A brief meditation on Catholic Social Doctrine

Within the Social Doctrine we can discern different ways of being social in the world.

We can be in a situation of spontaneous agreement, like traffic, or the aggregation of a marketplace, or a queues in a bank. There is intersubjectivity of a sort, but no pretext of striving for unity as a good held in common.

We can exist in partnership where the goal is what is stressed and the good of the partnership can be divided up. A mutual fund is an example. I contribute to the fund and expect a private good in return. The difference between a partnership and a society is that when a partnership is dissolved it can be entirely cashed out and divided. Another difference between partnerships and societies is that societies survive the failure to achieve their external end. A failure to provide the goods contained in a contract will tend to end buisness relations. The failure to produce children will not end a marriage. The failure to win a game will not end the team. The church choir doesn’t dissolve after a bad performance

We can exist in society, a communion of multiple rational agents working in united action toward a goal where unity is among the common goods sought. In society the group constitutes in itself a moral person, something distinct in dignity. The common good is indivisble. I can divide the items of a marriage. But I can’t divide a “marriage” as such. I cannot give you 50% of a marriage, though I can give you 50% of the shared mutual fund that was held in the marriage.

from this we can discern two errors:

The Error of what John Paul II calls “Real Socialism” asserts that partnerships are ipso facto unjust, and that cordination of goods can only take place in a situation of justice under the society of the nation state.

There are no partnerships, only societies with conditions of injustice, partnerships are covers for exploitation, to recify the injustice of partnerships we must transfer these cordination of resources into society, into the nation state.

On the other side there is the error of liberal individualism which takes there to be no societies as such. There are only aggregations of individual interests.

The line of thought goes that there is no society as such, no good common to all, and positing such a good thwarts at times the aggregated good of individuals, as such the state should take pains to eliminate the good of society as society wherever it contradicts and supersedes the good of aggregated individual interest.

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