Could Agrarian Distributism Ever Work? (Interview with Jeremy Cowan Pt. 1)

t part of a conversation I had with Jeremy Cowan, who participated in my Summer 2021 Seminar on the economic theory of Distributism. Dr Cowan is a specialist in organic agriculture with a strong interest in its relationship to politics and economics. In this part of the conversation, we get into the polarizing character of current politics and how it gets in the way of imagining turning towards Distributism or any other alternative to our current corporate-dominated and state-supported capitalism. We discuss the strong agrarian strain in Distributism and whether that is still a relevant direction to change in today’s world. … More Could Agrarian Distributism Ever Work? (Interview with Jeremy Cowan Pt. 1)

Culture War Futility, Why Self Expression Beats Action (Distributism 5-Audio)

In this concluding segment from the 2021 Summer Seminar on Distributism, I discuss why it is so hard to imagine actually changing the economy in any meaningful way. Our capacity for collective action has been hollowed out and replaced by an expressive identity politics that cannot satisfy but works wonders to keep us all working and buying. It very effectively stops any real change from happening. The seemingly radical idea that contemporary protests are largely ineffectual and should be replaced by direct action is introduced. … More Culture War Futility, Why Self Expression Beats Action (Distributism 5-Audio)

Culture War Futility: Why Self Expression Beats Action (Distributism 5-Video)

In this concluding segment from the 2021 Summer Seminar on Distributism, I discuss why it is so hard to imagine actually changing the economy in any meaningful way. Our capacity for collective action has been hollowed out and replaced by an expressive identity politics that cannot satisfy but works wonders to keep us all working and buying. It very effectively stops any real change from happening. The seemingly radical idea that contemporary protests are largely ineffectual and should be replaced by direct action is introduced. … More Culture War Futility: Why Self Expression Beats Action (Distributism 5-Video)

Dorothy Day vs Capitalist Realism (Distributism 4)

This is a selection from the fourth part of a five part seminar on Distributism from Summer 2021. It covers Catholic Worker co-founder Dorothy Day’s thoughts on the responsibility of Christians, true Christian community, and the correct attitude toward what we now recognize as capitalist realism. Day took very seriously the social teaching of the Catholic Church that emerged in the wake of the Industrial Revolution. This thought was critical of capitalism but also steered away from the emerging communist trends that were also materialist and concentrated power. Day’s considerable contribution was to apply her own learning on socialism, communism, anarchism and Christianity to help create a vision for an alternative to the great “isms” of her day and ours. My apologies for some sound glitches due to internet connection! … More Dorothy Day vs Capitalist Realism (Distributism 4)

Indian Farmer Protests and Distributism (3)

This is a selection from the seminar I’m teaching on Distributism. For months now, thousands of Indian farmers have been protesting in an occupy-style encampment near Delhi. They fear that they are in danger of losing not only their livelihoods but their way of life due to changes in the laws leading to deregulation of the agricultural sector in India. They are worried that these changes will make many small farms financially impossible and will lead to a great agricultural consolidation into the hands of big agriculture, changing Indian food security and leaving them without the support of the land and extended families they have relied upon. These farmers are in the situation GK Chesterton saw unfolding in England in the early part of the 20th Century. Chesterton called for something like the Indian farmers want back–government regulation and aid to help maintain numerous and plentiful small farmers in an economy of cooperation with subsistence farming with a market element. The farmer protests are a test case as to whether people now can demand a different economic arrangement that protects and preserves food security and their way of life. … More Indian Farmer Protests and Distributism (3)

Do We Live in a Servile State? ft. Hilaire Belloc’s Distributism (Seminar 2)

This is a section of audio from the Summer 2021 Seminar on Distributism, an economic philosophy that isn’t capitalist or socialist. Distributism advocates for a more even and equal distribution of private property. Hilaire Belloc was one of a few thinkers credited with founding 20th Century Distributism. In this video some of his ideas are discussed in the context of current application, particularly on the question of whether workfare would be recognized by Belloc as promoting the Servile State. … More Do We Live in a Servile State? ft. Hilaire Belloc’s Distributism (Seminar 2)

Can You Be Both Anti-Capitalist and Anti-Communist? (Seminar 1-Rerum Novarum)

This is a segment from the first session of the Summer Seminar on Distributism (2021), part of an hour and a half long session on the origins of Distributism in Aristotle’s Politics and various Catholic encyclicals (the one mainly mentioned here is Rerum Novarum, Pope Leo XIII, 1891, in the wake of the Industrial Revolution). Distributism is a line of thought that opposes both capitalism and socialism/communism as equally materialistic and destructive of freedom and proposes a third way–more widespread ownership of private property. It is separable from religion, because it is primarily a proposal about how to deal with property, but this session covers its roots in Ancient Greek and Christian thought. … More Can You Be Both Anti-Capitalist and Anti-Communist? (Seminar 1-Rerum Novarum)

Basic Income vs. Gaslighting the Precariat (Podcast)

This episode deals with some of the ideas from the concluding chapters of Guy Standing’s book The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class–A Politics of Inferno and A Politics of Paradise. He warns that without major changes we will be facing more and more interest in what he calls neofascism, or the populist and nationalist right. In the last chapter he outlines some solutions, the most discussed being a universal basic income. I spend time on that, but also on the guilt trip societies put on precariat workers, as though it is all their fault. A huge government apparatus exists to encourage the existence of a lot of precarious workers to provide cheap just in time labor, and a huge apparatus exists that employs thousands, if not millions, in administering paternalistic and judgmental programs to the “poor.” When you think about it, that’s sick, and a basic income sounds rational by comparison. … More Basic Income vs. Gaslighting the Precariat (Podcast)

Multitasking Ourselves to Death (Precariat 6-Audio)

Guy Standing’s chapter on “tertiary time” in his book The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class” deals with some important (and very recognizable) evils of our current work environment. The loss of control over our time is the main theme, and the harm that comes from this is sometimes very obvious and sometimes not at all. This video deals with the hidden cost of maintaining what it takes to work in the precariat, including time to maintain themselves and the personal equipment they use, and dealing with constantly changing schedules which means they have to constantly think about how to take care of children and elderly. Hidden traps having to do with taxes and contracts make it harder for the precariat to ever leave their condition. … More Multitasking Ourselves to Death (Precariat 6-Audio)