On my recent post about economic issues, Catholic social teaching, and my dismayed aporia therein, a commenter wrote something that struck a chord with me:
To ensure dignity to every individual requires private property, right of self defense against aggression and theft, and the ability to profit from one’s labor. The urbanization of the world and the employer / employee relationship that comes with that is closer to the root of the issue than the ethics of the employers. … To work in a direction of resolving the root issue, requires a return to self determination and this a return to rural living where one produces more than one consumes and trades items of value among neighbors at mutually acceptable terms.
As some of you may recall, I have become more and more interested in homesteading as a way of life, whether it is in the form of urban homesteading or a more intensive rural homesteading endeavor. The last year has been so full of change and adjustment, that it’s been hard to focus on such dreams, but they rise to the surface again, which is a test I use, knowing how erratic my interests can often be, to assess if something is an abiding value of mine. Well, leading my family in a more independent and creative way, and in a way consistent with what I think is the Church’s social doctrine, is an abiding value for me.
And so I have renewed my presence at the Catholic Homesteading Forum, which was begun by Kevin Ford of the “Catholic Land Movement” blog. I’ve also continued to post news and essays relating to these matters in my Twitter feed (see this blog’s sidebar) at my Facebook page (ditto), and even started a group there called “Homesteading Я Us!” in order to swap ideas and questions about homesteading with people I actually know.
I’ve also been getting some of my overdue reading materials in order, and happily stumbled across a slew of good resources at the “Distributist Books and Media” blog, run by Michael Greaney, and The Center for Social and Economic Justice, with which Greaney is also affiliated. It is encouraging to see that Greaney is both a committed Catholic and a CPA with an MBA, so he truly “knows his stuff”, and is one from whom I hope to learn much. (Not to steal anyone’s thunder who might want to sell or buy a new edition of William Thomas Thornton’s A Plea for Peasant Proprietors, but Thornton’s work is available online at the Internet Archive.) This post by Greaney about Thornton and Distributism is what led me along this path of resources, so I recommend you read it. Notice therein that distributism does not simply mean “small is beautiful.”
Having an Amazon Prime membership and Roku is also a very good thing (I loves me some capitalism!), since I can watch countless TED talks on my television, usually over meals. Two talks that I recently watched and highly recommend that relate to these political economy issues, are Charles Leadbeater‘s presentation about “open innovation” and Jessica Jackley‘s account of how microfinance can empower the already very powerful poor. Once my wife learned about Kiva.org from Jackley’s talk, she felt we might as well keep our savings in Kiva investments! Insights like these demonstrate why pure anti-capitalism is wrongheaded: the market works. The only dispute worth pursuing is, what measures must be taken, and what form should the market take, in order to maximize its benefits for all people. My current thesis is this: “The best cure for poverty is a capitalistic free market rooted in a political order that defends each family’s moral freedom.”
Anyway, happy viewing: