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Seattle Catholic is not affiliated with the Archdiocese of Seattle
Seattle Catholic
A Journal of Catholic News and Views
3 Nov 2002
Liberal Economics vs. Catholic Truth
   by John Sharpe

A final defense of Distributism

[Editor's Note: I would like to take this time to thank all those who contributed to this lively informal debate on the topic of Catholicism and economics, including Mr. Sharpe, Mr. Clark, Br. Bugnolo and Dr. Woods. To wrap up this current discussion and in response to numerous reader requests to hear from the Distributist side once more, Mr. Sharpe has been asked to provide a final rebuttal.]

A word of thanks to Mr. Miller of Seattle Catholic for the opportunity to respond to Mr. Clark's response to my response, etc., etc. I will attempt in what follows to summarize the results of our exchange, and point out where I think points which I made have been either conceded, missed, or misunderstood. Begging the reader's forgiveness, I will also touch briefly on several new arguments which were raised against the Distributist position, both by Mr. Clark and by Dr. Woods, who contributed to the debate after it was in progress. Those new points include the following: 1) numerous theologians have supported capitalism, 2) capitalism has reduced the gap between rich and poor and thus does not promote inequality, 3) Distributism would be productive of "big government," and, finally, 4) it is illegitimate to expect the free market or the science of economics to take morality into account, as both are fundamentally neutral. In what follows I also assume that readers are familiar, at least in general, with the articles that have been written by Dr. Woods and Mr. Clark in connection with this discussion.1

Concessions

To my mind, the following points were ignored and, therefore, conceded:

(1) Belloc's definition of capitalism. It was dismissed as "simplistic" by Mr. Clark, but we saw how it was also the definition of Pope Pius XI, who was probably not a simpleton. Speaking of the definition of capitalism, I also conceded to Mr. Clark that in modern terms the notion of "capitalism" does indeed imply a regime of free competition, as he suggested. This was and is central to my critique of capitalism. More on that later.

(2) Distributism a new theory. I maintained that Distributism was a new and awkward word for a very old theory, a theory of widely distributed ownership not only of material wealth in general, but of productive wealth specifically. I said, in fact, that "...the ideal, at which great statesmen from Solon of Athens to Leo XIII and Pius XI have aimed, is a State made up principally of flourishing and self-contained communities of small proprietors, and especially of small farmers or peasants." This too was not refuted. Mr. Clark only said, essentially, that capitalism didn't come from Protestantism; he provided no evidence to suggest that Belloc was wrong, however, in noting that the concentration of wealth characteristic of capitalist society resulted, at least in England, from a few unique events triggered by the Reformation — events which he details in his tidy Essay on the Restoration of Property. Those events were made possible, furthermore, by the breakdown of laws and structures which preserved the "Distributist" nature of society up to that point. More on Mr. Clark's other comments in this regard later. Suffice it to say that my contention that a society of many small owners, rather than a few big ones, has always been the ideal of great statesmen and sane thinkers, was never refuted.

(3) Radical equality and Socialism. Belloc maintained that the gross inequality of modern society, which has owners pitted against an essentially non-owning class, is too much to bear; in so stating he simply follows the Popes. (We'll see more of this in our brief look at the so-called "capitalism-creates-inequality" myth.) I pointed out in my original article, however, that Belloc admitted in several places of his Essay that inequality is natural in society and should be respected; his was not a scheme of radical leveling but one of defending the small owner. I also made it perfectly clear that Belloc opposed socialism as vigorously as he opposed capitalism. Furthermore, I looked in detail at the phrase — taken out of context by Mr. Clark — in which Belloc says that the state should own certain forms of property before those forms are left to the ownership of a few wealthy men; I demonstrated that such a statement was not only miles away from an advocacy of Socialism, but was rather completely consistent with the words of the Pontiff who had condemned socialism so vigorously!2

Just to be perfectly clear, I will reiterate: at no point and in no phrase of any of Belloc's writing does he demand radical, Socialist equality; at no point and in no phrase does he object to the fundamentally Catholic notion that society will always consist of varying degrees of inequality; at no point and in no phrase does he advocate the application of taxation to redistribute personal wealth to those who have less; at no point and in no phrase does he argue for repressively high, "tyrannical" taxation (to use Clark's word) — in fact he devotes an entire chapter of Restoration of Property (VI) to opposing high taxation. In so doing he is perfectly in agreement with the actual words (though perhaps not with Clark's unsupportable interpretation) of Navarette's statement, which Clark quoted: "The origin of poverty is high taxes. In continual fear of tax collectors, (farmers) prefer to abandon their land, so they can avoid their vexations." This is exactly what Belloc said!

In making these points I was and am trying to further illustrate the general vision behind Belloc's scheme in Restoration of Property. He desired no redistribution of wealth ß la Marx; but he did advocate a defense of the small owner.

The burden of proof thus lies with Mr. Clark to demonstrate that Belloc advocated socialism. The only reply from Mr. Clark on this point was to insinuate that Belloc thought that the wage contract was fundamentally unjust — because Belloc referred to the "exploitation" of wage earners. But Belloc clearly respected the justice of the wage contract.3 For Mr. Clark to prove that Belloc advocated socialism — which was his original contention — we need more concrete, factual evidence from him than the assertion that "Belloc's terminology was eerily similar to that of Marx." Such a statement, in light of what I have demonstrated, is hardly a scholarly demonstration of Belloc's socialist sympathies.

(4) The Means of Production. I spent a section of my article explaining that Belloc specifically — and Distributists in general — has no objection to an entrepreneur being paid more for his efforts than that of the assembly line wage-earner. The Distributist objection to the capitalist scheme has to do with wages only tangentially, and is rooted more in how capital ownership is currently distributed among the members of society. Because of this current distribution, relatively few own the means of production, and the rest are compelled by the very structure of the thing to work for those few in exchange for a wage. This essential point — the very foundation of the Distributist premise — was and is never, ever refuted. Regardless of how both rich and poor have microwave ovens and TVs, and how an entrepreneur is entitled to be compensated more than a shoe repair man — provided he is truly providing a useful service to the community with his large, complicated, capital-intensive venture, the fact is that wage-earners cannot have the dignity, freedom, and independence of capital owners because they own no productive wealth with which they can themselves produce wealth for consumption. Pius XI called such a state "hand-to-mouth uncertainty," 4 and Pius XII called it "economic dependence and slavery which is irreconcilable with [a man's] rights as a person." 5 That's the beginning and the end of the point.

