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Communism and libertarianism have failed- distributism is our hope for the future


Almanac

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Communism has been tried and tested and found severely wanting. But so has libertarianism:

And he may even say, as many of his and Mises’s supporters do, that Reagan and Thatcher and Pinochet and 100 others “didn’t do it right.” The problem with this is that it is precisely the same as the defense of Marx: “Stalin (or Reagan) was not a good test of my theory…” But they may be the best test the theories can sustain. Hayek would be horrified by Reagan, and Marx would be mortified by Stalin. But both seem to end in the same place. Both Marx and Mises promised a “withering away of the state”; both delivered states of enormous power, expense, and tyranny.

When the application of a theory always ends up the same way, we are entitled to think that is the only way it can end. Why do theories in application differ so much from their predicted results? Both Marx and Mises run up against the Law of Unintended Consequences. Since consequences are potentially infinite and intentions necessarily finite, this law is always operative. But when a theory is incomplete relative to the phenomenon it purports to describe, then the unintended consequences will always outweigh the intended ones. Usually, the system doubles back on itself to become its opposite. The moral of this story is you can only judge a theory that purports to describe human systems by seeing how it works on the ground.

Source

There is another way: distributism

What is distributism?

According to Thomas Storck

distributism is nothing more than an economic system in which private property is well distributed, in which "as many people as possible" are in fact owners. Probably the most complete statement of distributism can be found in Hilaire Belloc's book, The Restoration of Property (1936). Note the title, The Restoration of Property. For the distributists argued that under capitalism property, certainly productive property, was the preserve of the rich, and that this gave them an influence and power in society far beyond what they had any right to. Yes, the formal right to private property exists for all under capitalism, but in practice it is restricted to the rich. A further feature of distributism that follows from this, is that in a distributist economy, the amassing of property will have limits placed on it. Distributive justice is distributism's key principle.

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. Examples of people earning a living in this way would be farmers who own their own land and related machinery, plumbers who own their own tools, software developers who own their own computer, etc. The "co-operative" approach advances beyond this perspective to recognise that such property and equipment may be “co-owned” by local communities larger than a family, e.g. partners in a business.

Source

There are many examples of the successful application of distributist theory in cooperative systems such as:

"[the] Mondragón Cooperative Corporation (MCC). Recently, the workers in the Fagor Appliance Factory in Mondragón, Spain, received an 8% cut in pay. This is not unusual in such hard economic times. What is unusual is that the workers voted themselves this pay cut. They could do this because the workers are also the owners of the firm."

Distributist also has concrete policy proposals, such as those formulated by Allan Carlson:

To break up, prudently, the great, politically-favored banks;
To sharply restrict the revolving door between regulated banks and corporations and the regulatory agencies;
To focus mortgage lending on small, locally controlled savings banks (such as the pre-1981 American “Savings and Loans”) and Credit Unions;
To replace welfare benefits with opportunities for property ownership and the creation of “children’s trusts.”
To limit direct and indirect mortgage subsidies – including tax benefits – to only one residence per family (disallowing them on “second” or vacation homes and investment properties);
To let real bankruptcy courts divvy up failed, albeit politically favored dinosaurs like General Motors;
To move toward a modest, uniform protective tariff;
To fill the prisons with white-collar criminals who have violated the public trust through fraud;
To redirect farm subsidies ($20 Billion annually in the USA) away from vast agri-businesses toward the encouragement of small, general purpose farms (with the quid pro quo that families receiving assistance would open their properties to visiting school children, and so on)
To loosen zoning laws and other restrictive covenants so as to allow greater use of family homes as places of work and production for market (e.g., telecommuting, professional offices)
To make credit available, at favored rates, to new family businesses and other micro-enterprises.
To impose a progressive corporate income tax on retail giants;
To improve the highway system; and
To focus tax relief on families with dependent children.

The grow your own movement together with the increased interest in self-sufficiency, subsidiarity, sustainability, local production, and local currencies all seem to fit very well into the distributist model.

