1.3.8 The priority of labour over capital

Back to 1.3.7

Unit 1 Contents

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

We are now up to the last of five screens on which we have been looking at principles in CST which fill out what justice requires.  Here is the list of these five that I gave at the start of 1.3.4:

      • Respect for human dignity
      • Protection of human freedom
      • The preferential option for the poor
      • Subsidiarity
      • The priority of labour over capital

The last of them is about working life. This is one of the main subjects that CST has addressed ever since Rerum Novarum, and it is a central topic in the other VPlater module. (See especially Module A, Unit 4.)  As it is covered fully there, we look at the principle of the priority of labour over capital only very briefly here.

This principle is highly important if there is going to be justice in the workplace.  People always matter more than things, and therefore more than material wealth.  The conditions in which people work – the conditions of ‘labour’ – must reflect this.  People should never be subjected to serving mere material wealth, ‘capital’.  It should be the other way round: capital should be used to serve workers, because workers are persons.  Therefore CST speaks of the principle of ‘the priority of labour over capital’.

This is far-reaching in what it entails.  If ‘capitalism’ is an economic system which gives overriding priority to maximizing return to capital – which many would see as a fair definition – the ‘priority of labour over capital’ requires opposition to it.  In Unit 2 of this module, we will look at the historical background of CST in a way that will touch on this vital topic.  You can CST on economic life, including on ‘capitalism’, in Unit 5 of Module A. 

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

End of 1.3.8

Go to 1.3.9

Module B outline

Copyright © Newman University. If you wish to quote from this page, see Citation Information. N.B. If you are a student and make use of material on this page in an assignment, you are obliged to reference the source in line with the citation information.

Go to Top