order to foresee the needs of others and combine productive factors in a creative and entrepreneurial way to satisfy those needs, as we have seen above. Hence economic activity presupposes sure guarantees of individual freedom and private property(48,1). When society is organized to suppress the sphere of the legitimate exercise of freedom, the life of society becomes progressively disorganized and begins to decline(25,2). Further, if self-interest is violently suppressed, “it is replaced by a burdensome system of bureaucratic control which dries up the wellsprings of initiative and creativity(25,3). John Paul informs us, for example, that the inefficiency of the Soviet system was due ultimately to the violation of human rights to private initiative, and to ownership of private property and freedom in the economic sector(24.1). John Paul reaffirms in Centesimus Annus the lesson of Rerum Novarum of the importance of the right to private property and the freedom to exercise it in a market setting.
 
However, although the basis of the modern economy is human freedom in the economic sphere, the principle of the universal destination of goods requires the responsible use of freedom. For John Paul, this is a very difficult task since modern freedom poses the dangers discussed above. John Paul finds the most fundamental reason for our failures to use freedom responsibly in the fallen nature of the person and the constant need for renewal through the grace of God, as we can see in these words: “Moreover, man, who was created for freedom, bears within himself the wound of original sin, which constantly draws him towards evil and puts him in need of redemption”(25,3). Though man tends toward good, he is capable of evil; he can, however, choose to act to transcend his immediate interest in acts of solidarity or he can choose not to do so, and although the struggle between good and evil will continue in the human heart until the end of time, John Paul strikes a hopeful note(25,4). 
 
John Paul distinguishes between a true or a responsible freedom and a false freedom or lack of freedom. He finds the source of this responsible freedom in our faith: “A person who is concerned solely or primarily with possessing and enjoying, who is no longer able to control his instincts and passions, or to subordinate them by obedience to the truth, cannot be free: obedience to the truth about God and man is the first condition of freedom, making it possible for a person to order his needs and desires and to choose the means of satisfying them according to a correct scale of values, so that the ownership of things may become an occasion of growth for him”(41,4). The person who cannot control his passions may be free in terms of absence of constraints to action, but it is a false freedom. Those who consider themselves and their lives as a series of sensations to be experienced(39,1), or who pursue “permissive or consumerist solutions” only imprison the person within a selfishness that harms both that person and others(55,2). An exemplification of true freedom is the use of our intelligence and freedom to pursue God’s will that we enter into a relationship of solidarity and communion with others through a free gift of self(41,3).
 
John Paul urges us on a path of solidarity with each other, with the oppressed and alienated people of the world, with those suffering from the multiple forms of poverty, but this requires the exercise of a responsible freedom. We are to use our freedom to discover and follow our true nature, organize ourselves in authentic ways in all spheres of life, personal and social and through the state, and in this way meet our true needs and through solidarity help meet the needs of others. Freedom must be turned into a responsible freedom by virtuous living by the person, via the support of intermediate organizations, especially the church, and by a strong juridical framework, the province of the state. 
 
Basic Needs
John Paul uses the term need or human need to refer to the full set of the human goods of life, spiritual and temporal, that are necessary for the dignity, full development and flourishing of the person. In discussing the workers’ movement at the time of Rerum Novarum, he describes it as a response in moral conscience to the unjust and harmful conditions, far removed from ideology, but closer to the daily needs of workers. John Paul regards Rerum Novarum as an instruction of employers and workers in their respective rights and duties within the society. Human dignity for the full person, just wages, respect for private property, protection of the poor by the State, the existence of natural rights and their protection by the State; these are all true needs of persons. These goods include spiritual, religious, social, political, economic, and cultural goods. 
 
In Catholic social thought, both the discernment of needs and of how to fulfill them requires a view of the person and the resulting moral framework for decision-making. John Paul is particularly interested in the way in which new needs arise in today’s world, for they arise in a context that presume a particular concept of the person and the good of the person. Not surprisingly, John Paul is interested in the true good of the person; discernment of that true good requires subordination of one’s material and instinctive dimensions to one’s interior and spiritual ones(36.2). John Paul points out that the person must distinguish “new and higher forms of satisfying human needs from artificial new needs which hinder the formation of a mature personality”(36.2). Otherwise, they are likely to: “seek an ever more refined satisfaction of their individual and secondary needs, while ignoring the principal and authentic needs which ought to regulate the manner of satisfying the other ones too”(41,4). He concludes that to accomplish this task: “a great deal of educational and cultural work is urgently needed, including the education of consumers in the responsible use of their power of choice, the formation of a strong sense of responsibility among producers and among people in the mass media in particular, as well as the necessary intervention by public authorities”(36,2).
 
John Paul also seems to use the term “needs” in a more narrowly economic sense, as the standard economist might use the terms “wants,” “desires,” or “preferences.” For example: “It is precisely the ability to foresee both the needs of others and the combinations of productive factors most adapted to satisfying those needs that constitutes another important source of wealth in modern society”(32.2). And: “Whereas at one time the decisive factor of production was the land, and later capital — understood as a total complex of the instruments of production — today the decisive factor is increasingly man himself, that is, his knowledge, especially his scientific knowledge, his capacity for interrelated and compact organization, as well as his ability to perceive the needs of others and to satisfy them.”(32.4) Indeed, the role of disciplined and creative work, of initiative and entrepreneurial ability is precisely to meet those human needs(32.2). John Paul is likely still thinking of basic human needs, but particularly of those which can be provided through the market.
 
