Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Another one to read ....

Pope Francis Needs Distributism

Oremus pro invicem!


Anonymous said...

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TS said...

Is there any country in the past century that has been distributist? Or is it something that everyone must do in order for it to work? Ideally it would be cool to point to country X and saying, "this is what are system should be like". But I never hear about country X.

Jim Curley said...

TS, sorry for being so late in response, have been caught up in some things.

I don't believe any country has successfully made distributism work. The best book on the subject is "Third Ways" by Allen Carlson (ISI Press). In this book Carlson documents some of the efforts around the world in the 20th century and why they ultimately failed.

I reviewed old blog posts on the book and found these quotes:

"All of these Third Way architects faced the same dilemma: In the face of coercive violence, do we hold to our ideals and so fail? Or do we bend democracy and abandon nonviolence in order to save both in the long run? The first questions was usually answered "yes" with tragic results."

"More fundamentally, the agrarians failed because they were too honorable and decent. Fully committed to democratic rule, they refused to smash their national constitutions in order to hold onto power. Firmly believing in pacifism, they abhorred and avoided whenever possible the use of violence. Moreover, as Mitrany explains, the peasant political program in its social conception was "as revolutionary as Socialism, and in the face of ruthless obstruction, could have carried through only by equally ruthless political pressure. " Tragically, but also to their credit, this the agrarians refused to do."

TS said...

Thanks Jim, I guess you can say that Communism failed for similar reasons: they were also faced with ideals versus violence and mostly chose violence, even the violence didn't work for long, assuming Communism is truly dead.

I don't know, though, that you can say distributism has failed if there's a single family practicing it (like you!?). It's just a matter of scale. One of the benefits of having separate states in these United States is we can have differences, and hopefully eventually there would be a distributist town, that begets a distributist district to a distributist state. Already we see the Amish have been thriving despite being pretty removed from the mainstream, so it's possible from that perspective. At least with the Amish you can point to something tangible and existing even if they fall short of being distributist.

It's a fascinating question. David Brooks, obviously certainly not authoritative and to be taken with a large grain of salt, still has an interesting point when he says:

"Moral realists, including Catholic ones, should be able to worship and emulate a God of perfect love and still appreciate systems, like democracy and capitalism, that harness self-interest. But Francis doesn’t seem to have practical strategies for a fallen world. He neglects the obvious truth that the qualities that do harm can often, when carefully directed, do enormous good. Within marriage, lust can lead to childbearing. Within a regulated market, greed can lead to entrepreneurship and economic innovation. Within a constitution, the desire for fame can lead to political greatness.

You would never know from the encyclical that we are living through the greatest reduction in poverty in human history. A raw and rugged capitalism in Asia has led, ironically, to a great expansion of the middle class and great gains in human dignity."