This paper attempts to define, describe and illustrate the theme of solidarity in Catholic social theory and explore how it calls on everyone to act upon the real and close familial bond they share as children of a common Divine Parent. The paper then examines capitalist social and economic theory, especially in regards to its concepts of competition and the embrace by some within capitalism of a kind of social Darwinism. In spite of the philosophical inconsistencies between capitalist competition and Catholic solidarity, there are many instances in capitalist markets where solidarity can and does already flourish, especially in regards to peer-to-peer relationships. However, in spite of the many real instances of solidarity in capitalist practice, Catholics must finally come to grips with the reality that the spirit of solidarity potentially undermines the “creative destruction” that is supposed to occur in competitive markets. In the end, the paper tries to answer a variety of critical and vexing questions. In what ways is the worldview of Catholic social theory in general, and solidarity in particular, incompatible with capitalist notions of competition? To what extent is this honestly an either/or proposition in which these two worldviews are mutually exclusive? How do Catholics uphold the value of solidarity in genuinely competitive environments where cooperation and solidarity appear to actually impede the progress of markets? How might solidarity inform and augment the competitive marketplace in ways that may actually enhance the creativity of competitive markets?
O'Brien, Thomas W.
"The Challenge of Solidarity in a Competitive Business Environment,"
Journal of Religion and Business Ethics:
Vol. 2, Article 4.
Available at: http://via.library.depaul.edu/jrbe/vol2/iss1/4