Equally worrying is the ecological question which accompanies the problem of consumerism and which is closely connected to it. In his desire to have and to enjoy rather than to be and to grow, man consumes the resources of the earth and his own life in an excessive and disordered way. At the root of the senseless destruction of the natural environment lies an anthropological error, which unfortunately is widespread in our day. Man, who discovers his capacity to transform and in a certain sense create the world through his own work, forgets that this is always based on God's prior and original gift of the things that are. Man thinks that he can make arbitrary use of the earth, subjecting it without restraint to his will, as though it did not have its own requisites and a prior God-given purpose, which man can indeed develop but must not betray. Instead of carrying out his role as a co-operator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature, which is more tyrannized than governed by him(37,1).
 
In a discussion of the ecological problem, John Paul points to the problems that arise when we fail to cooperate with God in this process. Relying on his theological anthropology, he states:
 
Indeed, he praises the free market precisely for its efficiency in relation to meeting human needs, while taking care to point out the limits to the benefits of markets. We can no better than to provide the entire paragraph to see John Paul’s overview of the relation of the market to human needs:
 
“It would appear that, on the level of individual nations and of international relations, the free market is the most efficient instrument for utilizing resources and effectively responding to needs. But this is true only for those needs which are "solvent", insofar as they are endowed with purchasing power, and for those resources which are "marketable", insofar as they are capable of obtaining a satisfactory price. But there are many human needs which find no place on the market. It is a strict duty of justice and truth not to allow fundamental human needs to remain unsatisfied, and not to allow those burdened by such needs to perish. It is also necessary to help these needy people to acquire expertise, to enter the circle of exchange, and to develop their skills in order to make the best use of their capacities and resources. Even prior to the logic of a fair exchange of goods and the forms of justice appropriate to it, there exists something which is due to man because he is man, by reason of his lofty dignity. Inseparable from that required "something" is the possibility to survive and, at the same time, to make an active contribution to the common good of humanity(34.1).
 
John Paul concludes that his preferred political economy is “a society of free work, of enterprise and of participation.” “Such a society is not directed against the market, but demands that the market be appropriately controlled by the forces of society and by the State, so as to guarantee that the basic needs of the whole of society are satisfied”(35.2). He explicitly calls on the forces of society and the State to take on such tasks as the responsibility for protecting workers from unemployment, via assuring strong economic growth, full employment policies, unemployment insurance, and retraining programs(15.2); maintaining adequate wage levels and controls and measures to block exploitation(15,3); and defending the collective goods that provide the necessary framework for the pursuit of personal goals(40.1). Although these particular programs seem to fall under the domain of the state, he clearly intends that forces of both society and the state combine in the actions just noted.
 
John Paul uses the term need or human need to refer to the full set of the human goods of life, spiritual and temporal, that are necessary for the dignity, full development and flourishing of the person. In discussing the workers’ movement at the time of Rerum Novarum, he describes it as a response in moral conscience to the unjust and harmful conditions, far removed from ideology, but closer to the daily needs of workers. John Paul regards Rerum Novarum as an instruction of employers and workers in their respective rights and duties within the society. Human dignity for the full person, just wages, respect for private property, protection of the poor by the State, the existence of natural rights and their protection by the State; these are all true needs of persons. These goods include spiritual, religious, social, political, economic, and cultural goods.
 
In Catholic social thought, both the discernment of needs and of how to fulfill them requires a view of the person and the resulting moral framework for decision-making. John Paul is particularly interested in the way in which new needs arise in today’s world, for they arise in a context that presume a particular concept of the person and the good of the person. Not surprisingly, John Paul is interested in the true good of the person; discernment of that true good requires subordination of one’s material and instinctive dimensions to one’s interior and spiritual ones(36.2).  John Paul points out that the person must distinguish “new and higher forms of satisfying human needs from artificial new needs which hinder the formation of a mature personality”(36.2). Otherwise, they are likely to: “seek an ever more refined satisfaction of their individual and secondary needs, while ignoring the principal and authentic needs which ought to regulate the manner of satisfying the other ones too”(41,4). He concludes that to accomplish this task: “a great deal of educational and cultural work is urgently needed, including the education of consumers in the responsible use of their power of choice, the formation of a strong sense of responsibility among producers and among people in the mass media in particular, as well as the necessary intervention by public authorities”(36,2).
 
John Paul also seems to use the term “needs” in a more narrowly economic sense, as the standard economist might use the terms “wants,” “desires,” or “preferences.” For example: “It is precisely the ability to foresee both the needs of others and the combinations of productive factors most adapted to satisfying those needs that constitutes another important source of wealth in modern society”(32.2). And: “Whereas at one time the decisive factor of production was the land, and later capital — understood as a total complex of the instruments of production — today the decisive factor is increasingly man himself, that is, his knowledge, especially his scientific knowledge, his capacity for interrelated and compact organization, as well as his ability to perceive the needs of others and to satisfy them.”(32.4) Indeed, the role of disciplined and creative work, of initiative and entrepreneurial ability is precisely to meet those human needs(32.2). John Paul is likely still thinking of basic human needs, but particularly of those which can be provided through the market.
 
