This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

The doctrine of diffused property

The Church’s proposed solution to these errors is based on the nature and needs of man, and can now be put forth in three short quotes from Rerum Novarum. It embodies the idea of a “centrifugal” economy in which widely distributed property is the norm.

First Leo XIII notes the sad conditions brought on by unrestrained capitalism:

“…the hiring of labor and the conduct of trade are concentrated in the hands of comparatively few; so that a small number of very rich men have been able to lay upon the teeming masses of the laboring poor a yoke little better than that of slavery itself.”[1]

Then he condemns the Marxist solution:

“To remedy these wrongs the socialists, working on the poor man’s envy of the rich, are striving to do away with private property, and contend that individual possessions should become the common property of all… But their contentions are so clearly powerless to end the controversy that were they carried into effect the working man himself would be among the first to suffer.”[2]

Finally, he proposes the true solution, which is opposed to both capitalism and socialism:

“…private ownership must be held sacred and inviolable. The law, therefore, should favor ownership, and its policy should be to induce as many as possible of the people to become owners.”[3]

[1] RN, 3.

[2] RN, 4.

[3] RN, 46.

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