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Distributism Basics: Distributism vs. Socialism

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, three alternatives were proposed to alleviate the conditions of the working classes under capitalism: distributism, Keynesian capitalism, and socialism. Distributists are sometimes accused of being socialists, or at least quasi-socialists. This article will examine the nature of socialism and how it is completely incompatible with distributism.

Capitalism enabled the owners of corporations to greatly increase their wealth and eliminate any effective competition, making the vast majority of the working classes completely dependent upon them. While the owners of these companies lived in luxury, the working class was reduced to a state in which even having both parents work did not yield enough income to support a family. The lack of effective competition meant that workers could not simply leave their jobs for a better opportunitybetter jobs didn’t exist. The workers had to put up with whatever the employers wanted to make them endure, or they would be fired and be quickly replaced by others desperate for any work. It is no wonder that the promises of socialism appealed to many workers in such conditions.

There are three basic fundamentals to the original idea of socialism. The first is the complete elimination of social classes; the second is the elimination of money; and the third is the elimination of a government-run state. From the socialist view, the private ownership of property is what enables the classes to exist. The existence of a private claim to productive property enables some to elevate themselves above others, subjugating the workers to their ends and using their own wealth to twist the powers of government to their advantage. Eliminating a private claim to productive property will enable the laborer to claim the benefit of his labor. Those in need will work according to their ability for the good of societywhich means that each member of society will be guaranteed the fulfillment of his needs. This means that money is not necessary, as it is merely a tool to transfer the private ownership of property. Since each person will act for the good of the whole society, and will do so voluntarily, government’s raison d’être no longer exists.

This original idea became known as utopian socialism. It was quickly supplanted with the idea of a “vanguard party” that, acting on behalf of the people, would secure the powers of the state. This vanguard party would implement “state capitalism” (also known as “state socialism”) whereby the state would manage industry in much the same way as the capitalist did, but of course for the benefit of the society. This new form of socialism became known as scientific socialism.

Scientific socialism is the form of socialism of societies like the former Soviet Union and modern China. While it is true that there are various strains of socialist thought, this is the main embodiment of socialism as it has actually been implemented in any significant way. While the original utopian socialism would eliminate all private property, many socialist societies allowed some degree of private property that operated at the sufferance, and sometimes under the direction, of the state. While utopian socialism would eliminate all classes, all socialist societies actually replaced the old set of leaders with their own, and transferred the control of the majority of productive property from the hands of the few capitalists into the hands of the few political leaders. While utopian socialism would eliminate the state altogether, the existence of other states necessitated the continued existence of a state government with a capable military.

This last point is very important to understand about socialism. It cannot coexist with other “countries” except in isolation from them. The utopian version of a stateless socialism is imperiled wholly by societally exterior threats. Within the utopian socialist society, everyone is supposed to act according to the needs of society as a wholethey will do this voluntarily. In the socialist view, however, the existence of private property causes the greed and strife that lead to wars of conquest and the impoverishing of the masses. Therefore, a stateless socialist society cannot truly coexist with a capitalist society because the greed and strife of the latter will “obviously” lead it to attack the Utopia of the purely socialist society. While I think that there is even a degree to which multiple socialist societies could not coexist, the attempt to create a truly socialist society necessitates either complete economic and military isolation from any capitalist societies, or the elimination of those societies altogether. I am not saying this is something that these societies declared; it is simply the reality of their existence.

Unlike socialists, distributists do not consider the existence of privately owned property to be the problem with capitalism. As G. K. Chesterton quipped, the problem with capitalism is not that there are too many capitalists, but that there are too few. The problem is that capitalism allows the ownership of the majority of productive property to become concentrated into the hands of a small minority of the population. The rest must become workers completely dependent on that minority for a wage on which to live.

Instead of seeking the socialist solution of eliminating private property by transferring the ownership of it into the hands of state controllers, distributism proposes the widest possible private ownership of property that can be achieved in a practical way. Unlike utopian socialists, distributists do not expect to establish a perfect society in which all of the people consistently voluntarily act for the good of society as a whole. In other words, distributism does not advocate the stateless society. Unlike the scientific socialists, distributists to not believe in empowering the state to manage potentially all economic activity for the good of the society. Distributism proposes a society structured on the principles of subsidiarity, wherein the lower foundational levels of society have natural rights that the higher levels cannot usurp. Even when assisting those lower levels, the higher levels cannot usurp the roles and functions that rightfully belong to the lower levels.

