May 3, 2006

A Fraternal Economy

Don left us a supportive comment on our May Day post, and made some astute observations regarding the nature of our world's economy. (He also made me notice that my comment settings were set very strictly, so my apologies to anyone who wished to comment but was not allowed.)

The neo-liberal, capitalist project of globalization is dedicated to the production of wealth. We here in the United States package it as "democracy" so that it sounds like something desirable, and then try to sell it to the world. But wealth in itself is no value. Wealth only means something if it produces weal, or common good. If wealth is produced for the sake of wealth it becomes an idol, and, like all idols, ultimately disrespects the idolator by destroying his soul.

The practical consequence of this kind of political economy is that it makes economy and wealth logically prior to persons, rather than the other way around. Economy ought to be derived from the needs of persons and the common good, rather than the production of wealth and security. Instead of security and independence as values in themselves we need a system that fosters inter-dependence and mutual care.

The current minister general of the Capuchin Franciscans, John Corriveau, OFM Cap., has done quite a bit of writing on this topic. He calls for a "fraternal economy" based on inter-dependence rather than security and the common good rather than the production of wealth in itself.

You can check out some of his "circular letters" here.

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