Monday, September 17, 2012

Distributism Yet Again, VI: Beating the System . . . to Death

If new capital cannot be financed except by cutting consumption and accumulating money savings, and it is essential that as many people as possible become capital owners, but you must consider private property as sacred, the situation cannot be resolved.

It cannot be resolved, that is, if we stupidly insist that there are absolutes. If we could just get rid of a natural law based on God's Nature and discernible by reason, and substitute our opinion as to what is right and wrong without any reference to what might be good for the people we intend to despoil of clearly ill-gotten gains (they're obviously criminals, anyway, or they wouldn't have more than we have), then fixing things would be easy and simple.

That is, in fact, what today's neo-distributist proposes. He or she has concluded that, to achieve widespread ownership, you must change the definition of certain natural rights such as liberty (freedom of association/contract) and property. This, in effect, restores property by destroying it. It comes as no surprise that the "Reading List" on the website of The Distributist Review as of August 21, 2012 had as many books by Arthur Penty, the founder of "guild socialism" who was ejected from the distributist movement, as by Chesterton and Belloc, combined, and that among the works under "neo-distributism," those by socialists (notably the Marxist E. F. Schumacher, author of Small is Beautiful) and fascists predominated.

And, frankly, why not? It gets you what you want . . . at least in the short term and (as Keynes declared) in the long run we're all dead, so who cares? The observation by Heinrich Rommen becomes a prophecy:

"For Duns Scotus morality depends on the will of God. A thing is good not because it corresponds to the nature of God or, analogically, to the nature of man, but because God so wills. Hence the lex naturalis could be other than it is even materially or as to content, because it has no intrinsic connection with God's essence, which is self-conscious in His intellect. For Scotus, therefore, the laws of the second table of the Decalogue were no longer unalterable. . . . an evolution set in which, in the doctrine of William of Occam (d. cir. 1349) on the natural moral law, would lead to pure moral positivism, indeed to nihilism." (Heinrich Rommen, The Natural Law.  Indianapolis, Indiana: Liberty Fund, Inc., 1998, 51.)

Nihilism, schmeehilism. It's all a lot of nothing, anyway, and we won't be there to see it.

#30#

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