Indeed, he praises the free market precisely for its efficiency in relation to meeting human needs, while taking care to point out the limits to the benefits of markets. We can no better than to provide the entire paragraph to see John Paul’s overview of the relation of the market to human needs:
 
“It would appear that, on the level of individual nations and of international relations, the free market is the most efficient instrument for utilizing resources and effectively responding to needs. But this is true only for those needs which are "solvent", insofar as they are endowed with purchasing power, and for those resources which are "marketable", insofar as they are capable of obtaining a satisfactory price. But there are many human needs which find no place on the market. It is a strict duty of justice and truth not to allow fundamental human needs to remain unsatisfied, and not to allow those burdened by such needs to perish. It is also necessary to help these needy people to acquire expertise, to enter the circle of exchange, and to develop their skills in order to make the best use of their capacities and resources. Even prior to the logic of a fair exchange of goods and the forms of justice appropriate to it, there exists something which is due to man because he is man, by reason of his lofty dignity. Inseparable from that required "something" is the possibility to survive and, at the same time, to make an active contribution to the common good of humanity(34.1).
 
John Paul concludes that his preferred political economy is “a society of free work, of enterprise and of participation.”   “Such a society is not directed against the market, but demands that the market be appropriately controlled by the forces of society and by the State, so as to guarantee that the basic needs of the whole of society are satisfied”(35.2). He explicitly calls on the forces of society and the State to take on such tasks as the responsibility for protecting workers from unemployment, via assuring strong economic growth, full employment policies, unemployment insurance, and retraining programs(15.2); maintaining adequate wage levels and controls and measures to block exploitation(15,3); and defending the collective goods that provide the necessary framework for the pursuit of personal goals(40.1). Although these particular programs seem to fall under the domain of the state, he clearly intends that forces of both society and the state combine in the actions just noted.
 
In a discussion of the ecological problem, John Paul points to the problems that arise when we fail to cooperate with God in this process. Relying on his theological anthropology, he states:
 
Equally worrying is the ecological question which accompanies the problem of consumerism and which is closely connected to it. In his desire to have and to enjoy rather than to be and to grow, man consumes the resources of the earth and his own life in an excessive and disordered way. At the root of the senseless destruction of the natural environment lies an anthropological error, which unfortunately is widespread in our day. Man, who discovers his capacity to transform and in a certain sense create the world through his own work, forgets that this is always based on God's prior and original gift of the things that are. Man thinks that he can make arbitrary use of the earth, subjecting it without restraint to his will, as though it did not have its own requisites and a prior God-given purpose, which man can indeed develop but must not betray. Instead of carrying out his role as a co-operator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature, which is more tyrannized than governed by him(37,1). 
 
Work
Work holds a place of particular prominence in the thinking of John Paul. His social encyclical appearing on the ninetieth anniversary of Rerum Novarum was entitled On Human Work, and in that encyclical, John Paul stated that work was perhaps the key to the social question(OHW3,2). In Centesimus Annus, John Paul recalls Pope Leo XIII’s statement of work as both personal and social from Rerum Novarum: “The Pope describes work as ‘personal, inasmuch as the energy expended is bound up with the personality and is the exclusive property of him who acts, and, furthermore, was given to him for his advantage.’ Work thus belongs to the vocation of every person; indeed, man expresses and fulfils himself by working. At the same time, work has a ‘social’ dimension through its intimate relationship not only to the family, but also to the common good, since ‘it may truly be said that it is only by the labour of working-men that States grow rich’.”(CA6.1) 
 
John Paul develops the community-building nature of work; indeed, he does not hesitate to speak of “an authentic culture of work” where workers can “share in a fully human way in the life of their place of employment”(15.4). The process of work, for John Paul, allows the person to flourish and to obtain respect for one’s dignity as one exercises intelligence and freedom through one’s work(43.1). Further, the process of work in collaboration with others involves such virtues as diligence, industriousness, prudence in undertaking reasonable risk, reliability and fidelity in interpersonal relationships, and courage in carrying out difficult and painful, but necessary decisions(32,3). For example, in discussing the rebuilding of the Eastern bloc countries, John Paul foresees the need for a patient material and moral reconstruction because such basic virtues of economic life as truthfulness, trustworthiness, and hard work were denigrated for so long(27,2). 
 
We see in Centesimus Annus that work is the primary means available to most of us of meeting the basic needs of everyone and hence meeting the conditions for the universal destination of goods. As importantly, human work is the way by which we participate with God in the ongoing creation of the world. By the use of our intelligence, freedom, and hard work, mankind dominates the earth and makes it productive(CA31.2). “It is his disciplined work in close collaboration with others that makes possible the creation of ever more extensive working communities which can be relied upon to transform man's natural and human environments”(32,3). He clearly intends that the business sector create opportunities for people to work, for personal fulfillment, to provide for themselves and their families, to meet the authentic needs of others and to participate fully in the common good of society. The goal is to meet authentic human needs and to organize work in a way according full human dignity and the possibility of full development for workers.
 
