I have officially embraced distributism - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#13683770
After some study I have come to the conclusion that I am now an advocate of distributism. Socialism has failed worldwide and corporate capitalism has oppressed the workers continuously. The welfare state set up in the mid 20th century could only hold back the tyranny of corporate capitalism for a time and in and of itself the welfare state was bound to fail, creating an entire class dependent upon the state. The only solution at this point is a radical restructuring of society, away from both corporate capitalism and the welfare state. The answer is distributism. A distributist platform would combine social conservatism, economic protectionism, non-interventionism in foreign policy along with strong anti-monopoly laws, anti-banking sentiment, and opposition to the welfare state. Interestingly, I have recently changed my profile pic to Tolkien. I've always seen the Shire as the ideal society but it was only recently that I have become convinced that the Shire represents an inherently distributist society.
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By Jordan9
#13689817
Cool beans. I'm more or less influenced by three different sort of "ideologies" or systems, and Distributism is one of them. Did you happen to see this link I posted on it? viewtopic.php?f=38&t=124766 Feel free to add or correct anything. I'm glad someone else is interested.
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By ralfy
#13689965
The catch is that some may end up forming oligarchies and lead to a return to the abuses of capitalism. Or is there some sort of military force established to prevent that? If so, what guarantee in turn does one have that such a force will not try to take over?
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By nucklepunche
#13690014
I think there is a clear answer to how we can prevent a return to exploitation. The abolition of corporate personhood, an end to the patent monopoly, and restrictions on usury are step one. I think the rights of labor unions are critical since labor unions form a bastion against big business and are a good non-governmental alternative to the welfare state. The way I see it interestingly, is that my embrace of distributism is essentially the evolution of my libertarianism. I think distributism is true liberty as opposed to the corporate slavery libertarians favor.
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By Potemkin
#13690178
restrictions on usury

Say goodbye to capitalism right there. The capitalist mode of production has two main elements: the private ownership of the means of production, and the investment of capital for profit.
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By ralfy
#13690908
I think there is a clear answer to how we can prevent a return to exploitation. The abolition of corporate personhood, an end to the patent monopoly, and restrictions on usury are step one. I think the rights of labor unions are critical since labor unions form a bastion against big business and are a good non-governmental alternative to the welfare state. The way I see it interestingly, is that my embrace of distributism is essentially the evolution of my libertarianism. I think distributism is true liberty as opposed to the corporate slavery libertarians favor.


But who enforces this abolition and "an end to the patent monopoly," as well as "restrictions on usury" and protection of "the rights of labor unions" (i.e., if "corporate personhood" was not abolished).
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By Sceptic
#13692274
Distributism is still 'socialism', you know, its just not 'state socialism'.

Economically, its a disaster to be rather frank, since it redistributes capital from the hands of skilled market entities into the hands of, well, the general populace. I don't want to be derogatory but most people can't cope with the complexity of handling business affairs and it requires greater than average intelligence (it holds true mathematically that the average person has, well, average intelligence). Investors would also lose confidence (in fact there would be severely limited issuance of equity shares under distributism).

Co-operative projects cannot expand because a group of workers who start up the factory cannot fund another co-op factory (nor do they have the desire to do so) in the same way that an entrepeneur may wish to expand his enterprise by seeking investment, loans, etc., which explains why the hierarchical firm obtains though there is always ground for co-operative movements like the English Robert Owen founded co-operative.

Say goodbye to capitalism right there. The capitalist mode of production has two main elements: the private ownership of the means of production, and the investment of capital for profit



Some would claim that markets/exchange (the medium of exchange in developed capitalism being money) are key features of capitalism.
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By Potemkin
#13692298
Some would claim that markets/exchange (the medium of exchange in developed capitalism being money) are key features of capitalism.

By that definition, every society more advanced than the hunter-gatherer stage has had a capitalist economy. The key features of capitalism are those which make it different from all preceding modes of production. Having markets and a medium of exchange are therefore not key feature of capitalism, though of course it has these features as well, as does almost every other economic system. The Soviet Union had markets and a medium of exchange as well; does this mean that the Soviet economy was capitalist? If so, what was the Cold War all about? :eh:
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By Sceptic
#13692312
By that definition, every society more advanced than the hunter-gatherer stage has had a capitalist economy.


Yep. For Austrians, capitalism is self-evident, ' the natural course', so to speak. Private control of the means of production is the logical conclusion of man's freedom to own any form of capital goods ('capital' by the Austrian definition not by the Marxist definition in terms of very specific class relationships and hierarchy).

The key features of capitalism are those which make it different from all preceding modes of production. Having markets and a medium of exchange are therefore not key feature of capitalism, though of course it has these features as well, as does almost every other economic system. The Soviet Union had markets and a medium of exchange as well; does this mean that the Soviet economy was capitalist? If so, what was the Cold War all about?


No, I agree with your definition of capitalism. But it is still my view that private property in the means of production is self-evident though I do not have an absolute view of property rights.

The Soviet Union had markets and a medium of exchange as well; does this mean that the Soviet economy was capitalist? If so, what was the Cold War all about?


That's part of the whole view of Austrian economics; 'a hampered market is still a market' and all. Attempts to implement communism merely end up giving way to despotic state capitalism.
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By sazerac
#13717046
Societies go through a sweat shop period before they become wealthy. Let things happen naturally. Keep the Constitution to ensure happiness.
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By Jordan9
#13723066
How goes the conversion, nucklepunche?

Dr. Anthony Basile's essay, "Crucified Between Two Thieves" is a pretty interesting retort against Marxist and Liberal (IE: Capitalist) objections to Distributism.

http://3acresandacow.blogspot.com/2011/ ... holic.html


I think one thing people have to understand about Distributism is that it is a moral system just as much as it is an economic arrangement. There are certain proscriptions in Distrubitism that are linked with Christianity, such as humans having intrinsic value and being deserving of dignity and respect. So it can sometimes be difficult (though I stress not impossible) to defend Distributism within the set parameters of certain questions. Distributism isn't about efficiency, though it is efficient. It isn't about economic growth, though sustainable economic growth would happen. It is ultimately about the preservation and restoration of justice and the dignity of humanity.

"Men always work harder and more readily when they work on that which is their own; nay, they learn to love the very soil which yields in response to the labor of their hands, not only food to eat, but an abundance of the good things for themselves and those that are dear to them." - Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum (1891)
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By Daktoria
#13734497
Honestly, distributism is crap. It relies wholeheartedly on that common sense which isn't too common.

You can say bye bye to all sorts of invention and creativity in a distributist world. The only times advancement takes place under distributism are when inventors are either charmed or charming. Without property rights, there's no assurance that inventors are going to receive respect unless they're popular.
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By Jordan9
#13740309
Daktoria, from your words I can only surmise that you've got a flawed understanding of Distributism. Perhaps it is the name, which many Distributists have long noted may not be the best one for our particular strain of thought. The point cannot be made too often that Distributism isn't re-distributism. It is not socialism.

The word distributism comes from the idea that a just social order can be achieved through a much more widespread distribution of property. Distributism means a society of owners. It means that property belongs to the many rather than the few. It is related to the idea of subsidiarity, emphasized in all papal encyclicals relating to social teaching and economics. Subsidiarity, in the words of the Quadragesimo Anno, means that "It is an injustice and at the same time a great evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social and never destroy and absorb them."

So as you can see, distributism has property rights. If you read Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum, which is essentially THE founding document of Distributism, you see that the pontiff consistently speaks in favour of property rights, and indeed Distributists see the right to own property as sacrosanct. If I may quote directly from Rerum Novarum:

"The fact that God has given the earth for the use and enjoyment of the whole human race can in no way be a bar to the owning of private property."

Or, see the quotation from Leo XIII at the bottom of my previous post in this thread.

It is that chief respect for property that convinces Distributists the importance of land ownership, and it is the chief reason that we wish to see as many families as possible in possession of some land, and some productive private property.
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By Daktoria
#13740379
As far as I'm aware (since I studied it extensively in my childhood while going to CCD), distributism is simply a religious form of socialism (not that any form of socialism isn't really religious since all forms of socialism depend upon aesthetic appeals to history). As an inventor or artist, if your inventions or art don't fit the taste of the community, they get disregarded or shunned. The Catholic church intervened extensively in this manner throughout the middle ages. It was only after the church relaxed from recognizing its inability to handle decentralization that the Renaissance began and accelerated in Italy, the Reformation in decentralized Germany, and the Enlightenment happened after Westphalia.

Distributist property rights (as you put it) depend upon the same sort of tasteful respect. There's no difference made between liking someone and respecting someone, so it's a very "you're either with us or against us" socio-economic-political perspective.

It's nice if you live in a monastic order or nunnery, but most people cry out for more pleasure than what's available in those sorts of living conditions.

If you want to endorse subsidiarity, that's fine, but distributism is where paleoconservatism goes too far for paleolibertarians to sympathize. "Small is beautiful" is an entirely subjective value judgment since it begs the questions "How small is small?" and "What is beautiful?"
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By Jordan9
#13740440
My apologies for misunderstanding how far you've looked into this. Though, as I mentioned before, there is often a knee-jerk reaction to the term, and I surmised (erroneously) that that is what you were doing.

I might accept that Distributism is a strain of thought among what has been called "libertarian socialism." But, I cannot in good conscience agree that it is "simply a religious form of socialism." Leo XIII, Chesterton, and Belloc all unanimously agreed that the statist model of socialism was folly, and hardly preferable to the corrupt, consumerist capitalism that they were disillusioned by and critical of. As Chesterton wrote, "A pickpocket is obviously a champion of private enterprise. But it would perhaps be an exaggeration to say that a pickpocket is a champion of private property. Capitalism and Commercialism . . . have at best tried to disguise the pickpocket with some of the virtues of the pirate. The point about Communism is that it only reforms the pickpocket by forbidding pockets."

Or, consider the words of Dorothy Day, a contemporary of his and one of the founders of the Catholic Worker movement. "One would think, to hear people talk, that the Rothschilds and the Rockefellers were on the side of property. But obviously they are the enemies of property because they are enemies of their own limitations. They do not want their own land; but other people's. . . It is the negation of property that the Duke of Sutherland should have all the farms in one estate; just as it would be the negation of marriage if he had all our wives in one harem."

To the Distributist, it matters not if the wealth is chiefly in the hands of the Rockefellers and Murdochs of the world, or the vanguard of the proletariat, for in both it is the hands of the few, and the elite, and at the end of the day, the end result essentially looks the same.

To bring up another excerpt from Chesterton:

"The word [capitalism]… is used by other people to mean quite other things. Some people seem to mean merely private property. Others suppose that capitalism must mean anything involving the use of capital.

"If capitalism means private property, I am capitalist. If capitalism means capital, everybody is capitalist. But if capitalism means this particular condition of capital, only paid out to the mass in the form of wages, then it does mean something, even if it ought to mean something else.

"The truth is that what we call Capitalism ought to be called Proletarianism. The point of it is not that some people have capital, but that most people only have wages because they do not have capital."

Distributism sits between both capitalism and socialism. In my view, it is both and it is neither. You call it religious socialism, and indeed, I came to Distributism via the religiously-toned agrarian and Canadian socialism of JS Woodworth and Tommy Douglas. Distributist economist John C Médaille, however, sees the movement simply as "evolved capitalism." As we can see from Chesterton's words above, Chesterton would probably agree more with Médaille than you or I.

As for your remarks on the dangers inventors and artists face in Distributism, I have to plead ignorance. Can you go into more detail about this "shunning"?

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