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La Rerum Novarum dalla fine del XIX all'inizio del XXI secolo


  • Giacomo Costa


To the contemporary historian, Rerum Novarum is a socio-political event. I will take it at its word and study it for its content rather than its impact. If the Church failed to return to the centre of European affairs, this must be due to its failure to suggest a constructive approach to socialism and industrialisation. The anthropology espoused by RN is a caricature version of Thomism: man is moved by impulses that are self-justfying - inasmuch as they are natural - and provide the foundations for individual rights, especially, property rights. Together with the fact of men’s inequality, deemed both ineluctable and socially providential, this would make for a harmonious hierarchical society, which is indeed the ideal RN extols. But it cannot explain the industrial revolution, nor the creation of wealth, nor the much feared unfolding of social conflict. This is why the RN policy proposals are so weak and anachronistic.

Suggested Citation

  • Giacomo Costa, 2010. "La Rerum Novarum dalla fine del XIX all'inizio del XXI secolo," STUDI ECONOMICI, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 0(100), pages 41-63.
  • Handle: RePEc:fan:steste:v:html10.3280/ste2010-100004

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    JEL classification:

    • B19 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Other
    • N13 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism
    • Z12 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Religion


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