I’ll begin by stating that part of the blame or praise for this post ought to go to Christopher Blosser and David Jones for their excellent overview and commentary on the ongoing political/economic dispute between Catholic Distributists and Catholic libertarians.
I wish I could easily come up with a logical, smooth flow to all of these points. But really I just want to get them out there, no matter how disjointed in appearance.
Finally, I really mean it this time: we will have a respectful discussion on this topic, or none at all. That means certain people and their comments will likely be banned from the discussion. It will not be possible to avoid charges of “being afraid” to debate with such indestructible champions of the one true political philosophy, given their amazing ability to rule out all other possible reasons, including their coarse and offensive personal behavior, as to why no one wishes to engage in discussions with them. C’est la vie.
The best way to contribute here, though, is to ask questions that I can answer for this FAQ!
Where does the word “Distributarian” come from?
The word “Distributarian” was pejoratively applied to me and a few others who have attempted to blend libertarian and Distributist ideas by those not so enamored with the project. Since I see it as a good thing, I don’t mind wearing the label as a badge of honor.
What is a Distributarian?
It is one who does not see a necessary conflict between the basic propositions of Distributism and libertarianism, and insofar as possible, seeks to incorporate both of them into their social vision.
What are these propositions?
The following propositions are both necessary and sufficient for each ideology:
Of Distributism: property should be as widely distributed as possible.
Of libertarianism: social relationships should be as voluntary as possible.
Naturally some doctrinaires will dislike the wording “as ___ as possible”; why should we care about what is possible when great ideas are at stake? Either they exist full-fledged without imperfection in the world or they may as well not exist at all! If we move past this childish expectation and begin with the possible, I think we will find that there is no contradiction between these propositions.
Distributism and libertarianism challenge each other in a good way. Distributism challenges libertarianism to move beyond individual autonomy and articulate a vision of the common good; libertarianism challenges Distributism to clearly articulate how property distribution ought to come about – through force, or through consent?
Not only do they challenge each other; they compliment each other. Property owners will thrive in an environment of economic freedom; genuine liberty will thrive as it is rooted in solid social institutions based upon private property. As property ownership will increase the self-sufficiency of individuals, families, and communities, it will decrease dependency upon the state.
And please note that this is a work in progress!
I figure it’s time for me to finally put down in a sort of structured way what I think about this “ground zero mosque” controversy, beginning with the admission that I know it isn’t “only” a mosque, but a mosque is a part of what will hereafter be referred to as that “construction project.”
Next, I might simply wrap it up by saying I think that Charles Krauthammer, a man with whom I typically find little to agree with, is absolutely right in his assessment of the entire situation, while Ron Paul, a man with whom I typically find much to agree with, is almost entirely wrong in his own assessment, which makes repeated appeals to property rights.
Let me give you Krauthammer’s thesis, which is also a reply to this sort of argument, and which has been my own since the first day I heard about this:
No one disputes the right to build; the whole debate is about the propriety, the decency of doing so.
In my own readings and heated debates, the refrain I hear from the defenders of this construction project is the same as Obama’s: they have a right. What this argument boils down to is this: “we are doing this because we can, because you have no legal standing to stop us, and all of your complaints are irrelevant.”
The Catholic Church is the biggest defender and promoter of the large traditional family. This endorsement of large families is something that tests the loyalties of ideologues because the Church doesn’t conform to liberal or conservative political pressures. The more-or-less typical liberal ideologue seems to take on the ideal of saving the global environment by way of discouraging the Church’s teachings on Life and Family issues. The more-or-less conservative ideologue often takes on the approach to economic theory that goes something like- “you breed em’ you feed em’”. I don’t find much support for either of these hard positions in the actual teachings and guidance given us via Christ’s Church.
At the request of my friend and fellow contributor to The American Catholic, Darwin Catholic, I will elaborate more on some of the general points I introduced to the discussion over his latest post about economic morality. For those who did not follow the exchange (of me versus everyone, understandable on this somewhat more conservative blog), I questioned the accuracy of any scientific theory of economics that did not take into account class conflict (or, as some insist on saying, “class struggle”). Darwin and others responded by questioning the validity of the very category of class. Hence, we have a great deal of ground to cover – I hope you will bear with me, and that we all end up learning something.