A clear definition of distributism

Maybe not the right thread, but…
Could someone give me a good, clear definition of distributism?

Here is one view; catholicapologetics.info/morality/money/distributisim.htm

God Bless

Distributism is the pursuit of wide ownership of productive property (a society in which people are part or full owners of companies people work in). Distributism is an attempt to encourage owner-operated businesses in society.

Distributists range widely on how they would like to see this sort of culture encouraged.

Hope that helps!

Nice post dude and awesome definition you mentioned here. This is the way to expose to your ideas. Thanks for sharing such a nice thread.

I read the link and it told me nothing practical. It spent a lot of time slamming the current system, whatever you wish to call it, Capitalism or Laissez-faire Capitalism, but I was waiting for more than a vague description of an ideal.

I think that people are way to hung up on “systems” and are forgetting to what this article seems only pay lip-service. The essential ingredient is faith. If and when there are sufficient believing and practicing Catholics in the fullest doctrinal sense of that concept to constitute the majority of any given nation, they then have practical control of its laws.

From that practical control there is one law that needs passing to transform the nature of the economics of that nation. Ban usury. Ban it outright. Be prepared for the full aggressive and warlike response of the bankers and their legions of investors and assorted others who want to get rich without actually working for it.

You don’t have to talk about “free markets” and capitalism, etc., etc. What happens in such a society is this. Those who wish to create something can do so. Property is then accessible to all, just as the distributist wants. Without usury, any investment of capital sums would have to be local because the return would be in the production of whatever enterprise was invested. It would not be simply interest.

The law already has as its principle the protection of persons from theft or fraud or harm of any kind from another. To the extent that people are less than perfect there would still need to be laws and enforcement. Obviously. But without usury there is a structural difference which would eliminate a whole category of crime. And the prices of goods, real estate and so forth would reflect this removal of the drag of usury on the economy.

What are market economics in the first place? It is simply people trading with one another, which they would still do. The idea of rugged individualism would die a natural death, perhaps without people noticing that it was never achieved in any meaningful way anyway. It was simply a mythology to create the illusion of freedom. The most productive slave is the one that thinks he is free.

If you want to call such a society distributist, by all means. But I think that it would only survive in that condition so long as the faith of the majority of the people survived.

So, the first practical step to achieve such a society is evangelization, the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our current system is far from being Laissez Faire capitalism. We have a heavily regulated economy ordered toward the creating of larger businesses. We should have regulations that support the creation of small businesses and self employment and discourage large business enterprises instead of the other way around.

Are you defining usury to be the collection of any interest at all on a loan, or only excessive interest? Because if you ban any and all interest on loans, then that would dry up the source of investment money completely. No one would loan to anyone else except as an act of charity. If I want to build a factory I would have to save up my money for years and years until I had enough to build the factory from my own funds. No one is going to lend me that kind of money without some promise of a return that is more than they invested.

You could, of course, build a coalition of owners requiring much less time to save up, right?

A coalition where all are equal participants? It is unlikely that I will be able to find enough like-minded people who want to commit to working on this project as their life’s work. What is more likely is I will find a good number of people who would like to be part of this endeavor, but the only thing they bring to the party is some money. Must I turn them away, saying “if you don’t want to make this your full-time job then you can have no part in it”? I won’t get many co-owners that way. But people may want to be co-owners in the sense that they can keep their day job and just “invest” in the project. But then they would be called “investors”, and their reward would be called “interest”, and we would be right back where we started with the existing system. I think the only viable definition of “usury” is one that recognizes the morality of reasonable loans while rejecting unjust and unreasonable ones.

Best offering so far, I would say.

But let me add that there is a personal aspect to the concept; that is that each person, particularly people with families, have an obligation to work toward achieving the goal as well. So, for instance, resisting excessive consumerism, acquiring assets that might help following generations, resisting the sometimes odious ideologies of both big business and government, teaching one’s family well in the faith and in keeping the faith.

The whole purpose of the distributist notion is to free individuals and families from undue pressure from big business or big government so they may better pursue their own family values, particularly religious values. Independence of resources can be seen as an aid to that goal. Excessive financial dependency engenders ideological dependency.

I like the definition in Frank Pearson’s signature line.


Guys, just say for arguments’ sake i am starting a company with this distributist system in mind. At the moment it is just two of us, i am working part time and the other guy full time. How would you divide up the profit share that reflects the distributist ideal? How would the shareholding be like? 50 50 with provisions for the full time person so he gets his fair share?

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