Tuesday, February 07, 2006

From the combox: Big box stores and Distributism

I'll admit that I am not the expert on economic systems, so I hope you that are will help with this discussion.

Tom said:
"Can Distributism survive in a world of Home Depots? I certainly hope and believe so. I think Chesterton would argue that I should be more concerned with the welfare of my local hardware merchant than the dividend of Home Depot stock."

David Beresford also used this GKC quote at the top of his distributism article:

"I think the big shop is a bad shop. I think that it is bad not only in a moral but a mercantile sense: that is, I think shopping there is not only a bad action but a bad bargain." GKC "The Bluff of the Big Shops," The Outline of Sanity.

All I can say is as much as I didn't want to, we shop at Walmart once they put one in one mile away. Mostly, we buy our food there. The clothes are cheap, but cheaply made. A pair of pajamas that were very inexpensive already have a hole after about one month of wear. That does make a bad bargain. However, I still shop there. I just don't buy the clothes. Is shopping at Walmart a bad action AND a bad bargain?

40 comments:

  1. This has been an issue I've wrestled about for a while. In fact, the Church's stance in this regard was one thing that drew me toward her--namely Pope Leo XIII's Rerum Novarum. Same with GKC. I used to try to avoid Walmart because *somebody* pays: although it's a bargain for me, it isn't a bargain for the third-world worker who receives a pathetic wage...and who has a family to feed just like me. But my missionary friend tells me that I'm naive, and that if we take away sweatshop labor from third-world countries, they would suffer--it's not a lot but it helps. I don't know. Another question I have is about Distributism: By what means do we keep the property distributed? Does the government take from those who have too much?

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  2. "The clothes are cheap, but cheaply made."

    The result of slave labor in China. Wal-Mart used to have one redeeming quality: that its merchandise largely was made in the U.S. Not any more.

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  3. I too wrestle with this as I have fallen prey to the idea that there are only two ways: capitalism or socialism. Here are my thoughts. When we read the arguments of Chesterton, Belloc and of the Church on economics, it makes us Americans uncomfortable. We want efficiency, we want competition, we want unlimited profit potential. Oh and the most important, we want the lowest price for ourselves. What does it matter that our neighbor's job was outsourced or that he lost his local retail job because a big box came in down the road?

    As to how to help implement distributism in a practical way? Probably by impracticable means: sacrifice on our part. It is much more difficult to go to a small shop or a local company rather than the big box stores. It is also difficult to shell out more money for the same product sold at a big box store. It goes against that American axiom of "I want the lowest price." And the most impracticable of all: wasting time. In today's culture, the big box store is there so you don't have to waste your time. We are always so much in a hurry that we forget about our neighbor and his livelihood. He isn't just an economic unit, despensible if he can't keep up with the times, or can't compete.

    There isn't going to be a huge shift in the wind towards distributism--it must start small and go from there.

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  4. Nice thoughts m. So, I guess the only way to implement distributism would be, not from the top down, but from the bottom up. In other words, everybody would have to have a personal conversion to distributism. I don't think that's gonna happen on a wide scale. It's an ideal that cannot be readily seen because it doesn't offer immediate gratification, and the fallen world will not go for it. I think the Church tells us that there is no such thing as a perfect economic situation for precisely that reason: people lack the will-power to implement it. Heck look at the mess we make of the Church! It only hangs together because of the promises of Christ and the aid of the Holy Spirit. So...I don't see how distributism could ever be implemented on a wide scale for the simple reason that the only way it can be implemented is through a moral transfiguration of the entire nation beyond that of what we see even in the Church.

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  5. Keith--while I agree it may never become widespread again, there is still hope. Do we not hope, that everyone would eventually come to know and learn the truth? If we don't we cannot believe in the power of the cross. Do we not hope that one day abortion and contraception would be outlawed so as to rediscover the truth of the family? Do we not hope that one day we can go back to the realm of economics as it was in the middle ages which was as close to a distributist type economy than ever in history? Too many would probably think it is folly to hope in such things, but as Chesteron says, "Hope means hoping when things are hopeless, or it is no virtue at all." I think it is possible to become a "more" distributist state, but not for the forseeable future. Belloc in his book on the Crisis of Civilization speaks of movements throughout time of mankind, many of which occur over periods of 500 years or so. It seems to me the move away from distributism and more importantly away from a Catholic civilization is now approximately that old. I think I agree with JPII in that we are at the cusp of the new springtime in the Church, and eventually it may be said a new springtime in civilization. The Church today is the last one standing on so many aspects of the truth (especially the truth of the family,) and as it did in the first 500 years after the death of Christ, it will save civilization. Unless, of course, Christ fulfills his promise of his second coming before then!

