Pope blasts capitalism


Laws against slaver are purely an economic regulation? Well, okay…

No one said purely. It’s certainly a lot of other things. But it’s also an economic regulation.


surely so are laws against murder, rape and theft, all of which can, and do, generate cash for people.


To clarify: I use ‘politics’ to mean the theory and practice of whose will shall prevail in a community; in other words, the study and exercise of social power. I use ‘economics’ to mean the study of the production, distribution, and consumption of value. In the case of slavery per se, I don’t see much value necessarily being produced, transferred, or consumed. It is true one could, in a manner of speaking, ‘create value’ by enslaving someone, and transfer it by selling the slave to a slave-owner who could ‘consume’ the slave by appropriating his labor power, but this seems like a borderline use of economic thought. Moreover one could theoretically keep slaves without any significant economic inputs or outputs. Political actions do often occur with economic results in mind: a robber may force me to give him my wallet, from which he expects to derive value, but I would call the robbery itself a political act, in that the robber is compelling me to submit to his will. Of course anyone may define these words differently, but that’s what I mean.


surely so are laws against murder, rape and theft, all of which can, and do, generate cash for people.

Well, then, you’ve proven @heavystarch’s strawman correct: “free markets can’t exist without murder, rape, theft, etc.” I was wrong to suggest that those weren’t economic regulations as well. I had my reservations about theft, for sure.

@starrygordon Ownership is also an economic act, integral to “production, distribution and consumption of value” in a free market capitalist system. If slavery is owning people, then it is an economic act, and banning it is economic regulation, which cannot exist in a free market.

To prohibit these things without economic regulation would look something like this: “don’t murder anyone, unless there are economic transactions to come of it.”


Don’t worry. They’ll fall back on the fact that “catholism is as close to pagan as you can get and still call yourself a Christian,” as an old roommate of mine once put. Then they’ll go back to watching Joel Olsteen and his “prosperity gospel.”

Maybe it’s because I grew up in the Catholic Church, maybe it’s because I’m an atheist, but I will never trust a religious leader that doesn’t take vow of poverty. It’s just too easy to take advantage of people when it comes to religion.


How am I changing the accepted definition of free markets?
“A free market is a market economy in which the forces of supply and demand are not controlled by a government or other authority”

I never disputed that definition - I merely stated that slavery would not be acceptable in a truly free market as the free market is derived from individual sovereignty - self determination - self governance et al. Taking another human as a slave would be anathema to this. You really think that individual freedom is negotiable because we don’t have a singular moral authority? IMHO the singular moral authority is the desire of nearly every human on this planet to live freely. It is rare to find a human that desires slavery or serfdom outright. Most if not all humans desire the freedom to live their lives as they see fit

What’s odd is at the outset of your statement is where you accuse me of changing the “accepted definition of free markets” then at the end of your statement, you remind me that no two people can agree on what free markets look like.

Is there an accepted definition or is the free market definition in flux?

Regardless I still maintain that slavery is anathema to free markets and would not be acceptable within that construct. Whether or not one derives economic benefit from slavery, murder, theft, rape etc - each of those acts violates the individual sovereignty of another human and again would be anathema to free markets. There would be an “other authority” controlling the demands/wants of an individual human being.


Which, by the way, was the major development in Marxist thought in the post-World War II period, as an answer to, “WTF is going on in Russia?”


I thought this pertinent to our discussion… The Pope is not looking to Marx’s critique of capitalism, but to Polyani’s mid-century discussion of the economy, or so Heather Horn argues:

Having actually read Polyani recently, I think this is possible.


For some reason, I can’t find my own post on enclosure, the combination laws, the settlement laws and the certificated which mounted to an internal passport system in Britain, etc. Is it just hard to find because these boards don’t load right, or is it lost?


Speaking only to this post, I have great hopes for this pope. We Christians need to redefine what it means to be Christian and create a new dialogue with the world.


Free markets by definition must not be regulated. The supply of labor CANNOT be regulated by your definition. You can argue it’s anathema all you like.


