Thursday, October 26, 2006

The God Squad

From The Economist, October 26, 1996
... Catholic bishops published a report [The Common Good] this week, aiming to apply their church's teaching to "the choices we face ... especially as we approach a general election." Labour, with reason, greeted the document as an endorsement. ...

... Of course the bishops disagree with both parties and nearly all voters on issues such as abortion and sexual license. Far more space is therefore devoted to a discussion of "morality in the marketplace" and related matters. Here the report peddles a populist line that conforms to Labour's, not only in substance but also in rhetorical technique.

In particular, much effort is given to attacking the "dogma" (look who's talking) of "unlimited free-market capitalism". The question is, what has this to do with Britain? There is no such thing as unlimited free-market capitalism anywhere, never mind in a country where public spending, after 17 Tory years, accounts for nearly half the economy. No serious thinker--certainly not Adam Smith, who gets a thumping from the bishops--has ever proposed it. ... To say that Britain's election at the next election requires a view on the merits of "unlimited free-market capitalism" implies that one of the parties supports it; though, obviously, the bishops can't say which one, because that would be improper. No party supports it. The intellectual centre of the report is no more than propaganda: pro-Labour propaganda.

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