Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Defining Distributism

What exactly is Distributism, that economic "school" favored by Chesterton and many of his friends? It's a tough thing to summarize, but the following is a pretty good capsule. It's by Christendom College's Dr. William Fahey and is found in the Introduction to IHS Press' book, The Church and the Land, by Chesterton's priest friend, Vincent McNabb:

"The thought of Distributist thinkers can be set out according to the following canons: (1) Subsidiarity, or the understanding that the members of a primary association (e.g., the family) must structure their lives and direct their actions responsibly and that higher associations should not—without grave cause—usurp a smaller organization's ability to accomplish its task; (2) Proprietary interest, or the commitment to the widespread ownership of property and the means of production; (3) Defense of the local, or a suspicion of private or public entities that threaten (1) or (2), and a willingness to support public policy that encourages small, locally-controlled economies over the domination of large retail chains and global corporations; (4) Craftsmanship, or the confidence that local, community-based economies tend toward greater beauty, quality, and trust between the makers and the users of goods; and (5) Agrarianism, or the belief that a rural society is the best environment for safeguarding tradition, typically understood as family-centered life, self-sufficiency, anti-majoritarianism, the dignity of labor and craftsmanship, good health, small communities, and religious vitality."

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