Chris Dierkes

Chris Dierkes (aka CJ Smith). 29 years old, happily married, adroit purveyor and voracious student of all kinds of information, theories, methods of inquiry, and forms of practice. Studying to be a priest in the Anglican Church in Canada. Main interests: military theory, diplomacy, foreign affairs, medieval history, religion & politics (esp. Islam and Christianity), and political grand bargains of all shapes and sizes.

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7 Responses

  1. E.D. Kain says:

    You know, I meant to (and intend to still) parcel in the concept of the Commons you brought up earlier, but the whole thing just got so big, I didn’t feel that it fit quite yet. So I’m exstatic you picked up on this and provided some more depth and historical background. I think all these concepts (localism, distributism, the Commons) interweave in fascinating ways. More later…Report

  2. I’ve been reading whatever I could about distributism for, oh, the last 48 hours. It’s an interesting concept.
    On your critique of liberaltarianism – you do a very good job actually addressing the point of the liberaltarian project, which I think may make you the first critic thereof to do so. That said, a critical feature of liberaltarian safety nets is that they are almost exclusively direct transfers, ideally via a negative income tax. That style of taxation and transfer is a dramatic decrease in bureaucrac, particularly when compared to our current system.

    The larger problem, as you identify, is how to overcome the tendency of big business and government to get in bed together in such a way as to create “too big to fail” monopolization. Alas, the answer to that question is particularly elusive: anti-trust laws do not seem to have much of an effect and encourage manipulation of the political process; delineating the precise line between planning “for” and “against” competition is almost impossible; and attempts to regulate the markets or impose tariffs are inevitably defined by regulatory capture.

    As to the issue of property in distributism, I think there is certainly something deeply appealing to that notion. The trouble I have with it is two-fold, though (and I’m just learning about distributism, so please feel free to correct these concerns): 1. How do you distribute property in a manner that avoids the social, political, and economic upheaval that we see when land reform has been implemented in the past in other areas? 2. How do you handle the issues of gifts and/or inheritance?Report

  3. Mark, I don’t know that it’s the answer, but an at least partial answer to question one, I think, is through taxation, specifically a Georgist land tax and a differential tax, which Belloc discusses in either The Servile State or An Essay on the Restoration of Property — perhaps both — whereby the governing body, rather than engaging in an outright taking, makes expanding one’s business too far, to a point of (near-)monopolization, whether locally, regionally, or nationally, so costly as to make doing one’s best to keep the one or two local establishments in the company running as smoothly and as successfully as possible.

    I’m not going to touch number two. I think the “easy” answer is that the State, and other individuals, respect the decisions a property owner makes about what becomes of his land upon his death. However, this avoids the complexities of asking how, say, his other children are to partake in the widespread distribution of property if his is secured in the hands of only one — or, conversely, how any of his heirs can thrive, or even subsist, if their parcels are too small.Report

  4. Chris Dierkes says:


    Thanks for the pickup. Nice to see you around here. The point you make about how to apportion appropriate sizes if you are anti-primogeniture is a very important one. I have no answer to it, but it’s a definite potential bug in the system.


    The negative income tax makes a good deal of sense to me. The Georgist land tax idea that Nathan mention is another species of the genus idea of The Commons. In terms of the politics of it to your question (how to avoid Zimbabwe style land takeovers) I think it would require a major constitutional shift namely to a third house (or at least a seriously effective/powerful third party) that would represent the Commons/People’s interests. I also see at this juncture about 0% chance of that happening anytime soon. But one can dream.Report