Saturday, February 10, 2007
In Athos' Profile, the reader may notice an interest in Distributism. What's that? In the late 19th / early 20th centuries, proponents of Distributism included Hilaire Belloc, G. K. Chesterton and Father Vincent McNabb, and all three penned books attempting to steer western societies away from both socialism and capitalism in favor of Distributism. Co-founders of the Catholic Worker, Peter Maurin and Dorothy Day attempted an urban version of it (difficult to do in New York City) and a purer form of it in a rural setting (still practiced at Peter Maurin Farm). Perhaps more in the reader's memory is the most celebrated and recent expression of Distributism, Small is Beautiful, by E. F. Schumacher. This nearly ubiquitous book twenty-five years ago stirred the imagination, if not stirring to action, the generations most affected by the return-to-nature elements of the sixties and seventies.
Distributism isn't simply a Luddite response to the alienation of modern technocratic, microwave/Bluetooth/laptop/iPod-dependent life. It was, and is, a serious response to both the Industrial Revolution and a true spiritual need for human beings to belong on the land. Their land. Distributism says, humans are really Hobbits at heart. We become slightly, moderately, or gravely disordered when we get too far from this reality.
Distributism is grounded in the Church's teachings. In 1891, Pope Leo XIII issued the Encyclical, Rerum Novarum. It is the Church's teaching on labor and capital, as well as the proper role of the modern State. It says a great deal about human nature, dignity, and justice. Sadly, it says a great deal more than modern states or captains of industry and commerce want to hear -- so it is ignored.
But Distributism is not meant for the shelf. Distributism is not a theologized hippie's dream. I suggest strongly that the reader refer to the website, bibliography, and ideas found here. There may be hope for sane human living. And it is a goal that is scriptural, doable, and hopeful. Don't you think?