John Paul stresses that in the past, labor and capital may have taken turns in being the decisive factor in the production process, but at present, human work is becoming more important as the productive factor of non-material and material wealth(31,3). He sees that the possession of know-how, technology, and skill are increasingly the most important form of ownership(32,1). He concludes that humankind’s principal resource is the person. Markets are currently the mechanism by which we bring forth the disciplined and creative work and working communities that will transform the natural and human environment(32.3). The process of work must, therefore, respect the dignity of the worker, especially in ensuring that the worker always remain fully the subject of work and not be reduced to the status of object. Indeed, John Paul believes that the subjective dimension of work, the dimension that requires the fulfillment of the worker as a person, living and working in an authentic human community is the decisive dimension for making work more human.
 
There are implications of the new source of wealth creation for the poverty of the world. Insofar as the wealth of the modern world is increasingly based on the ownership of how-how, technology, and skill, the ability to engage in productive work based on these factors has grown. However, the poor of the world often experience a form of economic development which is over their heads; they cannot gain the education to engage in modern productive work. Hence they are marginalized, neither able to participate and earn a dignified livelihood nor contribute to the common good. Those Third World workers who are able to find jobs are often exploited, unable to earn an income consistent with human dignity(33,1). John Paul urges us to the response of solidarity, calling us to personal sacrifice of a change of lifestyles in order to free resources to give Third World peoples an opportunity to find the productive work to support their families and contribute to society. 
 
The Proper Role of the State
We have already learned that the state has a duty to protect the natural rights (including natural economic rights) of the person as the way of protecting the dignity of the person. In taking up this task, the state is to respect the principle of subsidiarity and allow the lower organizations to develop fully and not absorb them. We have seen above that the State would violate the principle of subsidiarity if it accepted full responsibility for ensuring the right to employment. The state is also to help in supporting the poor for they have the fewest resources to defend themselves properly and stand up for their rights. The state, then, is to practice solidarity with the poor, that is, it is to exercise the preferential option for the poor. Because of its particular location and importance, the state must protect and guide the common good as well as assist the lower organizations in their pursuit of the common good. And, not least, the social nature of the person is partially fulfilled in the state. 
 
John Paul uses the term “authentic” to indicate those aspects of life which are most in keeping with his Christian anthropological view of human nature. For example, we have encountered his use of the term “authentic needs.” An authentically “free political order” is founded on the rights of conscience(29,1); such an authentic democracy “requires that the necessary conditions be present for the advancement both of the individual through education and formation in true ideals, and of the "subjectivity" of society through the creation of structures of participation and shared responsibility”(46,2). Further, an authentic democracy must recognize the entire range of human rights associated with maintaining the dignity of the person(47.1). Our deepest needs are spiritual, so we must have the freedom to pursue spiritual and religious truth. Hence, the foundation stone of our natural rights is the right to religious freedom.
 
It is an important task of the State to defend and preserve such common goods as the natural and human environments “which cannot be safeguarded simply by market forces”(40,1). His conclusions regarding such goods is found in the following passage: “Here we find a new limit on the market: there are collective and qualitative needs which cannot be satisfied by market mechanisms. There are important human needs which escape its logic; there are goods which by their very nature cannot and must not be bought or sold”(40,2).
 
In a discussion of the Social Assistance State and of its bureaucratic and costly growth in its attempt to meet human needs, John Paul notes that people’s needs would be best understood and satisfied by those who are closest to them and who act toward them as neighbors in need. The principle of subsidiarity is clearly at work as John Paul explains the loss of human energies as the state intrudes on the domain of intermediate organizations. “It should be added that certain kinds of demands often call for a response which is not simply material but which is capable of perceiving the deeper human need. One thinks of the condition of refugees, immigrants, the elderly, the sick, and all those in circumstances which call for assistance, such as drug abusers: all these people can be helped effectively only by those who offer them genuine fraternal support, in addition to the necessary care”(48,5).
 
We must note that John Paul faults both socialism and unrestrained liberalism for their absence of ethical or juridical considerations; he faults socialism for its endorsement of the unrestrained class struggle and its denial of private property, liberalism for its abuse of freedom by the powerful and the growth of a society and state that allowed the dignity of the poor to deteriorate(14,2;10,1). He echoes Leo XIII’s analysis that “the prevailing political theory of the time sought to promote total economic freedom by appropriate laws, or, conversely, by a deliberate lack of any intervention”(4,4). Rather, an essential role of the state is to determine the juridical framework for the conduct of economic affairs, “safeguarding the prerequisites of a free economy, which presumes a certain equality between the parties, such that one party would not be so powerful as practically to reduce the other to subservience”(15,1). The state must ensure that there are “adequate legislative measures to block shameful forms of exploitation, especially to the disadvantage of the most vulnerable workers, of immigrants and of those on the margins of society”(15,3). In his discussion of whether capitalism is a system to be emulated by the eastern European nations after 1989, he looks to the presence or absence of strong juridical controls:
 
“The answer is obviously complex. If by "capitalism" is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a "business economy", "market economy" or simply "free economy". But if by "capitalism" is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative”(42,2).
 
