Anonymous, "Economic Roots of Social Insecurity," ca. 1934


Economic Roots of Social Insecurity

Although the document presented here is anonymous, its central themes reflect a specifically Catholic perspective on economic and social problems. The author is describes the economic and psychological roots of the American Great Depression: in doing so, he or she examines the sources of economic insecurity that are built into the modern industrial, capitalist society. In offering an analysis of theses sources of insecurity, the author compares the contemporary social and economic systems with the systems that existed in the Middle Ages. This positive view of the medieval system is similar to the view espoused in the papal encyclical "Rerum Novarum," which provided the foundation for Catholic social action throughout the twentieth century. While the author of this paper remains a mystery, the thoughts expressed in it are clear examples of Catholic social teachings.



As you read the document, reflect on the following questions:

  • What are the two "principle features of modern economic society"? How are these principles different from the medieval economic system described earlier in the paper?
  • Who are the four groups that the author claims are most at risk of economic insecurity?
  • This document focuses on describing the roots of the problem, rather than on suggesting solutions. At the end of the paper, the author mentions that some "solutions" might actually create more problems. What sort of problems does he/she mention? How do you think the mention of these problems related to the economic struggles of ordinary Americans during the Great Depression?