Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Practical Distributism

Had an interesting conversation last night with a Chestertonian who wants to know how to put the principles of Distributism into practical action today.

I know you all are much more informed about distributism than I am, so tell me, how do we "do" distributism in this culture, in this world today?


  1. The first thing to do is to do what Dale Ahlquist does - avoid chain restaurants as much as possible. Mom and Pop places are not only more atmospheric, but often better than the chains.

    By the way, for those who don't understand what distributism is, it would help if we called it Mom-and-Pop-ism. This paints the picture of small, independently run shops across the country. And that's the core of distributism.

  2. I find that distributism can be practical, but it must be grassroots. We must return to thrift, consider self-ownership as a means of sustaining ourselves and return to property meaning something to the soul of man instead of something we 'flip.'

    I must say, in my research of G.K.'s Weekly, I found a lot of practical ideas even back then.

    Here is one article I added to my site, never published since the days of Gilbert himself.


  3. Try to buy locally whenever possible and avoid cheap-o, made in China stuff as best you can. I live in a rural area so what I can buy locally is limited but then that's true everywhere isn't it? So, we go to both farmer's markets in our area (which in the west is relative...our school district is the second largest in our state in geographic terms so 20-30 miles is local.) We also get eggs, wild rice, beef, and now lamb locally. We also try to support any other local things...our museum, volunteer library, volunteer fire department, etc.

    I also like some grassroots type online things...at first glance they don't look too distributish but I think they have possibilities. So, I use Paperback Swap, Postcrossing, Craig's List, etc.

  4. It is possible to practice distributism in an urban setting.
    1. Think of your job as a means to an end.
    2. Practice thrift. Save. Invest.
    3. Begin turning something you love to do, a hobby perhaps, into a business enterprise. Begin part time, at home, and learn by both reading and doing.
    4. Involve the whole family in the enterprise.
    5. Aim for financial independence, with a nest egg to sustain you in old age.

  5. There's a community editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel today by a man who's calling for Distributist ideals, except that he has no idea that an ideology called Distributism actually exists.

  6. If you are looking for arts and crafts, you can check out etsy.com - "Your place to buy and sell all things handmade". It reminds me of a church bazaar, but online. You can get a one-of-a-kind handknit sweater for baby or eight pecan pie cookies, or a cozy for your cell phone that looks like a purple cow.

    I don't have an etsy "shop" yet, but I may someday... I like the personal connections. Not nearly as nice as a real church bazaar, but as close as you can get on the internet as I've found.

  7. ...and then there are those of us who are Plain Catholics. :-)

  8. Most important: subscribe to Gilbert Magazine. Support locally produced, organically raise, American owned-and-operated magazines. Especially Gilbert.



  9. "Organically raised" magazines??? Hmmmmm... I'm suddenly having visions of tiny Gilbert seeds being planted in some soil and watered daily. Eventually, pages of text begin to sprout from the ground... at first a Clerihew or two, then a brief essay. When the covers appear that's when you know it's time to harvest and ship to eager customers who are chomping at the bit, just waiting to devour the fresh issue that's been delivered to their doorstep like an omelette on a silver platter.

  10. Wow, Trubador, this sounds like a recipe for a great allegorical story! Go for it! I am sure there will be some editor (who is, as Chestertonian, out standing in his field, hee hee) who may want to get it into print...

    Actually, I was once told by a dear lit'ry friend (since gone to the Great Library to consult with her Author) that this is the secret of all poetry:

    "Your guardian angel whispers the first verse (or line) and then challenges you to finish it."

    The wonder is that here just beneath my fingers are the 27 keys (OK, a few more if I stop to count) by which I can write anything from poems to essays, detection to devotion, songs and software... All one needs is the seed.

    As for the main topic: yes, apply Subsidiarity as one should in all things, and start with what you can do as an individual - write, make, do, build, cook, what you can, and ask for assistance ranging from small to large according to the need. For a concrete example, I also try to eat at the local "mom-and-pop" restaurants, or stores, whenever possible. It reminds me of a wonderful and very romantic scene:

    ...His order was evidently a usual one. "I want, please," he said with precision, "one halfpenny bun and a small cup of black coffee." An instant before the girl could turn away he added, "Also, I want you to marry me."
    The young lady of the shop stiffened suddenly and said, "Those are jokes I don't allow."
    The red-haired young man lifted grey eyes of an unexpected gravity.
    "Really and truly," he said, "it's as serious - as serious as the halfpenny bun. It is expensive, like the bun; one pays for it. It is indigestible, like the bun. It hurts."
    ["The Invisible Man" in The Innocence of Father Brown]

    --Dr. Thursday

  11. Thanx, Dr. T. I'll have to chew on that idea for a bit (pun intended).

    It must be the mood I'm in, for today is Ray Bradbury's 87th birthday (another great, and favorite, author of mine). I posted a little blurb on my blog, praising the "master of the metaphor" and recommending some of his tomes.

  12. Ray Bradbury, bless him, hates local TV news programs, which is a sure sign that he is an intelligent man.


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