William Briggs

Mark and Louise Zwick, 'The Recession and Catholic Social Teaching' (March AD2000), unfortunately pit compassion against capitalism, suggesting that the two are somehow mutually exclusive. Such a black and white view of the world does not serve us well.

In praising the work of the Catholic Worker Movement in the Great Depression we are left with a round condemnation of capitalism. Dorothy Day was not the first and nor shall she be the last to lambast capitalism for real and imagined crimes and shortcomings and there have been many. To argue, however, that capitalism leads to poverty and the immiseration of people is incorrect.

If we look at the world of the 1930s, when Day was brutally critiquing capitalism and compare it to today, we cannot fail to see the enormous rise in material well-being.

While it true that there are ostentatious displays of wealth, the poor have benefited and poverty has shrunk in our world. Significantly the past decades have seen the lifting of hundreds of millions of people from abject poverty in the Developing World.

This is not to suggest that Christians should not maintain a spirit of compassion nor work to ease suffering wherever it occurs. But we need to acknowledge that capitalism is not a primary cause of poverty; on the contrary it has shown a capacity to lift people from poverty and from the need to exist as recipients of charity.

The increasing wealth of those in the Developed World has been linked to a growing despair, a withering of the soul and a lack of a moral compass that afflicts the world.

We might look, not simply at growing wealth as a reason for this malaise, but at the way society has been so badly used by the Left, as described in Babette Francis' article on the legacy of Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci.

His philosophy of culture war to weaken the institutions of church, family, education and media, so as to radically alter the status quo, has been vigorously followed since he was 'rediscovered' in the 1960s. The success has been phenomenal.

Kingston Beach, Tas

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