He is clear as well that a strong juridical framework by itself is not sufficient to halt exploitation and marginalization of the person. He informs us that today’s conditions lack elementary justice despite international conventions and the internal laws of states(8,3). It is a task that requires each of us and all of society to join in solidarity in the effort to humanize consumption, work and all of our relationships.
 
John Paul is clear on the role of the laws of the state. He criticizes the political liberalism of Pope Leo’s time because of the deliberate lack of intervention of the state by laws(4,4). It is up to the law to define the sphere for the exercise of freedom; for its part, socialism would distort the law in its opposition to private property(13.1). Man’s social nature calls for legislation to protect the freedom of all(44,1), which includes the strict duty of providing for the welfare of workers(8,3), preventing exploitation(15.3), (protecting the natural rights to associate (form labor unions)(7,1), and regulating such things as hours and conditions of work(7,2). The state must also provide the macroeconomic conditions for balanced growth and full employment, as well as unemployment insurance and retraining programs(15,2). John Paul’s view includes a much stronger role for the state than that of Gronbacher, which would rely much more on intermediate moral communities to provide the moral codes to restrain harsh economic behavior.
 
Alienation, Exploitation and Marginalization
John Paul sees three general problems associated with how needs and work are dealt with in modern capitalism. The first problem is alienation, a problem mainly of the developed world. John Paul’s view of alienation can be seen in the following passage: 
 
The historical experience of the West, for its part, shows that even if the Marxist analysis and its foundation of alienation are false, nevertheless alienation — and the loss of the authentic meaning of life — is a reality in Western societies too. This happens in consumerism, when people are ensnared in a web of false and superficial gratifications rather than being helped to experience their personhood in an authentic and concrete way. Alienation is found also in work, when it is organized so as to ensure maximum returns and profits with no concern whether the worker, through his own labour, grows or diminishes as a person, either through increased sharing in a genuinely supportive community or through increased isolation in a maze of relationships marked by destructive competitiveness and estrangement, in which he is considered only a means and not an end(41,2).
 
John Paul wishes to avoid the materialistic foundation of Marx’s view of alienation based on production and ownership of the means of production by the bourgeoisie. Rather, a person is alienated “if he refuses to transcend himself and to live the experience of self-giving and of the formation of an authentic human community oriented towards his final destiny, which is God”(41.3). A society can become alienated as well, if its various forms of social organization, production and consumption make it harder for the person to give of oneself and to exercise solidarity with others(41.3). With consumerism, the person is caught in a web of false and superficial gratifications, seeking an ever more refined satisfaction of their individual and secondary needs and not entering into the relationship of solidarity and communion with others where true fulfillment is to be found(41,2-4). Drugs, pornography and other forms of artificial consumption can result which “exploit the frailty of the weak, and tend to fill the resulting spiritual void”(36,3). He is clear to point out that the thing that is wrong “is a style of life which is presumed to be better when it is directed towards "having" rather than "being", and which wants to have more, not in order to be more but in order to spend life in enjoyment as an end in itself”(36,4). Indeed, a consumerist society may resemble a socialist society in a key dimension: “insofar as it denies an autonomous existence and value to morality, law, culture and religion, it agrees with Marxism, in the sense that it totally reduces man to the sphere of economics and the satisfaction of material needs”(19,4).
 
John Paul links alienation at work with deficiencies in the personal and social dimensions of work: “Alienation is found also in work, when it is organized so as to ensure maximum returns and profits with no concern whether the worker, through his own labour, grows or diminishes as a person, either through increased sharing in a genuinely supportive community or through increased isolation in a maze of relationships marked by destructive competitiveness and estrangement, in which he is considered only a means and not an end”(41,2). When this happens, the workplace ceases to be a true or authentic community and the person does not enter into that relationship of solidarity and communion with others that God intended(41,3).
 
The second general problem he identifies is that of exploitation. Although John Paul acknowledges that exploitation occurs in the developed world, he believes that it is far more common in the less economically developed countries. Many people are struggling just to earn a bare minimum: “These are situations in which the rules of the earliest period of capitalism still flourish in conditions of ‘ruthlessness’ in no way inferior to the darkest moments of the first phase of industrialization. In other cases the land is still the central element in the economic process, but those who cultivate it are excluded from ownership and are reduced to a state of quasi-servitude.71 In these cases, it is still possible today, as in the days of Rerum Novarum, to speak of inhuman exploitation”(33,2).
 
The third general problem is that of marginalization, a problem also mainly for the Third World. Many persons are exploited, but many are marginalized, unable to find employment, with economic development occurring over their heads(33,1). They cannot compete against the goods produced in the new and more efficient ways and often find traditional forms of organization inadequate for survival. Looking for opportunity, they find their way to Third World cities, but find themselves without cultural roots, as well as without knowledge and the training needed for integration into the new economy. Their dignity is seldom acknowledged and they have “no way of entering the network of knowledge and intercommunication which would enable them to see their qualities appreciated and utilized”(33,1).
 