Distributism is our best hope for the future.
 
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T

The_Big_Fellow

That is a very interesting post. I must read further in to that. It really seems to empower people to be entrepreneurs.
 

Cato

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Distributism is our best hope for the future.
You forgot to mention that it is also a part of the little known (unfortunately) Catholic Social teaching.
 

imokyrok

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Interesting Almanac. That's a new term on me. Is there a significant difference between the principles of distributism and those of social democracy?
 
T

The_Big_Fellow

You forgot to mention that it is also a part of the little known (unfortunately) Catholic Social teaching.
Oh my God the Papishes came up with it...

Cop yourself on. Can you not detract your sectarian beliefs from something that obviously has potential.
 

Cato

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Oh my God the Papishes came up with it...

Cop yourself on. Can you not detract your sectarian beliefs from something that obviously has potential.
Ehhh... cop yourself on. You may have noticed that I said the the church's Social teaching was unfortunately unknown. I happen to agree with a lot of the Catholic Church's Social teaching but it is the best kept secret of them all. It deserves more attention, as Almanac has delivered here.

Even the Catholic church gets something right every now and then.
 

SevenStars

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Cato

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Distributism has had rather strange promoters and theorists from day one, and continues to attract them. Support for it tends to come from middle class people frightened of both the ruling class which is in the process of proletarianizing them above and the "mob" below.
I think that you are confusing it with corporativism.

Also, what do you have against the middle classes? You communists always seem to hold the middle classes in particular distain.
 

Almanac

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Distributism has had rather strange promoters and theorists from day one, and continues to attract them. Support for it tends to come from middle class people frightened of both the ruling class which is in the process of proletarianizing them above and the "mob" below.
Ad hominem rubbish. Distributism has no one founder. It's a current of thought which has exercised a vast mainstream influence, notably in US anti-trust legislation. It was even partially blamed for the global financial meltdown.
 

Almanac

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I think that you are confusing it with corporativism.

Also, what do you have against the middle classes? You communists always seem to hold the middle classes in particular distain.
Marx inserted the toxin of class hatred into western culture. Hatred of the middle classes is just as irrational as glorification of the working classes.
 

Almanac

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Interesting, sounds a bit like anarchism, although it's got a few strange ideas about it. Almanac, you have a George Orwell quote in your sig, have you read Homage To Catalonia? You can read about a hope for the future in it too :)
Haven't we already seen it? See the first point in the OP.
 

SevenStars

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I think that you are confusing it with corporativism.

Also, what do you have against the middle classes? You communists always seem to hold the middle classes in particular distain.
Hilaire Belloc was one of the most important theorists and promoters of distributism. Im not confusing the two. Take a look at the links.

The middle classes are intrinsically individualistic and prone to idealism in a bad way. Read what Wyndham Lewis who was far from being a communist says about them in "The Art of Being Ruled".
 

SevenStars

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Marx inserted the toxin of class hatred into western culture. Hatred of the middle classes is just as irrational as glorification of the working classes.
Oh really? Read "The Pursuit of the Millenium" by Norman Cohn and you will realise that class hatred long pre-dates Marx in western culture.
 

imokyrok

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I think that you are confusing it with corporativism.

Also, what do you have against the middle classes? You communists always seem to hold the middle classes in particular distain.
How long before someone uses the phrase " champagne socialists" do you think? ;)
 

Almanac

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Hilaire Belloc was one of the most important theorists and promoters of distributism. Im not confusing the two. Take a look at the links.

The middle classes are intrinsically individualistic and prone to idealism in a bad way. Read what Wyndham Lewis who was far from being a communist says about them in "The Art of Being Ruled".
Perhaps you would prefer the alternative to distributism. Because this is where we're heading if the middle classes disappear.
 

Almanac

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Oh really? Read "The Pursuit of the Millenium" by Norman Cohn and you will realise that class hatred long pre-dates Marx in western culture.
Not systemically. Marx, with his ideology of hate, is responsible for that.
 

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