Distributism And Neo-Distributism

The social philosophy of Distributism is the ancestor of today’s radical movements in defence of life, ecology, the family, agriculture, small shops and small communities. In the early 20th century it opposed corruption in business, the media and politics. The core idea was very simple: to encourage the wider distribution of private and productive property throughout society. This required devolving economic and political responsibility to the lowest practicable level, and strengthening the family wherever possible as the basic cell of civil society, the family being the social context in which cardinal and theological virtues may best be taught and acquired. Distributism is an application of the Catholic principle of subsidiarity. Like other Catholic and Anglican movements of the same period, it was inspired by papal encyclicals beginning with Rerum Novarum (1891), but Distributism became fragmented and some of its leaders were deceived by the promise of Italian and Spanish Fascism, thus tainting the movement by association.

Today, under the stimulus of the present crisis, a new wave of radical economic thinking draws on some of the same ideas as Distributism, while distancing itself from those earlier mistakes of judgment. The “Neo-distributists” speak of localism, decentralization, guilds, and microfinance. They support the development of civil society, small businesses and cooperative partnerships. In the UK, Phillip Blond (director of the ResPublica think-tank) claims, for example: “Today there is more concentration of wealth in fewer hands than at any time in recent history. At the same time, real wages have declined and many people are worse off in real terms than 30 years ago. People have been offered credit instead of increases in salary … For me the greatest challenge is how we solve the conflict between capital and labour so that everybody has a chance – through wider share ownership, decentralisation, mutual funds, guilds, co-operatives, for example – to own a little of something.”


Africa project (Sierra Leone Chesterton Centre)

Distributist Review

Chesterbelloc Mandate

Caelum et Terra

G.K. Chesterton Institute

G.K. Chesterton Library

Rise of the Red Tories

Progressive Conservatism Project

The University Concourse
A collection of material on distributism compiled at Franciscan University

Wiki-Distributism - The Distributism page of the P2P Foundation

Towards a Better Distribution of Land (Vatican document)

The New Distributist League

Penny Justice (Distributism and Catholic Social Teaching)

ResPublica (Phillip Blond's "Red Tory" think tank)

Italian Chesterton Society

American Chesterton Society