Alienation and exploitation call forth the response of solidarity and free gift of self, John Paul II’s response to alienation, individualism, materialism and exploitation. In particular, structures of solidarity are called for to counter structures of sin; in the 1987 encyclical, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, he terms the all-consuming drives for profit and for power as the most typical structures of sin(SRS 37,1). John Paul returns us to our social nature and our capacity for transcendence of any social structure to find a solution to the particular social problem: “The decisions which create a human environment can give rise to specific structures of sin which impede the full realization of those who are in any way oppressed by them. To destroy such structures and replace them with more authentic forms of living in community is a task which demands courage and patience”(38,2). 
 
The Market:  John Paul's Rhetoric of Praise with Qualifications
While John Paul reaffirms the familiar teachings of the Church, he speaks at times in quite positive terms of the benefits and of the virtues associated with markets. The rhetoric of his praise of markets is such, however, that any praise is soon or immediately followed by a warning about the possible dangers of markets. 
 
John Paul states, for example: “the free market is the most efficient instrument for utilizing resources and effectively responding to needs,” but, he points out immediately, this is only true for “solvent’ needs – that is, needs that are backed up by purchasing power, and for resources that are marketable(34,1). The remainder of the paragraph elaborates on this last theme: “Even prior to the logic of a fair exchange of goods and the forms of justice appropriate to it, there exists something which is due to man because he is man, by reason of his lofty dignity. Inseparable from that required ‘something’ is the possibility to survive and, at the same time, to make an active contribution to the common good of humanity”(34,1). 
 
In the midst of a discussion of a need to provide for defense and preservation of common goods, goods which by their nature cannot be bought and sold, he praises the market in terms that any economist can appreciate, but ends with a stern warning:
 
“Certainly the mechanisms of the market offer secure advantages: they help to utilize resources better; they promote the exchange of products; above all they give central place to the person's desires and preferences, which, in a contract, meet the desires and preferences of another person. Nevertheless, these mechanisms carry the risk of an "idolatry" of the market, an idolatry which ignores the existence of goods which by their nature are not and cannot be mere commodities”(40.2).
 
John Paul praises the market’s ability to foresee the needs of others and to combine and organize productive factors well over time; this ability constitutes a source of wealth in modern society. He points out that initiative and entrepreneurial ability are increasingly decisive, as a part of disciplined and creative human work(32.2). Markets are the means or mechanism for the collaboration with others which allows for the transformation of natural and human environments(32,3). He praises disciplined work in the business context, so by extension, we are likely justified in saying that he believes that the following virtues can be associated with market behavior. These virtues are “diligence, industriousness, prudence in undertaking reasonable risks, reliability and fidelity in interpersonal relationships, as well as courage in carrying out decisions which are difficult and painful but necessary(32,3).” Further, a strength of the market system is that human freedom itself is the very basis of the modern business economy, freedom exercised in the economic field(32, 4).
 
He adds immediately, however, that it is a responsible freedom that is called for and that there are “risks and problems associated with this kind of process”(33,1). In particular, many, perhaps most, of the people in the world cannot participate in this process because they are either exploited or marginalized. They crowd into the cities of the Third World, often without cultural roots, exposed to situations of violent uncertainty, without the possibility of integration, nor the acknowledgement of their dignity(33,1). Markets for all their efficiency and ability to create wealth have not solved the problem of grinding poverty.
 
Finally, in his assessment of whether capitalism should become the goal of countries rebuilding or developing their countries, he first answers in the affirmative if certain conditions are met: “The answer is obviously complex. If by "capitalism" is meant an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector, then the answer is certainly in the affirmative, even though it would perhaps be more appropriate to speak of a "business economy", "market economy" or simply "free economy"(42,1). Then he immediately answers in the negative, pointing to the necessity for strong controls: “But if by "capitalism" is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative”(42,1). In the very next paragraph he adds an additional caveat: “Indeed, there is a risk that a radical capitalistic ideology could spread which refuses even to consider these problems, in the a priori belief that any attempt to solve them is doomed to failure, and which blindly entrusts their solution to the free development of market forces”(42,2).
 
PART II
 
Some Implications for Political Economy
 
There are three points I wish to stress:
(1) Full Support for Integral Development for all persons
 
In line with this vision of John Paul’s primary task for us, each of us has a calling or vocation and a duty to serve the fulfillment and integral development of all persons. This is essentially the social question of our times; just as Rerum Novarum instructed us to pursue the good of workers and the poor, Centesimus Annus instructs us to meet the basic needs of all people, especially the poor, and specifies more generally the rights and duties required for such a task. Given our social nature, we are to pursue this goal in the family, in our many communities, groups and organizations, in our institutions and in the state. We have seen this duty even applies to private property owners who are bound morally to use it to meet the demands of the universal destination of material goods. It appears in his insistence that even a business must be a true human community, with all that that implies, and that our choices in consumption, production and in where to invest be moral decisions, decisions which also uphold the common good. He tells us, for example, that a culture reveals its understanding of economic life through the choices it makes in precisely those areas of life. And it is precisely here that he finds that we can become alienated from our true nature. We have seen that we can become alienated at work when the full person is not upheld or through consumerism when the material and instinctive dimensions are not subordinated to the spiritual dimension. Alienation shows up in the environmental ecological problem when nature is treated as a mere object to be subjugated to human plans with no concern for nature. Vast inequality is seen as a prima facie example of the lack of unity among persons in society, since people are pursuing the refinement of their secondary needs while true primary needs go unmet. Therefore, in the light of these dangers, John Paul would have us turn our lives to the effective practice of solidarity with all people, especially the poor, through acts of true fraternal love in fulfillment of our transcendent nature by the free gift of self.
 
