Sunday, July 2, 2017


Capitalism is contradictory as soon as it is complete, because it is dealing with the mass of men in two opposite ways at once. When most men are wage-earners, it is more and more difficult for most men to be customers. For the capitalist is always trying to cut down what his servant demands, and in doing so is cutting down what his customer can spend. As soon as his business is in any difficulties, as at present in the coal business, he tries to reduce what he has to spend on wages, and in doing so reduces what others have to spend on coal. He is wanting the same man to be rich and poor at the same time. 
This is from GK Chesterton's The Outline of Sanity. It's an interesting read. Chesterton was one of the leaders of a school of thought known as distributism, which was opposed to capitalism and Marxism alike because both led to centralized, monopolistic outcomes. I'm still sort of sussing out which parts of his agenda could work and which probably wouldn't, but his analysis is so clear-eyed that I think in terms of economics, there is little going on today that would truly surprise him.


susan said...

I wonder if Chesterton would find the Mondragon system of Spain's Basque region a more acceptable economics? I first read about it's cooperative ownership plan a number of years ago and in the meantime it seems the general downturn in Europe has led to them having many more guest workers than used to be the case. Nevertheless, it certainly is a more fair and distributary organization than either of the others. We certainly need som eother way of going about things.

Ben said...

Thanks for cluing me in about the Mondragon group. It's an interesting system they've worked out, and it certainly seems to be working for them in terms of doing good business as well. I wonder if being in Western Europe but not quite one of the top powers has led to more flexible thinking in Spain (Basque region in this case.)