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David Deavel: A Catholic critique of socialism (Part 1 of 2)

“In almost every socialist system, you're going to end up with one group of people who are in the government, who are running things on behalf of the people...and they're going to end up having the power and the money for themselves,” said David Deavel, Ph.D., an assistant professor of Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., and the editor of Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture.

Young people attracted to socialism “may think of it simply as part of that welfare state ideal and they've been taught, 'Everything works better in Sweden' or something like that,” said Deavel.

“And what they don't understand is that those Nordic countries actually did have fairly socialist arrangements in the 1970s. But what they led to was absolute stagnation. So many of them had to open up their economies in order to keep up their large welfare state.”

The “Catholic social tradition has largely been open to market economies within a strong juridical framework and with the caveat that, look they can go bad if the culture around them goes bad. Why is that? John Paul II said in Centesimus Annas — his 1991 encyclical — that one of the things that's needed for poor people is that they can enter into the circle of exchange."

Deavel continued, "And when you enter into that circle of exchange, profit's going to be a part of that. But in order to succeed in it, you have to be meeting people's needs, both your consumers, as well as the people who are investing, and working for you, as well. And when you have that balance, I think people are not as attracted to these sort of wild-eyed socialist ideals, when they see that no, this can actually work. But the trick is, of course, having a good legal and political framework, as well as — most importantly — having a culture in which the right things are valued..."