(5) Free competition. Another point which I made was that free or unrestricted competition cannot be the final, regulating factor in economic life. I also suggested that regulation and defense of private property from the destructive effects of unrestricted competition was not to regulate private property out of existence, but to defend it and protect it.6 The first point was made clearly time and again by Pope Leo XIII, Pope Pius XI, and Pope Pius XII, and the latter was affirmed with unparalleled explicitness by Pope Pius XI. Neither aspect of that observation was ever refuted by Mr. Clark either. He suggests that the government should stay out of regulating economic life, lest it become an "all-powerful leviathan," but that is hardly a response to a clear declaration by several Popes that "the right ordering of economic life cannot be left to a free competition of forces. For from this source, as from a poisoned spring, have originated and spread all the errors of individualist economic teaching" 7 (emphasis mine) We'll look quickly later on at the myth of "big government." Let it be reaffirmed here, that the Church has solemnly condemned unrestricted competition, and there is no refuting that.

(6) Profit. Mr. Clark chose not to address the profit aspect of my previous article. Another conceded point, evidently. The essence of my position was that profit is only licit from the Catholic standpoint as a means to an end — namely, the procuring of necessary goods for one's self and one's family, and that a desire for gain which is not circumscribed by that very specific intention is immoral and illicit, and thus also illegitimate as a principle of social order. This issue was only addressed in a related fashion by Dr. Woods, and I'll respond to those points very briefly below.

(7) The Social Doctrine of the Church. Another conceded point was my original contention that the fundamental tenet of the Social Doctrine of the Church is the idea that society should be an aid to virtue, not a hindrance. I maintained that a society which legally and publicly recognizes an unlimited "profit motive" — one unconcerned with how the amassing of productive wealth adversely affects the rest of society — is a society fundamentally disordered and inconsistent with Catholic teaching. I would argue that this is plainly and simply true, and therefore impossible to refute. Which may explain the absence of a refutation.

Rebuttals

In several instances, Mr. Clark offered rebuttals to my original points. Dr. Woods additionally offered his responses to some of the observations that I made, in the pieces which he contributed to this debate. I would ask the reader to consider the following in response:

(1) The greatest minds of the Church. Mr. Clark claimed to be able to cite "fifteen references [to] pre-medieval and medieval Catholic economists," and complained that I quoted "exactly one Catholic prior to Rerum Novarum." He further lamented that I relied "almost exclusively on Hilaire Belloc, Chesterton, and some of the papal encyclicals."

Firstly, Clark's references to the "fifteen theologians" are — begging forgiveness for the terms — completely useless and irrelevant. He lists 15 names; he doesn't quote from any of them. The reader will forgive me if I do not take Mr. Clark's word for it that all 15 theologians were proto-capitalists.8 If he's so familiar with their work (albeit through an obviously liberal lens), why not quote them, at length, so that we too can learn that the Scholastic philosophers supported a massive concentration of productive property into a relatively few hands (a phenomena which, it should be remembered, Mr. Clark did not deny), perpetuated by a regime of unlimited economic competition? I defy anyone (!) to produce a single citation from any Catholic philosopher (who is not an admitted liberal like Bastiat) which says that a concentration of wealth such as we see today, created and/or encouraged by totally free competition, is a desirable state of affairs. No such quote is possible.

An additional fact to bear in mind is that the Church, in most cases throughout Her history, has reacted to historical circumstances and issued condemnations of social or theological trends after those trends took a wrong turn. St. Albert the Great's defense of private property is hardly an apologia for a concentration of wealth. How can we expect to hear fierce denunciations of economic rationalism/liberalism from clerics who lived before the problem had manifested itself socially or philosophically? When I said that the great minds of the Church would not have sanctioned Mr. Clark's praise of capitalism, I meant those minds who considered capitalism in retrospect, from a point in history after capitalism had developed. It is not a coincidence in my mind that those theologians who examined capitalism from a modern perspective were almost all of one mind in condemning it. For readers interested in this aspect of the question, they are encouraged to consult the writings of Fr. Heinrich Pesch, Fr. Oswald von Nell-Breuning, Fr. Bernard Dempsey, Fr. John Ryan, Dr. Amintore Fanfani, Dr. George O'Brien, Dr. Charles Devas, Fr. Matteo Liberatore, Fr. Denis Fahey, Fr. Edward Cahill, Mgr. Emile Guerry, and the numerous other Social Catholics who wrestled with the problem of the modern economy. Such a list should be enough to refute the implication that I, in a "misleading" and "unscholarly" fashion, meant to portray only Chesterton (whom I didn't mention once!) and Belloc as the Church's greatest minds on the economic question.

It is worth mentioning that the one theologian from whom I did quote in my previous article is, according to Holy Mother Church, our chief guide in matters economic. That one was St. Thomas Aquinas, who, as Pius XI taught, "is...the perfect theologian, [who] gives infallible rules and precepts of life not only for individuals, but also for civil and domestic society which is the object also of moral science, both economic and political." 9 (emphasis mine)

Finally, I will here point out that Mr. Clark grudgingly admitted that I quoted from "some of the papal encyclicals," as if to base myself on such sources were to condemn myself to the unscholarly oblivion of ignorance and naivetÚ. This is an argument about what Catholics should think about the economic order, and quoting the major encyclicals on economic problems isn't sufficient!?! Clark asserts that Pope Leo XIII "was no anti-capitalist." While Leo along with all the other popes, theologians, and Belloc (as we have noted) didn't impugn the legitimacy of a contract between a wage earner and an owner of capital, he and his successors most certainly condemned an economic order based upon unrestricted competition and rationalist principles! And the notion of unlimited competition is — according to Mr. Clark — a prime element of modern capitalism...an element condemned in most vigorous terms by Pius XI, in spite of Clark's contention that the social encyclicals intended "simply to state that employers should treat their employees as beings created by God." If such were the case, what are we to make of Pius XI's teaching that public authority can justly regulate what owners do or do not do with their property (49), that free competition must be controlled by the state or other legitimate authority (110), that wealth is immensely concentrated as a result of free competition (105, 107)...and on and on and on? To dismiss the teaching of Pius XI as applying merely to how employers are supposed to treat their employees is to grossly misrepresent the pontiff's teaching.