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  6. Since becoming more devoted to Chesterton and the ideas surrounding him, I've begun to notice them popping up all over the place. Even, I am happy to report, in places I had already looked.

    In one of Terry Pratchett's books, the watch commander Sam Vimes describes what he calls his "boots theory of economic injustice." It goes something like this:

    A rich man can afford to spend $100 on a pair of boots that will last twenty years. A poor man, in contrast, can only afford to spend $20 on a pair of boots that will last for one year. By the time both men reach the twenty year mark, the poor man has spent substantially more on boots than the rich man, but still has less to show for it.

    This is not exactly rocket science, but I'm glad to see that people are catching on to this sort of disparity.

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  7. Exactly! We can buy $40 pajamas at Boston Store or $14 pajamas at Walmart, depending on if we have the $40 or the $14. The $40 pair last 10 year, the $14 last, well, one month if this pair is the standard. The poor man seems to be getting ripped off, doesn't he? Unless he can sew....or repair boots....

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  8. You know, most of the stuff I buy at the expensive shops comes from China, too. Who are we fooling? Is this possibly what we might call Yuppie Guilt?

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  9. The last chapter of The Outline of Sanity is particularly powerful and, like much of Chesterton's work, worthy or re-reading.

    It is here that Chesterton takes his stand on the same ground we all should currently be treading; he refers to religious doctrine upholding the rights of men and insisting

    "in the full sense that the average respectable citizen ought to have something to rule. We alone to the same extent and for the same reason, have the right to call ourselves democratic. A republic used to be called a nation of kings, and in our republic the kings really have kingdoms. All modern . . . movements, Capitalist or Socialist, are taking way that kingdom from the king. Because they dislike the independence of that kingdom, they are against property. Because they dislike the loyalty of that kingdom, they are against marriage." (Outline, IHS 2001, p. 182)

    When we leave Mass we are given a charge to go forth and live the Mass. Embracing Distributism in our daily actions as Catholics and consumers is one way we are called to love and serve.

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  10. Tom--thanks for the quote and your final thought was right on. The distributist discussion/argument is a fight for the family and the rights of the family. May we all continue to fight for the family!

    Kurmuhjan--I find this argument that it is wrong to feel guilty about having money interesting. Yes, a lot of that comes from the socialist movement, but isn't there possibly an element of truth in it? I mean it was Christ who said it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Doesn't he stir our consciences and then we feel guilty? Christ does not say this to condemn, but to call us forth. Wealth is a gift from God, and as with our own very lives, we are called to use these gifts for the good of all. That is at the heart of distributism.

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  11. m:
    I think back to a good friend's father's memorial service. The Baptist pastor said, in effect, we should use our money to buy memories -- family happy times, impacting the lives of others, etc. I took it completely wrong -- I was thinking of fond remembrances of buying this and that. I guess I'm a materialist at heart. Ayn Rand is hard to get out of one's system! But haven't you noticed that everyone that wrings their hands over the Wal-mart experience seems to be from specific classes? Come on -- if you haven't got $100 it doesn't matter if the darned boots will last twenty years, you're still barefoot...

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  13. "if you haven't got $100 it doesn't matter if the darned boots will last twenty years, you're still barefoot..."

    Kurmuhjan--yes, that was one aspect I was thinking of last night while pondering this. You are exactly right in that if there were no $20 boots, some may go barefoot. We have become a consumerist society, and much of the reason for our consumerism comes from the power of the big shops. As Chesterton says, "advertisement can hypnotize the human brain; that people are dragged by a deadly fascination into the doors of a shop as into the mouth of a snake; that the subconscious is captured and the will paralysed by repetition; that we are all made to move like mechanical dolls when a Yankee advertiser says, 'Do It Now.'"

