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DistributistPersPectives

Volume I

Essays on the Economics ofJustice and Charity

Cdr. Herbert W. Shove George MaxwellHilaire Belloc G.K. Chesterton Arthur J. Penty

H.J. Massingham Eric Gill Harold Robbins

Norfolk, VA2004

With A Twenty-First Century Appraisal of Distributism by Dr. Thomas H. Naylor,

and an Introduction by Fr. Lawrence C. Smith

Distributist Perspectives Volume I.

Copyright 2004 IHS Press.

Preface, footnotes, typesetting, layout, and cover design copyright 2004 IHS Press.All rights reserved.

And His Menatal Exodus, from People and Things, by H. J. Massingham, is copyright The Society of Authors, the Literary Representative of the Estate of H. J. Massingham; the selection is included in the present volume by the Societys gracious permission. On Knowing the Past, by Hilaire Belloc, is copyright the Estate of Hilaire Belloc, by whose gracious permission this article appears in the present volume. Painting and the Public, from Beauty Looks After Herself, by Eric Gill, is included in the present volume by arrangement with Continuum International Publishing Group, Inc. IHS Press was unable to locate the holders of the original copyrights to Distributism: A Manifesto and The Sun of Justice. Any information leading to their identification would, therefore, be much appreciated. Additionally, the Editors wish gratefully to acknowledge the contribution of Dale Ahlquist of the American Chesterton Society and Rodger Phillips of CatholicAuthors.com to the biographical sketches of G. K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc.Notes to the original texts are included as footnotes. Editors notes have been included as endnotes and are therefore to be found at the back of this edition, immediately following the texts and just prior to the biographical sketches.

ISBN-13 (eBook): 9781932528374

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Distributist perspectives / [compiled by John Sharpe ... [et al.]]. p. cm.Subtitle varies. ISBN 0-9718286-7-9 1. Distributive justice. 2. Wealth--Moral and ethical aspects. I. Sharpe, John, 1971- HB523.D568 2003 330--dc212003005883

Printed in the United States of America.

Table of Contents

page

Reclaiming the Tradition: Introduction to theDistributist Perspectives Series.......................................................7

by the Directors, IHS Press

Averting Self-Destruction: A Twenty-First CenturyAppraisal of Distributism..........................................................17

by Dr. Thomas H. Naylor

DISTRIBUTIST PERSPECTIVES I

IntroductIon........................................................................27by Fr. Lawrence C. Smith

I. On Knowing the Past...........................................................35by Hilaire Belloc

II. The Truth About Work......................................................40by George Maxwell

III. On Organisation and Efficiency.......................................46by G.K. Chesterton

IV. The Growth of Industrialism.............................................50by Cdr. Herbert Shove

IllustratIons........................................................................58

V. The Buttress of Freedom.....................................................61by Harold Robbins

VI. Painting and the Public.....................................................68by Eric Gill

VII. And His Mental Exodus................................................76by Harold J. Massingham

VIII. Distributism: A Manifesto............................................86by Arthur J. Penty

I. Economic Principles......................................................86II. Historical Observations.............................................100III. Conclusion: Practical Applications...........................106

about the authors.............................................................116

17

avertIng self-destructIonA Twenty-First Century Appraisal of Distributism

WIth the rIse of communIsm in the Soviet Union and elsewhere in the 1920s, a group of mostly English, Catholic writers proposed an interesting alternative to Soviet-style Communism and Corporate Capitalism which they called Distributism. Thoroughly grounded in Catholic social teach-ings, Distributism called for broad-based, decentralized ownership of private property as well as small businesses, small factories, small schools, small farms, small crafts, and small towns. It advocated a return to farming, the primacy of the countryside, organic methods, environmental integrity, and human-scale enterprise of all sorts.

