Urban Distributism

Via Steve Skojec I have found an agrarian/distributist resource site that is second to none: The ChesterBelloc Mandate. Among the many, many fine articles is a common-sense discourse by Mr. John Peterson on urban distributism, or Distributism Without the Cow. Here’s a small sample:


“1. Everything begins with putting the family first. The first loyalty has to be to the family.

Urban Distributist marriages should include, among the wedding vows, a mutual promise to willingly die for the welfare of this newly created family. Is there a stronger way to put it? Distributism is not about farming-economics, it’s about family-integrity. The family has to have stability before it can have economic stability. Therefore, Distributism cannot be comprised of a bunch of wishy-washy, temporary, modernist marriages with spoiled-brat divorces and no-sweat annulments. That stuff is fine for Proletarians but will not do for Distributists. In every decision made by husband, in every decision made by wife, the first consideration must be, ‘is this good for or bad for my family?’ Neither the selfish, ‘How will this affect me?’ nor the unselfish, ‘How will it affect her (or him)’ is Distributist. This commandment is especially true in the sphere of economics. The word ‘career’ has no meaning for a Distributist except as it relates to the economic support of his family.

2. The Urban Distributist goal is economic independence for the family.

3. The center of Urban Distributist life is a place – the home. The place is permanent. It can be changed for weighty family reasons, certainly, but certainly not for mere job transfers or so-called career ‘promotions’.

4. The Urban Distributist home is an economically productive place.

5. Urban Distributist family members hire themselves out as employees to work for a wage on behalf of the family. The Urban Distributist employees are valued employees. In justice, they give a good hour’s work for an hour’s pay, but they do not give their loyalty to their employer, they do not pin their hopes on job success, and they have no illusions about their employer’s loyalty to them.

6. Urban Distributist families are frugal families. They accumulate savings, which they invest to provide non-wage family income.

7. Urban Distributist families experiment with home businesses, first as a learning experience, then as a source of non-wage income, and last as something to fall back on when the wages disappear (as they well may and very often do). Urban Distributist businesses are built around the interests, skills, and creativity of the family members, and are a source of both dignity and pleasure for them.

8. Urban Distributists have extra time. They make more of their time because they do not waste dozens of hours each week on television, computer games, the internet, or other escapist pursuits.

9. The Urban Distributist dollar goes further. Distributists avoid a consumerist lifestyle with its credit cards, mindless shopping, conspicuous consumption, and keeping up with the Jones’.

10. Urban Distributist families are hotbeds of economic education, perpetually seeking and learning new and improved job skills, sharper investment techniques, and more profitable business practices.

In summary, the Urban way to Distributism and family economic independence combines family wages with investments and business income. These economic benefits multiply with Distributist family frugality, productivity, and continuous education.

Maybe Urban Distributism can be explained in terms of the difference between rebellion and resistance. An alien enemy has conquered Christendom and we now live in occupied territory. The enemy has imposed his culture on us and is imposing his rules of law and life. When you are a conquered people, you have three alternatives. You can collaborate, you can resist, or you can rebel. To establish the Distributist State would require a rebellion. Until the Distributist Rebellion, then, we can think of ourselves as part of the resistance.”

7 thoughts on “Urban Distributism

  1. I can’t figure out how a family can be “economically independent” with the property taxes we pay in this country. My parents are currently paying over $7000 per year in taxes on their property. And this is in New Hampshire.

    And I can’t figure out what to do about it.


  2. Very timely, Jeff.

    My husband and I were just discussing this topic this a.m. He is tiring of being a “wage slave” and yet must be until self-employment and/or self-sufficiency exist within the realm of reality for our family. Disposable income (investment income) just is not realistic when one is trying to support a family of 9…but we are taking baby steps to get there.

    “Distributism is not about farming-economics, it’s about family-integrity. The family has to have stability before it can have economic stability.”

    Amen, to that! The family structure is key to all endeavors from peace to politics…we’ve always taught our children that they have no right to expect peace anywhere if they can’t accomplish it at home; that if honesty and integrity are sought in the world, they first must be taught at home. Our children (those of us who are trying desperately to make a “stand”) are the key to unlocking these beautiful ideals.


  3. As I understand it, your property taxes are so high in NH because you have no other taxes in that state. For better or worse, it’s a one-legged stool. Here in IL, we pay property taxes, sales taxes, and income taxes. Need to look at the total tax burden, and some states are much higher than others. Not sure where NH ranks, but certainly better than your neighbors in MA.


  4. Margaret, there’s so much distributist literature available that it is difficult to know where to start. The article I linked to is rather advanced. Perhaps a good introduction to the topic would be this interview with Joseph Pearce, the author of a book titled “Small is Still Beautiful”. That should give you an idea of the basic outlook and the theology behind it.


  5. Pingback: Urban Distributism…. « The Voyage

  6. I like your blog and links. I have an ever growing Catholic family and we love to garden. I’ve just really discovered G.K. Chesterton last year, though I watch ewtn all the time. I wanted to encourage you to keep writing. How is the homeschool situation there in California now?
    Peace be with you,


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