Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Annotated Edition of William Cobbett's "The Emigrant's Guide"


ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA, USA. Economic Justice Media, has published an annotated edition of The Emigrant's Guide, a rediscovered classic by William Cobbett (1763-1835), the "Apostle of Distributism." This new edition features a foreword by Michael D. Greaney, Director of Research of the Center for Economic and Social Justice ("CESJ"). The foreword examines Cobbett's focus on widespread direct ownership of the means of production, and the need to educate today's workers in the necessity of becoming an owner of a moderate capital stake sufficient to supplement or even replace labor income as a means of generating an adequate and secure income.

William Cobbett was a British journalist, reformer, and politician. Greatly admired by Gilbert Keith Chesterton (with Hilaire Belloc the founder of "distributism") and Dorothy Day of the "Catholic Worker Movement," Cobbett decried the economic helplessness of the average person and the political disenfranchisement that inevitably follows. To Cobbett, economic power was rooted in one thing: access to the means of acquiring and possessing private productive property, which more and more modern commentators are beginning to realize is the basis of a sound political as well as economic order.

As Chesterton said of Cobbett, "The chief mark of the modern man has been that he has gone through a landscape with his eyes glued to a guidebook, and could actually deny in the one, anything that he could not find in the other. One man, however, happened to look up from the book and see things for himself; he was a man of too impatient a temper, and later he showed too hasty a disposition to tear the book up or toss the book away. But there had been granted to him a strange and high and heroic sort of faith. He could believe his eyes."

Readers of Cobbett's best-selling History of the Protestant Reformation in England and Ireland (1827) and The Poor Man's Friend (1829) will recognize many familiar ideas. At 240 pages The Emigrant's Guide not only offers a fascinating and entertaining study of early 19th century America, but is also an invaluable supplement to Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America and Orestes Brownson's The American Republic.

The Emigrant's Guide can be purchased on the internet from Amazon and Barnes and Noble, or by special order from many bookstores. Bulk quantities (10 or more copies) for delivery within the continental United States can be ordered directly from the publisher, CESJ, www.cesj.org, P. O. Box 40711, Washington, DC 20016.

"Economic Justice Media" is the imprint of the Center for Economic and Social Justice ("CESJ"). CESJ is a non-profit think tank in Arlington, Virginia, that bases many of its programs and proposals on the natural law and the binary economics of Louis Kelso and Mortimer Adler.

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