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Your Criticism of Distributism Is Unfair

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I want to object to the questions at the end of your article entitled "Why Are Distributist Leaders Misleading Their Audience about Capitalism?": Why are Distributists spreading amputated texts of these social Encyclicals? Is it mere naiveté?

First, you have done the same thing to the Papal Encyclicals, taking less amputated texts, but by the trickery of bolding certain words and leaving others in the quoted text unbold.

Second, distributists are human like everyone else and may misunderstand and make mistakes like all the rest of us. If they are trying to make the corrections which you yourself say that Capitalism needs, then they are doing better at least in doing something and offering some solution to the real problems of the economy.

Is it because they did not read the Encyclicals? Who? The so-called leaders of Distributism whom you yourself label as such. The only leaders I take are the Popes themselves and good Catholics. Or is it to convince their audience that they are Catholics when, in reality, they are Socialists?

This is a horribly misplaced question and non sequitur. Socialists are those who advocate and agitate for collective ownership of all property (which can only be communism: state ownership of all). Distributists clearly still believe in the right to private property. They are the ones calling for the harmony of land, labor and capital. I believe in distributive justice and call myself a distributist, but I don't believe in killing off or not having a higher class, and even more importantly, I believe in the landed aristocracy and monarchies of old Catholic Europe.

In conclusion, you have only shown that a minority of a certain [group] have made mistakes or are possibly socialist infiltrators, and we all know how many of those are also posing as capitalists.

In the end I call on you to take a serious look at corrective and distributive justice in economics. I suggest a good study and article on distributive justice and just wages. And also maybe materialism in all its forms and places.

     Pax tecum in Christ,

     J.H., fellow traditional Catholic

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TIA responds:

We will try to put your objections in order so that we can respond to them. It seems that your accusations against us can be summarized as follow:
  1. You are unfair in criticizing the distributists for quoting excerpts from encyclicals because you do the same;
  2. Even if distributists were wrong, they are at least making an effort to resolve the problem - you should be grateful for that;
  3. Distributists are not socialists because the latter, like the communists, call for all property to be under the State and the former acknowledge private property;
  4. Since I admit the role of elites, aristocracy and monarchy in society and call myself a distributist, your critique against the egalitarian aspect of Distributism is wrong;
  5. You should write more on distributist justice and materialism.
We go on to answer these objections:

1. Every person who discusses Catholic doctrine quotes from encyclicals, and does so by selecting excerpts. If one would have to quote the entire encyclical each time, no discussion would be feasible. So, it is not our intention to criticize the distributists or anyone else by quoting only parts of encyclicals.

Our critique focuses on the fact that those distributist leaders named by Mr. Odou in the cited article quoted from encyclicals in such a way as to give a false idea of the ensemble. Those leaders claimed that the Popes were taking a socialist approach to the relations between capital and work, when the reality is the opposite. In apologetics this dishonesty is habitually called taking a text out of context. We criticized this moral defect, not the mere fact that excerpts were selected.

Therefore, your objection simply reveals your confusion between what it is to quote partially and what it is to quote with partiality.

2. You say that if a physician gives a remedy to a sick person - no matter what remedy it is - this is already a good start. We say that it depends on the remedy. Sometimes an inept or bad-intentioned physician kills the sick person by giving him a poison instead of an efficient remedy.

This is what we think about Distributism. Certainly Capitalism has its defects, but the solution presented by Distributism is meant to implant Socialism, which destroys the foundation of any organic society.

3. Socialism is a pacific version of Communism. Both have the same essence, which is to transfer property to the State. On this point we agree. However, you disregard the fact that Communism recognized some forms of private property in various phases of its history. One of them is mentioned by Mr. Odou in his analysis of a Stalinist economic plan. Odou also pointed out amazing coincidences between the theses of Arthur Penty and Communism. Thus, contrary to your opinion, the acceptance of some small properties does not distinguish Distributists from Communists as you think.

4. We are glad to acknowledge that you defend the good points of Natural Law that you described. However, since Distributism is profoundly egalitarian, when you call yourself a distributist you are taking a contradictory position. We are sorry, but your personal position on those matters does not apply to the whole movement.

5. We thank you for the suggestion to write more on distributive justice. We will do so as time allows.

We believe in the justice and efficiency of some participative forms of property ownership such as that of Feudalism in the Middle Ages. It allowed a much more balanced distribution of properties in society than the one that came later with Capitalism.

We also think that in principle the distribution of goods, money and properties to resolve social problems should be carried out by means of Catholic charity, not through socialist laws. At the moment that such distribution is no longer promoted by the moral teaching of the Church, but imposed instead by civil laws of the State, the seed of class struggle is planted and society enters the downward ramp that leads to Socialism/Communism.


     TIA correspondence desk


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