Category Archives: Distributism

There Are No Superfluous Workers

Alain de Benoist recently wrote an interesting article stating we’re at a turning point in the world, the fall of the American Empire. He fears war.

I want to criticise one point of his. Benoist writes:

The fact of the matter is that capitalism has become incapable of continuing the “development of its logic within the framework shaped ironically by the logic of its own development” (Francis Cousin). To offset its declining level of performance, capitalism must constantly increase the volume of its profit, that is to say, it must constantly expand the scope of its trade opportunities. In order to insure, however, the free flow of goods and commodities, it must raise its productivity level, which in turn means lowering the share of living labor that has been domesticated through the wage labor system. Hence the proliferation of “superfluous people” — i.e., the unemployed. How to sell ever more and more to customers who are being forced to earn less and less with their wages?

While he’s partly right that capitalism requires growth and that we’ve reached some limits, he is wrong to say there are superfluous workers.

The wealthy still desire goods and services and would hire the poor at some wage level. The argument for a large middle class is political, that such brings harmony, keeps voters content in a democracy. But a market economy would still provide jobs.

*So long as market wages remain above subsistence levels, there is no superfluous population.*

What is truly happening is this:

Europe and America are wealthy, we are sending our capital overseas, and we are importing unskilled workers and guest workers to lower domestic wage pressures. This is being done in pursuit of profit by the owners of capital, who are putting greed ahead of national interest and ahead of worker interests.

As a result, we are seeing market wages fall below the minimum wage, which creates unemployment.

Furthermore, what Benoist ought to say is that capitalism keeps citizens content with the promise of improving living standards. However, since we’ve reached limits, we now risk crystalising into a more conservative system that is less upwardly mobile and doesn’t trickle down. We risk entering a world of rentiers who own capital, live off the rent, while others do the work.

Ideally a nation-state is built to function as a unit, so the reformer’s focus should be on what works for a national unit, not on some poorly conceived concept of “freedom” as American classical liberals are inclined to do. For example, a nationalist will want the brightest to enjoy full opportunities (access to the best education), rather than only the rich. Whereas classical liberals tend to hold an almost religious reverence for individualism and the free market, regardless of the impact on society.

I think it is good to question capitalism, but the best criticisms I’ve seen come from the early conservative anti-capitalists. That’s why I’ve posted about monasteries here before. They provided an independent moral compass and guarded heritage.

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Zerohedge Fears Millennial Lack of Ideological Purity

From Zerohedge, two polls are cited with overlapping percentages. 58% favour socialism; 64 percent favour a free market.

While Zerohedge is correct that socialism is not a free market, it is wrong to suggest only capitalism can be a free market. Before capitalism, we had free markets; free markets have always been a thing.

What we’re perhaps seeing is an end to a political ideology: Classical liberalism. That end cannot come soon enough. I believe it was the Cold War and the one-directional television/radio communication that created such fanaticism as we have today among the Hippie generation.

“Third Way” ideas are not some degradation of a perfect ideology; they are a return to sanity. Millennials might not know what socialism is, but they’re right to reject classical liberalism.

Addendum: Perhaps another factor that encourages rigid classical liberalism is the overfocus on a single historical period for political values, rather than appreciating multiple periods.

Zerohedge Claims Most Under-30 Adults Reject Capitalism

I view this quote as potentially good news:

The Harvard University survey, which polled young adults between ages 18 and 29, found that 51 percent of respondents do not support capitalism. Just 42 percent said they support it.

It isn’t clear that the young people in the poll would prefer some alternative system, though. Just 33 percent said they supported socialism. The survey had a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points.

To start with, how many, even Harvard students, would give a consistent definition for the term “capitalism”? Most from Harvard might give correct definitions, but their definitions would inevitably vary. And when Hilaire Belloc attacked capitalism in The Servile State, he had to first define capitalism. Note: Belloc was arguing against capitalism’s tendency to bring about socialism. *Libertarian heads explode.*

Secondly, many of the paleos were labeled as “anti-capitalist”, and I’ve never believed in the mythos around the Industrial Revolution. The strength of capitalism exists where economically productive assets within a society are given power. The less economically productive then must focus efforts on more immediate concerns, like finding a job so as to eat. As a result, you have less idleness but also reductions in socially useful assets such as monasteries.

