I don’t make a huge deal about distributism here on the site because I think economic models are not our primary concern right now and will work themselves out eventually. Different strokes for different folks and all of that. However for people who are preparedness liberty types traditionalist or liberty-loving neo-hippies for that matter, distributism looks very familiar; simplify, reduce, reuse and recycle, barter, minimize your use of usury (too big to fail) banks? All common sense actions. The people who created and popularized the Catholic Land Movement which I went over in detailed here, concept really encouraged distributism. Distributism is often called the “third way.” It tries to be something between laissez-faire capitalism (we have the right to pump what we want into the streams on our property, which then flows into your drinking water, put pink-slime into our meat and sell porn on the Children Cartoon Network at 1500 in the afternoon) and socialism (you owe your neighbor, food, housing and a phone, and we can tell you how you should protect your family). I found in my constant reading an article that introduced distributism in an easy to understand way and I thought I would share. The article does a great job of explaining what it is and how you can take advantage of it now. Thus when your natural logical mind is saying “this makes a lot of sense” it is normally a good starting point. I have modified the article a bit.
Adapted from an editorial that ran in Gilbert Magazine December, 2009 issue, adapted from the American Chesterton Society website for informational, educational purposes. © 2012 The American Chesterton Society
Gilbert Magazine is inspired to give its readers a gift: a way to detoxify from Capitalism. In favor of what? Distributism, of course. Like that other “concept” found difficult and thus left untried, Distributism is often grossly misunderstood. Over the years, we have received letters claiming it is “foolish,” “impractical,” “backward,” and “unlikely”—strange words to describe the only economic scheme that functions for everyone and that can be sustained over time. Nothing but Distributism, we retort, is more likely to survive the current financial mess we find ourselves in—will enough of us realize it in time, and return to sanity? Toward this end we present the Twelve-Step Program for Distributism, a primer for the reluctant and a refresher course to help our readers kick the Capitalism habit.
Step One – Subsidiary. Begin by thinking like a Distributist. A little-known but powerful idea called subsidiarity states that larger entities like states and federal authorities should not assume rights and responsibilities proper to smaller entities, especially the family. The principle works both ways, of course—a thirteen-year-old boy must not presume to switch around signs for the local county roads; neither should the county be permitted to determine whether the boy goes to bed without his supper for the prank. What are the undue influences in your own home? Act to remove these, and fight to keep them out. The devil is always on the prowl for the purpose of destroying souls.
Step Two – Simplify. Look at your possessions. Which do you own and which own you? Possessions that give nothing and drain your checkbook are worse than worthless; get rid of them. Consider possessions as resources, and you will see them in a new light. One person stopped tossing cardboard, kitchen scraps, and old potting soil; he now mixes these with composting worms and grows vegetables and fruits no money can buy. All on his apartment balcony.
Step Three – Have kids. A billboard appearing nationally displays several small infants with the caption: “Children, our greatest resource.” We cannot say it better. Married? Have a child. Have one child, Have another. God created all races of humanity, for some (like European or Japanese) to commit cultural suicide is against what God built. Find your joy in love of God and family. Have children, trust God. You’ll never regret it.
Step Four – Put your family first. Stop working for your boss. No, we’re not suggesting you quit your job—ready cash is a resource, after all. Rather, put your job and your boss in their proper place, after the family. Many people work long years for perks that, if they ever come, fail to satisfy. Awards won’t console you on your deathbed.
Step Five – Learn to live on one Salary. Married? Get your wife fired. Many couples have no idea what a working wife and mother (who primarily works outside the home) costs the family. Never mind the childcare; how many times a week do you eat out or buy take-home, not because you want to (or even have the money), but simply because mom and dad are exhausted and the kids are screaming? Is your freezer stuffed with “convenience foods”? Did you buy a boat that sits in the backyard ten months out of the year because “Suzy’s working and we can afford it”?
Step Six – Simplify. Are you thriving, or just surviving? Ever run to the store for something only to discover its twin on the shelf when you got home? Can’t find clean socks? You’ve got a management problem. See Steps Two and Five.
Step Seven – Down Time. Still working on Sunday when you don’t have to? Even God knew when to rest. Genuine recreation fixes friendships, saves marriages, and restores the soul—play is a serious matter; we can’t live without it.
Step Eight – Minimize Taxable events. Resurrect the fine old art of bartering. Yes, the government hates anything that can’t be taxed. But most barters have to do with the rare odd jobs we can’t do ourselves, like fixing a broken eave board on a second-story roof; your neighbor has the equipment; why should you buy them for a one-time job? Especially when he needs a new rotor cap for his old Ford and you have the part.
Step Nine – Produce more of what you Consume. Learn to feed yourself. The price of food at the grocer’s is increasing out of all proportion to what it’s worth—shipping and packaging costs are responsible. Fresh vegetables are easy to grow in a small garden space or even under fluorescent shop lights. Take up hunting and fishing; study the art of foraging. And when you buy, make it local.
Step Ten – Let kids grow up. Children learn more by osmosis and less by lecture. Help them do the work proper to them by not stooping to do it yourself. Triumph through struggle is the mother of self-esteem.
Step Eleven – Stay involved. Do you home school or send your children to private school? Attend a local school board meeting anyway, and learn how your tax money is spent. Find out what’s happening at city hall, and hold elected officials accountable. You needn’t run for office—a boar in the ointment is worth at least one in the mayor’s chair.
Step Twelve – Advertise. Tell a neighbor about Distributism. Tell another one. And another. Once upon a time we were all Distributists, for Distributism is nothing more than the economy of the family. It is, we must repeat, the only system that works. Sustainable business practices and agriculture, holistic management, the return of stay-at-home mothering: these are not mere escapism from a world that is falling down around us. They are attempts to restore something we had and must have again if we are to survive. Best of all, Distributism is free.
Here is a link to a flier I found. The language is a bit neo-hippie because I think it was designed for that crowd, but the message is clear. Also here is a interview that was done DEC2012 and focuses on returning veterans finding their way to the fields. The system we have does not work, we should return to something that works better.