A final note on the encyclicals. Mr. Clark maintains that "Pope John Paul II is really the first modern Pontiff to delve into capitalism proper, and analyze it on its own merits." My interpretation of his meaning is that he is the first Pope worth quoting since he admitted the merits of capitalism, because his predecessors analyzed it in detail (Quadragesimo Anno is over 20,000 words long!) and found it wanting. Insofar as the statements of Pius XI and others which I have quoted refer to principle and not contingent facts,10 I am certain that all Catholics will continue to admit their binding force. I further trust we are all agreed that the Holy Father did not intend to contradict his predecessors.

(2) The history of capitalism. Mr. Clark maintains that Belloc's thesis must be rejected, insofar as Prof. de Roover has suggested that "Modern capitalism based on private ownership has its roots in Italy during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance." A couple of points in reply:

First, the thesis is not merely Belloc's. It is Weber's, Fanfani's, O'Brien's, and Fahey's. Space doesn't permit me to quote from them extensively, but I would be happy to provide more information as and when requested.

Second, the "Bellocian thesis" is not that the historical phenomena of division of labor, stock speculation, capital-intensive production and trade, and banking were created overnight after Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg cathedral. In England, at least, it is simply a fact that the concentrations of wealth which made "big business" possible resulted from, among other things, the confiscation of Church lands and the implementation of the Statute of Frauds passed after Henry VIII's break with Rome.

Additionally, as Mr. Clark said very clearly in his first article, capitalism implies the right to private property and free competition. One without the other would cease to be capitalism. So even in France, Italy, and other places where pre-Reformation concentrations of capital existed for the carrying out of large, capital-intensive operations, without the mentality of "unrestricted competition" which is today part of the essence of the "free market," capitalism as we know it would not have existed. This is a point which Clark's source, Prof. de Roover, seems unwilling to grapple with in most of his writings. It took a change in mentality to foster capitalism as we know it, and that change of mentality was furthered by an emancipation of morals from the authority of Rome: i.e., Protestantism.

(3) Capitalism doesn't create inequality. I will ask for the reader's indulgence if I respond with slightly more than, "Yes, it does."

This is primarily Dr. Woods' contention, that the "capitalism-creates-inequality myth" is simply an "ignorant canard." He emphasizes the point in two different ways: first, by reminding us that the destitute were employed by the factories, and so they would otherwise have perished, were it not for the labor-creating factories; second, by reminding us that both rich and poor classes today have TVs, microwaves, radios, access to air travel, etc., etc.

To this first point I simply respond by saying that the massive and rapid growth of the factory system wouldn't have been possible without the destruction of some aspects of the Distributist society which existed beforehand. If the factories are to be thanked for providing employment for the hungry masses, the question which comes to mind is: "Where did all the hungry masses come from in the first place?" It is a stunt of circular reasoning to suggest that they failed on their land or at their trade and so had to be employed by the factories to survive, because 1) they lost their land in the first place as a result of events that Belloc mentioned (and that we have noted briefly above), and 2) their home-grown trade would have been made ineffective or impossible in raw competition with a capital-intensive, assembly-line method of production which could turn out hundreds of times the amount of goods, at far cheaper costs — which is the very problem which Distributism seeks to remedy! In essence, the balance of the small, predominantly cottage economy was upset by the triumph of the factory system on a large scale, combined with a liberal, "no-holds-barred" economic philosophy, and the combined result was the wholesale transformation of land-owning peasants into employees.

It should, finally, be born in mind that the question of wealth distribution is not a question of who has the most toys, but rather a question of who possesses productive wealth, which can be worked to generate the wealth to live on. It is this kind of wealth which is mal-distributed, and this kind of mal-distribution thereof which Distributism, with the Popes, seeks to remedy. Neither Leo XIII, nor Pius XI, nor Pius XII lamented the "sad lack of modern conveniences among poorer families, the scarcity of TV- and microwave-owning families who lord their gadgets over the poor, along with the gross inequality in health standards." Pius XI called the non-owning workers the "proletariat" — propertyless. The non-owning workers (like most all of us) possess no productive property of their own to make their labor productive of wealth absent someone else's capital, thus producing the precarious state of "economic dependence" (Pius XII's phrase) and "hand-to-mouth uncertainty" (Pius XI's). That such a state still exists today should be obvious from current headlines, which almost daily announce a new round of layoffs in the thousands from corporations both large and small.

Pius XI even concedes — in anticipation of Dr. Woods' objection — that "the status of non-owning workers is to be carefully distinguished from pauperism," and that "the workers can no longer be considered universally overwhelmed with misery and lacking the necessities of life." 11 But he nevertheless maintains "that the immense multitude of the non-owning workers on the one hand and the enormous riches of certain very wealthy men on the other establish an unanswerable argument that the riches which are so abundantly produced in our age of 'industrialism,' as it is called, are not rightly distributed and equitably made available to the various classes of the people" 12 (emphasis mine), and that this inequality is a "fruit that the unlimited freedom of struggle among competitors has of its own nature produced" 13 (emphasis mine). So much for the "ignorant canard."

(4) Profit. Dr. Woods took the lead in rebutting this point, as well, with what I assume was somewhat of a justification of "the profit motive" in suggesting that "profit signals...make for peaceful social cooperation and the most efficient use of scarce resources." Elsewhere he asserts that "the morally acceptable desire for profit leads to spontaneous social cooperation."

I have serious qualms with both of those statements. That our system produces "peaceful" social cooperation is only true insofar as most of us aren't murdering one another to buy sugar and flour. But it is to contradict the prevailing spirit which demands that a business continuously increase its "market share" (at who's expense, we wonder...?) or go under. How many small business have to shut their doors because of the big ones before we abandon the "peaceful social cooperation myth"? Doubtless Dr. Woods would consider the evacuation of a small farm in the face of agri-business a "signal from the consumer" that high broccoli prices will no longer be tolerated, but has it occurred to him that the low prices wouldn't be a factor if the regime of unlimited competition weren't the prevailing economic doctrine? What if everybody more or less sold broccoli at the same price, and the question turned on not who could undercut the competition, but simply "how much broccoli do we need?"

