Susan H.- macroeconomics- period 4- honorbound
In the Bible it says “[and] he answered them, ‘whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise’ ” (Luke 3:11). From an early age, especially as Catholics, we are taught to share with others. We are taught to give the less fortunate what we possess in abundance and to help those who are unable to help themselves. But to what extent are we willing to share what we have? Will we agree to share everything with everyone? Are we ready to do away with private property? After all, wouldn’t we be doing what the Bible taught us? I personally believe that as a nation we are not ready to do so. I also believe, in accordance with Pope Leo XIII and his Encyclical Rerum Novarum, that our nation’s decision to allow its citizens to acquire private property is natural. Our nation has survived and prospered for more than two centuries under a capitalistic approach. It would certainly be unnatural and asinine to claim socialistic beliefs as our own.
In Rerum Novarum, Pope Leo XIII states that “the socialists, working on the poor man’s envy of the rich, are striving to do away with private property, and contend that individual possessions should become the common property of all, to be administered by the State or by municipal bodies.” The socialists believe that they are helping the poor by allowing the State to control what the people receive and how much of it they receive. But in reality they are helping no one because the poor remain poor and the rich turn poor as well.
I think that in order to truly grasp this concept we must compare and contrast countries where private property is allowed to countries where it is not. With more than 200 countries in the world it might be hard to pick only two, but which other two countries could be more perfect than North Korea and South Korea? The Korean countries were once a unified Korea, but in 1948 they were divided at the 38th parallel. North Korea is considered a communist country and South Korea is considered democratic. Although both countries’ beginnings were the same, today they could not be any more different. These countries are the perfect example of how things could go either totally wrong or naturally right.
North Korea’s GDP is currently at 12.38 billion USD. It might seem like it is a large economy, but compared to South Korea’s GDP of 1.13 trillion USD it is miniscule. In North Korea, private property is not allowed. Many of the people live in poverty and more than three fourths of the nation is so hungry that “they would eat beans and maize kernels found in animal dung”. If the people were allowed to own pieces of land then they would be able to grow their own food and feed their families. In South Korea, the country is, obviously, in a much better position. The people there are allowed to obtain the private property they want and naturally deserve. Private property is very well protected in South Korea and withholding possessions from the rightful owner is highly unlikely. Would you rather live in a country that withholds from its people the natural right to private property and retrogresses, or a country that is logically prosperous because of the fact that people are able to obtain private property? We are not animals that need to have every aspect of our lives controlled. Pope Leo says it best “[for], every man has by nature the right to possess property as his own. This is one of the chief points of distinction between man and the animal creation…” Do we really have to stoop so low as to compare ourselves to animals in order to understand that man has a natural right to possess property? If we were to partake in a socialist community what are the chances that we would act more like animals rather than human beings?
In contrast to the idea that private property is a natural God-given right, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, in the Manifesto of the Communist Party, argue that “society as a whole is splitting up more and more into two great hostile camps; two great classes directly facing each other…” because of private property. They claim that as more land is given to the scarce rich then the poor will continue to be oppressed even more. They declare that they are for the equality of everyone, but would it really be considered equality if everyone was deemed to the same poor fate? How would it help the poor if there was no private property? As I mentioned earlier, it would only make the rich poor and the poor will remain the same. Therefore, instead of only one class being oppressed, everyone is oppressed because they have no options to choose what they want to work for. Marx also likes to stress that capitalism will eventually self-destruct. Throughout the course of history we have seen many communist countries fall, yet the United States, a capitalist country, still exists. Let us also take into consideration the country of Cuba; this country is a “Single-party Marxist-Leninist republic”. Would Marx be proud of Cuba today? Would he be proud that thousands of Cubans try to flee to the United States in hope of a better life? Would he be proud at the fact that the Cuban people are being oppressed by Raul Castro? Another country that diminishes Karl Marx and his ideas is Venezuela. In The Communist Manifesto, Marx states that eventually the lower class will band together to start a revolution against the upper class. Currently, in Venezuela, the people are standing together to take their country back and to put it in the hands of the people. Why you may ask? It is because the people are tired of struggling to obtain food, medicine, toiletries, and even the most basic necessities. But, according to Marx, shouldn’t the people be happy because they have access to the same possessions as everyone else? In a Marxist way of thinking, you should not lack anything because the State will give it to you. Yet, in many communist and socialistic countries, almost all of the citizens go hungry and are without the necessities needed to lead a basic human life.
Which seems more natural to you: being able to own private property in order to sustain life or lacking basic necessities because you are not able to own private property? If we were to ever live in a world where private property did not exist at all, society itself would cease to exist. Humans are by nature very competitive and socialism denies our competitive nature. There would not be anything to strive for if everything was owned and controlled by the State. Sure, governments can implement laws and rules to regulate everything, but eventually we will start to fight each other over the smallest possession or piece of land; it is in our nature to do so. This is where communism fails; it cannot prevent anything intended by Mother Nature. Whether governments try to control every aspect of their country or not, it will not matter because if nature aims for us to be able to own private property then we will. It is simple as that. Therefore, private property is justifiable as a natural right because no matter what happens it will always find a way to come back to every human being. Socialists and communists need to take a step back and let nature do her thing. After all, it is in the best interest of everyone if we want the world to continue progressing.
1. Blanchette, Julie. “The Free Market: The Truth About North Korea.” Ludwig von Mises Institute, May 1, 2003. Accessed May 3 2014 https://mises.org/freemarket_detail.aspx?control=440
2. “East and Southeast Asia: Korea, North.” Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed May 3 2014. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/kn.html
3. “East and Southeast Asia: Korea, South.” Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed May 3 2014. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ks.html
4. “Freedom Barometer: South Korea” Freedom Barometer, N.A. Accessed May 3 2014. http://freedombarometer.org/start-page/asia/ranking/south-korea/
- “Life in North Korea: Executions, Starvation, and Fear” Channel 4 News, February 17, 2014. Accessed May 3 2014. http://www.channel4.com/news/north-korea-united-nations-report-crimes-against-humanity
- “Private Property and Freedom.” Pink Scare, Accessed May 3, 2014. http://pink-scare.blogspot.com/2011/08/private-property-and-freedom.html
 The World Factbook
 The World Factbook
 The Free Market: The Truth About North Korea
 (Channel 4 News 2014)
 Freedom Barometer
 Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia