Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Excerpt from Distributism: A Catholic System of Economics

by Donald Goodman III

The distributive state is that in which productive property is the norm rather than the exception; that is, that in which the normal citizen is an owner of productive property. For reasons of clarity these were addressed in five sections above; however, the principles to which a state wishing to be considered distributive must conform are essentially threefold:

Property and distributive justice

The state must respect private property. However, it should not be misled by modern claims that private property is an absolute right which triumphs over the necessities of the common good. In particular, the use of private property should be directed by the state to the common good. Property will be distributed unevenly in society, and that unequal distribution is both necessary and good; however, productive property should be distributed widely throughout society, not necessarily equally, but such that society as a whole takes on the characteristics of a society of owners rather than a society of nonowning workers. This distribution is in accord with distributive justice. In all distributive concerns, a special concern must be taken for the poor, for Christ and the Church have always held that the state must look out especially for them.


No function should be performed by a higher level of society that could be performed by a lower level. The state must always respect the prerogatives of the subsidiary corporations which make it up; failure to do so is like the brain failing to respect the prerogatives of the heart or the liver, and will inevitably result in disorder and eventual death. However, this principle should not lead the state into abandoning those tasks which necessarily fall upon it; it should not fear to take up those roles and functions which only it can properly perform.


The state must order all its actions in the economic realm such that each part of society is acting in concert for the common good.

The state which remains true to these three principles cannot run afoul of Catholic doctrine. Truly, these principles indicate a very different economic order from that dominant in the West and throughout the world. They are, however, the only principles upon which a Catholic state can rely to build an economic order truly in accord with Catholic teaching.


(To download Donald Goodman's entire book Distributism: A Catholic System of Economics in PDF click here)

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