Distributism: An Offered Economic Alternative

I have a commenter name Stephen (see => https://citizentom.com/2016/11/01/presidential-pros-and-cons-the-purpose-of-government/#comment-71397) who usually leaves me quite confused. So I appreciated this post.

7 thoughts on “Distributism: An Offered Economic Alternative

  1. I like the thought of a restored guild system in which the workers are invested in their work. I don’t know, though, how we could transfer from the contemporary corporate system to a working guild system. J.


    1. Distributism provides some interesting ideas and insights, but as you suggest, it is not realistic. How would we get to a working guild system? The master minds know. It just requires sufficient power. A bunch of fines. Lots of people in jail. Some executions. Economic turmoil we can blame upon the wreckers of the distributist system.

      If it was so great, why did the guild system unravel? The guild system in Europe allowed the masters to control access to the trade with a difficult process of becoming a qualified master. So guild masters could charge quite bit for their services. Eventually, they priced themselves out of the market. The members of the auto unions in this country have done something similar.

      Nevertheless, the guild system survives where there is sufficient government backing. Consider the university system. Lot of professions require degrees. Medical doctors have been most successful at this sort of thing. That is why doctors make so much money. That is what distributism is in practice.


      1. Distributism does not fix all problems. It does, however, fix some major problems. Some of its principles have already been realized, like Land Value Taxes in PA.

        To make it work, there needs to be a shift in thought on the purpose and nature of government. It is not a force of perpetual injustice or a cornucopia from which all blessings flow. It is not, properly speaking, a thing at all; it cannot properly be called a substance, but a sub-substance if you will.

        A government stems solely from the human mind for the ordering of human action. That is all it is: it is humans ordering their societal action i.e. the actions that affect the society. Now, for distributism to work, the government has to be calculated towards the preservation of the individual human person, the family, and the principles and demands of Justice.

        As for guilds, it may be possible, through reformation of the trade school and tech schools systems, we could formulate a guild type system for the modern age. It would also require the reformation of unions into guilds–and perhaps competing guilds–and their integration with the trade and tech schools. This could be accomplished simply by making multilateral agreements between the various actors with minor changes in the current legislation.The trade problems with guilds would be nullified by the demands of international free trade. To a certain extent, guild systems exist in certain professions from the lawyers and doctors to the barber and masseuse. We need not chuck what already exists, merely build on it.


        1. @Stephen

          The problem with any Utopian scheme is really quite simple. To realize our dream, our Utopia, we have to force other people to give up their own efforts in pursuit of happiness.

          What is the obvious compromise? I run my life. You run your life. If we mutually agree we have cause to work together in voluntary cooperation, then we are more likely to be prosperous. Yet the minute we give someone the power to force us to labor for someone else’s benefit, then that guy with the power to do that is just going to make us all miserable.


          1. “To realize our dream, our Utopia, we have to force other people to give up their own efforts in pursuit of happiness.”

            You should really read the book. It might give you an understanding of what the word actually means. The word, as it was originally conceived by Thomas More, was a metaphor to discuss the various social ills in England at the time without being accused of sedition. Some would be philosophers of a conservative bent, however, have perverted the meaning to describe anything that deviates from the asserted orthodoxy of their Liberalism.

            And that “compromise” is precisely the argument for state sanctioned gay marriage and abortion. Neither you nor I, the argument goes, have the right to tell anyone else who they can marry or whether they can kill a child living in their body.


  2. That was interesting, thanks for linking to it. Distributism, I think that’s a beautiful idea, we could almost call that compassionate capitalism. The problem is well, the nature of people. LOL, we just don’t distribute well!

    I don’t wish to stereotype here, but when we ran our business some of the worst people to deal with were always very well off, Christians. We’d do the work and they’d delay payment for every virtuous reason possible. They’d also quibble over every single thing and bully their way to a lower price. Then they’d write us a rubber check and disappear on a mission trip. Seriously. It was uncanny.

    The idealism wrapped around the idea of distributism kind of took my breath away. It’s beautiful, but I sure wouldn’t trust it, it’s just not the real world. One of the only reasons we were able to eat and keep the lights on was due to good old fashioned capitalism. My husband was in demand and not dependent on nothing more than people’s alleged generosity and honor.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @insanitybytes22

      People are always looking for some magical system to fix all our problems. The isn’t one, but wisdom is required to accept that. Once we accept the fact that we can only achieve an optimum state and the considerable effort is required to maintain such a state, we start put more value on freedom than Utopia. It is great deal easier to just run my own life and let everyone else run their life. It is also a lot less bloody.

      Most of the economic disparities we have now stem from too much government. The reason intercity kids cannot get a decent education is primarily due to government-run schools.

      To get much of what the distributists want? Reduce the size of government. Make people pay tolls and user fees for the government services they use. If we did that, people would start to organize more around their churches and schools. Our voluntary associates would assume greater importance. Voluntary associations require trust. Those who cannot be trusted — those who exploit others — are not welcomed.


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