Catholic Social Teaching and Economic Globalization: The Quest for Alternatives

Catholic Social Teaching and Economic Globalization: The Quest for Alternatives

Catholic Social Teaching and Economic Globalization: The Quest for Alternatives

Catholic Social Teaching and Economic Globalization: The Quest for Alternatives


Current forms of economic globalization are leading to increased hunger, greater inequality, the undermining of local cultures, and severe ecological crises. In this interdisciplinary study, which draws upon fields ranging from political economy to ecology to theological ethics, John Sniegocki explores these negative realities and their causes. Sniegocki also explores possible alternatives, highlighting the activities of inspiring grassroots movements throughout the world that are working for change and suggesting ways that each of us can support these efforts. Sniegocki devotes attention to numerous important contributions that can be made by Catholic Social Teaching to the quest for positive alternatives. Among these contributions are its vision of integral development, its understanding of structural injustice, its holistic conception of human rights, its deep concern for ecology, and its emphasis on solidarity with the poor. The author also suggests several ways that Catholic Social Teaching could be yet further enhanced, particularly through dialogue with grassroots activists and scholars such as Vandana Shiva of India, with persons in the field of radical political economy, and with the insights of theologians such as John Howard Yoder.

John Sniegocki is an associate professor of Christian ethics and director of the peace studies minor at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He received his PhD in Christian ethics from the University of Notre Dame in 1999, with a secondary focus in the field of political economy. He has published numerous articles on Catholic Social Teaching, globalization, the ethics of war and nonviolence, Buddhist-Christian dialogue, the Catholic Worker movement, and food ethics.


[I]f globalization is ruled merely by the laws of the market ap
plied to suit the powerful, the consequences cannot but be nega
tive. These are, for example, the absolutizing of the economy, un
employment, the reduction and deterioration in public services, the
destruction of the environment and natural resources, the growing
distance between rich and poor, unfair competition which puts the
poor nations in a situation of ever increasing inferiority. – Pope
John Paul II

Debates concerning economic development and globalization reveal sharply different visions of our world. Proponents of current forms of globalization tend to speak in very positive terms, making bold promises about the future. They argue that dominant “neoliberal” policies of free trade, structural adjustment, and minimally regulated markets will result in high levels of economic growth throughout the world. This growth will in turn contribute to decreased levels of poverty and hunger. “A rising tide,” these persons are fond of saying, “lifts all boats.” Critics of current forms of globalization, including Pope John Paul II, present a different perspective. They draw attention to many negative features of our global reality, such as sweatshop working conditions, the loss of land by small farmers, widespread hunger, the destruction of indigenous cultures, increased social conflicts, the growth of religious and ethnic fundamentalisms, and an array of severe ecological crises. According to these critics, current forms of economic globalization are deeply implicated in each of these problems.

This book will explore these debates over economic development and globalization. It will look at the deep roots of current policies and problems, exploring the impacts of colonialism, slavery, and the types of economic policies that were pursued after independence in

1 John Paul II, Ecclesia in America, no. 20.

2 For a detailed, critical discussion of the principles of neoliberal economics, see David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005).

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