Capitalism And Socialism Or Capitalism And Communism Are Related?

Fulton J. Sheen D.D., Ph.D. penned a four-part article in 1951 entitled “Capitalism And Socialism Or Capitalism And Communism Are Related?, which I recommend reading. The series challenges the thinking of both socialists and communists, and is related to an article I published on authored by binary economist Louis O. Kelso, which originally appeared in the American Law Journal in 1957.

This series of articles was written (in order) from 1951, 1956, and 1958 under the title “Bishop Sheen Writes” and is in the public domain, research from newspapers in Canada, USA, and England, the Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen Foundation of Peoria, Ill and Catholic University of America.

Capitalism And Socialism Or Capitalism And Communism Are Related?

We’ve been here before.

ONE hears so much today about the conflict of Capitalism and Socialism or Capitalism and Communism, that many people believe they are two contradictory systems. The truth is Capitalism and Socialism, from an economic point of view alone, are related as retail and wholesale. Socialism and Communism have carried to the extreme many of the basic principles already latent in Capitalism, which is here not understood as private property, but as a concentration of wealth in the hands of the few without any social control.

Those who think that capitalism and socialism are enemies should long ponder, how the capitalistic system of England (European Union) has without any revolution, become socialistic. Capitalism in the United States has ‘not yet’ become socialism, but the growing power of the State indicates that the transition is taking place slowly. It may be inquired when the transition of one to another takes place without revolution.


The answer is when capitalism has reached its maximum point of efficiency, when it generates so many conflicts between capital and labor, when it begets social injustices: and when labor demands more and more a share of its gains without assuming increasing responsibilities toward the source of its gains. The State then steps in to correct the abuses. Thus does ownership rest in the hands of a few capitalists evolve into ownership of the means of production in the hands of a few (State) bureaucrats.

There is nothing mysterious about the process any more than there is a mystery as to how a democracy which identifies freedom with license eventually becomes a totalitarian state. The chaos resulting from unbridled liberty can be controlled only by force, and thus the pendulum swings from unbounded license to unbounded tyranny.

Capitalism and Socialism are related in another way, namely, their attitude toward religion. Capitalism is indifferent to religion: it wants no church, no Bible, no moral law telling a man what he ought to do with his wealth. Socialism wholesales this idea by saying religion may have nothing to say, and if it has nothing to say, then it should not be permitted to exist (HHS). Thus the amoral attitude of capitalism becomes the anti-moral attitude of socialism.


There is very little hope for the average man or family in either system, and it offers them little consolation to know that capitalism becomes socialism. Both capitalism and socialism are opposite sins against property. Capitalism emphasizes private rights to property without any social responsibility to the common good: socialism emphasizes the social use of property, to forgetfulness of personal rights. The true solution is one in which the rights to property are personal (connected to the PERSON), but the responsibilities are social. The one real defense for Liberty in the economic order is property*

The more anonymous property becomes the more the individual suffers and the less freedom he enjoys. Property reaches its complete state of impersonality and anonymity in socialism. Some day labor may become smart and instead of organizing to get more and more money out of industry, it may organize to get itself more and more ownership so that it may have some capital to defend.

by Fulton J. Sheen D.D., Ph.D.

December, 1951


OWN or be OWNED”

“The society had fallen, much as our society has today, into a tangle wherein the bulk of men were disappointed and angry and seeking for a solution to the whole group of social strains. There was indebtedness everywhere; the power of money and consequent usury. There was slavery everywhere. Society reposed upon it, as ours reposes upon wage slavery today. There was weariness and discontent with theological debate, which, for all its intensity, had grown out of touch with the masses. There lay upon the freemen, already tortured with debt, a heavy burden of imperial taxation; and there was the irritant of existing central government interfering with men’s lives; there was the tyranny of the lawyers and theircharges.” — Hilaire Belloc, The Great Heresies, 1938

Capitalism And Socialism Or Capitalism And Communism Are Related? –– Part II

Much like today.

