What would a Distributist society look like?

Wild west town

Perhaps I have a skewed vision of Distributism.  But when I try to envision a Distributist society, I see a town in the Wild West.  The federal government is so distant as to be 90% irrelevant.  There’s a general store, a bar, an inn, a post office, a sheriff’s office, and a blacksmith.  Maybe a cobbler and leatherworker, too.  Ooh, and a barber. 

There are lots of ranchers and farmers nearby–probably more of them than people who actually live in town.

In a sense, this kind of living seems to me to be what Catholic social teaching was aiming for.   But I have three problems with it:


1) I’m unsure if a Wild West town is the best mental image for Distributism.  Is there a better one?

2) How can I change this mental vision to incorporate today’s technology?  (Or shouldn’t I?)

3) Most importantly, there’s a conflict.  I’m very attracted to Distributism, but I’m not particularly attracted to living in a Wild West town, or one like it.  In fact, I actually like shopping at Target, and I like ordering things off of Amazon.  It’s a problem.

What do you think?

–P.S.  I also think the BBC TV show Lark Rise to Candleford does a good job depicting a Distributist society, though an imperfect one (such as the poor not owning their own homes).  Sorry about the subtitles on the commercial.

[video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGbp95b6kFI 400×400]

Eric Pavlat


Eric Pavlat is a convert from Unitarian Universalism who entered the Church in 1996. He lives in Maryland with his wife and six children. He is also a perpetually professed Lay Dominican in St. Pius V Pro-Chapter, located in Catonsville, MD. He founded Democrats for Life of Maryland, Inc., in 2004, served one term as president, and stayed on the board of directors until 2010. He now considers himself more a Distributist than anything else. Eric teaches 10th grade honors and special education students in English literature, composition, and grammar at his alma mater, Parkdale High School.

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