Old books
Pope Pius IX had everything modern in his sights when he wrote the Syllabus of Errors and related encyclicals. It was not just socialism that came in for a pasting and I am sure he would have been no friend of a liberal market economy. Non-Catholic Christians would also be offended by some of what he wrote, but that is not a subject for the IEA blog. However, I was particularly struck by two phrases on socialism:

“To this goal also tends the unspeakable doctrine of Communism, as it is called, a doctrine most opposed to the very natural law. For if this doctrine were accepted, the complete destruction of everyone’s laws, government, property, and even of human society itself would follow.”

Quite a good prediction for 1846 of what was to happen in much of the world. And:

“As regards this teaching and these theories, it is now generally known that the special goal of their proponents is to introduce to the people the pernicious fictions of Socialism and Communism by misapplying the terms ‘liberty’ and ‘equality’. The final goal shared by these teachings, whether of Communism or Socialism, even if approached differently, is to excite by continuous disturbances workers and others, especially those of the lower class, whom they have deceived by their lies and deluded by the promise of a happier condition. They are preparing them for plundering, stealing, and usurping first the Church’s and then everyone’s property.”

Again, not bad for 1849 (in this case). I was particularly interested in the phrase “misapplying the terms ‘liberty’ and ‘equality’”.

Philip Booth 154x154

Academic and Research Director, IEA

Philip Booth is Academic and Research Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs and Professor of Finance, Public Policy and Ethics at St. Mary's University, Twickenham. From 2002-2015 he was Professor of Insurance and Risk Management at Cass Business School. Previously, Philip Booth worked for the Bank of England as an advisor on financial stability issues and he was also Associate Dean of Cass Business School and held various other academic positions at City University. He has written widely, including a number of books, on investment, finance, social insurance and pensions as well as on the relationship between Catholic social teaching and economics. He is Deputy Editor of Economic Affairs and on the editorial boards of various other academic journals. Philip is a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries and an honorary member of the Society of Actuaries of Poland. He has previously worked in the investment department of Axa Equity and Law and was been involved in a number of projects to help develop actuarial professions and actuarial, finance and investment professional teaching programmes in Central and Eastern Europe. Philip has a BA in Economics from the University of Durham and a PhD from City University.

7 thoughts on “Pope Pius IX and the errors of socialism”

  1. Posted 08/12/2008 at 16:13 | Permalink

    Your right that is interesting. Amazing perception, I wonder what he would say now.

  2. Posted 08/12/2008 at 16:13 | Permalink

    Your right that is interesting. Amazing perception, I wonder what he would say now.

  3. Posted 14/12/2008 at 09:16 | Permalink

    Remark of B. Sheridan is just to the point. If current crisis makes substantial part of population poor ideas of communism will again appear on the scene. I talked to well educated person stuck in poverty: he believes that Lenin and Stalin were good! What I believe is that any moves towards left or right – combined together through tough times – will lead to developing receipes to better welfare of the world. What we see now is some signal requring respective action by powers.

  4. Posted 14/12/2008 at 09:16 | Permalink

    Remark of B. Sheridan is just to the point. If current crisis makes substantial part of population poor ideas of communism will again appear on the scene. I talked to well educated person stuck in poverty: he believes that Lenin and Stalin were good! What I believe is that any moves towards left or right – combined together through tough times – will lead to developing receipes to better welfare of the world. What we see now is some signal requring respective action by powers.

  5. Posted 17/12/2008 at 19:09 | Permalink

    To get to the point of the Pope’s critique of socialism, this is a world-view which places before Man the chief end of devoting his whole life to the creation, for common ownership, as much material wealth as possible, as efficiently as possible.

    Mere public ownership of parts of the economy are not by themselves enough to disclose the existence of socialism, but only this total claim including the principled negation of private property.

  6. Posted 17/12/2008 at 19:09 | Permalink

    To get to the point of the Pope’s critique of socialism, this is a world-view which places before Man the chief end of devoting his whole life to the creation, for common ownership, as much material wealth as possible, as efficiently as possible.

    Mere public ownership of parts of the economy are not by themselves enough to disclose the existence of socialism, but only this total claim including the principled negation of private property.

  7. Posted 25/06/2011 at 09:20 | Permalink

    The people couldn’t find the ideal economic system. It always will have some problems.

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