As you can see, the form of economic and political society proposed by distributism is fundamentally different than that proposed by socialism. Yes, distributists criticize the instability and injustices of the capitalist system as do the socialists, but the solutions proposed by the distributists are completely incompatible with the solutions proposed by socialism. Indeed, from the distributist perspective, the solutions proposed by socialism are in ways more unjust than the problems of capitalism they propose to solve.

 

Readers are invited to discuss essays in argumentative and fraternal charity, and are asked to help build up the community of thought and pursuit of truth that Ethika Politika strives to accomplish, which includes correction when necessary. The editors reserve the right to remove comments that do not meet these criteria and/or do not pertain to the subject of the essay.

  • Robb Beck

    “It is true that there are various strains of socialist thought.” Cooney needs to give these other forms of socialist thought a fair shake. In so doing, he might find that Distributism has much in common with some critical and viable forms of socialism.

    Consider for example decentralized socialism and the plea for subsidiarity (see the recent writings of the Marxist economist, Richard Wolff). Cooney might also consider Christian Socialism. As in many other forms of socialism, Christian Socialism is not against private property per se, but against property based on exploitative class relations. Like distributism, Christian Socialism advocates for what is “proper,” or determines propriety ownership on the basis of social function or obligation (see R.H. Tawney).

    In the end, I think distributist thought would be better served in trying to find what it has in common with socialism rather than simply rehashing Chesterton’s debates with Wells or Shaw.

    And one last plea for more nuance. Please consider the following from Pope Benedict:

    “Socialism took two main paths — the democratic and the totalitarian one. Democratic socialism became a healthy counterbalance to radically liberal positions in both existing models. It enriched and corrected them. It proved itself even when religious confessions took over. In England, it was the Catholic party, which felt at home neither in the Protestant-Conservative nor in the Liberal camp. Also in Wilhelmine Germany, the Catholic center could continue to feel closer to democratic socialism than to the conservative powers. In many ways, democratic socialism stands and stood close to the Catholic social teachings. It in any case contributed a substantial amount to the education of social conscience.”

  • Robb,

    I have heard this request before, particularly in regard to “Christian Socialism.” My problem with the concept is that socialism is based on a materalistic philosophy that is fundamentally incompatible with Christianity. I have yet to be presented with any explanation that would override my agreement with the popes of the past – that no one can simultaneously be a true Christian and a sincere socialist. There is a significant difference between saying that democratic socialism “stands close” to Christian teachings and that it is actually a compatible view. There is also a vast difference between saying that Catholics could “feel closer” to democratic socialism than the conservative alternatives. These statements do not constitute an endorsement of democratic socialism by the Catholic Church. I’m sorry, but the explanations that have been presented to me are either not really socialist, or are not really Christian. I have not yet been convinced that Christian Socialism isn’t an oxymoron.

    As I stated in my article, many implementations of socialism allowed private property to at least some extent, but this was determined by the highest level of government and the ownership was sometimes at its direction and always at its sufferance. In what way is this different than what you described about Christian Socialism? How does this not violate subsidiarity? Who determines how much property, how many people will fulfill which functions?

    Lastly, I did not rehash Chesterton’s debates with Wells or Shaw. I haven’t read those debates. My problem with socialism is based on my own views. I do not deny that the socialist movement contributed to the education and social conscious of the populous regarding the injustices of capitalism. I believe this was actually stated in my article. my problem is in the solutions proposed by socialists because, regardless of their good intentions, they are materialist in nature and violate fundamental principles of the science of philosophy and also the Christian Faith.

    However, I will end by admitting that I am always willing to give consideration to the arguments of others.

    • Correction:
      “There is also a vast difference between saying that Catholics could
      ‘feel closer’ to democratic socialism than the conservative
      alternatives.”

      should have been

      “There is also a vast difference between saying that Catholics could
      ‘feel closer’ to democratic socialism than the conservative
      alternatives and saying that it is an implementation of Catholic Social Teaching.”

    • Robb Beck

      Hi David,

      Appreciate the response.

      But a few things. Surely you see the problem in your reasoning: “my problem with the concept is that socialism is based on a materalistic philosophy” that is incompatible with Christianity. As you well know, some socialisms are materalistic, but many are not.

      I think intellectual integrity demands that you engage your opponents’ strongest arguments, not the weakest or those that can be blithely written off as “materalistic.” The problem with your logic, as I see it, is that you’re reducing all forms of socialism to your definition and claiming that anything that falls outside of this definition is not socialism: “the explanations that have been presented to me are either not really socialist, or are not really Christian.” Honestly, I’m left scratching my head at this.