Finally, to say that the "desire for profit" is "morally acceptable" is to frame the question with certain definite assumptions which do not factor in modern economic life. That wage-earners bring home a pay check to meet basic needs — and thus are behaving morally in so doing — is a stark fact of life. That CEO's bring home a salary several hundred times that of the average worker has little to do with need, and everything to do with avarice. So too for the industry that insists upon expanding — for "market share," "dividends," or pure "profit" — to the detriment of the small holders of property who otherwise would have maintained themselves in reasonable comfort while working on their own productive property. It is only a system of pure liberalism that would suggest that such avarice should be ignored by the "free market" as solely a personal religious or moral issue, in which economics has no role to play. Such would be pure rationalism applied to political and economic life, of the kind denounced by Leo XIII and all the recent Pius's. Pius XI referred, in fact, to the salutary role that the state could play in redressing such grievous imbalances in his encyclical — believe it or not! — against communism:

...the wealthy classes must be induced to assume those burdens without which human society cannot be saved nor they themselves remain secure. However, measures taken by the State with this end in view ought to be of such a nature that they will really affect those who actually possess more than their share of capital resources, and who continue to accumulate them to the grievous detriment of others.14 (emphasis mine)

New Issues

Several new issues were raised both by Mr. Clark and Dr. Woods in their responses to the Distributist position, and I will tackle those now, as briefly as I can.

(1) Moral neutrality of economics; economics a value-free science. Clark's contribution to this theme was to compare capitalism to an automobile, implying that it is a neutral tool to be used for good or evil. Dr. Woods elsewhere suggested that the problem of greed is "a matter of moral philosophy rather than economics;" and he further explained that economics is a "value-free" science which doesn't tell people how much money they can make or how to employ their wealth.

I answer that: All of these statements imply that the creation of wealth for use by man is simply a matter of technique, science, and practical knowledge — as if wealth could be created by this or that system interchangeably and inconsequentially, as if it were simply a choice in woodcarving between this or that knife, this or that file.

The fact is, however, that an economic order is not a lifeless piece of matter, to be manipulated according to forces of nature governing that inanimate matter. It is a scheme whereby living, animated creatures produce the wealth necessary for life on earth, to further their practice of virtue and thereby (God willing) attain heaven. Thus there can be no "limitless" wealth creation because the end of wealth creation is subordinate to the end of man, which is God. Wherever limitless wealth creation runs up against moral concerns — like the right of a "competitor" to possess his productive property in peace, the right of labor to a fair share of the fruits of production, the right of labor to be treated as something essential to life and dignity, rather than as a commodity — then the moral concerns must triumph, and economic concerns take a subordinate place. Anything else is simply not Catholic.

Such a conclusion is not pie-in-the-sky dreaming, or na´ve wishful thinking. It is Catholic science, backed up by a scholarly tradition much longer than that of rationalist and liberal economic "science." 15 For a truly Catholic economic understanding maintains that the art of acquiring wealth (money-making) or producing wealth (this could be any number of arts: manufacture, agriculture, etc.), is limited by the science of using wealth (Political Economy); the science of using wealth is subordinate to political science which looks after the common good of the nation as a whole; and the science which looks after the nation is itself a moral science.16 "The best usage of the present time," says the Catholic Encyclopedia, "is to make political economy an ethical science, that is, to make it include a discussion of what ought to be in the economic world as well as what is. This has all along been the practice of Catholic writers. Some of them even go so far as to make political economy a branch of ethics and not an independent science." 17 Elsewhere the Encyclopedia emphasizes the point:

Ethics is distinguished from the other natural sciences which deal with moral conduct of man, as jurisprudence and pedagogy, in this, that the latter do not ascend to first principles, but borrow their fundamental notions from ethics, and are therefore subordinate to it. To investigate what constitutes good or bad, just or unjust, what is virtue, law, conscience, duty, etc., what obligations are common to all men, does not lie within the scope of jurisprudence or pedagogy, but of ethics; and yet these principles must be presupposed by the former, must serve them as a ground-work and guide; hence they are subordinated to ethics. The same is true of political economy. The latter is indeed immediately concerned with man's social activity inasmuch as it treats of the production, distribution and consumption of material commodities, but this activity is not independent of ethics; industrial life must develop in accordance with the moral law and must be dominated by justice, equity, and love. Political economy was wholly wrong in trying to emancipate itself from the requirements of ethics.18

Readers who are interested in further defense of this subject are asked to see Appendix II.

(2) A note on "Big government." All this talk of "government regulation" makes modern opponents of Distributism nervous that Big Brother (he's really our Uncle) will exercise a sweeping and oppressive amount of authority to make sure that the rich don't get too rich. This fear is in one sense well-founded, insofar as modern "liberal" governments have a long and robust track record of useless (and usually nefarious) encroachments on the just liberties of their citizens. It should be borne in mind, however, even as we concede this fear, that the massive coercive power of the modern state is itself a violation of the Catholic doctrine of subsidiarity, and so the State that the Pontiffs imagine is the whole body of small and intermediate bodies which make up the whole fabric of the civil authority. Thus the Distributist question, in practice, becomes one of "what can we accomplish today, in present circumstances, to live economically, as well as morally, like Catholics." Such is a separate question from the theory, which we have been debating in these pages.

On the other hand this fear is completely unfounded and polemically irrelevant. To argue against the use of a thing from its abuse is a very sophistical procedure, to use the phrase of the Thomist, Fr. Matteo Liberatore. Pius XI and the Distributists aren't arguing for oppression, they're arguing for the defense of the weak from the oppression of the economically strong. Critiquing an implementation of Distributism — or Catholic economics generally — which includes the "power to the state" part but leaves out the question of what exactly the state will be empowered to do, is not to criticize Distributism at all, but rather to defeat a straw man with the hopes that the unsuspecting will dismiss the real man along with him. Finally, if Pius XI's idea of the State justly regulating economic life gives Catholics the uncomfortable sense that their "rights" are being violated and their "freedom" is being curtailed, then it is not the Pope who has to adjust his view of what the state can and cannot do; it is Catholics who must recalibrate their notion of "rights" and "freedom" to correspond with the Teaching of the Church.

It is worth noting at this juncture that we can't have our cake and eat it too, nor can any of my opponents. Dr. Woods suggests that Distributism is a bad idea today because "theologians from 800 years ago couldn't have imagined the evil of the modern state." I would humbly submit to the reader that they couldn't have imagined the evil of modern capitalism either, and thus the citations from 13th century Thomists and 15th century Jesuits are wholly irrelevant as a vindication of modern capitalism.

(3) Emigration. Mr. Clark says that high tax will drive out the entrepreneur: "the state would progressively tax the ablest entrepreneurs to the point where they can no longer increase their profits and wealth." Two very simple answers:

1) The state will not tax entrepreneurial skill; the state will tax an amassing of wealth which begins to eliminate the ability of others to own productive property.

