A Blog of the Global Justice Movement

Friday, August 31, 2012

Distributist Classics — and More!

A Plea for Peasant Proprietors

During the Great Famine in Ireland (1846-1852), William T. Thornton (1813-1880), an English economist, proposed that unused land be purchased by the government and sold on credit to families that would put it into production. In this way funds spent on famine relief would be turned from an expenditure into an investment, the economy rebuilt, jobs created, and the benefits of widespread capital ownership accrue to individuals, families and the nation.

Although the proposal was never adopted, later thinkers, offering a principled, growth-oriented approach for the 21st Century, refined Thornton's vision. As the global economy continues to go from crisis to crisis, Thornton's book shines light on the path out of today's dilemma.

Originally published in 1848, this newly annotated and indexed edition of A Plea for Peasant Proprietors was prepared from Thornton's 1874 revision. It includes a foreword that examines a new framework for solving the global economic crisis, financing economic growth and enabling every citizen to become an owner of productive capital, as well as appendices explaining topical references and the political and economic environment within which Thornton worked.

ISBN: 978-0944997109, 364 pages


Price: $25.00

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The Restoration of Property

In 1936 Hilaire Belloc, with G. K. Chesterton revered as one of the founders of "distributism," wrote of "the restoration of property." Trapped within what Louis Kelso and Mortimer Adler called the slavery of past savings, however, Belloc's insightful analysis suffered from the lack of an effective program of implementation. The best he could do was to recommend burdening the rich with laws and regulations to keep them from using their power to prevent capital acquisition by others — or just wait for the imminent collapse.

A better, "Just Third Way" solution that doesn't rely on a collapse of the world economy would be to remove systemic barriers in the form of flawed tax, monetary, financial and legal systems that inhibit or prevent capital acquisition by the non-rich. At a time when most people are focused on the results of seriously flawed tax, monetary and fiscal policy, and seek government assistance to stave off the effects of generations of bad decisions, this new book by Michael D. Greaney, Director of Research for the Center for Economic and Social Justice (CESJ), suggests a better alternative: focus on the causes of the growing wealth gap and other problems.

We need to take a hard look at our institutions, especially taxation, money and credit, and determine how these hinder access to the means of acquiring and possessing property in capital today, and what needs to be changed so they can help us rather than hinder us tomorrow. Mr. Greaney is also the author of In Defense of Human Dignity (2008) and Supporting Life: The Case for a Pro-Life Economic Agenda (2010).


ISBN: 978-0944997079, 136 pages

Price: $10.00                Amazon          Barnes and Noble

 

  The Emigrant's Guide

William Cobbett, considered by G. K. Chesterton as the "Apostle of Distributism," wrote The Emigrant's Guide in 1829 toward the end of a long and fruitful career as a journalist, traveler, economic commentator, and political activist. Frustrated with trying to change the system in England, Cobbett broke his rule against advising English men and women to stay in their own country, and urged them to go to the United States, where instead of working for others and being effective slaves of the English government and upper classes, they could obtain some small ownership of land or other capital and become independent — owners instead of being owned themselves.

The Emigrant's Guide includes the texts of letters written home to England by people considered useless in England, providing a valuable source of sociological and economic data of early 19th century America, as well as giving us an understanding why the United States was considered the "Land of Opportunity" for so long. As one immigrant expressed his enthusiasm for his new country, in which he had easily become a landowner, "America forever for me!" The Emigrant's Guide provides an incentive to modern politicians and policymakers to restore the greatness that was once America's, and begin to spread true economic democracy throughout the globe.


ISBN: 978-0944997017, 264 pages

Price: $20.00

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Ordering Information

Individual copies of the books in this flyer may be purchased from Amazon and Barnes and Noble by following the links, as well as by special order from many bookstores.

Bulk/Wholesale orders (10 copies or more) may be purchased directly from the publisher for 20% off the cover price, plus shipping. Please send an e-mail to publications [at] cesj [dot] org for details.

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