The Crisis of Global Capitalism: Pope Benedict XVI’s Social Encyclical and the Future of Political Economy

By Adrian Pabst (editor)

Essays exploring the impact of the papal encyclical Caritas in Veritate on the development of a third way between socialist statism and free-market capitalism.

ISBN: 9780227680162


These collected essays, with a compelling introduction by Adrian Pabst, offer a much-needed moral analysis of Western political economy in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Pope Benedict’s social encyclical Caritas in Veritate poses a challenge to integrate ‘quotas of gratuitousness and communion into economic activity’, a challenge which is here given serious academic attention by a number of highly respected contributors.

The essays provide a number of unique perspectives on the encyclical and what it means for the future of Western economics. Among many fascinating angles of approach is Eugene McCarraher’s hard-hitting critique of the union of capitalism and Christianity in the modern West, and John Milbank’s assertion that economy should be subordinate to social reciprocity. Contributors make a rigorously academic analysis of contemporary economics, and apply Anglican and Roman Catholic thought to reveal ways in which the economy can be converted into a progressive instrument for the common good.

The Crisis of Global Capitalism will be of great interest to anyone seeking a moral critique of contemporary political economy which also provides a vision of future change rooted in Christian ethics.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 304

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Adrian Pabst is Lecturer in Politics at the University of Kent, and teaches political economy at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Lille (Sciences Po), France. He is the author of Metaphysics: The Creation of Hierarchy (2012).



Part I: Christianity and Capitalism
1. A Real Third Way / John Milbank
2. A Tale of a Duck-Billed Platypus Called Benedict and His Gold
     and Red Crayons / Tracey Rowland

Part II: Christianity and Socialism
3. “We Communists of the Old School” / Eugene McCarraher
4. Beyond the Culture of Cutthroat Competition / Mark and Louise Zwick

Part III: Civil and Political Economy
5. Fraternity, Gift, and Reciprocity in Caritas in Veritate / Stefano Zamagni
6. The Paradoxical Nature of the Good / Adrian Pabst

Part IV: Caritas in Veritate and Traditions of Christian Social Teaching
7. The Anthropological Unity of Caritas in Veritate / David L. Schindler
8. Integralism and Gift Exchange in the Anglican Social Tradition,
     or Avoiding Niebuhr in Ecclesiastical Drag / John Hughes

Part V: Distributism and Alternative Economies
9. Common Life / Jon Cruddas MP and Jonathan Rutherford
10. Equity and Equilibrium / John Médaille



Endorsements and Reviews

Anyone interested in finding a ‘third way’ between today’s barely regulated capitalism and state socialism will find much to reward them in this collection. It goes beyond the rigid limitations of contemporary liberal thinking in order to explore some of the crucial resources, intellectual and cultural, that we need to devise a new politics of the Left.
Charles Taylor, author of A Secular Age

Caritas in Veritate is the first papal encyclical that addresses issues immediately relevant for economic and social theory. It also embodies challenges that concern directly the academic community of economists, in particular the nature and scope of the firm, the market and profit. The reading of this important book is the best way for engaging with these themes and discovering the significance of Caritas in Veritate in the present theoretical debate.
Luigino Bruni, co-author of Civil Economy

The current economic crisis is in fact a deeper crisis of cultural imagination and civilizational ethics. This collection of bold and provocative readings of Caritas in Veritate displays an intellectual verve unafraid to think beyond the fragmentations of modernity. By fully exploring the ontology of communion and gift, I believe this collection bears witness to the kind of daring discourse Pope Benedict XVI wanted to ignite. What is more, I believe the essays exemplify the kind of fruitful dialogue needed, not only for an adequate response to the crisis of Western civilization, but also to realize an economy that would facilitate the flourishing of the human heart. Adrian Pabst is to be commended for realizing this collection of excellent essays.
Javier Martínez Fernández, Archbishop of Granada

Both the authors and I have seen in Caritas in Veritate a call for integrating a morality of generosity and charity into our discussion of economic policy.
Ross B. Emmett, in Journal of Markets and Morality, Vol 15, No 2

… the present volume provides an excellent starting point for exploring a truly magisterial document.
James M. Carr, in Reviews in Religion and Theology, Vol 21, No 1

Taken as whole, the essays in The Crisis of Global Capitalism serve to flesh out the notions of reciprocity and civil economy that animate important sections of Caritas in Veritate. More importantly they illuminate the theological anthropology and metaphysics that animate Catholic social thought. … In addition to clarifying the Pope’s vision of economic life, these essays offer a valuable set of historical reflections on how an economic order so at variance with the truths about human nature and the cosmos evolved.
Mary Hirschfeld, in Studies in Christian Ethics, Vol 27, No 1

The current economic crisis stems from a deeper crisis of a cultural imagination and civilization ethics: here is the starting point of this collection of essays which draw a new political economy facing the crisis of Western civilization. This book gathers together a range of audicious and provocative readings of Caritas in Veritate, the first papal encyclical that addresses issues immediately relevant for politic, economic, and social theory. These readings embody the kind of fruitful dialogue Pope Benedict XVI wanted to generate with his radical discourse for an alternative political economy.
Theological Book Review , Vol 25, No 2

It is unusual to find a biting critique of capitalism in a book written by theologians but this is the case right from page 1… this collection of essays brings some unexpected topics that nonetheless fit into the spectrum of encyclical Caritas in Veritate.
Yves Laberge, in Theological Book Review, Vol 26, No 1

… a useful contribution to what could be called the theology of economics. … the richness of this collection can be found in the acknowledgment of the way in which historic shifts in theological emphasis have been woven together with powerful developments in the political economy. … would make good reading for someone wanting to immerse themselves rather more into the rich and noble tradition of theological reflection on political economy, and who was particularly interested in Catholic social teaching.
Edward J. Carter, in Modern Believing, Vol 56, No 2