Orators and spectators vied closely for argumentative supremacy on the evening of March 1 in the Gentile Gallery during the 19th Dumb Ox Debate.
The debate’s motion, “This house believes that American capitalism undermines the Catholic view of society,” generated plenty of spirited opinions from a relatively smaller crowd.
Senior Alex Denley, affirming, clarified that the debate was not about socialism versus capitalism. Denley stated that the American capitalist view of financial fulfillment was not compatible with the Catholic view of God as the ultimate goal of one’s life.
Denley said, “The capitalist system … assumes that the individual is the basis of society; it’s not the family, it’s not the church — the individual is the end.”
Junior Aileen Casillas, opposing, first established the difference between true, unbridled capitalism and American capitalism. The freedom inherent in American capitalism, she claimed, effectively allows for Catholic goals of society to be met.
“American capitalism,” she said, “essentially promotes our freedom, equality of opportunity and cooperation … (and) utilizes a person’s individual gifts and talents; ultimately that supports the Catholic view of society.”
Senior Bethany Muczynski, affirming, stated that humans are called to communion, not the individualism paraded by capitalist ideology. She decried capitalism, saying it is no better than socialism in that it “reduces the person to a material ends. It’s more made for things here on earth and not things in eternity.”
University professor Joseph Zoric, opposing, focused on the aspect of freedom prevalent in capitalist American society, mentioning the free market and religious liberty.
“I don’t want to live in a Catholic country. I want to live in a country where I’m free to be a Catholic,” Zoric said.
Afterwards, the floor opened up to any other willing speakers. Topics included the soul as the only worthwhile economic unit and the assertion that the Catholic view of society is an ideal best accomplished in a capitalist society.
The final vote was the closest outcome in Dumb Ox Debate history with 45 affirming, 44 opposing and 10 abstaining.
Senior Josh Nelson expressed that his only desire was to hear Zoric and Andrew Jones, who directs Franciscan University of Steubenville’s MBA program, speak at the debate. Nelson said, “I didn’t really care much about the vote. I myself do like capitalism, but I don’t like exactly where it is in America right now.”
Freshman Brendan Norton was deeply dissatisfied with the debate. Norton said, “I thought that … neither side had a concrete argument. (The motion) was so broad that you couldn’t have one clear answer.”