      “In what way is this different than what you described about Christian Socialism?” Christian Socialists, just like distributists, reject centralized, bureaucratic government in favor of small scale, local production, and follow the principle of subsidiary. Christian Socialists answer the question of propery in the manner of Chesterton and Belloc: property is determined by what is proper and what accords with the Gospel. So does this answer your question?

      It’s not up to me to convince you, however, so I would encourage you to read the great Christian Socialists themselves: Karl Polanyi (The Great Transformation) and R.H. Tawney (Religion and the Rise of Capitalism). Also, fascinating that Pope Francis is calling for a return to Polanyi’s socialists (not Marxists!) analysis.

      Finally, a challenge: I bet you a pint of beer that after reading both Polanyi and Tawney you’ll be scratching your head, wondering to yourself, “how does this differ from distributism?” 🙂

      All the best,

      Robb

      • Robb,

        Well, since you’ve chosen to throw a few popes at me, I guess I’ll throw one back at you. I will also read more of the authors you listed.

        Pope Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno:

        46. Accordingly, twin rocks of shipwreck must be carefully avoided. For, as
        one is wrecked upon, or comes close to, what is known as
        “individualism” by denying or minimizing the social and public
        character of the right of property, so by rejecting or minimizing the private
        and individual character of this same right, one inevitably runs into
        “collectivism” or at least closely approaches its tenets. Unless this
        is kept in mind, one is swept from his course upon the shoals of that moral,
        juridical, and social modernism which We denounced in the Encyclical issued at
        the beginning of Our Pontificate.[29]

        117. But what if Socialism has really been so tempered and modified as to the
        class struggle and private ownership that there is in it no longer anything to
        be censured on these points? Has it thereby renounced its contradictory nature
        to the Christian religion? This is the question that holds many minds in
        suspense. And numerous are the Catholics who, although they clearly understand
        that Christian principles can never be abandoned or diminished seem to turn
        their eyes to the Holy See and earnestly beseech Us to decide whether this form
        of Socialism has so far recovered from false doctrines that it can be accepted
        without the sacrifice of any Christian principle and in a certain sense be
        baptized. That We, in keeping with Our fatherly solicitude, may answer their
        petitions, We make this pronouncement: Whether considered as a doctrine, or an
        historical fact, or a movement, Socialism, if it remains truly Socialism, even
        after it has yielded to truth and justice on the points which we have mentioned,
        cannot be reconciled with the teachings of the Catholic Church because its
        concept of society itself is utterly foreign to Christian truth.

        118. For, according to Christian teaching, man, endowed with a social nature,
        is placed on this earth so that by leading a life in society and under an
        authority ordained of God[54] he may fully cultivate and develop all his
        faculties unto the praise and glory of his Creator; and that by faithfully
        fulfilling the duties of his craft or other calling he may obtain for himself
        temporal and at the same time eternal happiness. Socialism, on the other hand,
        wholly ignoring and indifferent to this sublime end of both man and society,
        affirms that human association has been instituted for the sake of material
        advantage alone.

        120. If Socialism, like all errors, contains some truth (which, moreover, the
        Supreme Pontiffs have never denied), it is based nevertheless on a theory of
        human society peculiar to itself and irreconcilable with true Christianity.
        Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be
        at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.

        • Robb Beck

          Thanks David. And thanks for being willing to read the authors I mentioned.

          I see now that you were channeling Quadragesimo Anno. If I’m tracking you correctly, it sees to be that you’re rejecting Christian Socialism not on the basis of its ideas, its representatives, or its commitment to Christian orthodoxy, but on the basis of papal pronouncements, encyclicals, etc.

          I should at this point lay my cards on the table: Although Catholic, I’m not Roman Catholic, so am not bound to the teachings of the popes, correct as they may be at times (such as Benedict and Francis). I regard PIUS XI’s comments as question begging, such as when he states, “Socialism… cannot be reconciled with the teachings of the Catholic Church because its concept of society itself is utterly foreign to Christian truth.”

          So I think we’re at an impasse. Distributists do not reject non-materialist socialism, or non-Marxists socialism, or Christian Socialism, on the basis of its ideas, its foundation on the Eucharist, Holy Scriptures, the Fathers, St. Thomas Aquinas, etc., but on the basis of various papal pronouncements. Does that seem like a fair assessment?

