3 April 2011 2 Comments
“I think I want to be an artist monk — with a wife,” I announced to the WordLily at lunch today.
“Nice save,” she replied.
“I don’t necessarily mean I want to move to a monastery.”
“So you mean you want to create, meditate and really share life.”
“Yeah, exactly,” I said. Her elaboration was spot on.
Recently I’ve begun to explore distributism (thanks to Timothy Jones harping on it over at Old World Swine), which as an economic theory is referred to as a “third way,” neither capitalism or socialism. G.K. Chesterton was a fan of the idea — among others such as Dorothy Day and Hilaire Belloc — which was in some ways a Catholic response to the industrial revolution (according to Wikipedia). A few quotes from Wikipedia:
Distributism seeks to subordinate economic activity to human life as a whole, to our spiritual life, our intellectual life, our family life.”
Under such a system, most people would be able to earn a living without having to rely on the use of the property of others to do so.
Pope Pius XI . . . provided the classical statement of the principle: “Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do.”
I don’t know why the Pope considered taking from individuals what they can accomplish on their own a “great evil,” but I can understand why he would call it a “disturbance of right order.” I love the idea of subordinating economic activity to the rest of human life as a whole. The way we harp on economics in our culture just doesn’t resonate with me. It seems out of place. Shouldn’t economics be an incidental byproduct of our human activity, instead of something we plan for and around?
Distributism is also interested in promoting crafts and culture.
Distributism promotes a society of artisans and culture. This is influenced by an emphasis on small business, promotion of local culture, and favoring of small production over capitalistic mass production. A society of artisans promotes the distributist ideal of the unification of capital, ownership, and production rather than what distributism sees as an alienation of man from work. This does not, however, suggest that Distributism favors a technological regression to a pre-industrial revolution lifestyle, but a more local ownership of factories and other industrial centers. Products such as food and clothing would be preferably returned to local producers and artisans instead of being mass produced overseas.
Returning production to the local level reminds me of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Part of me wonders if distributism would fly in our interconnected internet age. If the producer of a particular item in Indiana was doing a superior job to those in California, wouldn’t people just order from the person in the Midwest who had set up an online store?
Regardless, I need to give a little more consideration to idea. From what I’ve read so far, I like it; it sounds as though it might create a lifestyle a little bit more conducive to creating, meditating and really sharing life.