    The idea of thrift is foreign to most if not all people. Our poor are the most targeted via advertisement too. And this has very unfortunate consequences, and sometimes these consequences are that the poor end up buying 20 pairs of shoes over 20 years rather than buying one pair. They may not have the means now to get something, and that is where the idea of thrift comes in. If they weren't bombarded with advertisements to buy it now or buy something else now (meaning they can buy a few pieces of junk rather than wait to buy the thing they need) then maybe they would be able to plunk down $100 in short order.

    Am I way off base here? The savings rate of the U.S. for 2005 was a NEGATIVE rate. While politicians and economists like to play down that number, I think it speaks volumes to our mentality or "do it now."

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  14. M, I wonder about the activity of ALL Big Entity activities, collectivist or Capitalist. I am a sympathetic participant, even if I don't buy the whole thing. And, we can rest assured that there will always be $20 boots! (But Redwings are better and worth the cost -- shameless commercial endorcement!)

    I don't know that we can free ourselves from this, though. The cynic in me shrugs and goes to Wal-mart. Distribuatarianism is another Utopia that you have to be well-off enough to dream about, imho.

    And I can't see taking these higher paying jobs that the big box stores offer away from the lower income groups, either -- particularly from rural workers.

    We can get as sentimental as we want to about it, but folks make more money at Walmart than they did at Joe's Hardware, and have at least a shot at health insurance.

    I still think this fretting is all about Yuppie guilt and the forgotten notion that one works one's way to success. I guess that puts me in the "Works over faith," camp!

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  15. "We can get as sentimental as we want to about it, but folks make more money at Walmart than they did at Joe's Hardware, and have at least a shot at health insurance."

    I am not so sure this is true, although it may be. However, again we are thinking in terms of a capitalist: everything is measured in terms of price. Or in the words of the Church, we think of the person in terms of his usefulness, not in the dignity that is his due: the dignity that each of us are made in God's image and likeness. The heart of distributism is the dignity of man and the common good. We CANNOT stop defending that, whether that is just sentimentality, fretting or whatnot.

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  16. Yes, M, I agree; it is so easy to leave the Church when we leave the church and think only as capitalists.

    We are called to be good stewards of the gifts and blessings God has given us, perhaps the greatest of which is our creation in God's image. Distributism is a natural consequence of this stewardship; we are to uphold the dignity of man in our economic actions. Only in this way, can we prevent our fellow citizens and ultimately ourselves from becoming tools either of big business or of the government.

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  17. I'm currently reading OUTLINE OF SANITY for the first time. So far, it seems to me that GKC would have had to hit a level of imbecility at some point, giving how much he wrote, and that this is it. Do you all agree with this? Should I back quietly out of the room?

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  18. Kur--no I don't agree with what you said, but rather than defend Chesterton's work (as if his work couldn't defend itself,) could you say exactly what it is you think as imbecile?

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  19. First, I have to say that it is almost as pleasurable to read something GKC writes that I don't agree with as it is when I do. So much of what he says is agreeable...

    Please keep in mind that I am new to this thinking, and only 84 pages +/- through OUTLINE.

    He defines capitalism in a way that no longer is so -- as the holding by a few of the much. This isn't exactly so any longer, if it ever was -- I own small holdings of many corporations in my retirement plans. I am not a "rich capitalist." I'm just a capitalist.

    He proposes laws that the government would enforce to force this change in economic practice, and assumes -- in an endearing way, God bless him! -- that somehow the government will miraculously then get out of the way. That would be the first time in human history that a government body let go of anything, once it was in their hands! (I support Ayn Rand's suggestion, that the American constitution should read, "Congress shall make no law concerning business.")

    He points to the existence of a large group of voting small landholders, and avoids the fact that -- was it Cicero who said this? Can't recall -- sooner or later, they will realize they can vote themselves "bread and circuses."

    Being of a rounder form of human male myself, I have to say I enjoy the mental picture of Chesterton trying to self-support on his forty acres -- is that to include a mule, as well? I can't say that I understood him to have had a peasant origin from the biographical sources out there -- is it perhaps a case of GKC having an idyllic view of the pastoral life of the small farm, and not knowing what it is like to be held in slavery to a 24/7/365 subsistence farm? I'm forced to wonder what source his picture had.

    To be factual, small businesses turn into chains due to government requirements that continuously change, continuously expand, without regard to the ability of the sole owner to cope, and that should change -- but it would require much to make the various alphabetical government directorates give up their hold, since they do so to protect the "public," an entity that doesn't exist any more than the "coporated entity" does...

