At Respect Life Radio, University of St. Thomas professor of Catholic Studies David Deavel invokes Lord Acton’s famous dictum in a two-part conversation on the differences between the trendy, popular socialism in our politics today and many actual socialist states, both historically and in the present.
Lord Acton’s famous line that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely is … true in every system, but it is particularly true in a system where you start from a premise where all of the things on the ground, such as the family … and, of course, the church as well, really have no say in life and really there is nothing between the individual and the state.
This is quite different from the casual and common association between socialism and the welfare state. One may favor or object to welfare states, but that is separate from socialism. The Nordic countries, commonly mistaken for socialist due to their flirtations with socialism in the 1970s, are actually more accurately characterized as welfare state capitalism.
So there is a problem of education regarding basic terms and categories, not to mention the moral foundations that sustain a truly free and virtuous society. Deavel does a great job addressing both, and I recommend the interview for anyone else looking to sort out these principles and understand the popular “trendy” socialism of today.
You can find the interview here:
Image credit: a photograph of Socialist Alternative members at an antiwar march in 2007 by Rwmosgrove
More from Acton
David Deavel was the Acton Institute’s 2013 Novak Award winner. His lecture, “Second Thoughts: Newman on Political Economy and Economic Liberty,” was published in the Journal of Markets & Morality 17, no. 2 (Fall 2014). You can read that article here.