Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Pope Preparing Economic Letter: Chesterton

According to the Vatican Insider, the Pope is preparing a social encyclical about the global economic crisis and the Church's ideas about the economy. From the article:
We also note the contribution of Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936, photo left), one of the most influential English writers of the 20th century. Chesterton championed the economic theory of "Distributism." Distributism is a "third-way" economic philosophy (between or beyond capitalism and communism/socialism) formulated primarily by Chesterton and his friend, Hilaire Belloc, to apply the principles of Catholic social teaching in the early 20th century.

According to distributism, the ownership of the means of production should be spread as widely as possible among the general populace, rather than being centralized under the control of the state (indirect socialism) or a few large businesses or wealthy private individuals (capitalism). A summary of distributism is found in Chesterton's statement: "Too much capitalism does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists."

While socialism allows no individuals to own productive property (it all being under state, community, or workers' control), and capitalism allows only a few to own it, distributism seeks to ensure that most people will become owners of productive property.

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