TELOSscope: The Telos Press Blog

A Catholic Third Way: Pope Benedict And The Crisis Of Global Capitalism

At the ABC (Australia) Religion & Ethics website, Telos Associate Editor Adrian Pabst recently discussed the crisis of global capitalism, Pope Benedict’s vision of a civil economy, and the possibilities of a Catholic Christian “third way”:

The year 2011 witnessed a new wave of protest movements and unprecedented popular outrage across the globe. From the protests in North Africa and the Middle East to the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States to the camps outside St Paul’s Cathedral in London and Moscow, demonstrators have expressed a deep-seated anger at global finance that is shared by many.

Worldwide, there is an implicit, inchoate awareness that big government and big business have colluded at the expense of the people. Both central bureaucratic states and unbridled markets are disembedded from the mediating institutions of civil society, and civil society is subjugated to the global secular “market-state.”

This convergence of state and market can be described as secular because it subordinates human relationships, civic ties and social bonds to abstract values and standards such as commercial exchange or centralised regulation. Ultimately this subjects the sanctity of life and land to the combined power of state and market and threatens the autonomy of both civil society and faith groups.

Thus twenty years after the demise of Soviet state communism, the global recession into which free-market capitalism has plunged the world economy provides a unique opportunity to chart an alternative path. Both the left-wing adulation of centralised statism and the right-wing fetishisation of market liberalism are part of a secular logic that is increasingly contested. It is surely no coincidence that the crisis of global capitalism occurs at the same time as the crisis of secular modernity.

Read the full essay here.

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