A response to Dylan Pahman's article,
I sincerely recommend Mr. Pahman's article. It not only clearly illustrates a point I have tried to make from time to time in my own articles, it takes that point a step further. It is an excellent reminder to pause the fingers poised over the keyboard. Take a moment to reflect before pounding out word after word in attack against "those systems" that stand in opposition to that which we support. Consider for a moment the people involved and the reality of the world in which they live.
I write in criticism of capitalism and socialism and in favor of distributism. Mr. Pahman writes in criticism of distributism and socialism and in favor of capitalism. But what are these things that we support and criticize? We tend to think what we oppose as the cause of certain problems in society, and what we support as the solution. This is not true. Capitalism, socialism and distributism are all results, one might even say symptoms, of something even deeper.
I have stated in the past that I believe those who promote capitalism and socialism are just as sincere as we who promote distributism. While adherents of each system may certainly include some who are malicious and some who are idealistic dreamers, most of those who spend the time defending these systems are sincere and thoughtful people. We honestly believe that the systems we are promoting are good, are right, and will be the most beneficial for society and the world.
We need to remember this, not only when responding directly to one another, but when considering what we say about others in general. I need to consider this before writing my articles. I am not saying that we should "hold back" our criticisms of those systems, but that we should be just as willing to offer praise where justified. Most of all, we should remember to give the benefit of the doubt regarding the intentions of those individuals who stand up to us and challenge our assertions. We should assume that their intentions are good even when we think their arguments are not.
Before we can say what the answer is, we need to better understand the problem. I don't believe that the problem is our economic system or our form of government. I believe that these are symptoms of the real problem. The real problem is much deeper. It resides at a much more fundamental level of society. Simply replacing one economic system with another won't fix anything. Even if that new system were able to stay in place and was stable, it wouldn't solve the real problem.
The real problem is injustice and evil. These are not economic and political problems. They are ethical and moral. They are philosophical and religious. They are something which we will never completely eradicate because the only way to do so is to eradicate all of mankind from the world. Economic and political systems cannot fix these problems.
I have said before that distributism cannot eliminate the problems of unscrupulous economic behavior; it can only mitigate its scope. However, if the underlying philosophical view of society remains one that permits such behavior, imposing distributism on it will only result in many pockets of economic injustice spread all over the place. This was acknowledged by the early distributists and we need to remember it. What we attempt to promote is a system which is not the answer to problems, but catered - we believe - to encourage and accommodate that answer in the most thorough way. We must remember, though, that the capitalist and socialist are doing precisely the same thing.
The answer, in my view, is to address the underlying philosophical view of society. We need to get society as a whole to realize that there are such things as right and wrong behavior and begin to consider how their own actions in the realm of economic and political life contribute to either the building up of society, or breaking it down. What will happen if we can succeed? Society will become more just, and its political and economic structures - which are really just tools of society - will alter and become more just because of that. That should be the goal of all of us.