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Author speaks on capitalistic systems

Davis Rhorer, Jr. | Friday, October 12, 2007

Truth and liberation of the human spirit are at the core of modern capitalistic systems Michael Novak, author of Business as a Calling, said Thursday.

Novak placed considerable importance on the idea of caritas, or the interaction of God’s love and the Trinity in the world through other people, as a principle ideal figuring in the tenets of capitalism.

“The great generator of wealth is discovery and invention,” Novak said, identifying the key component of freedom that is in both caritas and capitalism.

“The human person is the originating source of human action,” he said, emphasizing the idea of protecting the right to initiative.

Novak recognized the importance of the individual to the wealth of nations as a component to a healthy economic system.

“Wealth comes from [individual] invention and discovery,” he said. “[Individual initiative] will accordingly afford constitutional protection.”

Another key concept of caritas Novak emphasized was the liberation of the poor.

An ideal economic institution, Novak said, “must have an international vision and international institutions.”

“It must be a system better at raising up the poor than any known alternative,” he said.

Novak cited the vast influx of wealth to impoverished masses in various nations, such as India and Chin,a after the adoption of more capitalistic economies.

Solidarity and voluntary cooperation were two other key attributes of an ideal capitalistic system Novak identified.

“Things are done best and most realistically by people close to the action,” Novak said, noting that individuals within a system must find initiative to succeed within themselves.

By identifying the major elements to a more perfect society based on the ideas of caritas, Novak justified private property, market exchange and private accumulation of wealth. Drawing upon empirical evidence, Novak challenged critics to identify the economic system that the wealthiest nations of the world utilized.

“[Capitalism] is a very bad system until you compare it to the others,” Novak said.

Creativity, community and mercy overall were three other components that Novak included in capitalism, a system which he thought found its origins in individual human thought and reason.

Michael Novak served twice as the ambassador to the United Nations’ Human Rights Commission and is the author of 26 books. His lecture in the Jordan Auditorium was sponsored by the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture and the Mendoza College of Business.