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Economics Archives

October 9, 2015

Distributism and the American political economy.

In light of the excellent recent posts on the question of political economy from Tony and Jeff, it may be well to review some of the observations and principles which form a wise basis for evaluating that tangled question.

Readers unfamiliar with our history should be aware: The pernicious dominance of the financial interest, and its plunge into fraud and usury, has been a frequent subject for conversation around here for many years. When a Distributist commenter pronounces thusly: “Mere financial property, apart from other things, makes its holders more beholden to [the] state than otherwise,” he may perhaps be surprised to discover little disagreement from us.

That situation, however, is not broadly descriptive of America, even after the financial crisis and rescue late in the previous decade.

How many there are in this country, or for that matter across much of what used to be called the West, who hold exclusively or primarily financial assets, eschewing land, machines, luxury items, etc., is unknown to me but it cannot be a very large number.

I'm willing to conjecture that generally speaking wealth in financial assets strongly correlates with wealth in physical possession of land and the means of production. But that should not lead us to neglect the many millions who are indeed the Distributist’s ideal of small property holders: They own, let us say, a house, two cars, an iMac, cellphone and several other devices; perhaps a small hobbyist's beer-brewing operation, or some rifles or shotguns for recreational shooting, or tents and camping equipment, or bicycles, kayaks, golf clubs; antique chess boards, a nice smoker or grill, a collection of Churchill first editions. I could go on.

America is still a middle class country, and a vibrant middle class is what both Distributism and free markets, rightly understood, aim to achieve

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