    This topic started with the idea of Wal Mart and the big box stores and how they're questionable, a fact that I tend to agree with. I think of the Woolco's and Murphy Marts of the past, and realize that Wal Mart is probably not long for this world, either. Things change.

    Sorry to be rambling in my reply, but I'm at work at my wage-slave job. ;-)

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  20. I am much sympathetic to much of what you have written, as this issue is something I have been working on also. Here are some thoughts for further conversation.

    "He defines capitalism in a way that no longer is so -- as the holding by a few of the much. This isn't exactly so any longer, if it ever was -- I own small holdings of many corporations in my retirement plans. I am not a "rich capitalist." I'm just a capitalist."

    While the jump of retirement assets are a good thing, I don't think it means that there are more and more true owners of capital, capital meaning the means of production. Look at all the companies you may own in your plans: how many do you directly have the ability to change the way they do business? I would guess the answer is none, as it is for 99% of retirement asset holders. I don't call that ownership and neither did the Wall Street Journal. Unfortunately, I don't have the link, but I printed an article of the demise of the individual stockholder. One quote from the article: "direct ownership of stocks by American households has declined from 91% in 1950 to just 32% today. The 9% ownership stake held by financial institutions in 1950 crossed the 50% mark in 1983, and now totals 68% of all stocks." (Individual stockholder, R.I.P." WSJ October 3, 2005) Most public companies, however, have at least one or a few who own the controlling interest in the company. In general, of course. Even if we are not talking about means of production, and speak of the "homeownership" of America. That is another farce as it is only the few banks spread throughout the land who own most of the property that we live in. But, I digress.

    He proposes laws that the government would enforce to force this change in economic practice, and assumes -- in an endearing way, God bless him! -- that somehow the government will miraculously then get out of the way. That would be the first time in human history that a government body let go of anything, once it was in their hands! (I support Ayn Rand's suggestion, that the American constitution should read, "Congress shall make no law concerning business.")

    After you finish reading Chesterton pick up and read the encyclicals of the recent popes on this issue. The late John Paul II said some of the same things--that the free market does not answer the problems of the world. There is also the principle of subsidiarity, meaning government should be run, in most things, from local to state then federal. Much of our country runs the other way around. And, of course there is the idea that since we are all in the image and likeness of God, we all have a right to the goods of this world. It just get's better and better! (oh, and I shuddered when you quoted Ayn Rand....brrrrr!) :)

    When I read GKC, and thanks to GKC, I have realized how much of life is actually the antithesis of how we live it. What I mean is this: life emcompases economics, politics, religion, culture, etc. While they can be seperated for study, they should not be seperated in practice. We can quote statistics all day, such as the GDP of the US is $40k or there are more homeowners now than at any time in history or whatever, they don't matter to the average person, or to the common man. GKC's view is not narrow in the sense that he is only dealing with economics, but yet he is, in the background, thinking of family life, culture, religion and the like. The reason I read GKC is to find out how to fight for the family, which is still being destroyed by the same forces 100 years ago when he was alive. Capitalism is one of the forces destroying most families. If you can't see how consumerism and the effect of advertising has in propelling consumerism to the heights we have now, just keep reading. Consumerism, materialism or whatever you want to call it, has part of the blame for the rise of abortion, contraception and other social ills, as babies tend to "get in the way" of our new idol.

    Ok, now I am rambling. Just remember to think of the overall picture when reading GKC. He defends the family farm and ALL that goes with it--meaning family life!

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  21. One more thought on this. Much of what GKC is doing here in Outline of Sanity and his other works is philosophical with a touch of common sense. Philosophy is none other than seeking out the truth about reality and particularly the reality of man--the whole of man. Politics basically is how to best organize and run a city, which obviously includes economics. Aristotle said something along the lines that political philosophy is the highest science. So political philosophy, which is what, I think, GKC is attempting to write, is to find the truth of the matter. It doesn't just look at what man does but what he ought to do. Of course, he ties it in with revelation, or those truths which we come to know through faith. Just more food for thought.

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  22. I will take your suggestions. As I said, it is as fun, albeit in different ways, to read GKC when you disagree as it is when you agree.

