Liberation Theology and Socialism
Probably the greatest criticism of liberation theology is its association with socialism. There is a uniform conviction among liberation theologians that some form of socialism offers the best hope for Latin America. However, liberation theologians acknowledge the failure of Marxist-socialist regimes as well as the failure of capitalism. Capitalism favors the privileged, but socialism, in practice, has involved repression and state-control. However, liberation theologians, such as Gutiérrez, see their theory of socialism as something uniquely Latin American and not simply an imitation of old models of any particular philosophy, including Marxism. And the connections between socialism and liberation theology have weakened considerably since its inception to allow liberation theology to appeal to the middle-class. Today, to liberation theologians, socialism offers three advantages: people's basic needs will be met, ordinary people will be active in building a new society, and what is created will be a new Latin America, not a copy of old socialist ideals. Base Ecclesial Communities are one of the only practices that combine both liberation theology and socialism, but even the Communities do not endorse Marxist socialism as much as a system of fairness and equality. The connections between liberation theology and socialism are far more apparent in theory than in practice.