2) If said entrepreneurs are unhappy because their profits and wealth are limited, I bid them good riddance. Mr. Clark makes the point for me: "If your principle is that capitalists are greedy men, who care about nothing except profits, why would they stay in a country that limits the amount of money they can make? The ablest entrepreneurs will move somewhere else, leaving those who have never run businesses with the job of running businesses." I will simply reply to the final sentence with the remark I made in my earlier article. It is a strange thing that our pre-capitalist ancestors were capable of pulling off such feats of grandeur like constructing cathedrals when they were faced with the oppressive, anti-competitive restrictions of the Guild System, which allegedly wrecks all entrepreneurial spirit. Could it be that "social cooperation" results more from socially sanctioned and encouraged cooperation than from "survival-of-the-fittest" economics?

(4) Trade. Mr. Clark suggests that international trade will be impossible in a Distributist society.

I reply: That's not true. It will occur where necessary, because the purpose of trade is not to allow a foreign country to destabilize prices and the entire economic order by importing cheap goods produced by cheaper labor, where those goods are already produced by the home country; the purpose is to supply what is naturally lacking to that country. In other words, the Thomistic justification for international trade is not for Chinese shoemakers to put American shoemakers out of business, but, according to Clark's own citation, to supply a need where a country cannot supply the same need on its own.

Unfortunately, this technique — of quoting someone and then completely and misleadingly reinterpreting it — is typical of Mr. Clark's style. He suggests that trade is in and of itself worthwhile and justifiable, and thus he laments that Distributism would allegedly make trade impossible. But the citations he produces all say that trade supplies a need which the city cannot supply on its own. Most erroneous is Clark's statement — allegedly a conclusion from St. Thomas: "The perfect city is one that engages in trade." But St. Thomas didn't say that. He said that the city will make use of trade where necessary, but that the ideal city will tend towards self-sufficiency, to the exclusion of trade altogether. I quote here the entire passage to illustrate the degree to which St. Thomas is misrepresented:

The more dignified a thing is the more self-sufficient it is, since whatever needs another's help is by that fact proven to be deficient. Now the city which is supplied by the surrounding country with all its vital needs is more self-sufficient than another which must obtain those supplies by trade. A city therefore which has an abundance of food from its own territory is more dignified than one which is provisioned through trade.19

Furthermore, St. Thomas has harsh words for a society in which most if not all of the citizens are mixed up in commerce, as all of us are. His description of such a society is eminently applicable to our time:

If the citizens themselves devote their life to matters of trade, the way will be opened to many vices. Since the foremost tendency of tradesmen is to make money, greed is awakened in the hearts of the citizens through the pursuit of trade. The result is that everything in the city will become venal; good faith will be destroyed and the way opened to all kinds of trickery; each one will work only for his own profit, despising the public good; the cultivation of virtue will fail since honor, virtue's reward, will be bestowed upon the rich. Thus, in such a city, civic life will necessarily be corrupted.20

A final comment on trade. Clark's example illustrates the inherent wisdom of Distributism. He suggests that trade will be impossible in the event that certain goods are manufactured at home and the foreign commodity threatens to undercut them in terms of price. Indeed so. For the Distributist perspective maintains that the integrity of the national economy, and the livelihood of individual men and women which results from their practice of a trade or craft, is more important that the capitalist's need to "expand his market" or "increase his market share." There can be no question that these two mentalities are one hundred percent at odds, and that the Distributist thinks of men and nations whereas capitalism thinks only of money.

A concluding note on the Social Vision of the Church

At the risk of repeating myself, I beg leave to remind readers that Distributism does not — as Mr. Clark suggests — intend to represent itself as a sine qua non of a moral society. It does however claim to be an economic system which is consistent with the demands of morality and the Social Doctrine of the Church. Insofar as my comments on the Social Doctrine of the Church were ignored by those attempting to refute the Distributist position, I offer in closing an expanded recapitulation of where the Distributists are coming from in terms of that Doctrine.

***

Distributism is broadly thought of, by its advocates, as an implementation of the Social Doctrine of the Church. It is so because it is a program that is consistent with the natural law and, because, in the final analysis, it will help man along the path to Heaven rather than throw him off it.

The essence of the Social Doctrine is that society is a means to an end. The temporal common good — the moral and material goods of this life — which it is society's duty to protect and foster, serves ultimately another end: the Eternal Salvation of men.21 As a result, every law, every custom, every ordinance of the earthly community is salutary insofar as it makes man's journey to Heaven easier, and is disordered whenever it makes that journey more difficult.

St. Thomas made this point explicitly clear in his instruction to the King of Cyprus: "it pertains to the king's office to promote the good life of the multitude in such a way as to make it suitable for the attainment of heavenly happiness, that is to say, he should command those things which lead to the happiness of Heaven, and as far as possible, forbid the contrary." 22 He says in his treatise on law in the Summa that "The purpose of human law is to lead men to virtue, not suddenly, but gradually." 23 He concedes, of course that the law cannot forbid all vices, nor command all virtues, but this is a far cry from saying that the law is indifferent to virtue and vice, and seeks only to "preserve the peace" so that man can do what he pleases, as both new and old liberals tell us.

It was very correctly, if unintentionally, said by Dr. Woods recently that the essential point is the relationship between the law and morals. Someone had written to him "to point out what Distributists and other critics of the market consistently fail to acknowledge (sic): 'No one claims that anyone can, morally speaking, do simply whatever he wants with his property; the question is over exactly which uses are immoral uses, and which of these immoral uses ought also to be illegal ones.'" The point is, rather, one which Distributists, with the Popes, consistently bear in mind; the difference is that the Distributists offer a Catholic answer to the question, rather than a liberal one.

As we have seen, Pius XI referred specifically to Leo XIII's teaching on the state and economic life as "boldly breaking through the confines imposed by Liberalism" 24 (emphasis mine). His own teaching was the same. Acknowledging the true human inclination towards evil as stemming from Original Sin, he nevertheless affirmed that the "unquenchable thirst for riches and temporal goods, which has at all times impelled men to break God's laws and trample upon the rights of their neighbors...on account of the present system of economic life, is laying far more numerous snares for human frailty" 25 (emphasis mine). That system could have been reformed, he says, by "strict and watchful moral restraint enforced vigorously by governmental authority," 26 but it was not, and it has left us with a "whole scheme of social and economic life [which] is now such as to put in the way of vast numbers of mankind most serious obstacles which prevent them from caring for the one thing necessary." As such, that system must either be condemned, or the Social Doctrine denied.