    I would disagree with one statement -- "Consumerism, materialism or whatever you want to call it, has part of the blame for the rise of abortion, contraception and other social ills, as babies tend to 'get in the way' of our new idol." No, I wouldn't -- I would modify it to be more in keeping with your earlier statement, that Life encompasses...whatever. In this case, I blame abortion and the rest of it on my roots, the protestant faith. The seeds of modernism and "convenient" life were as deeply rooted in Calvin as was sola scriptura. The money emphasis was part of the Calvinist piety, imho. Hey, I can say it -- I was a Presby deacon until I resigned in disgust last autumn.

    I'm in the process of wandering from fundamentalism to Presbyterianism to To-heck-with-church-ism (I made up that last part!) to wherever I am now. My wife and I debate attending a Catholic church, but haven't -- I only want to go to a church so we won't have to cough up as much for our funerals, but she says, "Oh, honey!"

    But that may explain my animosity toward the Prots. Former smokers are equally sanctimonious.

    I ramble, also. Work and duty, duty and work...

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  23. Former smokers are equally sanctimonious. You HAD to say this just when I was thinking of taking up the last of the three secular sins left in the world: smoking, spanking and having more than 2 children (comment made by Dr. Ray Guarendi on EWTN recently.)

    Hmmm, as to your other comments (which were amusing!), I am sure more GKC fans will jump in here and offer a list of more GKC books you need to read, among them Orthodoxy, Where all Roads Lead, The Thing, etc. So, better start making more room on your shelves for more books!!!

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  24. M, I'm currently reading Orthodoxy here at home, and OUTLINE at work.

    I had a difficult time with Everlasting man -- GKC's audience apparently had a lot of time, 'cuz by the time I got through all the paradoxes and illustrational rhetoric I had forgotten what the heck the man was talking about. I've read a lot of his Fr. Brown stories...

    I just bought a copy of THE THING, (fourth printing, 1931) which was disappointing because it wasn't quite in the condition the eBayer described, but it will likely be next on the reading list.

    Now, BELLOC gets my dander up, but that might be his French ancestry. I say horrible things about him on Amazon. I say horrible things about Ayn Rand, too. Dave Armstrong hates me, I believe...at least people that look up his books on Amazon do!

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  25. M, I stated that I say horrid things about Rand because you stated that you "shuddered" when I mentioned her -- didn't mean to imply that she should be grouped with the others!! Mea culpa, etc.

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  26. Kurm-yes, you do have to get used to GKC's style of writing. When I mentioned Ayn Rand, I did put a smiley thing at the end. How do you like Orthodoxy?

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  27. Kurm:
    May I also suggest two other books, not written by GKC but about him.
    1) The Apostle of Common Sense. I think it is a good thing to read the chapter about the book you want to read (Chapter 11 is on The Outline of Sanity and explains in a few pages --nutshell--what the book basically is about) which helps you read Chesterton better.
    2) Wisdom and Innocence by Joseph Pearce, is a great biography and helps to appreciate Chesterton in his time, and where he is in his head when he's writing his stuff. I found both these helpful as I'm reading Chesterton.

    Oh, and 3) come to the conference in June in MN, you will find the conversation there to your liking--great conversations there! Hope to meet you and everyone else there.

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  28. I was enjoying ORTHO more than EV MAN, until last night. It seemed to bog down in the EV MAN style.

    I get so tired of the paradoxes, the endless illustrating. I am too much a modern -- and Southern -- reader to bother with that.

    Pearce I've read, Mrs. Nancy. I will take your advice about the Ahlquist book when I get caught up -- I seem to have mistaken fearlessness in the face of the approaching tax season with the notion that I had enough money to afford all the books I've bought.

    As for the conference, see, I'm a Southerner. That, I suppose, is my Thing, although it is the Thing of many others besides me!

    The song has it that, "below the James lies Dixie," and I don't even shop north of the River if I can help it.

    I went to Cape Cod once and you couldn't chuck a rock without hitting a Yankee on the head, and it filled me with wonder, how many could stand to be in one place like that, all at once't.

    ;-)

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  29. Well, I never! :-)
    I sort of know what you mean, having lived in the foreign country of Texas for a few years.
    However, the Minn/St. Paul area is rich with history, the Mississippi river, the Jesuit explorers, the "Blackrobe" martyrs, and between the big cities, there is open space for people who need that to feel normal.
    Dale Ahlquist, I'm told, does travel to the south, someone here heard him in Georgia, I think that's in the south, isn't it? So, instead of coming to Chesterton, you could have "Chesterton" come to you. Invite him down to speak at your local Chesterton society, and if you don't have one, start one with a special guest speaker!

