The Pope decries 'savage' effects of all-out capitalism

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The Independent Online
ROME (Reuter) - The Pope yesterday condemned unbridled capitalism and said that, for all its faults, Communism had some positive aspects and 'seeds of truth' that should be preserved.

In an interview published in Turin's La Stampa newspaper, the Pope also said that there were some countries in the world where capitalism was still 'almost as savage' as it was at the end of the 19th century.

He said Eastern Europe stood to lose much after the fall of Communism because the countries of the region had forged a strong identity by resisting totalitarianism. 'The proponents of extreme capitalism, in any form, tend to overlook the good things achieved by Communism, the struggle against unemployment, the concern for the poor,' he said.

In the interview, with the Polish-Italian author, journalist and Euro-MP Jas Gawronski, the Pope repeated the views of Communism and capitalism he has expressed in some of his writings.

The Pope, whose influence played a large part in the fall of Communism in his native Poland in 1989, recognised that totalitarianism had devastated the human spirit, private initiative, and personal responsibility in citizens.

''It is certainly legitimate to fight an unjust totalitarian system, whether it calls itself socialist or Communist,' he said. But he said socialism had 'some seeds of truth' and added: 'It is obvious that these seeds should not be destroyed. In Communism, there was concern for the community, whereas capitalism is rather individualistic.

'This attention to the community in socialist countries, however, carried with it a high price, which was paid for by the degradation of many other sectors of the lives of citizens.'

The Pontiff argued that Communism enjoyed widespread success, particularly among intellectuals, in the early part of this century because it was a reaction to the excessive, savage capitalism that existed in Europe at the end of the 19th century.

He acknowledged that capitalism today was different because many nations had introduced social safety nets to defend workers, but added that in some countries capitalism was still 'almost as savage' as it was 100 years ago. And he asserted that today's more humane capitalism had developed in this century 'in large part thanks to socialist thought' and the struggle of the trade unions.