"Everyone is incentivized to own a piece of the pie"
(from my article "Distributism, Because People Matter")
In the past hundred years, we have seen the rise of two opposing economic systems fighting against one another: Capitalism vs Communism (including Socialism). There was a whole period of extreme tension between two world powers representing each one of these systems.
In the end, Capitalism rose above in a vast majority of nations around the globe, except for a small group of countries (Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, and some other countries). Sadly, in countries with socialist and communist policies, it hasn’t been a hell of a ride.
Even though it has done a little better, Capitalism has reached a critical point in which the differences between the rich part of society and the poor part of society are enormous. This has enabled the rich to get richer and pushed the poor to get poorer.
One way to support the people at the bottom would be through welfare programs, but these programs have proven to function more like a “blockade” than a “boost” to the people in need of an economic boost. This idea could be applied by raising the taxes on the rich, and use said money to create said welfare programs, which would only block people in need from getting to a higher socioeconomic level.
Let’s imagine the following situation: A worker is paid $100 dollars per month (remember, this is a hypothetical situation), but he needs $200 dollars to pay for his family’s expenses. So our hypothetical worker enters a hypothetical welfare program which gives him the extra $100 dollars per month he needs to provide his family with essential stuff. After a couple of months, our worker gets a $50 raise because he has been working around the clock. Sadly, he has to turn down the raise, because said raise will get him out of the welfare program (the hypothetical welfare program earning limit is a $100 dollars per month). This means, our worker will remain in his salary level until he gets an enormous raise (in said case he wouldn’t the welfare anymore to provide for his family).
So if welfare is not the answer to close this gap, which is the answer?
This is when Distributism comes in. Distributism proposes a rational economic system, in which the human being is the main cog of the complex machine that the economy is.
In a perfect distributist system, everyone would own a slice of the means of production available in the world. Applying a perfect distributist system would be as difficult as applying perfect communism or laissez-faire capitalism.
Having said so, distributist principles can be applied even to a smaller scale organization, i.e. a startup, a corporation. This is demonstrated in an article written by Eric Samuel Chapman called “Distributism — A Different Approach to Politics and Economy”, in which he talks about the Mondragon Corporation, and how they’ve managed to implement a distributist system to their organization.
The thing with Distributism is that it has been mainly promoted by members of the Catholic Church (e.g. Popes Leo XIII and Pius XI) and Catholic Intellectual Renaissance writers such as G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc. They proposed Distributism as a fix to the seemingly endless conflict between ideologies around the world. This is why Distributism and the distributist line of thought are seen as an exclusive system for Catholics only, even though this is not what Distributism proposes at all.
In a distributist world, it wouldn’t really matter if you are a Catholic, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Agnostic, or Atheist. The distributist line of thought involves tolerance (not celebration) and patriotism (not nationalism). In fact, Distributism is such a good idea that some of his policies have already found their way into public policy (particularly in European countries with left-leaning policies). This is because Distributism is a rational humane approach to economics (as I said earlier, the core of Distributism is the human being) and this makes it so attractive.
Some people like to place Distributism as a middle point between Communism and Capitalism, between the Right and the Left, but we should really place Distributism outside of the Right vs Left, Communism vs Capitalist spectrum.
Distributist takes some ideas of both the Capitalist and the Communism lines of thought. For example in a distributist system private property exists, but it is distributed (not in the same amount) among everyone. In a distributist system, competition among businesses is encouraged, but business size related issues are blocked (e.g. monopolies). Everyone is incentivized to own a piece of the pie (e.g. a small business) which creates wealth around the economy.
So why haven’t politicians, parties, and people turned their visions to Distributism (or at least some parts of it) as the answer to most of the problems both communist and capitalist systems create? I believe the answer to this question is divided into two parts: The first one is Distributism’s relation with the Roman Catholic Church (as I stated a couple of paragraphs ago). The second one is ignorance. Most people haven’t really heard about the term Distributism, even after many years of its existence.
Distributism is a great idea, and I would love to see it being really applied somewhere around the world, not only permeating left-winged European governments.