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Published by The_Distributist
Our FAQ in another format.
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Published by: The_Distributist on Jul 20, 2010
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A Brief Distributist FAQ
By Richard Aleman www.distributistreview.com/mag
What is Distributism?
Distributism finds its roots in the social and economic theories articulated in thedocuments of the Catholic pontiffs, beginning with Pope Leo XIII’s “Rerum Novarum.”These social encyclicals raise imperatives on economic transaction and its relation tolabor, solidarity, wages, the wide diffusion of ownership, and the proper limits of technology. Distributism is an economic system compliant with the principles of thesedocuments, and is centered on the widest possible ownership of property as the bestguarantee of political and economic freedom. A family that owns its own land or its owntools can make its own way in the world without being dependent on someone else for a“job.” Thus, Distributism seeks to extend property ownership to as many as possible, andend the concentration of ownership by few capitalists or state officials.
What are the ‘means of production’?
The ‘means of production’ are the land, tools, and equipment needed for labor totransform raw materials into goods and services. As wealth (goods or services) is onlypossible by the combination of the means of production, labor, and raw materials, webelieve it is best when these are owned cooperatively (worker-owned) or entirelyoperated by the family.
Are you Capitalists or Socialists?
Neither. Capitalism–or Proletarianism–is a system bent on the maximization of returns oninvestments, and seeks it at the expense of labor and the common good. Socialism aimsto eliminate ownership and place it in the hands of an impersonal, centralizedgovernment. Both systems–Capitalism and Socialism–limit real ownership in practice.The only difference between a Socialist state and a Capitalist state is whether power isconcentrated in a few private or a few bureaucratic hands.
So you don’t support ‘Big Government’?
Distributists are decentralists who believe most organizational functions (whetherbusiness, government, or labor) should occur at the smallest competent level as possible(subsidiarity). Institutions like local guilds and governments exist to curb large-scalecontrol, whether bureaucratic or commercial.
What’s with all the talk about justice?
Since the time of Aristotle, philosophers and economists have deemed justice an integralelement of the marketplace; a factor to be considered before exchanges take place.However, during the period of history known as the Enlightenment, a misconception
arose that social justice springs solely from “market forces,” or from central planning bythe government. In this case, man becomes a mere cog in an economic machine; he isreduced to material insignificance with disregard for his fallen nature or
(purpose).Thus, while acknowledging man’s dependency on material goods, we recognize trade andsocial policy as subordinate to his virtuous vocation.
Wouldn’t Distributism be less efficient, and so make us all poorer?
Although Capitalism claims to be highly “efficient,” it doesn’t work very well withoutmassive government expense and interventions. Distributists assert productive propertyas a genuine generator of wealth, because it serves and sustains the family materially(food, clothing, and shelter), and cultivates the soul through work. Moreover, weemphasize that distributed property is actually more efficient and is less dependent onhuge government or corporate conglomerates. Property means liberty for the householdfrom the jaws of financial volatility, as from the perspective of the household, landtranscends market values due to its indispensability for the family’s stability.
What is your position regarding our present economic crisis?
Stagnate wages, usury, speculation, derivatives, waste, and consumer debt, are but a fewof the problems which have transformed a land of small businesses and small farmers,into a nation pitted between corporations handing off their liabilities to taxpayers, and anobliging government looking the other way as jobs are shipped overseas. With relativelyfew producers and more outsourced production, the family’s confidence in obtaininghealthy food, fair wages, home ownership, healthcare, and proper education for theirchildren through the means of employment, has collapsed.
How does Distributism plan to help us restore economic sanity?
We believe a renaissance of local economics will repair the damage wrought bycorporations that squeeze the government for greater subsidies from the public purse.Distributism puts forward a humane economic and social policy invested in the needs of the family through property ownership and measured technology. Our objectives includethe restoration of the guild system, family and worker-owned business advocacy, micro-credit lending, Community Supported Agriculture, and associations tasked withimplementing vigorous husbandry programs. We support political initiatives to favordifferential taxation policies, legal assistance for the home-based business, as well as therevision of current accounting and banking practices. We intend to achieve our goals byforming a popular movement consisting of academics and laymen working together tocreate regional chapters dedicated to the implementation of the Distributist program.
Isn’t this all very Utopian?
No, Distributism is a practical system, which is validated by the many examples of functioning Distributist firms; on the small scale, there are thousands of home-based andemployee-owned companies, micro-lending banks, credit unions, and insurance

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