          If the answer is “yes” or “sort of,” then I think the next question is the one that I led with: how then are they different exactly; and what do they have in common? And if they share much in common, as I argue they do, and that the distributist can find no grounds to reject Christian Socialism _on the merits of its teachings_, then why is the one condemned and not the other not?

          Of course, this is a topic for another thread. Many thanks for the conversation. Hope you found it as fruitful as I did.

          All the best,

          Robb

          • No Robb, you are not tracking me correctly. I do not reject Christian Socialism merely because of the pronouncement of popes. I have had discussions like this with other Christian Socialists who have asked me to review other authors than those you have listed. They also assured me that I would find a compatibility between distributism and Christian Socialism that failed to appear. In the end, they were still based on a materialistic philosophy that is incompatible with Christ, the Scriptures, the Fathers, St. Thomas and the popes. Therefore your assessment of my position is not fair and I do believe that distributists can find grounds to reject Christian Socialism on the merits of its own teachings. However, as I stated, I am willing to review other writings to see if they do not have the same failings.

            In fact, since the topic of Christian Socialism seems to come up as a special argument, since Christian Socialists seem to want distributists to declare that distributism and Christian Socialism are compatible, I have decided to add another article to my Distributism Basics that will cover that specific topic. I will, however review the authors you have suggested prior to writing this article in order to give the topic a fair treatment.

          • Robb Beck

            Thank you for the clarification, David.

            I think an additional article sounds like an excellent idea. Very much looking forward to it.

            Until then,

            Robb

  • Rosemary58

    From this essay, it seems that socialism and capitalism are economic models, while distributism is political. As an economic model, the appellation “distributism” has a somewhat communist connotation.

    Our U.S. Constitution has a healthy fear of power that may be consolidated at the federal level. Distributism requires great initiative from local sources to combat the federal juggernaut but I fear it ends with division and chaos. Sadly, it’s like we are fighting the Revolution over and over again, so great is the urge to centralize our government. Federalism is the ideal- but we end up with Centralism!

    PS: When this country was poor, it was those damned capitalists who built railroads, banks, sewers, bridges, hospitals, libraries, universities, roads, homes, etc, etc, etc. Millions were employed and trained in trades that the “old” country guilds did not allow access to unless one was in select circle. Say what you will about the capitalists tactics which were certainly cutthroat, the results fed, clothed, and schooled my forebears and gave them a life of which they could not even have dreamed in Ireland and Europe.

    • colin mcdermott

      “Our U.S. Constitution has a healthy fear of power” and appropriate measures for 400 years ago. Americans, please Your right to bear arms is not going to protect you from multinational corporations establishing a Monopoly market.

      Agreed, one question over Distributism is will we just see local fiefdom Chaos instead of Local empowerment?

      “it was those damned capitalists who built railroads, banks, etc.” Today however we see a very different form of capitalist. Then we had entrepreneurs, people who would take risks and back their projects and build society. Today we see “Patent trolls”, “Board executives (who make money on loss or profit of their company)” and people literally betting on the share market.
      The only time the Rockafella’s get wheeled out is to justify these paper pushers who are making much more money from doing things that are not beneficial from the economy.
      The American economy is being de-regulated at an increasing pace and the American love affair with Neo-liberal captialism has justified this de-regulation. More Capitalism is not the solution to our problems, but it is the solution being applied.

  • Rosemary,

    The relationship of politics and economics will be discussed more as the series continues. The name, distributism, refers to distributive justice within society itself and has nothing whatsoever to do with communism. In fact distributism would be much more democratic than even the most strict interpretation of the U. S. Constitution.

    Yes, it is true that capitalists built railroads and banks, but you can’t give too much credit to the capitalists for the other things you listed. Roads, bridges and sewers were built long before the capitalists came along (and not always by slave labor). Universities and hospitals were built during the Middle Ages when the economic structure was essentially distributist.

    In regard to having to belong to a select circle (guild) during the Middle Ages, there is no difference in that and having to have a license to operate in a given jurisdiction today. Journeymen travelled to where the work was needed. It was also not that uncommon to employ masters from different areas for particularly large projects.

    Yes, it is true that immigrants (my forebears as well) from Ireland and elsewhere got work here when there was none in their own country. Ireland provided lots of them when the capitalists (and the politicians they controlled) decided that they had no social obligation toward those who were starving. Don’t forget that the two largest exports from Ireland at that time were (1) food and (2) starving Irish. It was the capitalists who did that.