    I liked that funny line about the taxes. I'm working on ours right now so I can relate.

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  30. Our society is living out the fundamental collision of capitalism and Christianity and, in many ways, one could argue that capitalism is winning. While we seek to maximize profits and progress in our capitalist society, we are seemingly unsure of the goal of our progressions and what to do with our largess. Is the western world living out the parable of Lazarus and the rich man? Does a fundamentally capitalist society even consider such an idea?

    Distributism is a way to live out the Gospel by cherishing the dignity of life in our economic actions; it is a fundamentally religious act and, as such, it as much about changing laws and regulations as it is about changing hearts.

    Kurm – I wholeheartedly applaud you for struggling through GKC’s work. Often, I find it a struggle as well. On those days when the prose doesn’t flow and I need my Chesterton fix, I will watch an episode from Dale Ahlquist’s “Apostle of Common Sense” show which airs on EWTN Sunday nights at 9. If you are headed for an IRS refund, Tapes and DVDs of the first three seasons are available at the ACS website. While I enjoy all the episodes, the 2004 season contains some dramatic re-enactments, such as the GKC – Blatchford debate, that are captivating.

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  31. A good and simple introdustion to the mechanics of distributism [why not call it sharing?] is Belloc's ECONOMICS FOR HELEN. It is worth several courses in the dismal science, which is not a science.
    Then you night try THE SERVILE STATE.

    That we are not able to rush out and change the current situation is the normal human condition. What is not apparent on the service is that this country is well on the way to ruin. The first evidence of this is the increasing dimunition of our natural resources whic h were the source of our strength and position in the world.

    There can be no general solutions, no "let's make a law to make it happen". The value of GKC as of Hilaire Belloc lies in the description of our condition. Just so does a doctor first analyze a situation. Just so did Augutine analyze the condition of the Roman empire.

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  32. Kurm--if I remember right, GKC was sympathetic to the southern life of America. Didn't Gilbert Mag have an interview with a rather informative interview with a southerner within the past year? You might want to check it out.

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  33. Being "outside the fold," for several years, now, I'd have to ask if anyone else knows of the issue mentioned by M above, and could point me to the right issue, I'd be obliged...

    I'm most interested in the other books, Gabriel. OUTLINE lost me. I ended up making so many notes in refutation that I gave up in disgust. It's almost as though someone had really mastered his writing style and set out to make a parody that didn't quite work.

    I have netflix'd two APOSTLE OF COMMON SENSE dvds, and will watch them with interest. I have caught the show on several occasions. I remain staunchly unconvinced -- has anyone read DOING WELL AND DOING GOOD by Richard John Neuhaus?

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  34. M - The January/February 2005 issue of Gilbert had "Dreams, Distributism, and Dixie" on the cover and featured a Dale Ahlquist interview with Art Livingston.

    Kurm - Do consider just reading the final chapter of "Outline of Sanity" before you completely put it away. I found that chapter particularly powerful and have gone back to it several times since. Let us know what else you come up with.

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  35. Speaking of Southern culture, Art Livingston himself interviewed a Southern folk/country artist named Kate Campbell nearly two years ago. The interview is a wide-ranging discussion on Distributism, the dichotomy between North and South and the many misconceptions many Yankees have about the South. It is a fascinating interview.

    And fans of Art also can read his insightful movie reviews in every issue. :)

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  36. Chestertonian--where can we find this interview? I would like to read it, if possible. Thanks!

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  37. Mr. Farmer:
    I did, and was left with an unsettled feeling -- I find myself in agreement with GKC as far as his criticisms of big bznz/big govt. What I have trouble with is understanding just how we could get to a society of distributed property without making the government bigger than ever to do so.

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  38. Oh, and it prompted me to begin re-reading the book! Sigh...

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  39. Bless you, Kurm and please accept my apologies. Perhaps I can use this as fodder for my next confession.

    Bringing about distributism is, in many ways I think, much like bringing about the kingdom of God. It requires more of an act of personal conversion than one of the legislature.

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  40. I'm not sure why the apology -- but sure, no problem, we're all pals here!

    I haven't seen it listed anywhere, if so -- are there back issue order capabilities over at GILBERT, does anyone know???

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