This point is often lost on the opponents of Distributism, who insist that economic life is neutral and that the creation, distribution, consumption, and exchange of wealth is simply a technical process, which is affected by morality only insofar as the individuals who interact with that process choose to allow moral considerations to enter into their thoughts and actions. Such a mindset, whether the root of an erroneous conception of economic science, an infatuation with Austrian economics,27 or a general absorption of the prevailing liberalism which has always, unfortunately, been part of American life, is fundamentally false. It is an expression of that "body of economic teaching far removed from the true moral law" which developed from "the principles of rationalism" and which, contrary to every Catholic sense of the purpose of law, civil life, and the social order, gave "completely free rein...to human passions." 28

The alternative is a conception of temporal life which recognizes the role of law and society in restraining human passions, to the extent possible and appropriate, and guiding human life, such that the whole social fabric becomes a help to salvation.

In light of this most important of all truths of Catholic Social Doctrine, it should be easy to see that Distributism is consistent with the Catholic economic vision insofar as it subordinates economic life to the ultimate purpose of man's life. It does not curtail the right of a man to own and use his private property; its entire program is designed to safeguard and defend that right, and to ensure that most if not all in society are able to benefit from it, in a matter befitting their dignity and independence as man, and not merely as potential employees. But defending private property assumes that there is something to defend it against: which is the notion that private property is an end in itself, to be amassed and multiplied and owned without limit.

"The art of amassing wealth," said St. Thomas, "which is solely concerned with money, is infinite." 29 Where that art is pursued for its own sake, where it is governed by a "profit motive" which possesses no built-in limit but is rather an end unto itself, it leads simply and directly to yet further desire for wealth: "Hence he that desires riches, may desire to be rich, not up to a certain limit, but to be simply as rich as possible." 30 The incarnation of that mentality is the modern economic system which not only encourages (by its philosophy) the unlimited acquisition of wealth, but sanctions (by its practice) an expanding field of ownership by a few at the expense of widespread and distributed ownership by many. It is this scheme of things that Distributism opposes, and for which it offers a remedy.

I have often remarked that modern society, cut off as it is from the Moral Law, is simply an example of institutionalized Original Sin. It does not reflect the Truth, but is rather more often than not an incarnation of error and sin. An interesting illustration of this is found in the hypothetical exchange of Article 1, Question 77, of the second part of the second part of St. Thomas's Summa. In attempting to defend the "buy low, sell high" mentality in all circumstances, without restriction, the Objector says that what is common to all men would seem to be natural, and thus cannot be sinful. He continues, attempting to cite St. Augustine in his defense: "Augustine relates that the saying of a certain jester was accepted by all, 'You wish to buy for a song and to sell at a premium.'" St. Thomas's reply is illustrative, and reveals the essential flaw with our entire economic outlook. The Angelic Doctor further quotes St. Augustine: "'this jester, either by looking into himself or by his experience of others, thought that all men are inclined to wish to buy for a song and sell at a premium. But since in reality this is wicked, it is in every man's power to acquire that justice whereby he may resist and overcome this inclination.'" "Hence it is evident," St. Thomas concludes, "that this common desire is not from nature but from vice, wherefore it is common to many who walk along the broad road of sin." Institutionalizing this desire to buy for a song and sell at a premium is the glory of modern capitalism. Replacing this regime with one that encourages virtue, not merely internally but also by the very fabric of society, is the aim of the Distributists and all Social Catholics, who hope both for the Restoration of Property to the non-owning masses, and the restoration of true economic science, subordinate to the real needs of man and to the just decrees of God.

***



Appendix I - a note on the "libertarian" Scholastics

In addition to citing the works of the Austrian economists, many of the opponents of Distributism are fond of citing the works of the Spanish Jesuits of Salamanca in evident defense of their liberal economic positions. However, Dr. William F. Campbell, a retired Professor of Economics with Louisiana State University, and current secretary of the Philadelphia Society, stated recently that, "Libertarians often find the quotes they are looking for in treatises on natural law which include materials on property and contracts. Unfortunately they are often taken out of context of the whole juridical and political philosophy of which they are a part. It is similar to saying that Aristotle is a libertarian because he stresses the commonsense arguments for private property."

The problem is that we're at the mercy of the pro-capitalists who quote St. Bernardine, St. Albert, St. Antoninus, the Spanish Scholastics, etc., because none of their works are available in English in complete form. Most of them quote from Alejandro Chafuen's book Christians for Freedom — heartily recommended by Dr. Woods in his latest article, which allegedly demonstrates that the late Spanish Scholastics were proto-Capitalists of the liberal and/or libertarian variety.

Dr. Chafuen's work, however, should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt. His work is certainly not the absolute standard against which Catholic's economic views should be measured. Firstly, he is — now for over 20 years — a member of the Mont Pelerin Society, a notorious exponent of the free-for-all liberalism of the classical economists, which was condemned by the Church time and again as rationalism was making its way across Europe like a veritable plague during the 18th and 19th centuries; and that rationalism is exactly the kind which inspires liberals and libertarians who are imbued with the erroneous notion that economics can be treated as a science independent of morals, and the role of the state should be that of a mere "watchdog" guaranteeing the maximum of license to the maximum of individuals.

Secondly, like many others arguing that the Scholastics were "proto-capitalists," he — at least in some instances31 — omits the context surrounding his citations from the allegedly pro-capitalist theologians. As an illustration of this, I offer the following. In an address to the Philadelphia Society in 1997, he made the claim, while discussing the legitimacy of making a profit based upon information unknown to other participants in the market, that the modern economist Israel Kirzner had come to this same conclusion as St. Thomas Aquinas: "Failing to divulge information to others (without engaging in misrepresentation) may not be very noble; it may even, under certain circumstances, be deemed to be downright disgusting; but it constitutes neither robbery nor fraud." Well, in the right context the statement may be very true. In another context, however, it is completely false. St. Thomas taught, for instance, that a seller of an item which is defective, when the defect is not obvious, must declare outright the item's defect and adjust the price downward accordingly; failure to do so would render the sale "fraudulent." 32

It is perfectly legitimate, and even obligatory if we're interested in the truth, to ask the following question: How many of the other isolated statements, offered in defense of the supposed capitalist sympathies of the great Catholic theologians of the past, have really no bearing whatsoever on the question at hand, or even misstate the actual position of those theologians?