(2) The Heart of the Matter: Failure in Social Relating
 
John Paul believes that the solution is to be found in man’s heart, in the fulfillment of our transcendent call to make our life a gift. He points us to solidarity as a personal virtue, a Christian virtue, and a principle of social and political organization. He places so much weight on solidarity because he believes that its practice can begin to heal the most fundamental ruptures of the modern world.
 
Much has been made of John Paul’s positive comments about capitalism in Centesimus Annus, his view of the importance of the person’s productive capacities, his endorsement of the market as the means for development of the Third World, and his rejection of the social assistance state because of its overbuilt bureaucracy, its waste of money and lack of fraternal support. Recall that he uses the principle of subsidiarity as his justification for the critique of the social assistance state, particularly that its bureaucracies have become removed from real human needs, including the necessary feature of fraternal support. One might take the position that his focus on subsidiarity implies that John Paul wants to begin to break apart and diminish the role of government so as to open space for the growth and development of market and market-oriented institutions. Certainly, subsidiarity is often associated with pro-market views. With the positive things that he has to say about the market, there may be something to this position, as long as there exists reasonable equality and the goods are private goods.
 
Given the overall focus on the principle of solidarity, however, it seems clear that his main reason for a critique along the lines of his attack on the social assistance state lies elsewhere. He wants, in particular, to ensure the subjectivity of society, which requires the full richness of social life with its myriad social groups maintaining a strong focus on the common good. He believes that today’s society does not fulfill the person in one’s social nature. The individual today is often suffocated between the two poles of the State and the marketplace. Hence, John Paul is likely more interested in creating more of a role in social life, not for further development of the market, but for the fulfillment and integral development of the complete person, especially in the role of forming, joining, developing and infusing intermediary groups with the principle of solidarity, the positive principle of unity in John Paul’s social thinking. Recall that intermediary groups, in John Paul’s vision, are to defend, oversee, and direct the exercise of human rights, participation in them is necessary for fulfillment of the person; indeed, they have an identity of their own, with associated rights and duties.
 
In short, John Paul is instructing us on how to be a person – in particular, what it means that we are social by nature. We run the risk of feeling trapped in a decision between individual action and state action, but this is a false choice since we have the option of operating within a vast array of intermediate communities both to insure the rights of others and to keep ourselves within a moral framework for both individual and social activity. It is in such communities, as well as in a state that does not violate the principle of subsidiarity, that the principle of solidarity finds its natural home. Centesimus Annus is an instruction, then, on the great failing of modern times, our failure to take up the duties associated with fraternal love, the need for the gift of self, the formation of authentic human communities, and the need to sacrifice for the common good. It is a call to conversion, to correct these failures, and to reconstruct our relationships. If the natural human communities in the cultural, social, political, economic and other realms do not take up their duties to humanize life, that is, to struggle for social justice, to establish proper relationships of dignity across the full gamut of human life, so we can begin to live a life of solidarity with each other, even with persons in the remotest human village – as John Paul puts it in SRS, then the next higher human communities must take up the task. It is in this way that the state becomes overgrown as the lower communities fail to consider the principle of universal destination of material goods and the larger common good in general. The great modern sin is our sin of omission in meeting the myriad duties of fraternal love of each other, especially the poor.
 
(3) A Responsible Freedom
 
We have seen that John’s conception of justice revolves around structuring our individual social lives to meet the authentic needs of the person in all the dimensions of our lives. Our guide to true basic needs is our faith for only through our faith is the true nature of the person revealed to us. Only within this broad view of justice, where everyone’s natural rights are respected, can freedom support the integral development of each person. Freedom, necessary for moral decision-making, for development of true culture, as well as for successful market activity, must be a responsible freedom held firmly in service to our spiritual nature and not subject to our instincts or our passions. It must support the common good. We have seen how John Paul makes clear that the entire system known as capitalism can only be the goal for countries if the entire economic sector is circumscribed within a strong juridical system placing it in service of human freedom in its totality, which at its core is spiritual and religious.
 
His essential critique of liberalism – let’s call it, following Rerum Novarum – is that a false freedom, intent on organizing the life of the entire society, generated the ills that Pope Leo Xiii condemned in Rerum Novarum. This false freedom acted as a blinder in that it played a major role in weakening the duty to respect the human dignity and attendant rights of the vulnerable of society. His view of freedom clearly allows for the operation of a market economy; such freedom we have seen, is necessary to be able to identify the needs of others and to organize the production and distribution of resources to meet those needs. Indeed, a responsible freedom can be the occasion for private property to meet fully the duties imposed by the principle of the universal destination of goods. Further, work which is structured by a responsible freedom which fully respects the human dignity of all who work can be the occasion for work to result in a ever expanding solidarity (a firm and persevering commitment to the good of others) in meeting the needs of others.
 
