Dateline: 12 September 2013
I've subscribed to The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener magazine for many years, and I always enjoy getting it in the mail. I was pleased to see that my Planet Whizbang Idea Book For Gardeners got a little review in the current issue (pictured above), which is the yearly Common Ground Fair issue (a large printing). And I was downright surprised to see the same issue had an article about distributism.
Distributism: A Third Way is, in my opinion, not written all that well, but the fact that it's in the magazine is notable. It's an indication that more people are looking for an alternative to failed capitalism.
Unfortunately, distributism is a terribly misleading name for an economic system. It conjures up ideas of taking what's mine and distributing it to others. But that's not what distributism is all about. That's pretty much what socialism does, and we already have that to a large degree in this country.
Another unfortunate aspect of distributism is that it isn't easily explained. I've yet to find an article that neatly sums it up. And the articles that I do read, leave me with a lot of questions.
Nevertheless, it's hard for an agrarian-minded person not to have an interest in distributism. That's because it is profoundly agrarian. And it's also biblical, or at least far more biblical than capitalism ever was.
Foundational to distributist economics is the idea of decentralization. Another fundamental is the reformation of the family, and the idea that as many families as possible should should own and live on productive land and property. Vibrant small communities are also essential to the whole theory of distributism.
Many Protestants dismiss distributism because it's distinctly Catholic. Others are skeptical of it because they think it just isn't practical; that it simply won't work. And a few, like myself, are concerned that it would require too much government coercion to implement.
One thing is certain... capitalism (and the capitalist powerbrokers) will not tolerate distributism in its midst. Distributism is, after all, powerfully antithetical to both capitalism and socialism.
But capitalism, propped up by keynesianism, has run its course. Even John Maynard Keynes knew his economic ideas were unsustainable. When confronted with the inevitable failures of his economic theory he famously quipped, "In the long run, we're all dead."
Keynesianism, the lifeblood of modern, corporate-facist capitalism, was never a sustainable economic paradigm, and the system is coming down. Post mortems on capitalism and keynesianism are now being performed by perspicacious people all over the world. And so it is that the principles of distributism are getting a closer look. I'm glad to see it happening.