I propose elements for a Distributist agenda for the months immediately ahead of us. Is it possible in the face of the global economic meltdown to focus on practicalities such as the enormity of the calamities that already are overtaking countless households, with greater numbers still to come? And on what in practical terms Distributism might have to offer in response to them? And on what sort of alliances might be needed in order for a Distributist response to be effective - for a place to be found for Distributism on the agendas of our respective countries, and in part also in the context of the community economic development packages that will inevitably be on offer, and as inevitably in too many cases fail for want of the conceptual underpinning a Distributist perspective might provide? And on whether - mixed metaphor imminent!! - the silver lining to the current dark economic clouds might be that they present a window of opportunity to get Distributism taken seriously in circles which previously have been oblivious to it? And on whether right now might not be an auspicious moment for planting the Distributist acorns from which mighty Distributist oaks may in future arise?
I'm in normal times as much as anybody up for informed discussion on the great historical and philosophical questions, but right now I'm mindful of the old saying 'When Cicero spoke men listened, but when Caesar spoke men marched'. What distinguishes the truly great Distributists of the stamp of Fr Jimmy Tompkins, Fr Moses Coady and Fr Jose Maria Arizmendiarrieta is that they too marched. Who among us has actually fronted the board of the local credit union - a quintessentially Distributist institution, to which it is to be hoped all of us belong - not just with a sympathetic inquiry about how they may be making out in the face of the current stresses, but to ask what more imaginative responses along Distributist lines they might contemplate in response to the likely protracted unemployment or under-employment of large numbers of their members? Who among us has hooked up with a repositry of employee ownership expertise such as at Kent State University about possible employee acquisitions of businesses whose owners currently are walking away from them? Who among us is seeing in the enormous numbers of houses currently vacant in the US an opening for the establishment of housing co-operatives such as Jimmy Tompkins founded at Antigonish? Who among us has introduced an elected representative at the local, state or federal level or a local bishop, priest or congregation to Distributism, perhaps through the linkage that it was in precisely such times of impoverishment and immiseration as many currently are experiencing that Mondragon had its inception?