Distributism was formulated in the early 20th century by Hilaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton as an economic theory and a genuine expression of the social teachings of the Catholic Church according to Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum [and later, Pius XI’s Quadragesimo Anno]. Its key tenet is that ownership of the means of production should be as widespread as possible rather than being concentrated in the hands of a few owners (Capitalism) or in the hands of state bureaucrats (Socialism). – John Médaille
Locating spaces that truly represent the holistic teachings of the Catholic Church seems an impossible demand these days. Print magazines and online journals have taken a “politics first” approach to Christian living, often tainted with naturalistic and Enlightenment thinking, normally coming down on the Left or Right sides of John Locke.
Are we thinking with the mind of the Church?
We want to challenge YOU, the reader, to ask whether “whether we’re Christians first and consistently,” as Archbishop Charles J. Chaput writes, “or just the latest version of political animals in religious clothing.”
Years ago, a gang of misfits collaborated on a radical project to change that. Inspired by G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Dorothy Day, and the economist E.F. Schumacher, our voyagers embarked on a mission to put on ecclesiastical thinking caps, to get back to the heart of the gospels with the intention of introducing a new audience to the solutions proposed by the early distributist movement. (For a brief description of Distributism, click here.)
The Distributist Review (DR) is an online magazine that examines culture, politics, and economics from a distributist perspective. Founded in 2007 by John Médaille and Richard Aleman, the DR is an apostolate devoted to education, evangelization, and Catholic social teaching.
Our vision is to:
• educate people in the pew about the economic theory and philosophy of distributism as an alternative to economies of dispossession (socialism and capitalism)
• challenge laymen and clergy to transcend progressive and conservative narratives and appraise key issues from the perspectives of tradition and faith
• prescribe the spiritual and corporal works of mercy as cornerstones for developing piety and alleviating poverty
• restore Catholic Action by promoting active participation in the public square in order to combat the immoral interests of big business and big government
• influence the “influencers” by providing context on matters of culture, economics, and politics through the lens of the Church’s social teachings
Along with traditional distributist arguments in favor of widespread productive property, guilds, cooperatives, and so forth, our authors also address specific public policy issues affecting modern family fragmentation: payday lending, surrogacy, human trafficking, immigration, unemployment, student debt, homelessness, and the environment.
We cannot close our eyes to the fact that family fragmentation and social immobility is caused by more than economic imbalances. In the encyclical Inscrutabili Dei Consilio, Leo XIII wrote that at the heart of our social and political evils rests the nexus of a religious error. Twenty-three years later, he challenged a world to acknowledge that most economic problems are really moral ones, which can only be resolved by religion.
Divorce, fatherless homes, racism, gender ideologies, abortion and contraception contribute to the erosion of our human ecology.
Christians of every stripe should remember that social justice is not human activity isolated from God’s authority, and that economic justice must be pursued in the context of other goods. Although political initiatives to enable family flourishing are important, the world cannot reform man solely by reforming institutions. Sin exists and man will contend with sin until Christ the King returns in glory. The presence of sin is a truth we ignore at our peril. Reform after reform will never remake man. Jesus would have been proclaimed King, wrote Fulton Sheen, “if He said the fault was in things; but they crucified Him because He said the fault was in man.” Therefore, we are all charged with encouraging men and women to strive for holiness and virtue as we all grapple with how to live out the two great commandments: to love God with our whole heart, mind, and soul, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Vivat Christus Rex!