"Both Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party Are Right"
- The idea originated in England in the 1920s with the deeply Catholic writers G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, who founded the Catholic Distributist League to advance theories inspired by Pope Leo XIII’s landmark 1891 social justice encyclical, Rerum Novarum, which challenged the emerging problems of the industrial age.
The concern that both capitalism and communism were huge, dehumanizing forces gained some currency in the Great Depression. Its supporters, however, were often regarded as quirky or outright cranks, and were criticized as gentry who “drove down in their motorcars to discuss the abolition of machinery.”
Chesterton and Belloc were certainly more convincing as authors than as economists, and while their calls for patronizing small shops rather than big chain stores sounded nice, they didn’t have much to offer in terms of real solutions.