Tuesday, December 12, 2006


I have discussed Distributism here on a number of occassions, its influence on Social Credit and on current Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.

Here is a definition of it from an interesting article on C.K. Chesterton and Dorothy Day, Catholic advocates. If Capitalism is Protestantism, and Socialism is Pantheism, then Distributism is the Catholic alternative.


The economic philosophy of both The Catholic Worker and Chesterton was distributism and at the heart of distributism is private property. The word distributism comes from the idea that a just social order can be achieved through a much more widespread distribution of property. Distributism means a society of owners. It means that property belongs to the many rather than the few. It is related to the idea of subsidiarity, emphasized in all papal encyclicals relating to social teaching and economics. Subsidiarity, in the words of the Quadragesimo Anno, means that "It is an injustice and at the same time a great evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social and never destroy and absorb them."

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Anonymous said...

Have you been reading Free Dominion lately? ;)

john said...

Dear Eugene,
Pope Benedict XVI’s recent trip to Brazil has highlighted once again the question of the Catholic Church’s position on matters of social justice. For over one hundred years, beginning with Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum, the popes have sought to guide the faithful in understanding their social responsibilities—without allowing the social and material concerns to override the spiritual. It’s a fine line to walk, all the more so because this age is the heir to the Enlightenment, and widespread belief in the fundamental separation between the mind and the body, between the individual and the social, insists that the Church can have no say in how individuals choose to use their resources, no matter what the consequences may be. That is, the Church may say whatever she wants about spiritual matters, but she must remain silent on matters material and economic.

What, then, is the Catholic to do? Ignore the writings of the popes and maintain an inviolate barrier between his or her spiritual and economic lives? Or follow the teachings of the social encyclicals without regard to their effect on business practice and the bottom line? Neither.

Into the confused waters of social justice wades a new book. The Vocation of Business: Social Justice in the Marketplace illustrates the social encyclicals with real-world examples of businesses that have actually improved their profits by improving the lives of their employees. It demonstrates that the popes’ writings are not only spiritually but also materially sound, without allowing material concerns to overwhelm spiritual ones. Moreover, The Vocation of Business examines economic and philosophical history in a lively and engaging manner to show how the post-Enlightenment fragmentation of the individual and social realms came about, and proposes measures that can be taken to heal the breach.

Author John C. M├ędaille combines thirty years of business experience with advanced studies in theology to produce a clear and readable guide to the Church’s social teachings. The Vocation of Business is, above all, a practical guide to being in the business world without being of it.

Take a look inside this book at Amazon.com (http://tinyurl.com/3bdmud ). You may contact me at john@medaille.com.