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Leopold Caro

Leopold Caro (1864–1939) was one of the most outstanding representatives of Polish Catholic solidarism. He studied at the University of Lviv, where he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Laws and completed the philosophy study programme. Next, he took up economic studies in Lepizig. After his return to Poland, he practised as a lawyer – at first in Lviv, and later he moved his law firm to Cracow. In 1914, he was drafted into the Austrian army, where he served during World War I. When the war ended, he volunteered for the Polish Army. Demobilised in 1920, he settled permanently in Lviv. He took up the Chair of the Faculty of Social Economics at Lviv Polytechnic University. For a short time, he also lectured at the Jan Kazimierz University. In 1927, he was appointed Chairman of the Polish Economic Society. In the same year, he became a member of the Committee for opinion at the Economic Committee of the Council of Ministers. In 1934, on the initiative of Cardinal August Hlond, the Polish Primate’s Social Council was established, in which Caro held the position of its vice-chairman. He died in Lviv in 1939.

Leopold Caro drew inspiration from the ideals developed by French theorists of cooperatives and the German historical school of economics. He put economic issues within the context of the principles of Catholic social teaching, propagating the primacy of ethics over the entire public sphere. He embraced the vision of a society reflecting people’s interdependence and brotherhood, and therefore held a worldview based on solidarity, as a counterweight to both capitalism and communism – trends propagating primarily the materialistic vision of man. He perceived solidarism as a vision of a social order in which private initiative – apart from personal interest – also takes into account the collective public good. He promoted the idea of social justice understood as the expression of a community’s concern for every human being. In this respect, he assigned a substantial role to the state, which should provide support to the vulnerable and defenceless.

The most important works by Caro include: The Principles of Social Economic Science, Solidarism. Its Principles, History and Applications, The Twilight of Capitalism, The Social Problem in the Catholic View.

The obverse of the coin features a stylised inscription in the centre: SOLIDARYZM [SOLIDARISM]. The reverse of the coin features the image of Leopold Caro and the dates of his birth and death.

Grzegorz Jeż