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.

06 June, 2018

Change to the publication schedule

Practical Distributism is a volunteer effort. The authors contribute articles as the time and circumstances of their lives permit, and I remain grateful for their contributions and support of this site. At this time, I am simply unable to maintain the previously published schedule for articles. I have therefore removed the schedule, and have updated the About section of the site accordingly.

However, I remain committed to publishing articles as they become available. If you know of anyone who is interested in submitting articles for publication, please have them contact me.

Thank you,

David W. Cooney

26 March, 2018

Distributism and the French Revolution

Gilbert Keith Chesterton’s attitude towards the French Revolution seems to be, at least in very many cases (and I know it from experience) a rather uncomfortable matter; Andrew Greely, in an introduction to the beautiful Sheed & Ward Classics reedition of Masie Ward’s Gilbert Keith Chesterton prophesized that the alliance between Chesterton and the so called “traditional Catholic circles” (the integrists, or whatever else we call them – every name seems somewhat deficient, and definitely controversial), which was forming at the time, would not last long. It was the year 2005. Indeed, Greely was right; and at least in Poland this alliance is now almost dead. Our traditional Catholic communities, first fascinated with Chesterton’s apologetics and imbibing his works almost maniacally (about twelve or ten years ago), tend to talk about him less and less, with the general tactics consisting in pushing him further and further away by the power of “discreet reticence.” “Chesterton? Ah, yes; good writer. Tea?”

16 March, 2018

Witt and Richards on Belloc: Part 3

Continued from Part 2

In an exchange with Witt and Richards sort of on this topic (Pearce 1, W&R 1, Pearce 2, W&R 2), Joseph Pearce accused the pair of conflating Belloc’s views with socialism—an accusation they warmly denied.

05 March, 2018

Of Labour and Liberty

Race Matthews, Australian distributist and author of Jobs of Our Own, has published a new book titled Of Labour and Liberty.

Please spread the word about this book!
Here is a flyer you can download to post and share!

01 March, 2018

Witt and Richards on Belloc: Part 2

Continued from Part 1

Witt and Richards accuse Belloc of committing serious economic errors—errors also committed by Marx (horribile dictu).  The two central such errors are that both Marx and Belloc “failed to understand that free exchange benefits both parties,” and that “both held to what is called the labor theory of value, roughly the idea that something is worth economically just how much it cost to produce it.”  (Both passages from p. 160.) 

Belloc does not accept the labor theory of value.  This, at least, can be settled definitively.  In his explanation of the nature of economic wealth, Belloc considers the example of a farmer who owns a horse.  “…consider,” he says,
how the value [of the horse] changes while the horse remains the same.  On such and such a date any neighbor would have given the owner of the horse from 20 to 25 sacks of wheat for it, or, say, 10 sheep, or 50 loads of cut wood.  But suppose there comes a great mortality among horses, so that very few are left.  There is an eager desire to get hold of those that survive in order that the work may be done on the farms.  Then the neighbors will be willing to give the owner of the horse much more than 20 or 25 sacks of wheat for it.  They may offer as much as 50 sacks, or 20 sheep, or 100 loads of wood.  Yet the horse is exactly the same horse it was before.  The wealth of the master has increased.  His horse, as we say, is ‘worth more.’”  (Economics for Helen, p 33-4)

15 February, 2018

The Praise of Impracticality

One of the main – and the oldest – charges raised against distributism is that it is “impractical”; at least as far as I know the case. In my personal experience I have encountered this obstacle hundreds and hundreds of times. In most cases, when I try to convince somebody to become a distributist (or at least start taking serious interest in the problem), it all works great, and everybody agrees with me, and just when I start to gain the upper hand and get “this close” to finishing the case, my interlocutor hides behind the great wall of “impracticality.” “How to do it? Did this Chesterton of yours ever say exactly how to deconcentrate property? Did he propose a bill to the parliament, did he form a political party (etc…). No? Oh, I see; because it cannot be done. It’s nice and all, but it cannot be done.” And usually just after that, the grand hit: “Socialism in theory is nice too, but it just doesn’t work.”

And no; we are not going to talk about the “niceties” of socialism.

04 February, 2018

George Weigel - Yet Again

In a recent column the publicist George Weigel has weighed in on some of the dubious shenanigans surrounding the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, the document that, to say nothing further, by its lack of clarity has confused so many about Catholic moral doctrine on marriage and the reception of the sacraments. Weigel notes the recent statement by Pietro Cardinal Parolin, the Holy See's Secretary of State, that Amoris Laetitia constitutes a "paradigm shift" for Catholic thinking on marriage and the family.

01 February, 2018

Witt and Richards on Belloc: Part 1

Part One—The Distributist Paradox and State Power

In The Hobbit Party (Ignatius, 2014), Jonathan Witt and Jay Richards cover some of what they take to be the political/social meanings in JRR Tolkien’s work.  In Chapter 8—“The Fellowship of the Localists”—they talk a bit about Walmart and Joel Salatin and other such matters.  All very interesting.  But not what this piece is about.  They also talk about whether Tolkien was a Distributist.  Also very interesting.  But not what this piece is about.