Is it Enough?

Pope Leo XIII concludes his writing by stating that the employer and the worker need each other; they have a dependent relationship. This may seem obvious, but the simplicity of the situation did not occur to me until I read Rerum Novarum where Pope Leo related the struggle of the worker to human nature. Pope Leo was an intelligent, adaptable, decently educated young boy who caught the eye of members in the Church. He eventually worked up the line on rank due to his enthusiastic energy and self-control. Pope Leo XIII offered a new pursepective during the time of nation wide suffering. He earned his popularity through his acceptance of the changing world around him and his willingness to prove to the public that the church was willing to adapt to these changes.


In his piece Rerum Novarum meaning “of new things”, written in 1891, the pope acknowledges the struggle many members of the working class were facing during that time as a result of the Industrial Revolution. He explains the reasons why he sees this struggle, stating that since the guilds were abolished, there was no one to protect the working class man. One can tell from this reading, that he is not a fan of the State, although he believe that its existence is necessary when resolving familial issues etc. he believes that man is in charge of his own life and therefore does not need to rely on the state. He brings up God when discussing the idea of private property (which he is in favor of) stating that He did not create land for people to own all for themselves as a symbol of power, rather He created it as a resource so man could satisfy his needs. He also critiques socialism, a proposed solution to the power struggle capitalism created, by saying that it would only hinder the working class man and cause more chaos. He ends his piece by analyzing the relationship between the landowner and the laborer, stating that they need each other in order to survive and progress.


Pope Leo XIII analyzes and proposes an abundance of ideas in this piece, some I am still trying to wrap my head around. Do you think that the working class accepted his theory about the relationship between the landowner and laborer? Do you think because it was coming from the Pope, people would be more or less likely to accept this idea? What I am getting at is, do you think religion was enough for people to settle and accept their situation and Pope Leo XIII says they should?

Critiques of Capitalism

“The Incoherence and Disorder of Industry”:

Author: Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon (1760-1825) a French political and economic theorist that became a strong advocator of changing the free trade “laissez-faire” system of political economy, to a more individualized approach; focusing on the poor. His writings impacted generations of French theorist.

Context: Claude is writing during the French Revolution, as apart of the rebellious Third Estate. Tired of seeing what he calls an imperfect industry thrive, seeing several fortunate individuals triumph over the many, he advocated for a change in the political system that addressed more the needs of his fellow commoner; the third estate.

Language: His persuasive attitude towards changing the already “stable” system is very present in this reading. He calls laissez-faire, the inevitable solution that economist of that day schemed their personal interests with, instead of the needs of the individual.

Audience:  This piece is directed towards the fellow poor commoner that Claude eventually became after spending his self earned money on his various publications.

Intent: To alter the economic system in place that tends to benefit the rich, rather than the poor. To focus the needs on this system to the individual, and refocus the system on ideals of science.

Message: The free trade system needs to be abolished so that new ideals can be the catalysts for change towards a new system that benefits/addresses the needs of the poor.

“The Legacy of Robert Owen”:

Author: Robert Owen (1771-1858) was an organizer of cooperatives in England. As an advocator for universal education and workers rights he argues that nations are built upon a deceptive system.

Context: Owen is writing during a time of rebellion, in which these unions and cooperatives greatly impacted various minds during the revolution.

Language: Owen uses a tone of disgust with the population of Great Britain, which he believes is full of injustices that opposes real well being and true interests of every individual.

Audience: His message is mainly for people against the morals of an unjust system. He advocates for Consolidated Unions, and that his stance will not go unheard.

Intent: To not allow the ignorant to deprive you, the individual, of your well-being, happiness, and life. Promoting the value of men of industry, and producers of wealth and knowledge.

Message: The system that nations are built upon are in essence deceptive and/or ignorant. These systems can do no good to man, but only continuously produce evil.

“Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844 – Estranged Labor”:

Author: Karl Marx, a revolutionary specialist, the founder of Marxism. His work laid the foundation for understanding capital and labour relations.

Context: Marx elaborates on the vicious cycle that affects workers, and how they become commodities after a grueling production process.

Language: Marx presents facts, rather than opinion, and uses economic rational to establish grounds for a society that leans toward bettering conditions for the proletariat.

Audience: The average commoner and proletariat worker in the workforce.

Intent: To elaborate on the power that capitalist nature has on the average proletariat worker.

Message: The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and size.