Sunday, August 22, 2010

Quote of the Day

In the material sphere, there are two main philosophies, mortally opposed, upon one of which a new civilization may be built. These two are Communism and Distributism. The prevailing condition cannot withstand either of these because it has no basis other than the shifting sands of expediency and opportunism. The modern condition has arisen not so much because men have chosen it as because it has just happened whilst men have abandoned themselves, as they will proudly claim, to doing and getting. They do and get without thinking about what they do and get or why, except in the immediate sense of temporary material advantage. This is the process known boastfully as “muddling through.” It consists in getting into one muddle after another each one worse than the last. We are too busy getting out of one muddle ever to stop to think how to avoid getting into more. Anyway stopping to think is a reactionary operation, a hindrance to progress.

Distributists agree with Communists on one point only, namely, that the present process is disastrous both materially and morally (within the limits of the Communistic meaning of morality). In everything else Distributism and Communism are as opposed as Distributism and unbridled Capitalism. In these oppositions, which it has been left to the founders and supporters of this journal to formalize, there is no possibility of compromise. It must be war to the death between them. It is our particular business, amongst others, to keep these facts alive even at the risk of a repetition no less boring to us then to our readers. It is vital that not only ourselves but the whole civilization that is menaced by the evils we oppose, should be alive to
the facts, and we are therefore gratified to find an awakening to our principles, even in our own terms in the place where much of the coming fight will be fought, whether the decisive action lies here or there.
-- Anonymous from the post The Spread of Distributism

I highly suggest reading this entire piece. I couldn’t agree more that Communism and completely unbridled Capitalism are not the answer to our economic woes. Distributism is a third choice that seems to me to be the best alternative to the other two. Then again it is entirely possible that none of these systems would actually work that well in the real world and we need some combination of the three. As Jello Biafra once sang “Every theory has its holes when real life steps in.”

What I like about Distributism is the fact that it believes in decentralization. This is also a key value of the Green Party, which I am seriously considering joining. While there is some good that comes out of multinational corporations, we desperately need to get back to local and regional economics. Sure there are things that each region should specialize in and for those things we need the larger companies (not everyone can grow oranges for instance). But more and more we should look to local businesses for the answers. I’m of course a bit of a hypocrite in saying this considering that I shop at Wal-Mart on a regular basis, but I do also do a lot of shopping at places like Crest and Braums for groceries and I buy all of the gas for my car at locally owned gas stations.

We have a tough road ahead of us and I hope that we, as a society, will have the wherewithal to make it through.

1 comment:

Man of the West said...

Sooner or later, you've got to make time to read Crunchy Cons. I really do think you'd find Dreher's discussion about how big businesses get that way fascinating. As you point out, there are some things that simply cannot be done well by small, local businesses, but Dreher argues that there are not so many of those things as people might think, and that many, many big businesses get that way, not by competitive advantage, but by buying influence and special legislation that forces smaller companies out of the market. His discussion of agribusiness in this respect is particularly interesting.

Speaking of agribusiness, if you haven't yet seen Food, Inc, you need to. It offers beautiful illustrations of this very process. Agriculture has been radically transformed in this country over the last thirty-forty years, and it has not been by the steady application of free market principles! Rather the reverse.

You'll enjoy the film.