Recall further that personal initiative, far from being limited to entrepreneurial activities, is to be exercised by the individual person as well as by persons operating together as members of the entire range of intermediate organizations, social, economic, political, themselves stemming from human nature. The principles of Catholic social teaching orient us to our and others’ true good, to exercise our full humanity, especially the virtues of brotherly love, solidarity and charity. That is, we are called to exercise our freedom – our personal initiative – by combating the lack of brotherly love and solidarity through a sincere gift of self to those who are vulnerable and need our help. Perhaps it needs to be stated that the project of the Enlightenment, placing freedom at the center of social life and allowing society to follow it wherever it goes, is not the project of the Church.
 
John Paul clearly wishes to alert leaders of government and the public that government programs must operate on the principle of brotherly love, or solidarity, and that government programs can and do fail to do so. They therefore fail people in a fundamental way even as they provide a material benefit. At the same time, John Paul sees many of the same dangers that Leo XIII saw in the capitalist process. We see this in his alerting us to the duties we all have to respect the dignity of the person and to create and support structures – including those at work, which are non-alienating and which provide us the means to survive and to contribute to the common good. He understands the benefits of markets and sees them as necessary but is compelled at the same to warn us of the very real danger of an idolatry of the market.
 
John Paul is in the end creating space by warning of the dangers of government violating subsidiarity, in effect pushing back against the social assistance state. His purpose is not for ushering in more market activity since his critique of the market is strong; he also appears to be pushing back against market solutions, for they are limited to meeting solvent needs. It must be that his project is to open up this space for some other purpose. The clue as to his purpose is found is his repeated statement that society bears the responsibility, along with the government, for solving the social question. We need only recall that both society and State are to assume responsibility for protecting the worker from unemployment and that the state and society are to oversee and direct the exercise of human rights in the economic sphere. Regarding the latter point, primary responsibility belongs not to the state but to the individuals and the groups and associations that make up society. He is urging us to exercise our freedom, including all the initiative we can muster, to take a major step in solving the social question. We are, then, to remedy our failure in social relating by a responsible use of freedom by the individual and by all the intermediate groups that we join, create or are a part of. John Paul is calling on us, in all the ways in which we exhibit our humanity and sociality, to help our brothers and sisters by freely choosing to give a gift of self and share brotherly love, solidarity, and charity with them. Without this decision, there is no solution to the social question.
 
 
PART III (possible development for a future paper)
 
Issues that arise for economists:
(1) Is John Paul’s program statist, that is, does it imply a growing number of functions or size of the state sector in the economy? Clearly, he does not intend it to be so. Yet, is it statist?
 
(2) Poverty reduction and support for integral development of the person have a public goods character to them in the sense that one may feel better if there is more of these goods, regardless of whether one supports the effort or not. If so, there will likely be a free rider response on the part of some percentage of the public. How may we view this in term of John Paul’s program?
 
(3) He discusses environmental ecology and human ecology. These concepts recall the concept of externalities. If integral development is not supported at work, for example, can we use the concept of negative externalities to discuss the situation? Again, how might we view this in terms of John Paul’s program?
 
(4) His discussion of consumerism seems to imply that some preferences and wants are better than other preferences. There are authentic needs and then there are artificial needs in John Paul’s vision. How may we view the apparent conflict between the standard economic vision of preferences and John Paul’s vision?
 
(5) Is the procedural view of justice associated with libertarian positions consistent with Catholic social teaching as presented by John Paul?
 
 
Bibliography: 
 
Finn, Daniel Rush. "The Economic Personalism of John Paul II: Neither right Nor Left." Journal of Markets and Morality 2(1999): 74-87.
 
 
Finn, Daniel Rush. "On Choice of Method in Economics: Options for Humanists A Response to Gregory Gronbacher." Journal of Markets and Morality 3(2000): 224-238.
 
Gronbacher, Gregory M. A. "The Humane Economy: Neither Right Nor Left A Response to Daniel Rush Finn." Journal of Markets and Morality 2(1999): 247-270.
 
Gronbacher, Gregory M. A. "The Need for Economic Personalism." Journal of Markets and Morality 1(1998): 1-34.
 
Pope John Paul II. Centesimus Annus. Rome: Vatican, 1991.
 
Pope John Paul II. Solllicitudo Rei Socialis. Rome: Vatican, 1987.
 
Pope Leo XIII. Rerum Novarum. Rome:Vatican 1891.
 
 
 
 
 
 
[1] The bibliography has the citations for the Markets and Morality articles.
[2] The first number in parentheses refer to the section of the encyclical, the second refers to the paragraph within that section.
[3] John Paul issued the 1987 encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (SRS) on the twentieth anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s 1967 Populorum Progressio, addressed to Third World development.