Fortunately, Marx was not alone. There was another voice crying out in the social wilderness. This was the voice of Pope Leo XIII. Like many others, he saw the obvious evil of capitalism, which was dispossession, but he also saw that Marx’s cure would be worse than the disease. And so, in May of 1891, he issued the great encyclical Rerum Novarum, in which he roundly condemned both capitalism and socialism, righting the wrongs each had done to the idea of private property.
First he noted the sad conditions brought on by unrestrained capitalism:
Then he condemned the Marxist solution:
Finally, he proposed the true solution, which was the opposite of both Capitalism and Socialism:
Capitalism had concentrated wealth to an extreme degree. Socialism sought only to finish the job, transferring the already concentrated ownership to the government. Leo XIII argued in the opposite direction of both, which is to say, in the direction of real ownership for the worker and his family.
The claim that socialism represents a dangerous concentration of ownership away from the family is taken for granted these days, so I need not prove that here. However, the claim that capitalism does the same thing is a modern day heresy, especially in conservative circles, and so that will require some defense. I intend to supply this defense next week.