Thursday, February 16, 2006



Using Wikipedia:
"According to distributism, the ownership of the means of production should be spread as widely as possible among the populace, rather than being centralized under the control of a few state bureaucrats (some forms of socialism) or a minority of resource-commanding individuals (capitalism). A summary of distributism is found in Chesterton's statement: "Too much capitalism does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists" ("The Uses of Diversity", 1921)."

I suppose this comment means that you prefer the mom and pop shops or the guilds of the olden days, or perhaps like the communitarians, you would rather that more individuals be involved in the "production" because of the coercive tendencies of the corporate-government alignment.

Okay, well I suppose that makes sense, but how do we get there, other than through destructive means? I kind of get the feeling that this is something like the communitarian (like Daniel Quinn) or anarcho-primitivist approach where we “return to the wild” and everybody makes everything themselves. I am not really sure if Chesterton’s adage above is of any real value, since the largest groups of capitalists are individuals, independent contractors, and sole-proprietors. So how do we achieve distributivist nirvana?

Okay Brian, help me out. Thanks for joining.

I own shares in a variety of mutual funds. These funds, in turn, invest in a variety of firms which produce a diverse bundle of goods and services. In this respect, I am like many, many Americans. Americans control (and create, for that matter,) a large proportion of all wealth. As such, it follows that the ownership of production is more dispersed today than ever before.

The answer to your question, re: distributivist nirvana, is through the creation and maintenence of institutions like property rights, credit and corportions.

Many of these institutions exist, and the job today is to keep them from being destroyed or so fundamentally altered that they fail to serve their purposes.
I love Chesterton, thank you for bringing him into this. There is a Chesterton reading group in Raleigh that Daniel Underwood (Friday columnist in the Technician) told me about. Wish I had time for that.
So what seperates distributism from capitalism? Because everything you stated is what any capitalist would desire. The more the merrier!

Do the distributists dislike competition? So in that way more people can have "means of production", although inefficient?
Is efficiency more important than righteousness? If, by being more efficient, we lose quality, character, meaningful jobs (it's awful how many people whose jobs are nothing more than making sure other people are doing their's), and likely consume a great deal more resources in the process, is it really worth it?

I earlier stated that Chesterton and Belloc's opinions on economics are misconstrued in the modern age. They both lived before things such as effective mobile refrigeration and food transportation, computers, the internet, and all sorts of modern marvels. As such, there were a great many more people involved in agriculture and a lot fewer people involved in business/techonology. There were also a lot fewer companies for whom you could work your entire life, and yet never meet The Man In Charge. As Chesterton once said, "One day we will have an army of grocer's assistants to no grocer at all." Walk into your local supermarket and you'll see it's true. You have stock boys and people in the bakery and at the deli counter and the registers, but instead of a grocer you'll find a manager who seldom deals with his products, except on paper. In fact, you can't even really call them his product, so much as products he sells for someone else.

Just how many local grocery stores are left? They're certainly more common in smaller towns, and in another fashion, crowded areas of cities where there is no room for new buildings. Are there any where I live, though? No. What about a general store? No... Toy stores? One, and I've no idea how it stays in business as I rarely see anyone in there.

Yes; there are 25 million small businesses in the country. But if you stop and think about it... that really isn't very many. There are approximately 300 million people in the United States. Even if you chop off 100 million for being retired or too young to work, you're still talking about 25 million small businesses in 50 states for 200 million people. While that means the majority still likely work for small businesses, well, the majority of a population can be healthy; but if 49% have the bubonic plague, it's still a calamnity.

If you're to ask me how I think we ought to go about bringing a distributist economy into a reality, I can't answer in a technical manner. I'm not an economist, and I'm not arguing this from a strictly economical point of view. I'm arguing it from a humanistic point of view.

However, it would seem to me that slowly and surely, large companies be broken down by region under the leadership of competent men, with gradually reduced accountability to a head figure.

Really, don't you get sick of seeing McDonalds and Wal-Mart everywhere you go? As someone said to me not that long ago, "it makes the country look boring."
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