[This is the first in a series of two articles analyzing the nature of the struggle in the world today – the year, 1956.]

1– The two conflicting ideologies in the world are popularly called Capitalism and Communism. Capitalism, in the broadest sense, gives primacy to the Profit-Principle and thus makes gain the goal of life: another name for it is the Market-Principle, which seeks unlimited production through free trade. Communism, on the contrary, gives primacy to the State-Principle and insists on the subjugation of economic forces to the control of the state: another name for it is Socialism. [much like today.]

2– Communism, or Socialism is a reaction against Capitalism. The older forms of Capitalism in the nineteenth century made economic processes independent of church, Bible, morality and the state. Its most common expression was: “I can do with my wealth and my property whatever I want.” That kind of Capitalism produced a concentration of wealth in the hands of a few, and the impoverishment of the masses. [again much like today.]

A reaction against this took place in some democratic societies by the state stepping in to protect individuals against exploitation. Stock markets transactions were controlled, labor unions encouraged to organize to protect the masses, labor relations boards set up, credit supervised by the state, and social benefits such as old-age pensions extended to all citizens. More and more the state or politics began to supervise economic processes. Free exchange, or the Market-Principle, thus became subject in some degree to political regulation and social planning. [again much like today.]

Communism represented the extreme of this solution by jumping to the other extreme. From the primacy of economics, Communism jumped to the primacy ofpolitics. The Market-Principle gave way to the State-Principle, or control by the Party Bureaucracy. [again much like today.] Because property rights were abused to some extent by older Capitalism, Communism denied the right to all property. Personal rights were denied for the sake of social use, and this was accomplished by violent confiscation.

End Of Press Freedom

Because free press was sometimes, but rarely, abused to defend the older Capitalistic exploitation, Communism destroyed freedom of the press, allowing its existence only when, as the Soviet Constitution puts it, it is used to support the Socialist state. Religion under older Capitalism was considered an individual affair: because it was not permitted to moralize on economic processes which were considered amoral, the Communist went to the other extreme of saying that religion was a defender of the property rights and, therefore, should be abolished. [again much like today.]

Because the suffrage and the free ballot were occasionally abused by the older form of Capitalism, to elect those who would defend the certain economic “barons” the Communists went to the extreme of abolishing the free ballot: only one Party was allowed, and, as Molotov once said, “all the other parties are in jail.” The older Capitalism did not like men to organize in communities, such as unions, but insisted that men should be treated like individual atoms: Communism went to the extreme of packing the atoms together in a mass without restoring personality of the abused workers. [again much like today.]

Move To Economic Controls

Socialism thus became the forcible organization of society to cure the chaos created by older Capitalism and its first form of Liberalism. Though the communists and soviets were tremendously interested in economics –as they must be because of their materialism– the important point is that economics was submitted to political control. The Market-Principle of economics gave way to the Bureaucracy-Principle of politics, and this because Communism believed that the only way to save the community was by the destruction of human freedom. [again much like today.]

It is an over-simplification to say that the Western world stresses Gain and Security, while Communism stresses the Collectivity and the masses. But the basic struggle going on in the world today is between Economics and Politics, or the supremacy of the Market-Principle, with social controls and socialism and Communism or the supremacy of the State-Principle, which subjugates production, distribution, thinking, traveling and the human soul to the omnipotent power of the State. [again much like today.]

In the next article, we will trace the more recent development of this struggle as it affects world-politics.

by Fulton J. Sheen D.D., Ph.D.

June 1956


Capitalism And Socialism Or Capitalism And Communism Are Related? –– Part IIIAgain Much Like Today!

[We were warned.]

THE STRUGGLE in the world today is between a philosophy of life which makes economics, security, gain and profit the dominant motive of life, and Communism, or Soviet Socialism, which stresses the primacy of politics or State domination of economics, press, distribution, art and science because there is only one will — the State-will; only one conscience — the State-conscience: only one religion or God —the State-god and its messianic promise of world revolution with the illusion of hope and change.

