Distributism seems to be popping up more often lately — not just among armchair hobbyists like myself, but in places where it could actually matter.

  • Michael Dougherty, writing for The Week: ‘The Conservative Case Against Capitalism’. This piece is a lot more readable than anything I have written on the subject here. Prof. Alan Jacobs has expressed a wish to build on this piece — let’s hope he gets around to it soon.
  • P. E. Gobry, who recently got himself picked up by Patheos, has started a New Distributism series of blog posts, though he’s writing mainly for Catholics and mainly about ethics. I’m including it here in hopes that he’ll start talking about what exactly his New Distributism would look like — mechanics and so forth.
  • Arthur Hunt III wrote an excellent piece at The American Conservative: ‘Pope Francis Needs Distributism’. (The title may be a bit misleading; many believe that Pope Francis already does self-identify as a Distributist.)
  • About that. Pope Francis not only seems to be a Distributist, but he seems to be the kind the movement most needs: one who will preach the ethics of widespread ownership without resorting to dowdy Distributist anachronisms like saying everyone should become farmers again. His central exhibit on the subject, the Evangelii Gaudium, indicates a willingness to move beyond focusing on land ownership, for example.

It may be that I’m just starting to look in the right places, but I think the increasing frequency of writings like these show that Dism has turned a corner. When I first learned about it in 2012, I found it incredibly strange that I hadn’t heard about it before — that it wasn’t being talked about. I felt it badly needed an update, and a fresh discourse which I’m not qualified to lead (or even visible enough to start off). Now it seems to be happening.

Yes, all of these writers are approaching the subject from a Catholic background. And I would still like to see a broad secular (or at least post-Catholic) case being made for Distributism. But perhaps a good first step is to get Catholics and other open-minded evangelicals to think about Distributism on its own terms. Two years ago, when I attended a meeting of the American Chesterton Society dedicated to the topic of Distributism, what I found were a lot of capitalist Catholics who, though pleasant and well-meaning, were interested in it mainly as another bludgeon to use against Democrats.