    And what did the Irish and others (like the Chinese) get from the capitalists here in the U. S.? Were those railroads built by well paid employees? No. They were paid barely enough to live because the capitalists exploited them. I know a lot of people who don’t like unions. I don’t like what they’ve become, but at least I keep in mind why they were formed. It wasn’t because ungrateful workers wanted more. It is because capitalists built what they did and became as rich as they did paying so little that even having both parents work didn’t provide enough for a family to survive and they had to send their children to work in the factories as well.

    • Rosemary58

      Thank you, David, for your response but I am hoping that you are not advocating a system redolent of the Middle Ages. onarchism was de rigeur at that time, coupled with a very large dose of serfdom. It worked then, kept order and fed millions who would never have access to food and work. I think distributism would have been seen to be a threat to the economic and political order. Guilds in Europe were, and are, like private clubs – very hard to get into.

      As to Ireland, I recall a potato blight being the chief reason why my ancestors had to leave, not capitalists. Even though my great-grandfather had to toil in Pennsylvania coal mines, no one arrested him for learning how to read and write, nor did anyone arrest his children for doing so – as would have been the case back “home”. He loved capitalists so much that he became one. Capitalists made that possible for him because they paid him fairly and since they trusted him with the workers, they gave him more responsibility and pay, and so on and so on. Poor people don’t create jobs.

      • Rosemary,

        I think you missed the point about the two largest exports from Ireland during the blight. There was food aplenty, and yet the Irish (particularly the Catholics) starved. It was the capitalists in Ireland who felt they had no responsibility toward their workers. It was the capitalists in Ireland who got the laws passed that prohibited them from cooperating in their growing efforts and leaving them with so little land to work for themselves that they became completely dependent on the potato to live. It was the capitalists in Ireland who got the laws passed that prohibited them from learning to read and write.

        I am currently working on another article about distributism and the Middle Ages. In summary, though, I am not advocating a return to the Middle Ages. I do not advocate a return to the Three Estates or serfdom. However, not everything about the economics in the Middle Ages was bad, and several things were far more just than what we have under capitalism. Essentially, I think that society “threw the baby out with the bath water” in regard to the Middle Ages, rejecting both good and bad instead of just jettisoning the social constructs that no longer applied.

      • Rosemary,

        Here is my article on Distributism and Medieval Romanticism.
        http://practicaldistributism.blogspot.com/2014/08/distributism-and-medieval-romanticism.html

  • Edgardo Tenreiro

    Distributism IS socialism:

    1) Even granting as plausible the essentially wrong distributist (and socialist) critique against capitalism–that small capitalists are necessarily swallowed by larger capitalists resulting in a high concentration of capital in few hands–even granting that, the great majority of individuals will not freely chose to be capitalists. They will rather receive an advance now (in the form of wages paid by the capitalist) on the return on capital than assume the risk of loss or wait for time it takes a capitalist to realize those returns.

    2) The distributist (and socialist) Dickensian reading of the Industrial Revolution’s misery on the factory floors is grossly exaggerated, but why is it that distributist and socialist don’t tell us about the choices the poor had as the Revolution was taking place? Having no skills, no capital and no family distributist small shop, the Revolution gave the poor masses an option to earn a living on the factory floor rather than face even worse conditions in rural areas. Their only salvation was the factory floor and there is nothing immoral about the choices these poor people made in working for a capitalist. Distributists, if they would have been alive then and if their policies would have been implemented, would have been guilty of producing mass starvation.

    3) Finally, distributism (and socialism) rely on the state’s intervention to enforce its economic policy mandates, presumably, for example, expropriating capital that has been accumulated beyond a certain level, abolishing private banking and the charging of interest, etc. All these interventions assume that the state can give coordinating meaning to its mandates. This is theoretically impossible because a central bureaucracy, even if it had a distributive rather than a socialist ideology, cannot avail itself of all the information generated by the market place to make the decisions that capitalists and consumer a make instantly and on an ongoing basis. That is precisely the beauty of the price system of capitalism. The inexorable result of all such distributist interventions will be the growth of the state and it’s crony allies.

    • Greg Guest

      1) Here, you appear to have a mistaken view of distributism. You confuse ‘the capitalist’ with the company or management of the company. I would argue that the overwhelming majority of individuals would – if given the opportunity – prefer to work for a company the stock for which is wholly held by the workers themselves. This is distributism.