These two colossal giants have been soliciting the rest of the world to fall within their respective orbits. Each has its bait which is dangled before the Eastern peoples to tempt them into the arms of either. The Market-Principle of the Western world tries to win other people by offering them products of the Market [marketing] such as food, economic material for reconstruction, and arms as a first line of defense. Granted that there are humanitarian motives in this giving, the important point is that our economic system, which is capable of producing greater surplus, has surpluses to give and does not need distant military bases to protect its existence.

The Soviets use the economic appeal also, and they are beginning to use it more than ever before. But the economic is not primary. The accent is more on the political, but the political is presented as an appeal to “culture,” to “community,” to the “solidarity for all people” under the leadership of the Soviets. Hence the constant appeal to the “People’s Government” in China and Tibet: hence the penetration by Soviet “culture” into Western world, and the plea to Westerners to visit the Soviet Union to study their culture and their progress. The Soviets give aid but not so much to win military bases as to win over “the people,” the “masses,” the “community.” This accounts for the Soviet attack in China against “capitalists” and “imperialists” in order to win the people to a new “culture” and “way of life.” [One World Order.]

One wonders if the present tendency to “debunk” Stalin does not fit in with this cultural emphasis. The term most often used in abusing Stalin is that the “cult of personality” was wrong. The shift is from a dictator who incarnated within himself the political primacy of the State-Principle to the collective leadership representative of a “people” or a “culture.” The world cannot be gained as quickly to Communism by a dictator as it can by “apostles of culture” visiting England, thus proving their solidarity and oneness with all “peoples.”

Suddenly the United States, which stresses the economic against the Soviet stress onpolitics, finds itself caught unprepared by the quick shift of the Soviets to the cultural barrage laid down against the Eastern world, which barrage is only a disguise for theState-Principle. What is important in Russia today is not the attach on Stalin: it is rather the shift to the cultural as the mask of “culture” works on the masses of the people, not just to feed them, but to revamp their thinking, their education, their family life, their morals, their loyalties and their religion. Security and prosperity are the catchwords of the Western with its primacy on economics, but “culture” is the slogan of the Soviet drive.

What makes it difficult for us to appreciate this struggle in simple terms is because we take our beliefs from the very civilization in which we live: we are in a crisis and we take our philosophy from the crisis, like a drowning man might develop his philosophy from the water which suffocates him. There is not a sufficient number of standards outside of both economics and politics. The doctor who is not sick is a better judge of the patient’s illness than the patient himself. The only way we know whether a line is crooked is by relation to something true and straight. Not even we who write this article would be able to say that neither the Economic-Principle nor the Political-Principle will save the world if we did not have some Moral-principleoutside the world itself. That is why a philosophy and a faith are so important.

by Fulton J. Sheen D.D., Ph.D.

June 1956

“If, to please the people, we offer what we ourselves disprove,
how can we afterwards defend our work?
Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair.
The event is in the hand of God.”

— George Washington

*   *   *

“The truth on this subject is that communism and atheism are intrinsically related and that one cannot be a good Communist without being an atheist and every atheist is a potential Communist … The intrinsic relation between the two he noted as follows: ‘Communism begins where atheism begins*.'”

— Fulton J. Sheen, COMMUNISM and the CONSCIENCE of the WEST, 1948, page 69: * Footnote quote from: Karl Marx, Okonomisch–Philosophische Manuskript, Gesamtausgabe I,3, p. 164

“America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance. It is not. It is suffering from tolerance: tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil. Christ andchaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broad-minded.”

–Fulton J. Sheen, 1931.

Capitalism And Socialism Or Capitalism And Communism Are Related? –– Part IV

What is happening today to socialism throughout the world may give a few hints as to the trends in the future.

Socialism began as a protest and a reform, as does every party. Its protest was directed against those political parties which ignored the economically submerged part of the population, and in particular the workers. It was also directed against capitalism which by its avarice for profits refused to give the worker, in many cases, a living wage. Their protests were right: their reforms were wrong.

