Sunday, October 2
Why Walmart Is Communist
Or, "Our Favorite Place for Low Prices and Rerum Novarum."
One of the biggest problems with Communism highlighted by Pope Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum was that Communism deprived the individual of private property. Instead, all "property" was owned by the workers (in theory), and but actually administered by the (usually repressive) state. The overpowering centralization of Communism also violates the Catholic prinicple of subsidiarity, and the atheistic nature of the Communist states historically-speaking is also an evil. But Rerum Novarum dealt with private ownership.
A word on "property." Individuals in Soviet Russia had homes, beds, and food--all of which they bought. They had possessions. Property, in the sense we're using it here, refers to the means of production.
Obviously, Walmart does not inhibit the accumulation of personal possessions; well, it rather promotes personal materialism, at significant social cost.
Leo XIII's problem with Communism was not so much with the state-ownership of these means of production, as the centralization of these means of production in one place--ie, not in the hands of the workers themselves.
My problem with Walmart is that it centralizes the ownership of the means of production (factories, services, and above all retail shops).
In otherwords, non-Communist systems can fall into the error of Communism, when they deprive the average worker of the opportunity of running his own business, shop, production facility, etc.
In otherwords, we fall into the Communist error--though obviously not into Communism itself--when Alfred on Mill Street has to sell his butcher shop and take up a position cutting meat at SuperWalmart. We fall into the Communist error when his neighbor, Betty Baker, is driven out of business and gets the next job making doughnuts at the Bakery Department across the aisle from the Gun Department--where Bob recently was hired after having to sell his shop (it's now a Baby Gap).
Contrast that with the words of Pope Leo:
9. Here, again, we have further proof that private ownership is in accordance with the law of nature. Truly, that which is required for the preservation of life, and for life's well-being, is produced in great abundance from the soil, but not until man has brought it into cultivation and expended upon it his solicitude and skill. Now, when man thus turns the activity of his mind and the strength of his body toward procuring the fruits of nature, by such act he makes his own that portion of nature's field which he cultivates - that portion on which he leaves, as it were, the impress of his personality; and it cannot but be just that he should possess that portion as his very own, and have a right to hold it without any one being justified in violating that right.
And that's my beef with Walmart. Workers have a natural right to at least potentially own their means of production. Walmart renders that impossible, by creating a business environment in which small businesses areincreasingly unteneable.
The last time I suggested something to this effect, I got my head torn off by people in the comment boxes. So: Uncharitable or ad hominem attacks will be deleted on the spot, because I don't care to deal with childish antics. If that's a problem, don't read my posts. Level-headed objections are welcome, of course.