by V. N. Lucas
It will be many years before argument will cease as to how best and most expeditiously the Distributist state can be reached. Propaganda still seems to be the most urgent and practical policy, but propaganda does not consist merely of the spoken or written word. Actions really do speak louder than words. The difficulty is that often they speak a little too loudly, so that it is important that the actions should be right and in accordance with the stated principles and tenets; it is generally easier to contradict or argue with an opinion than with an action. In other words, merely satisfying, without the control by thought and consideration, the natural desire of enthusiasm to do something, is just about the most impractical thing anyone can do. So many of us find it much easier to do almost anything except doing the real labour of thinking.
Nevertheless, thought must lead, if we are healthy and sincere, to action. A week or two ago an article appeared in this paper from the profound pen of Fr. Vincent McNabb. It was entitled “Fifteen things a Distributist can do.” The writer chose fifteen things for two reasons. Because, as he said, “if I set down the hundred and one things you might do, it would fill a whole issue and not one article,” and because “fifteen gives a choice such as a man has, say, in choosing a cravat, a livelihood, or a wife.” He then proceeded to give his choice of fifteen things a Distributist can do; all of them eminently practical, even if some may not be convinced that all of them are practicable The harder and the higher sacrifice is perhaps in the end the only practical policy, but it is hardest of all to expect everyone or indeed, more than a few, to see it. The call of Distributism is a call to heroes, but life to-day calls already for an endurance, a patience and courage more heroic than many of us, doped by the mad drug of cheap advertisement and sensationalism realise.
But I would like, if I may so presume to emphasise strongly Fr. McNabb’s tenth point. He says: “Not only do something, but make something--a cup of tea, a boiled egg, a hat-peg (from a fallen branch), a chair!” He admits that this may result in the gibe that you are only making a fool of yourself but it is, at least to me, the most practical and the most practicable of all his advice. And I would add to it.
There are many things we can make for ourselves, and they will be better made, more wholesome and cheaper than any similar article we are persuaded into buying at chain stores; made or marred by mass production. There is marmalade for instance; there is jam; there is bread; there is cake; there are tables (doubtless rough, but serviceable), all of which can be made by amateurs (as distinct, in the modern, and wrong, use of the word, from skilled workmen); all of which will show an immense economic saving. You can make at a rough estimate six pounds of marmalade at a total cost of one shilling. You cannot buy marmalade for twopence a pound. Also you have real marmalade, made of oranges and sugar. I admit, of course, that you have to buy your oranges and your sugar from a monopolised market, but, at least, a step in the right direction has been taken. The same is true of jam (and it will be of real fruit and not coloured marrow), the same of bread and cakes (nor do home-made loaves go stale in two days; they will remain fresh for a week).
I need not stress the obvious result that such actions would have on the hold of monopoly If sufficient persons took such action it would completely smash monopoly in these articles. But if only a few would make their own requirements, do something towards being self-dependent and useful, we shall have made real progress (that word so beloved of this generation) on the road to a happier and a better state.