The reforms which socialism proposed were twofold:

  • An international agreement of all people who shared their protests, thus making a nation less important than the international solidarity of the workers and underprivileged.
  • The putting of all productive property, such as factories, railroads and mines, into the hands of the state, which in turn would make the distribution of revenue to people. (what is commonly called today: redistribution.)

Now what is happening today? NATIONALIZATION

Socialism has for the most part given up its international character. Where it remains national, it has also abandoned to a great extent its principal tenet of state ownership. Recently the Socialists of Germany, remembering the evils inflicted by the total control of Hitler in the name of the state, disclaimed any attempt to nationalize industry.

In France, the party has become less that of the economically disinherited and more a kind of muddle class of bourgeoisie party, which it certainly was not in the beginning. English socialism has practically abandoned state ownership, and Austrian socialism at the last meeting completely gave it up.

But what function then does socialism serve? Since 1917, socialism in Europe has been a kind of wet nurse to communism. It marched in the parades of communism, but figuratively speaking carried no bombs. Lenin always said of socialism that it wanted the same things as communism, but it would not use the same means, such as violence. Perhaps the extreme of violence of one of the European socialists in the last few years was to throw a chair at one who opposed him.

Socialism also wanted to do away with private property in production by legislation: communism by confiscation and exile and concentration camps.

Along with this abandonment of the party or state owning the means of production, socialism has, in one or the other countries of Europe, given up its anti-religious basis. [Unlike America today.]

Communists in Russia, of course, do not call Russia a Communist state. According to Lenin, the Communist state was to come a few years after the revolution when property would be put into the hands of the state and religion would be annihilated. But now after 41 years, it is still called the Union of Socialist Republics and the prospects of it becoming a Communist state, in which Marx said no one would steal because everyone would have such an abundance, is less and less a possibility.

Even for the Communists, socialism was the halfway house to communism. Now the proprietors of the halfway house have given up one or the other of its principal tenets, and communism outside Russia is finding less and less hospitality among the Socialists. The weakening of socialism will eventually mean the weakening ofcommunism outside Russia.

The world is ready for a golden mean between the false individualism of the 19th Century and the collectivism of the 20th Century.

On the one extreme the person was isolated from a social responsibility and membership in social units except those clubs and churches: the other extreme was acollectivism in which the person was absorbed into the party through violence, as under communism, or in the tremendous industrial machine of either management or labor in which he is controlled but with little control.

The one remedy which is open to the future is the formation within a nation of professional groups which correspond to organs in the body. As organs mediate between the individual cells and the head, so units which are engaged in a common enterprise– for example, the management of and labor of the steel industry–would restore to the individual a sense of responsibility toward his social group without absorbing him. What is needed is a re-forming rather than a reform of social institutions.

Regretfully, social life which once flourished in a variety of associations, organically linked with one another, has practically been destroyed [as has the traditional familywhich added intrinsic value to social life – civilization itself, and without which would not exist.]

Just as it is natural for those who dwell together to form a village or township, why should not those who work in the same trade or profession form corporate groups with powers and self-government and thus escape titanic, impersonal control? [In May of 2012 it will be the 150th Anniversary of the ‘Homestead Act’, which help build those villages and townships, across much of western United States, today we need an ‘Industrial Homestead Act/Capital Homestead Act’ connecting every child, woman, and man –Person– with power, property, and the promise to participate: self-governance.]

Fulton J. Sheen D.D., Ph.D.

August 1958

Let us raise a standard of thinking. . .

“There is only one reason for being critical, and that is to be constructive, just as the only reason for razing a house is to make one rise in its place. There is perhaps too much of the skeptic in the critic today, in the sense that his protests are rarely followed by reforms and his denunciations but seldom succeeded by enunciations. A need exists for a renewal of something implied in the word ‘appreciation,’ in the etymological sense, namely, an evaluation or a judging of things by their real worth. But the real worth implies a standard, and a standard of thinking cannot be the fashion, but “what is true.” — Fulton J. Sheen, 1935

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Series originally posted by Guy C. Stevenson on Facebook

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