Posts Tagged ‘distributism’

Growing - or buying and eating - heritage crops helps retain genetic diversity as insurance against future environmental challenges.

From the article that led me to the Onion spoof I posted yesterday, a more serious look at how to bring about change:

How could distributism come about as an economic system?John Searle, philosophy professor at UC Berkeley since 1959, has witnessed a fair number of protests. I’m going to ineloquently paraphrase him on how you create your own social institutions:

“You just do it. If you want to start a new social institution you and enough other people just start living it, as though the old institution were no longer there, and your new institution is just how things are.”

In other words, if you don’t like oligarchic capitalism with its exploitative banks and other practices, just set up new, or support already-existing alternative social institutions and go with them. Divest from the old banks. Join a credit union.  Divest from the old business structures everywhere. Support or start your own small business. Anything you reject on moral grounds, really reject it!  To get it to work, all you need are enough people to accept the new reality.  (And a government willing to give you a fair playing-field… and that is another issue…)

Now this is easier for some things and harder for others. So start small: you can shop at the local small store or cooperative store. You can move your money to a credit union. You can support local agriculture.

These are tiny steps, but taken together they can change the economy. You may object that it costs more to shop at a small local store than the local big-box store. And you may be right and you may not be able to afford it.  Just do what you can.

The financial system which we are a part of is only a reality if we all choose to agree that it is. We can choose otherwise.


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H/T to Mark Shea, who calls this ‘the pitiless voice of unfettered pagan capitalism in a post-Christian culture that no longer feels an obligation to the common good’.

An article in the Wall Street Journal on 10 people who got richer in the 1930s concludes: ‘So what can the list tell us about how to make a fortune in today’s Great Recession? It’s best to be a celebrity, thief, game-maker, bottom-feeder or inside-trader.’

“Choose you this day whom you will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

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Now for a post on distributism, with a H/T to Mr Badger who suggested it and the Distributist Review who provided the copy of these words by G.K. Chesterton.

…God is that which can make something out of nothing. Man (it may truly be said) is that which can make something out of anything. In other words, while the joy of God be unlimited creation, the special joy of man is limited creation, the combination of creation with limits. Man’s pleasure, therefore, is to possess conditions, but also to be partly possessed by them; to be half-controlled by the flute he plays or by the field he digs. The excitement is to get the utmost out of given conditions; the conditions will stretch, but not indefinitely. A man can write an immortal sonnet on an old envelope, or hack a hero out of a lump of rock. But hacking a sonnet out of a rock would be a laborious business, and making a hero out of an envelope is almost out of the sphere of practical politics. This fruitful strife with limitations, when it concerns some airy entertainment of an educated class, goes by the name of Art. But the mass of men have neither time nor aptitude for the invention of invisible or abstract beauty. For the mass of men the idea of artistic creation can only be expressed by an idea unpopular in present discussions–the idea of property. The average man cannot cut clay into the shape of a man; but he can cut earth into the shape of a garden; and though he arranges it with red geraniums and blue potatoes in alternate straight lines, he is still an artist; because he has chosen. The average man cannot paint the sunset whose colors be admires; but he can paint his own house with what color he chooses, and though he paints it pea green with pink spots, he is still an artist; because that is his choice. Property is merely the art of the democracy. It means that every man should have something that he can shape in his own image, as he is shaped in the image of heaven. But because he is not God, but only a graven image of God, his self-expression must deal with limits; properly with limits that are strict and even small.I am well aware that the word “property” has been defied in our time by the corruption of the great capitalists. One would think, to hear people talk, that the Rothchilds and the Rockefellers were on the side of property. But obviously they are the enemies of property; because they are enemies of their own limitations. They do not want their own land; but other people’s. When they remove their neighbor’s landmark, they also remove their own. A man who loves a little triangular field ought to love it because it is triangular; anyone who destroys the shape, by giving him more land, is a thief who has stolen a triangle. A man with the true poetry of possession wishes to see the wall where his garden meets Smith’s garden; the hedge where his farm touches Brown’s. He cannot see the shape of his own land unless he sees the edges of his neighbor’s. It is the negation of property that the Duke of Sutherland should have all the farms in one estate; just as it would be the negation of marriage if he had all our wives in one harem.

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