10 December, 2018

A New Coca-Colonization?


This article is a slight revision of "Lettre d'un catholique américain à ses amis français et européens," published in L'Homme Nouveau, no. 1675, 24 November 2018, pp. 12-13.

Although Anglo-Saxon North America began as simply an extension of Europe, settled entirely by Europeans - aside from African slaves - over time it has developed a peculiar culture of its own, with roots in Europe, certainly, but often developing and exaggerating European ideas in peculiar directions. Since the end of the Second World War the prestige of this culture has been vast, due to the role of Americans in the defeat of the Axis powers in western Europe and, later, after the development of the Cold War, because of the common perception that the United States was the only effective alternative to the Soviet empire. Hence the term coined after the War, the coca-colonization of Europe, based on the ubiquity of the American soft drink, Coca-Cola. Even with the fall of the Soviet bloc, American mass culture and technology have continued to exercise a widespread influence all over the world. As an American myself, I recognize that this widespread influence is by no means altogether good, and that it requires careful evaluation with regard to each cultural or political sector in which it has influence.

26 November, 2018

Continuing a Legacy of Dissent

One of the Acton Institute's publicists, one Kishore Jayabalan, has given us distributists a kind of left-handed compliment recently - that is, he mentioned us, he recognized that distributists do exist! With regards to what he said about us, his article was simply misinformation, but that, unfortunately, is par for the course with Acton. But what exactly did he say? Mr. Jayabalan was engaged in continuing Acton's long-time project of misrepresenting John Paul II's 1991 encyclical, Centesimus Annus. He wrote,

Another distinctive aspect of JP II's social teaching is his insistence that the "Church has no models to present" (CA, n. 43); there is no Catholic "third way" between capitalism and socialism. This is a hard teaching for distributists and others who think there once existed a special form of Catholic economy or polity (aka Christendom) that the Church should still officially support.

19 September, 2018

What Is Happening?

It was about twenty years ago, at the turn of the last century, that a revival of distributist thought unexpectedly occurred. I say unexpectedly, even though I, along with John Médaille, was one of the small group of writers and theorists most responsible. After a few articles of my own, the website that is now called The Distributist Review began publishing, and later the Practical Distributism website on which you are reading this article. I suppose the high point of this revival, so far, was the April 2009 debate at Nassau Community College on Long Island, organized by Richard Aleman and Joseph Varacalli, where I represented distributism, the late Michael Novak, capitalism, and Professor Charles Clark, socialism. Perhaps even more significant was when our opponents themselves began to take account of us, as, for example, the sessions on distributism at the Acton Institute's annual Acton University. All of this certainly put distributism, decades after the deaths of Chesterton and Belloc, on people's mental maps, and provided a model for implementing Catholic social teaching in the economic order.