The Soul of Democratic Capitalism
Novak’s writings on democratic capitalism fought socialism not just on the level of economic efficiency, but on moral terrain, too. Socialists have long attacked market-based economies for their inequalities and consumerist frenzies, but, as Novak argued, their arguments invariably compared luminous socialist ideals with the often prosaic realities of capitalist societies. Had socialists looked instead at the socialist world as it actually existed, they would have found truncheon-enforced political conformity, economic ruin, and spiritual decay.
Novak showed that democratic-capitalist societies did promise—and often instantiate—moral goods. Respect for the individual conscience, the rule of law, the ignition of creativity and entrepreneurialism, general prosperity—these were remarkable achievements by any historical standards. Novak’s social thought proved hugely influential, cited by Margaret Thatcher and Poland’s Solidarity activists, who read it in Samizdat editions. Many believe that Novak even helped Pope John Paul II change his mind about free markets.