And on this second point, let me note that this is only capitalism as functioning ideally. Also, these less productive assets, such as monasteries, can serve vital functions. So, while ideal capitalism might lead to a dramatic flowering, it isn’t necessarily stable. We see in America today, moneyed-special-interests influencing political campaigns, culture, the media (including bloggers though obviously not this site). There’s almost no place for those who value anything other than money.

Today, nationalism is condemned. Faith is condemned. Our society is becoming more individualistic, secular, transient. What value is left to Americans but pursuit of greed? And we see the results, wars partly fought for profit (also for Israel lobby), mass immigration for profit, free trade for profit (Francis once said free trade is “economic ethnic cleansing”). Greed destroys. (And it’s not a Christian value, but it feels somehow dirty to make such an obvious reference.)

The term for what is lost in present-society used to be called, by a paleo blogger, “social capital”. We could all sense something was amiss with Wall Street speculation and greed, though we certainly didn’t want socialism. “Distributism”, “Third Position”, and other “Third Way” ideas became popular as a result.

Anyway, I’m proudly anti-socialist, and that is why I’m also anti-capitalist. Third solutions are the future, however one defines them, alternatives existing within both the “Left” and the “Right”. And I find many on the “Left” agree with me on many things, so long as I don’t break certain taboo topics, at least not all at once. There is potential there for a movement to draw support from both groups to assault the “moderate” centre.

One thing investors and speculators know well: The market doesn’t move in a straight line. If the march of “history” appears inevitable today, that march will shift.

Chesterton’s America

Amazon has an uncommonly interesting summary of the book Chesterton’s America: A Distributist History of the United States, which is based around Cecil Chesterton’s work but includes excerpts from GK Chesterton and others.

One of those others is Kentuckian Herbert Agar, editor of the famous I’ll Take My Stand and, from the summary,

according to commentator Herbert Shapiro, “[G.K.] Chesterton’s leading American political disciple.”

More from the summary:

G.K. Chesterton called the approach featured here ‘very brilliant and original,’ but also prophesied that ‘it will not be taken sufficiently seriously; because the reader will have to wrench his mind out of a rut…to imagine anybody saying that a small, limited and agricultural America would have been better for everybody—especially Americans.’ ‘Chesterton’s America’—the first ever Distributist History of the United States—is your chance to prove him wrong!

It sounds wonderful.

Libertarianism’s Estranged Saints

Over at Faith and Heritage, Jan Stadler has published an excellent article on the modern libertarian pantheon of saints, which are listed as: Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Murray Rothbard.

In a previous Stadler article it was highlighted how the Libertarians are similar to Marxists.

And in this article Stadler highlights how modern libertarianism reflects a Jewish perspective, which is important because they viewed themselves as outsiders within their society. Put another way, they espoused a cosmopolitan, non-Christian viewpoint.

Stadler writes:

Libertarian saints such as Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, and their contemporary demigods like Ron Paul, Rand Paul, and Justin Amash need to be suffocated out. Libertarianism’s takeover of the GOP represents the utter end of Christian America on the Right, as it, not socialism, will have effectively displaced Christianity as the prevailing worldview of the Right to stand against socialism. A more preferable alternative would be to have socialism crush libertarianism and then let socialism implode on its own.

Christianity must now stand as the antithesis to the secular thesis that is socialism and libertarianism. It needs to rediscover that it is not in fact a product of the Enlightenment, but the enemy of Enlightenment antitheism. Secularism is and will continue to carve chasms in people’s souls as they seek higher meaning in a world ruled by hedonism and materialism.

It might be positive to take Stadler’s, and related, ideas and rewrite them for a non-Christian audience, for submission to, say, counter-currents website. The reason this is a good idea is the right exists as an “against-us” alliance. Often we mistake the component factions within this alliance as holding similar goals. They do not. And Stadler’s article, rewritten for counter-currents, would strike a blow against the Nietzschean, eugenitic, and classical liberal ideas there. Counter-currents seems, to me, to hold a mix of ideas, and those non-Christians sharing some of Stadler’s values would perhaps be awakened to the differences among the factions.