Well, shucks, now you’ve got me curious.


My original post was in response to this statement: “For the billionth frikken time. “Free markets” don’t exist unless you want slavery to exist.”

I merely expressed the sentiment that Free Markets can indeed exist WITHOUT slavery - that slavery itself was anathema to free markets.

Free Markets require freedom from regulation of supply/demand. If one person ‘owns’ another person then they are limiting the supply/demand of another person. That is not a free market.

Slavery should not exist in a Free Market.


Then what you are describing is not a free market. It is a market which has imposed a restriction on the supply of labor. If I cannot sell myself into slavery, because slavery is outlawed, then my supply of labor is being regulated.


It’s never existed because it cannot and it NEVER will. Kind of a duh thing for most people living in the real world. It’s nice stuff for children hooked on pop economists though…


Yes, well, these boards are broken. I don’t know what to do about that.

But one of the other posters was suggesting that Russia and China had abolished capitalism with disastrous results. I don’t think that’s accurate. They didn’t have capitalism, they had feudalism, and their governments adopted many of the same police state measures that the British governments [including England before union, not so sure about Scotland] had adopted.


If individual A OWNS individual B (through initiation of force - we’ll discuss your voluntary slavery next) then A is restricting B’s involvement in the market - regulating their ability to do what they would otherwise do if they were free. Regulation need not come from an official government entity as so many insist here. If Group A forcibly restricts Group B from participating freely in the market then we have regulation. Again it doesn’t need to be any government agency that is restricting trade.

Now if you decide to sell yourself into slavery that is a voluntary decision. IN a free market that could in fact exist.

My whole point of contention with the original poster was that he/she insisted that Free Markets can’t exist without slavery which is invalid. If all voluntary actions in that free market society avoided taking captive slaves or voluntary slaves it would still remain a free market.

If Free Markets are guided by the Invisible Hand whereby they are Self Regulating - are they truly free?

The answer is yes because the transactions between individuals is voluntary and enacted freely.


What a remarkably narrow and historically inaccurate vision of slavery you have. Voluntary slavery is still slavery. It does not permit the withdrawal of consent, which is in fact a pivotal aspect of freedom. Meanwhile you continue to miss the point entirely: Free market ideology does not take into consideration coercion by private actors as a form of regulation. If it did, then free market ideology would acknowledge what it does not: That private actors must be restrained by a higher authority, the precise opposite of what it does argue. You are trying to impose a moral philosophy on free market ideology that has never been a consideration. The Invisible Hand alone is supposed to keep man moral, according to the myth of the free market.

It’s funny that you mention the Invisible Hand though. Since the person who coined the term also said,

“Men may live together in society with some tolerable degree of security, though there is no civil magistrate to protect them from the injustice of those passions. But avarice and ambition in the rich, in the poor the hatred of labour and the love of present ease and enjoyment, are the passions which prompt to invade property, passions much more steady in their operation, and much more universal in their influence. Wherever there is great property there is great inequality. For one very rich man there must be at least five hundred poor, and the affluence of the few supposes the indigence of the many. The affluence of the rich excites the indignation of the poor, who are often both driven by want, and prompted by envy, to invade his possessions. It is only under the shelter of the civil magistrate that the owner of that valuable property, which is acquired by the labour of many years, or perhaps of many successive generations, can sleep a single night in security.”

Slavery and Free Markets

It’s kind of funny when people quote this stuff, while forgetting who and what Adam Smith was. People forget he wasn’t an economist, because he helped to invent the field of political economy itself with works like the Wealth of Nations. He was a moral philosopher, because in the 18th century, they did not have the same sort of department system at universities as we do now. This was just beginning to emerge too. They also ignore that he was addressing the world around him, not postmodern America. But people want to quote him out of context, without regard to the totality of his work, his goal, or others around him. It’s like when people talk about the French, American, or Haitian revolution in isolation from the others. Or when people quote marx without regard to what he and Engles were specifically addressing in their work, both Hegel and the specific conditions they found in the factories emerging in growing cities.

(edited for clarity)

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