      2) This is the same old consequentialist argument that Acton or Tom Woods use over and over again. The ends don’t justify the means. Someone might have a paycheck that they didn’t have before, but if it is built on inhumane working conditions and and anti-family labor policy, there is no benefit to the system worth maintaining.

      3) Distributistism doesn’t call for an end to private banking. It was rather the capitalists that gave us the behemoth quasi-governmental regulator of the Federal Reserve. The expropriation of capital is nonsense – distributists believe in the marketplace, we just don’t believe it can be devoid of ethics and morality. Since when does a desire for sanity and morality in the marketplace mean a craving for big state intervention?

      The only way to ensure “the growth of the state and it’s crony allies” is to continue advocating for a laissez faire market.

      • Mark

        How does it follow that laissez-faire will ensure the growth of statism and cronyism when the statists and cronies do everything possible to make sure laissez-faire is never approached?

    • Edgardo,

      If you are unwilling to admit that the economic and political model proposed by distributists is completely incompatible with those of socialism, then I don’t know that we can have a meaningful conversation. There is a difference between saying that large businesses tend to swallow small, and that capitalism provides no protection from that, and saying that it “necessarily” happens. Other distributists may have said that, but I did not.

      Again, I cannot speak for other distributists, but I do not reference Dickens when recounting the factory conditions of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. There are plenty of photographs, news reports, and even public records for that. You say that we impose a false Dickensian view, but you seem to impose a romanticized one. I have never heard any distributist say that there was any immoral aspect of a poor person’s choice to work in a factory when they had no other option for survival, but you cannot say the same thing about the capitalists who could afford to pay living wages and freely chose not to because the workers we so desperate that they would accept nearly anything.

      You also don’t seem to know the history of distributism. Distributists were alive in those times and, had their policies been implemented, the people wouldn’t have starved because there would have been more factories owned by more people. Competition (eliminated by the capitalists) would have created conditions were the owners would have paid better wages and working conditions. I’m sorry, but you own theories of the laws of supply and demand prove you wrong.

      Finally, you are wrong about distributism’s reliance on a powerful state government enforcing its economic policies, and certainly wrong about the expropiating capital. It was the capitalists who did this starting all the way back to the days of Adam Smith. It was capitalists who got laws passed prohibiting home manufacture of products the capitalists were also producing in the factories. It was the capitalists who seized lands previously open to the public and put them in the hands of big business interests. It was the capitalists who have put unreasonable burdens and restrictions on the private growing and raising of food.

      Yes, I know you will say that “government” did all of these things. So, it’s just a coincidence that the government not only did these things that benefits big business, but simultaneously got subsidies from that same government. You say that distributism relies on the powerful state to enforce its policies. Well, capitalists have always, since the beginning of capitalism, used the power of the state to enforce its policies on an unwilling public and it is capitalists that established its crony allies to ensure that the public cannot become self sufficient.

      • Correction: My wording in that last paragraph reads as though the government gives subsidies to itself. Government gives subsidies to big business while imposing burdensome regulations with which only big businesses can afford to comply.

  • RoamingCatholic

    Interesting distinction between “utopian” and “scientific” socialism, which I was not aware of. The former sounds more like anarchism, and the latter more like socialism as we know it, since that’s how it has always turned out in practice: as a vicious statism with the same basic problem as capitalism in its hyper-concentration of wealth and power into a few hands (the difference being whether this is justified by individualist or collectivist ideology).

    The first thought I had on reading the introductory paragraph (and I stand by it) was that anyone who equates distributism with socialism has not read Rerum Novarum (or certainly not understood it).

  • Ralph Coelho

    This
    is a fascinating view of real life relationships in society, exclusive of
    emotion and morality. The “logic” of communism, capitalism, slavery and freedom
    require the elimination of motivations of power incorporates affiliation motivation
    and discourages achievement. The human race would become like the lilies of the
    field or the sparrow on the wire – completely determined by God’s will.

    When
    one brings in psychology or behavioural science or religion to improve one’s understanding
    anything changes. Christian morality promotes love of God and love of neighbour
    as unique but still complementary. All main line religions have a degree of
    love of neighbour and are rightly respected, even acclaimed, for it. But none of
    them promotes these fundamental ideas. Christianity places the onus on tee individual
    to make a choice that will be rewarded if made rightly. Other religions are far
    less categorical.

  • William N. Spencer

    While today in America one percent of the population owns/controls 25% of America’s wealth, under Communism/Socialism 100% of the wealth / property is owned, vis a vis control, by the government (the people).