Examples of this phenomena abound: St. Bernardine and St. Antoninus are often claimed as part of the capitalist/free-market camp. Never mind the fact that St. Bernardine condemned the practice of selling a product at a lower price than is normally established as unjust toward other participants in the market who attempt to sell at the established price (how pro-capitalist is that?), and that St. Antoninus wanted the just price of major commodities to be fixed by the state as an inducement to honest trade.33

We should be careful to accept the economic doctrine of the Church only from those who have an unsullied reputation for orthodoxy in all areas of Catholic teaching, not excepting politics and economics, and leave it to the capitalists to prove that these random, isolated statements from the late Scholastics and others have any relevance in a debate about the licitness of the modern economic order in light of the Faith.

Appendix II - further notes on the true economic science

The amount of material on truly Catholic economics abounds. I offer here some further observations for those who wish to explore the topic in greater detail.

Devas, for instance, in his Political Economy, says:

If we are agreed on the true philosophical view of the nature and destiny of man and of his surroundings, we ought to have little difficulty in agreeing on the position of economics among the sciences. It is a part of moral philosophy or ethics, which, in the widest sense, is itself that part of philosophy which regards the moral order.

And Liberatore, in his Principles of Political Economy, maintains that "Political Economy is of its nature subordinate to Political Science, [and] it is consequently subordinate to Moral Science, because Political Science is intrinsically and essentially dependent on Moral Science." The essential point is that for a Catholic, economics is not simply a collection of formulas, charts, graphs, and equations, built out of collections of data or abstract musings upon "how can we make the most stuff," but rather the science which has for its aim the satisfactions of man's material needs in conformity with the truth about man's final destiny and his duty upon earth to pursue it.

Hear again the Catholic Encyclopedia: It is for this reason that the Encyclopedia further states in the same entry that

...the State has to exercise important economical functions. It must protect private property and see to it that in man's industrial life the laws affecting justice be carried out in all their force and vigour. But its duties do not stop here. It should pass such laws as will enable its subjects to procure what is needed for their respectable sustenance and even to attain a moderate competency. Both excessive wealth and extreme poverty involve many dangers to the individual and to society. Hence the State should pass such laws as will favour the sturdy middle class of citizens and add to their numbers. Much can be done to bring about this desirable condition by the enactment of proper tax and inheritance laws, of laws which protect the labouring, manufacturing, and agricultural interests, and which supervise and control trusts, syndicates, etc.

Noteworthy — but not surprising — in the above are the facts that (1) the duties of the State are summarized under the entry for the word "ethics," and (2) enumerated among those duties are the regulation of economic life towards the common good of the whole.

A final point. In a recent article Dr. Woods suggested that the Distributists err by demanding that the economic science reckon with moral issues: "This, I think, is one of the places where Distributists commit an error. They are indicting economics in general and the free market in particular for not doing what they were never intended to do. The market does not prevent people from using their wealth badly; nor does it possess a built-in limit on the amount of wealth that someone can acquire. Neither does the discipline of economics itself have anything to say about these matters, which properly belong to moral philosophy." Dr. Woods misses the point here at several levels.

1) Distributists don't attack economic science generally; they attack the value-free perversion of economics while defending its integrity as a science subordinate to ethics. They don't deny economic law; they refuse to concede that man should be crushed by abstract and rationalist economic law, the way he is crushed by the law of gravity, should he find himself under a falling rock! For Distributists, economic law is, as we have seen, fundamentally subordinate to moral law, which is the supreme law in all fields — including economics — in which human free will is the operative principle.

2) They don't demand that the free market provide moral constraints; they in fact concede that the free(-for-all) market provides nothing of the sort, and this is in fact one of its flaws!

3) They don't demand that an individual man be told what to do with his wealth. They demand that moral limits be observed in the workings of the economic order. So if there is in fact an inviolable moral right for a man to possess private property, then a system that deprives most of an opportunity to own productive property because of its tendency, in the name of the almighty "free market," to concentrate that property, is a system which violates the moral law. And no lengthy dissertation about efficiency and productivity can change the fact that if the right of all to possess private property is a fundamental moral tenet of the Catholic economic position, then an economic system which facilitates the continual violation of that moral tenet must bend to the moral law itself.

4) Finally, Distributists don't demand that there be a limit to the amount of wealth that a man can make (I made this point in my original reply to John Clark; certainly Dr. Woods missed it, and he is not intentionally ignoring the issue). They demand that there be a limit to the concentration of income-generating property into so few hands that most others be compelled to work for a wage rather than with their own share of productive property. It's an essential distinction (I realize I'm repeating myself), and one which Belloc makes quite clearly in Economics for Helen: between wealth for consumption and wealth for future production (i.e., capital). If a family is to sustain itself securely and independently, it has a right to some sufficiency in possession of the latter.

Appendix III - A note on the alleged wisdom of the Austrian economists

Many of the critics of Distributism repeatedly cite the words of Murray Rothbard, Ludwig von Mises, and others of the Austrian school in defense of their position. This infatuation with Austrian economics is indeed a strange phenomenon among Catholics, but it makes sense to some limited degree. The modern libertarians, who trace their economic roots to the Austrian school, have some very intelligent things to say, and I find myself agreeing with many of their conclusions about the modern world (though usually not for the same reasons). They oppose interventionist American foreign policy, and so do I; so should all Catholics. They oppose fractional-reserve banking and favor sound monetary policy; so do I, and so should all Catholics. They oppose an unnecessarily big national government; so do I, and so should all Catholics. They oppose Socialism; so do I, so did Belloc, and so should all Catholics.

But a failure to understand and analyze the "why" behind their position, and substituting for that analysis a na´ve, blanket acceptance of all of their utterances is also impossible for a Catholic. The Austrian economists were liberals, plain and simple, following on the heels of the French Physiocrats and the liberal English Political Economists. They opposed socialism not because it violates the natural law as taught by true philosophy and confirmed by Revelation, but because it is less efficiently productive of material wealth than the free market. This is not the Catholic critique of socialism. Furthermore, the original Austrian crusade was to assert the validity of economic "law" against the German Historical School of economics, which maintained that such laws were a fiction. But the "laws" which the Austrians maintained have nothing whatsoever to do with the Natural Law of philosophical realism and the Catholic Faith.

