Ropke: The Distinction Between Socialists and Non-Socialists

“In the last resort, the distinction between socialists and non-socialists is one which divides men who hold basically different views of life and its true meaning and of the nature of man and society. Cardinal Manning’s statement that ‘all human differences are ultimately religious ones’ goes to the core of the matter. The view we take of man’s nature and position in the universe ultimately determines whether we choose man himself or else ‘society,’ the ‘group,’ or the ‘community’ as our standard of reference for social values. Our decision on this point becomes the watershed of our political thinking, even though we may not always be clearly aware of this and may take some time to realize it. This remains true in spite of the fact that in most cases people’s political thinking is by no means in line with their most profound religious and philosophical convictions because intricate economic or other questions mask the conflict. People may be led by Christian and humane convictions to declare themselves in sympathy with socialism and may actually believe that this is the best safeguard of man’s spiritual personality against the encroachments of power, but they fail to see that this means favoring a social and economic order which threatens to destroy their ideal of man and human freedom.”

– Wilhem Röpke, A Humane Economy


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