Neither Capitalism Nor Socialism: A Third Alternative

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occupy-vennDistributism is not a middle ground between capitalism and socialism.  Rather, it rejects both capitalism and socialism, which it sees as flips sides of the same coin.  From the distributist perspective, capitalism inevitably leads to the concentration of power in big businesses who hold monopolies and exploit workers, consumers, and the environment. On the other hand, socialism also leads to a concentration of power, but in the hands of big government and a political elite.  This concentration of power, either in big business or big government, has the same effect of disempowering the majority of people.  Distributism sees capitalism and socialism, big business and big government, as mutually reinforcing, one leading to the other hand back again in a vicious cycle.  (The military-industrial complex has many analogues.)  Distributism seeks a third way: instead of big business or big government, we would have “big community”.

Distributism sees economics as a subset of ethics.  Thomas Storck explains in “Capitalism and Distributism: Two Systems at War,”

“Distributism seeks to subordinate economic activity to human life as a whole, to our spiritual life, our intellectual life, our family life. It does not regard the mere production of goods, still less the acquisition of wealth, as ends in themselves.”

Our current capitalist system turns this on its head and renders everything — the family, religion, even our bodies — subordinate to the production of wealth for the capitalist class. In a distributist economy, the economy is made to serve the needs — both material and spiritual — of all human beings.

Small is Beautiful

The motto of a distributism is “Small is Beautiful”.  Distributism favors the small and the local.  A fundamental concept in distributism is “subsidiarity,” the idea any activity of economic production should be performed by the smallest possible unit — down to the family. …

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