Revisiting Jacques Maritain’s “A Society Without Money”

Leszek Niewdana


Jacques Maritain (1882-1973) dedicated almost his entire intellectual life to philosophy. Yet just before his death, he decided to step out of his philosophical “comfort zone” and produced a peculiar scholarly piece, “A Society Without Money.” Apparently the idea of “a society without money” had fascinated Maritain for some time, so at the height of an ideological competition between communism and capitalism he chose to look anew at the two systems from a different angle. This study revisits and critiques this unusual scholarly work of Maritain. It presents an overview of the background events that inspired Maritain’s essay, and recapitulates its main ideas. It also points to weaknesses in Maritain’s arguments, particularly with regard to his categorical condemnation of charging interest on money lent (usury), and his understanding of the concept of money. Finally, this study considers some of Maritain’s insights as still relevant to present realities, such as the destructive impact of the current debt money system eating up the fabric of modern societies (especially visible after the financial crisis of 2008-2010), concern for the freedom of the person, and for the flourishing of the human spirit.


money, usury, communism, capitalism, human person

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