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Beyond Capitalism & Socialism: A New Statement of an Old Ideal Hardcover – March 1, 2008

3.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"A book to which I’ll be turning again and again."  —James G. Hanink, professor, department of philosophy, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles

"The contributors . . . offer an alternate vision that promises the recovery of individual freedom, social health, and the humane tradition."  —Mark Malvasi, PhD, professor, department of history, Randolph-Macon College

"This excellent anthology offers a genuine 'third way,' meeting the needs of individuals formed and shaped in families and communities, while achieving the common good."  —Joseph Pappin III, PhD, dean, University of South Carolina–Lancaster

"A valuable collection of essays. With insight, old principles are brought to bear on contemporary social inequities."  —Jude P. Dougherty, PhD, dean emeritus, school of philosophy, The Catholic University of America

"The moral importance of the essays gathered together here lies in the vexing questions they are certain to cause thoughtful readers to ask."  —Cicero Bruce, PhD, professor of English, Southern Catholic College

"This rich and provocative collection will acquaint a new generation of readers with the enduring wisdom of the Catholic tradition."  —Peter A. Huff, PhD, T. L. James Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Centenary College of Louisiana; author, Allen Tate and the Catholic Revival: Trace of the Fugitive Gods

"This wonderful volume contains the provocative and well-argued writings of some of the finest distributist minds alive today."  —Andrew V. Abela, PhD, professor, department of business and economics, The Catholic University of America

"This collection of essays challenges the sterile idealism of the communist and the purposeless empiricism of the capitalist—with both good humor and sound reasoning."  —John C. Médaille, author, The Vocation of Business: Social Justice in the Marketplace

About the Author

Tobias J. Lanz is an adjunct instructor with the department of government and international studies at the University of South Carolina and a contributor to various journals, including Chronicles and The New Oxford Review. He lives in Columbia, South Carolina. Kirkpatrick Sale is the author of seven books, including The Conquest of Paradise: Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Legacy, The Green Revolution, Human Scale, and Rebels Against the Future: the Luddites and their War on the Industrial Revolution. He is also a contributing editor of The Nation and a board member of the PEN American Center, the E. F. Schumacher Society, and The Learning Alliance of New York City. He lives in Cold Spring, New York. John Sharpe is the cofounder of IHS Press and the coeditor of Neo-Conned! and Neo-Conned! Again.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Ihs Press (March 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932528105
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932528107
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,127,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am not a Catholic, but I have been keenly interested in alternative economic views for the past several years after concluding that, in many ways, capitalism and socialism are flawed in seeing man primarily (if not exclusively) as an economic entity.

This is where Distributism enters the scene; an economic system that is based not upon efficiency per-se, but rather upon seeing man as a holistic being encompassing morality, spirituality, work and economics. While the basis for this is a subset of Catholic social teaching, that doesn't make the distributist point of view exclusive to Catholics. (Catholics, for example, have a rule forbidding murder. While their reasoning for this rule may differ from that of a non-Catholic; the fundamental truth and applicability remains without regard to whose label is applied.)

There is a lot in this book. Like other reviewers, I have noted the long biographical interludes which seem somewhat distracting (albeit interesting). However, these don't take away from the value of the concepts and argumentation presented.

Edited and organized by Kirkpatrick Sale, this book presents in a readable and enjoyable format ideas that will be new to most. Many people think, and falsely, that the choices facing us economically must either go into the "Capitalism" box or the "Socialism/Communism" box. This book sheds important light on the fact that these pre-ordained categories are far from the whole story, and that there is a world of worthwhile and important thought out there for people to consider.

I consider this book to be a very important book, and well worth examination by people of all religions who have an open mind.
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Format: Hardcover
While I agree with some of the observations made in reviews previous to mine, there is so much commendable about this book that I give it my highest rating.

Even amongst the relatively educated American public, the term "distributist" usually requires significant elaboration. It is almost wholly unfamiliar to those inclined to accept the left-right, Democrat-Republican, Socialist-Capitalist divisions.

Instead, these essayists point us toward a much more humane tradition. If distributism, agrarianism, social catholicism, subsidiarianism, solidarism, and other isms are a little mish-mashed in this book and if a few essays leave something to be desired, so what? *Anything* that points in the direction of "small is beautiful" over and against the mass ugliness of both socialism and industrial capitalism deserves its place in the spotlight. Especially when the philosophy itself is so hopelessly irrelevant in the public discourse.

The essays by Ahlquist (on Chesterton's Distributism), Storck (on Capitalism and Distributism), and Lanz (on Economics beginning at home) are alone worth the price of the book and more. Additionally, there is a very helpful "Suggestions for Further Reading" section in the back of the book that should lead the thoughtful reader to hours and hours more of profitable and pleasurable reading.

Get this book and buy extra copies for distributing to your thoughtful friends.
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Format: Hardcover
Out of 12 essays in this anthology, only three or four of them really dig into what distributism is, why it is better than capitalism and socialism, how it is linked to Catholic faith, and what it means for us today. These essays are indeed very worthwhile reading that will challenge the reader to think and act differently, seeing that the countercultural life demanded by the Catholic faith extends to the way we approach work, property, and laws affecting the economic sphere.

However, I would describe about half of the book as a "narrative bibliography." These essays are full of references to people and publications that were central to distributism in the 1930s, but they only offer brief glimpses of the content of these writings. They also intertwine Agrarianism with Distributism without any good explanation of why the principles of distributism would mean that most people should return to farming. (The book is also full of unexplained swipes at Vatican II.) This book would have been much better if there was more space devoted to explanation and application and less nostalgia.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As one might rightly expect with a book composed of a group of essays by different authors, there is substantial variance of quality within the pags of this still important and interesting book. The introductory material by Tobias Lanz, Kirkpatrick Sale, and John Sharpre is really quite excellent. The following essays by Mackey, Cooney, Potter, and Ahlquist are also first rate. And there is much more of great value. But Ederer's essay on Heinrich Pesch is pretty much useless and out of place. And Fahey's absurd little rendering "For the Life of This Pig" is as incongruent in a book about distributist economics as its silly title might suggest.

All told, there is much of value here to the person who sincerely desires to gain added perspective on the Distributist movement. By passing over Ederer and Fahey, the reader will receive a decent introduction to the overall theory. But all of this is really much better presented by Mr. Hilaire Belloc in his magnificent trilogy: "The Servile State", "Economics for Helen", and "An Essay on the Restoration of Property". God bless.
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