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Rerum Novarum

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Mark Gonnella

on 1 October 2015

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Transcript of Rerum Novarum

Rerum Novarum: Context, Content, and Comments
Industrial Revolution
Coined by English economist Arnold Toynbee to describe the economic development occurring in England from 1760 to 1840
The Industrial Revolution characterizes the process of change from an agrarian, guild-like economy to one dominated by industry and machine manufacture

Negative Effects
Miserable working conditions
Long hours and low wages
Acceleration of pollution

Abusive capitalism
Weakening of social bonds
Profound sense of alienation
Man and the State
Leo, drawing from Aquinas, argues that the State is at the service of man, not vice versa

Natural law dictates that man has inalienable rights, rights that cannot be taken by or consumed by the State
Key issue for Leo: the right to private property

The State and the Family
The family is the first society (a natural society), not merely a group of individuals getting together to fulfill particular needs.

Rather, it is an intimate communion brought upon by man's social nature and his natural desire for procreation and posterity
Justice and Equality
Leo argues that Marxism envisions a utopian society supported by a "false equality" (i.e. failure to recognize true differences)

Justice is not equality but harmony.
e.g. the makeup of an orchestra
Political Reaction to the Industrial Revolution
Two classes:
1)"bourgeoisie," or Middle Class
2) Proletariat--working class
Solution: Break the cycle by abolishing all classes through a violent revolution that affects all of life

Rerum Novarum ("new things"): the Church's Response
Served as a practical and theoretical guide to the solution of the worker's plight as a result of the Industrial Revolution

Critical of both capitalism and Marxism

Leo's argument is rooted in the natural law

Economic Changes
Many lived in rural areas
"Middle" class did not really exist
Work was primarily done by hand
Life was slow-paced

Cultural Changes:
Family structures changed
"Mechanization" of life (disappearance of leisure)
Urbanization forces members of the family to work outside the home
Communal life replaced by atomized urban living

Technological Advances
Astounding technological advances, such as the spinning jenny, power loom, and cotton gin.
Introduction of new energy sources, such as coal, steam, and electricity
Transportation innovations: steam locomotive, steamboats, automobiles, etc.
Enabled the mass production of manufactured goods

Marx's solution to the problems of the Industrial Revolution was the most famous

Proposed a vision of history in which there always exist conflicting classes, whether it was the master v. slave, king v. people, priest v. parishioner, etc. In each time period, classes overthrow classes and the cycle begins anew
Issued in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII
Pope John XXIII called it the "magna carta" of CST
"Pope of the Worker"
Leo criticizes the "omnipresence" of the State found within Marxism
Leo criticizes the utopianism wtihin Marxism
Marxism's materialism contradicted what natural law reveals about the nature of the family
1) Human Dignity
2) Common Good
3) Subsidiarity
4) Participation
5) Solidarity
6) Private Property
7) Universal Destination of Goods
Industrialization of society
Mass production
Industrial Capitalism
Standard of living skyrocketed
Life was regulated by the factories
Full transcript