The American Conservative on Distributism

The magazine The American Conservative has published a nice article on distributism called Distributism is the Future.  It’s a well written piece offering a brief introduction to distributism as an economic philosophy and then gives some modern day examples of how we see distributist ideas at work today.  The author shows why distributism is not socialism or capitalism but is a “third way” as some have called it.  Distributism was chiefly taught by GK Chesterton and Hillarie Belloc, sometimes these two are referred to as “Chesterbelloc.”  These two “rejected socialism, believing that private property was an essential component of human flourishing, but they also rejected the existing capitalist system as concentrating private property in far too few hands.”  

The author sums up one of the aspects of distributism I’m drawn to, which is the conservative nature of the teaching.  Distributism favors communities and families over the good of the multinational corporation.  I’ll let the author sum it up:

And finally—something that Belloc stressed—distributism has a conservative aspect: it posits as a laudable end not some utopian experiment in untested social arrangements but a socio-economic system that we already know is workable, from both historical and contemporary evidence. Furthermore, because workers themselves are the owners of capital goods, they are less likely to be forced to abandon their communities and extended families in order to keep a good job. There of course may be efficiency trade-offs in choosing to stay put rather than moving to some distant but more profitable location to find some work. But under distributism, workers would evaluate these trade-offs for themselves, rather than having some global corporate entity send them, willy-nilly, thousands of miles from their family and community—or finding themselves suddenly unemployed, as the modern corporation is loath to give its workers even a moment’s notice before they are escorted out of their workplace and onto the street by corporate security.

The author goes on to provide a few examles from around the globe that show Distributist ideas can and do work the real world and may be becoming more prevalent.  

I’m glad to see a conservative magazine picking up on the ideas of distributism.  I hope this is a trend that continues.