I Looked in the Mirror & Realized I Was a Distributist

I Looked in the Mirror & Realized I Was a Distributist June 28, 2019

This was after lengthy discussions with my good friend Rod Bennett, who is one himself. I probably could have figured this out long before now, given my love of Catholic social doctrine (I’ve written about it being a “third way”), frequent nonconformism, devotion to “simple living,” and severe criticisms of both libertarianism and the outrageous excesses that occur in corporate capitalism (not to mention also my love of Belloc and Chesterton), but better late than never!

If there are more of you out there, please let me know. I don’t plan on spending much time discussing it (I’m an apologist for Catholicism, not distributism), as economics is not my strong suit, nor much of an interest in and of itself. I’m much more interested in the underlying philosophical and “worldview” aspects of it: the level of premises. I’m a big believer in not spreading oneself too thin. So far my books are (save for one on music) about apologetics or the history of Christian theology.

See also additional discussion in the original Facebook thread. I will post only my own remarks below.

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I revised the political section of my Facebook profile (I didn’t have to change it much; in fact, I had already mentioned that I liked a lot about Distributism):

Political Views: Conservative

Chestertonian-Bellocian Distributist. I’m highly influenced by Catholic social thought, which is often quite difficult to classify as either “right” or “left.” I’m very critical of the manifest excesses that far too often occur within corporate capitalism and of prominent libertarian and overly individualistic strains within the conservative movement. I advocate applying Christian ethics directly to how one ought to live (Jesus as the Lord of all of life), the proper place of money in the overall scheme of things, and the many biblical injunctions to help others less blessed than ourselves. Frank Capra’s classic film It’s a Wonderful Life illustrated the principles of Distributism (along with God’s providence) very nicely. I like the notions of simple living, agrarianism, small business, self-sufficient holistic health and alternative medicine (as much as possible), homeschooling (all four of our children), and subsidiarity. Passionately pro-life, of course. . . .

In fact, I had links about distributism on my [now defunct] Chesterton web page as far back as 1997, but never studied it closely enough to figure out if I fit into the category.

Being a rookie, I’ll defer to other distributists here . . . But I believe the title refers to a wider distribution of the means of production and private ownership of property: not to wealth (which is socialism).

Distributism is about (ideally) a much wider existence of ownership of property and the means to make a living: traditionally folks like farmers, craftsmen, and merchants: as opposed to the vast majority of wealth and property being in the hands of very few super-rich corporate capitalists.

I’m a sole proprietor myself, as an author and full-time apologist, and I offer a product (my books and papers) that I produced myself, so that already fit into the philosophy.

Here is a book by Belloc (The Servile State) that was recommended to me:

Again, I don’t want to speak for distributism as I am just starting to fully grasp it myself. I’m pretty sure sharing is part of it, or consistent with it, at the least, but that should be part of any Christian outlook. The main thing as I understand it, is wide distribution of private property and the means of production of wealth.

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Related Reading:

The Catholic “Third Way” in Socio-Political Thought: Reflections on the “Great American Mush God” of Civil Religion and Morality [1-24-02]

Catholic Politics: Neither “Left” Nor “Right”, But Radically Orthodox or the “Radical Center” (+ My Own Views) [10-24-06]

Random Thoughts on Catholic Social Teaching [3-13-09]

Catholic Compassion & Beggars on the Street: What is Our Responsibility? / Analysis of Poverty & Its Causes & Solutions [12-30-11]

Catholic Social Teaching & Myself: Brief  Clarification [1-3-12]

On Homelessness & Soup Kitchens (by my Son Michael: 19) [9-10-12]

“Dialogue” on Obamanomics (vs. Bruce Townley) [3-1-13]

More Thoughts on Giving Alms to Homeless Beggars on the Street [11-23-13]

Dialogue: Conservatives & “Old” Pro-Lifers & the Poor [10-3-16]

Catholicism is More Important than Political Differences [11-29-16]

Debate: Do Liberal Social Policies Lessen Abortion & Poverty? [4-12-17]

Simcha Fisher’s “New” Pro-Life Critique of “Old” Pro-Lifers (+ vigorous Facebook discussion) [8-2-17]

Are “Old” Pro-Lifers Racists & “Anti-Woman”? (vs. John Cavanaugh-O’Keefe) [8-30-17]

This “Conservative” is Very Passionate About Social Justice [8-31-17]

“New” vs. “Old” Pro-Life Strategies (vs. John Cavanaugh-O’Keefe) [8-31-17]

On Being a So-Called “Single-Issue” Pro-Lifer [National Catholic Register, 1-25-18]

“New” & “Old” Pro-Lifers: Roundtable Discussion About Divisions [2-15-18]

Do Democratic Presidents Cause Fewer Abortions to Occur? [National Catholic Register, 2-28-18]

Robert F. Kennedy & How Democrats Used to Be [6-7-18]

Debate: SCOTUS & GOP in Relation to Abortion Rates [11-15-18]

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(originally 10-27-13 on Facebook)

Photo credit: G. K. Chesterton, 1931 [public domain / Flickr]

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