The Distributist League was founded in 1926 by a group that included G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Maurice Reckitt, Capt. H. S. D. Went, and William Titterton. Other well-known Distributists included Eric Gill, Harold J. Massingham, George Maxwell, Arthur J. Penty, Harold Robbins, and Fr. Vincent McNabb. Unfortunately, the influence of these smallholder advocates was relatively short-lived. They were soon completely overshadowed by the Cold War. When I studied history of economic thought as part of my Ph.D. training in the early 1960s, there was no mention of the Distributists. Literally all of the action was between Big Capitalism and Big Socialism. It was as though no other alternatives even existed.

However, with the demise of Soviet Communism in 1991, unfettered Corporate Capitalism became the only game in town. This resulted in the Clinton global economic boom of the 1990s with all of its fury.

At the apex of Soviet political influence, its hard to imagine communist propaganda ever being as effective as our govern-ment, our media, and our academic experts in promulgating the lies, myths, and half-truths perpetrated by Wall Street, Corporate America, and Silicon Valley about the benefits of globalization and

Distributist Perspectives18

the Internet. Before the e-bubble burst and the prices of high-tech stocks came crashing back to earth, millions had turned to cyber-space for everything from information, employment, business, shopping, entertainment, and low-cost telecommunication to more transcendental benefits such as spirituality, worship, meaning, and community. College graduates saw the Internet as a ticket to fame, fortune, financial security, self-actualization, and grassroots democ-racy. The Net was their virtual God.

The intense frenzy with which the ubiquitous Internet was embraced was reminiscent of the nineteenth-century gold rush and the Texas and California oil booms. Americans were mesmerized by the techno-hype and cant dished out by Silicon Valley. Viewed by many as a limitless electronic marketplace, Bill Clinton called the Net our new town square.

Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan described the Clin-ton boom at various times as a once-in-a-generation frenzy of specu-lation driven by irrational exuberance and infectious greed.

Pundits claimed that e-business, the use of PCs and the Inter-net within a firm, would radically transform the way megacompanies do business by extending without limit their ability to reduce average costs as output increases. However, the number of megamergers that have gone sour, such as AOL Time Warner, Enron, Global Cross-ing, Tyco International, and WorldCom, casts doubt on such think-ing. Were Enron and WorldCom metaphors for America?

Claims that information technology, the communication revolu-tion, deregulation, and globalization would so alter the New Economy that increased productivity, record-high profits, levitating stock market prices, strong economic growth and job creation, low unem-ployment, and scant inflation would surely last forever have proven to be premature. Thirty-one months after the NASDAQ reached an all-time high of 5,049 on March 10, 2000, it had lost nearly 80 percent of its value and the Dow Jones average had fallen by nearly 40 percent resulting in a total loss of $8 trillion for investors.

Personal bankruptcies are at an all-time high and United Air Lines and USAir are but two of a plethora of high-profile corporate bankruptcies. A cover-page article in Business Week (February 3, 2003) was entitled, Is Your Job Next? It suggested that, A new round of globalization is sending upscale jobs offshore.

Averting Self-Destruction 19

An important contributing factor to the high-tech meltdown, mentioned by few, is global market saturation. In a world in which half the population lives on less than two dollars a day and over a billion people live on only half that amount, there is an upper limit on the number of PCs, Internet connections, cell phones, and DVD players which the market can absorb.

The collapse of energy-trading-company giant Enron and tele-communications megacompany WorldCom provided at least a tempo-rary wake-up call for Wall Street, Corporate America, the accounting profession, and the U.S. government. One of the greatest financial scandals of all time, Enron was a deceptive mixture of off-shore businesses, off-the-books loans, fake data, and creative accounting covered up by the firms auditor Arthur Andersen. The $107 billion collapse of WorldCom resulted in the largest bankruptcy filing in American history. Unfortunately, Enron and WorldCom have proven to be the tip of the iceberg as one major company after another has been accused of shady bookkeeping or other misdeeds. Some of them include Adelphia, Computer Associates, Dynergy, ImClone, Quest, Rite Aid, Martha Stewart, HealthSouth, and Xerox.

In his recent book Wealth and Democracy: A Political History of the American Rich, conservative Republican Kevin Phillips takes note of the fact that the gap between the rich and the poor in the Unit