Marxism and Social Justice
Posted by Michael Kleen
My attempt to clarify the recent controversy over Glenn Beck’s now infamous “social justice” rant:
Marxism and Social Justice
Much hay has been recently made out of Glenn Beck’s ill-advised comments about the term “social justice.” In the first week of March, on his popular radio and television shows, he said, “I beg you, look for the words ’social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words.” Code words, he claimed, for Marxism. The overwhelmingly condemnatory commentary regarding this quote, though understandable, has so far overlooked a critical point about social justice and Christianity—and its use by some on the statist left—that can and should be debated. There are many activists, such as Sister Diane Drufenbrock (the 1980 vice-presidential candidate for the Socialist Party USA), who have used social justice as a rallying cry in their war against hierarchy and private property, and therefore Beck’s concern about the Marxist use of the terms social and economic justice is somewhat valid. His assumption about the danger of social justice as a moral philosophy, however, is not. His mistake can be excused by his lack of education, but there is no excuse for the trained theologians who willingly distort Christian social teaching for political ends.
The modern concept of social justice incubated in the Catholic Church. In the 1840s, Father Luigi Taparelli used the phrase to criticize the major economic theories at the time for ignoring moral philosophy and for undermining the unity of society by dividing it into competing classes. Since then, the Catholic Church has been clear about its condemnation of both socialism and unrestrained capitalism. In Pope Pius XI’s 1931 encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, he praised laws that “undertake the protection of life, health, strength, family, homes, workshops, wages and labor hazards, in fine, everything which pertains to the condition of wage workers, with special concern for women and children,” but noted, “it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community.”
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About Michael KleenMichael Kleen is an author, raconteur, and freelance columnist. He has a M.A. in History and M.S. in Education. He lives in Rockford, Illinois, where he was the 2013 Republican candidate for mayor.
Posted on April 1, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged Catholic Church, Economic Justice, Glenn Beck, Jesus, marxism, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Pius XI, social justice, socialism. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.