It should not be a surprise, then, that the Austrians display a woeful ignorance of the ideas and principles which underlie the Social Doctrine of the Church, based as it is upon the philosophical and religious Truth about man and society. Von Mises's ignorance of the very notion of a truly Catholic Social Order is evident in the following little snippet, among others, from his famous work, Socialism. Here he attempts to explain the antagonism displayed by the Church toward Liberalism, from a standpoint which is (obviously) profoundly anti-Catholic in spirit, shallow in its reasoning, supremely ignorant of the Faith, and therefore unable to conceive of a Creed which transcends the worn-out poles of Left and Right:

Historically it is easy to understand the dislike which the Church has shown for economic liberty and political Liberalism in any form. Liberalism is the flower of that rational enlightenment which dealt a death blow to the regime of the old Church and from which modern historical criticism has sprung. It was Liberalism that undermined the power of the classes that had for centuries been closely bound up with the Church. It transformed the world more than Christianity had ever done. It restored humanity to the world and to life. It awakened forces which shook the foundations of the inert traditionalism on which Church and creed rested. The new outlook caused the Church great uneasiness, and it has not yet adjusted itself to even the externals of the modern epoch. True, the priests in Catholic countries sprinkle holy water on newly laid railways and dynamos of new power stations, but the professed Christian still shudders inwardly at the workings of a civilization which his faith cannot grasp. The Church strongly resented modernity and the modern spirit. What wonder, then, that it allied itself with those whom resentment had driven to wish for the break-up of this wonderful new world, and feverishly explored its well-stocked arsenal for the means to denounce the earthly struggle for work and wealth. The religion which called itself the religion of love became a religion of hatred in a world that seemed ripe for happiness. Any would-be destroyers of the modern social order could count on finding a champion in Christianity.

Liberalism had "transformed the world more than Christianity had ever done[, and] restored humanity to the world and to life." How charming. Obviously the old days of Workingmen's Guilds and economic life properly subordinated to morals were devoid of life and humanity; true enough, insofar as moral, legal, and canonical limits that are active in the social fabric, and not simply a matter of private conscience, extinguish the "life" of license which all true liberals long for.




FOOTNOTES:
1 Woods, Dr. Thomas, "Piety is no Substitute for Economics," "Three Catholic Cheers for Capitalism," and "Economics and Profit: A Final Word;" and Clark, John, "Distributism as Economic Theory," and "The Capitalist Response." Dr. Woods' articles are available at http://www.lewrockwell.com/woods/woods-arch.html, and Mr. Clark's at http://www.seattlecatholic.com/articles.html.
2 "...certain kinds of property, it is rightly contended, ought to be reserved to the State since they carry with them a dominating power so great that cannot without danger to the general welfare be entrusted to private individuals. Such just demands and desires have nothing in them now which is inconsistent with Christian truth..." Quadragesimo Anno, 114-115.
3 In fact in his essay "The Faith and Industrial Capitalism," Belloc in fact laments the impossibility of a binding religious condemnation of the capitalist economic arrangement; he concedes the justice of a wage contract quite clearly (as would be expected of a man who a faithful Catholic and not an idiot): "What is there [in Catholic morals] to prevent my offering [my] stores of livelihood to destitute men on condition they work my machine...?"
4 Quadragesimo Anno, 61.
5 Christmas Message, 1942.
6 In my original article I made it explicitly clear that Pius XI taught this exactly; cf. QA, 16.
7 Quadragesimo Anno, 88.
8 Readers are asked to consult Appendix I if they desire more information on the alleged proto-capitalism of the Late Scholastics.
9 Studiorum Ducem, 20.
10 Where Pius XI was referring to facts, such as the concentration of wealth during his time, readers are kindly directed to the Shared Capitalism Instutite (http://www.sharedcapitalism.org/scfacts.html) for a look at just how bad the problem remains.
11 Quadragesimo Anno, 60 and 59.
12 Quadragesimo Anno, 60.
13 Quadragesimo Anno, 58.
14 Divini Redemptoris, 75.
15 For the record, I am not claiming, nor would any of the Distributists, that economic study, research, analysis, whatever, cannot produce and has not produced useful insights as to how man might be a more efficient creator of wealth, in a strictly technical, mechanical, and truly "value-free" way (if it even makes sense for a Catholic to use such a term; I would argue that it does not. In both Devas's and Liberatore's texts on political economy can be found a lengthy discussion of what separates art from science. Generally speaking, art deals with technique, science with knowledge based upon first principles. No doubt we are very smart, in part thanks to the Austrians, about the technique of managing the national economy; forgetting that economics is primarily a practical science which includes, assumes, and is founded upon fundamental truths about man and society is where we have gone wrong.). What I am saying, however, is that the economic science, for Catholics, is subordinate to, not independent of, moral philosophy.
16 Cf. Bede Jarrett's Social Theories of the Middle Ages, pp. 153-155. He is paraphrasing St. Thomas's Commentary on the Politics of Aristotle.
17 S.v., "Political Economy"
18 CE, s.v., "Ethics"
19 On Kingship, II, 3.
20 On Kingship, II, 3.
21 "...civil society, established for the common welfare, should not only safeguard the well-being of the community, but have also at heart the interests of its individual members, in such mode as not in any way to hinder, but in every manner to render as easy as may be, the possession of that highest and unchangeable good for which all should seek" (Leo XIII, Immortale Dei (1885), 6).
22 On Kingship, I, 15.
23 II, i, Q. 96, Art 2, ad 2.
24 Quadragesimo Anno, 25.
25 Quadragesimo Anno, 132.
26 Quadragesimo Anno, 133.
27 For more on the Austrian question, please see Appendix III.
28 Quadragesimo Anno, 133.
29 Commentary on the Politics of Aristotle, v.
30 II, i, Q. 30, Art. 4.
31 I don't have a copy of his book. It is — sadly or fortunately, depending upon your perspective — out of print and nearly impossible to find.
32 "Now the seller who offers goods for sale, gives the buyer an occasion of loss or danger, by the very fact that he offers him defective goods, if such defect may occasion loss or danger to the buyer--loss, if, by reason of this defect, the goods are of less value, and he takes nothing off the price on that account--danger, if this defect either hinder the use of the goods or render it hurtful, for instance, if a man sells a lame for a fleet horse, a tottering house for a safe one, rotten or poisonous food for wholesome. Wherefore if such like defects be hidden, and the seller does not make them known, the sale will be illicit and fraudulent, and the seller will be bound to compensation for the loss incurred" (Summa Theolociga, II, ii, Q. 77, Art 3).
33 Chapter and verse from their works are as follows: St. Bernardine, Opera Omnia, vol III, p. 250, quoted by Amintore Fanfani, Le Origini dello Spirito Capitalistico in Italia, and St, Antoninus, Summa Moralis, pars iii., 8, 3, iv; and pars ii, I, 16, ii, quoted by Bede Jarret, Social Theories of the Middle Ages.
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