Wednesday, November 30, 2011

This is where my head is...

Up with economy, down with chrematistics!

Below is the TED Talk for Open Source Ecology. Have a gander. It has me drooling.

The book that got my wheels spinning in this direction is Eric Brende's Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology. My recent posting of Matthew Crawford's essay on "the case for working with your hands" is also part of this impulse. Wendell Barry's new book What Matters? Economics for a Renewed Commonwealth is also good stuff.

My larger philosophical impulse is an increasing absorption with distributism, as my recent various quotations about economic matters should indicate. Distributism is often mocked for being impractical, but the Open Source Ecology shows how hollow that accusation is. I have been reading numerous posts at The Distributist Review and have a stack of books on economics and social equity ahead of me. I have long been skeptical of the ideology of overpopulation fear-mongering, and one aspect of the debate is hunger and economic equity. The problem with global population is not whether resources are adequate--they are!--but how the resources are distributed and tended by global peoples. It was not until recently, however, that I realized the direct link between my own standard-and-style of living and the problem of unjust economic distribution.

There is a lot of talk nowadays about redistribution, but I think that misses the point on two fronts. First, since America long ago ceased being a quasi-distributist polity, the redistribution many people want remains confined in the capitalistic strictures that distributism opposes. Second, distributism allows for economic prosperity and entrepreneurship--indeed, distributists believe a distributist economy is what grounds entrepreneurship in the first place!

Hence, distributism avoids the errors of socialism (i.e. negation of private property and absolute centralized regulation of property development) and avoids the errors of capitalism (i.e. the intrinsic centralization of capital apart from individual families' autonomy over their own property as a potentially total domain of "real value"). It is a central tenet of Catholic social teaching that the family is the nucleus of human society, and in so far as distributism puts families, as opposed to the state or consumers, first, puts me largely in the distributist camp.

In any event, perhaps being a husband and father-to-be has given me the focus and personal attachment to see how simply living and living simply are great sources of joy, and how I myself can live out our abiding Adamic call to stewardship of Creation.

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