23 September, 2022

Where does Distributism fit in?

One thing that seems to confuse many people looking at distributism is that they really can’t imagine a society beyond our current conservative/liberal or right/left paradigm. I believe this is the source of a good deal of the criticism against us. If we’re not conservative, then we must be liberal. If not liberal, then conservative. If not capitalist, then socialist. We are not liberal in the modern sense, nor are we Classical Liberals. We are not Modernist, nor are we Post Modernists. We are not Libertarians and we are not totalitarians. I believe the root of the problem is that people don’t see the connecting thread between all of these views. They not only think several of these positions are fundamentally different things, but that these are essentially the only things that are. For myself, even though there are significant differences between these views, they are fundamentally the same, and the reason I say so is that they are all various forms of Liberalism. Distributism is not a product of Liberalism, so they really have a lot of difficulty understanding it. It just doesn’t fit into any of the neat little categorizations that have been the basis of their political and social arguments for more than a century.

12 August, 2022

What, exactly, is "proto-capitalism?"

Have you ever heard of the term, "proto-capitalism?" I have heard it from two groups. The first group are those Catholics who wholeheartedly accept capitalism. For this group, the proto-capitalism period is evidence that the capitalism under which we live today has its origins in Catholic teaching. The second group are other capitalists who say that the proto-capitalism period was a period of transition from economics being considered a sub-category of ethics, where it was subject to religion and philosophy, to its own separate field of study. There is one thing that is generally acknowledged by both of these groups, however. Whatever proto-capitalism was, it was not capitalism. It is the name given by these groups to a particular time that, according to them, was a transition in European economics to capitalism. This leaves some important questions. What was the preceding economic system? What changes separate proto-capitalism from the period that preceded it? What changes separate proto-capitalism from actual capitalism? Finally, is there possibly another name we in the current age can apply to what these groups call proto-capitalism? 

14 April, 2022

Distributism and "Preppers"

Distributists emphasize personal and local economic independence as the foundation of personal, political, and economic freedom. For nearly one hundred years, we have been saying that society overall needs to move away from our dependence, not only dependence on big government, but also on big business. As long as we continue to accept these things, we will be in a state of dependence, which means that we will not truly be free. So, what does this have to do with the so-called “prepper” movement that has gained popularity in the last two years? 

10 March, 2022

Our Usurious Economy

What is usury and is it of any relevance to people today? For the most part, in modern times the term usury has come to mean the taking of excess, often outrageous, interest on a loan. But the classical definition in Catholic theology of usury was something a little different: the taking of any interest, in any amount, and no matter what the loan would be used for, simply because there is a loan contract. The most complete papal statement of this is found in the 1745 encyclical of Pope Benedict XIV, Vix Pervenit, the relevant portions of which run,

13 January, 2022

Is Distributism Socialism?

References to or discussions of distributism on the internet are not hard to find. This is gratifying, for I would hazard a guess that fifty years ago almost no one had even heard of distributism. But even though the situation today is in most respects an improvement, these online references to distributism are not necessarily favorable. I have not attempted to count whether favorable or unfavorable mentions predominate, but there seem to be some ideas that are common to those critical of distributism. One is that distributism is simply a form of socialism. Now those who make this charge usually have little understanding of what socialism is, and especially of the great variety of economic programs that go by that name. Socialism is simply assumed to be state ownership of property, at least of productive property. That socialists often advocate for modes of ownership such as worker-owned enterprises or cooperatives seems to be largely unknown to the public.

04 November, 2021

Distributism at the Catholic Economics Roundtable

The following opening statement was given at the “Catholic Economics Roundtable” livestream hosted by Michael Lofton on 23 January 2021. It can be viewed on the Reason and Theology YouTube channel[1] and is available as a podcast on The Tradistae Podcast on Podbean.[2]