Posted by Old Boy
Paul Ryan (pictured), Mitt Romney‘s running mate in the US presidential election, has stated that he learned from Ayn Rand to view all policy questions as a ‘fight of individualism versus collectivism’. Photograph: Mary Altaffer/AP
The Catholic condemnation of abortion and the death penalty is well known and understood. But Catholic doctrine also condemns unfettered capitalism. We offer here a list of principles of Catholic social doctrine – not to argue their priority over others – but because we judge these to be the most in danger of being ignored or distorted in contemporary public debate.
The Catholic view of the human person is social not individual. Congressman Paul Ryan has stated that he learned from Ayn Rand to view all policy questions as a “fight of individualism versus collectivism”. The Catholic church does not espouse “individualism” but rather sees it as an error as destructive as collectivism. Blessed John Paul II described “individualism” as a dimension of the “culture of death” arising from an “eclipse of the sense of God”. The human person is “by its innermost nature, a social being”. We are radically dependent upon and responsible for one another. Again, in the words of John Paul II: “We are all really responsible for all.” This truth of the human person is tied to the central doctrines of the church. It reflects the very “intimate life of God, one God in three persons”.
Government has an essential role to play in protecting and promoting the common good. The error of individualism leads to a mistaken understanding of the role of government. For too long politicians have echoed Ronald Reagan’s misleading mantra “government is the problem”. The Catholic church, on the contrary, because of its social understanding of the human person, considers government to be as “necessary” for human nature as the family. The state exists to “defend and promote the common good of civil society, its citizens, and intermediate bodies”. Thus, while the church does not offer a specific blueprint for policy, it does view our government’s action on behalf of the common good a positive good in itself.