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Solidarity and Profit: The Role of Entrepreneurs

Anno XXXI, n. 133, gennaio-febbraio 1996
Centro Einaudi


This essay uses biblical exegesis to answer the question: is it possible to achieve a synthesis between solidarity and profit, or between Christianity (whose emblem is solidarity) and market (whose emblem is profit)? The author breaks his argument down into three points. First, he asserts that since profit is per se honest and welcome to God, it follows that the pursuit of profit is per se a virtuous, religious form of conduct. As such, it cannot clash with any other human and Christian virtue, solidarity least of all. Secondly, he claims that the relationship between pursuit of profit and practice of solidarity is not so much one of compatibility as of interdependence. Even if the producer is not moved by a spirit of solidarity but only by self-interest, he cannot achieve his interest without the community achieving its general interest too. The pursuit of profit is indissolubly individualistic and altruistic, motivated by solidarity. The third and final point in the argument refers to the present situation in Italy. It sets out from the realisation that the use of the term solidarity is profoundly hypocritical and incorrect, a cover-up for a veritable squandering of the common good. As Jesus taught, the political battle implies the unmasking of falsehood, while the battle for the effective practice of solidarity is fought on a broader field than that of economics alone. The task of solidarity in Italy today is, above all, political, cultural, and religious: that is, indirectly economic.