Monday, October 18, 2010

Austro-Distributivists Unite!

"I am not convinced that the Austrian School doesn’t have the better argument, but the distributists bring a vital perspective and there is probably no better place to start hearing it right now than Toward a Truly Free Market," says Caleb Stegall of John Médaille's new book — Toward a Truly Free Market.

Commenters follow Mr. Stegall's non-partisanship. Brendon says that he "tend[s] to sympathize more with the distributist argument than the Austrians’ (Roepke aside)." Christopher Carr says, "I have always found the two views to be entirely consistent." Kevin says, "I also sympathize with both strains of thought and I often find myself wavering between the two." Such fusionism has been suggested on these pages before:Many of the above posts naturally reference Wilhelm Röpke, the great economist in whom the two schools meet, and about whom these posts were written:

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10 Comments:

Blogger love the girls said...

The Austrian understanding of man could not be more anti-Catholic. Where as the Distributist understanding of man is Catholic.

The Catholics of good will who push Autrianism are no different than any other Catholic suffering from invincible ignorance. But evil when promoted by those of good will, is no less the evil for it. And that evil makes it incompatible with that which is true.

2:46 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

That is what Distributivists usually say, prooftexting passages from Mises or Hayek as if Austrians read them as Holy Writ.

I fail to see how a school that, as Wikipedia puts it, merely "emphasizes the spontaneous organizing power of the price mechanism" and which has contributed to "the development of the neoclassical theory of value and the subjective theory of value on which it is based, as well as contributions to the 'economic calculation debate' which concerns the allocative properties of a centrally planned economy versus a decentralized free market economy" could be considered anti-Catholic.

7:32 PM  
Blogger love the girls said...

It has to do with how they understand man as an autonomous creature, and not as a political animal. If God were to ask an Austrian if he was his brother's keeper, he would give the same answer as Cain. Because as autonomous, they don't.

They're modernists, with a modernist understanding.

That sameness to Cain's answer is why they and distributists consistently come to opposite conclusions. It's because they start with an opposite premise on the understanding of the nature of man.

And lastly, I don't mean anti-Catholic as in attacking the Church, (although they do that too when they attack Church teaching), but anti-Catholic as in contrary to a Catholic understanding.

10:20 PM  
Blogger Casey Khan said...

I also fail to see why the general Austrian position cannot be reconciled with distributism.

Although I agree that the Austrian view of "acting man" is not the rich anthropology of Catholicism, I don't see this as a basis for completely rejecting the Austrian view. Nevertheless, it is the one economic theory out there that begins with "acting man" and as such, it is a vast improvement over other general economic theories as derived by the Keynesians, the Neoclassicals, and the Rational Expecations theorists.

In fact, what the distributists are doing with Austrian thought, is like Aquinas throwing out all of Aristotle because of his own imperfect view of anthropology. Instead, what distributism needs to do is take that rich anthropology and use it to improve on economic thought, but all it has done to date is engage in a form of sentimentalism. As such, my question to distributists remain. What is the distributist theory of money? What is its theory of interest, utility, prices, and other aspects of human behavior?

Like it or not, Austrian thought has effectively explained the bubbles that have wrought havoc on American communities, and not distributism. Austrian theory can explain why there's an unnatural brain drain out of Kansas into the elite centers. I'd like to see distributism recognize business cycles, bubbles, and their explanations, not just complain about them.

10:29 PM  
Blogger love the girls said...

I would not expect the Distributists to be able to explain the economic bubbles. Those bubbles exist because of a the type of economy which exists. Which is why the Austrians can explain them, because it is not unlike them, while it is wholly unlike a Distributist economy which specifically exists to eliminate bubbles and other instabilities.

Casy Khan writes : "my question to distributists remain. What is the distributist theory of money? What is its theory of interest, utility, prices, and other aspects of human behavior?"

Of course the practical application needs to be eventually addressed. But their lack of answering no more proves Austrianism to be true, than the Church not fully explaining nature and grace proves Calvin to be true.

One is built on rock, the other is built on sand.

11:12 PM  
Blogger Casey Khan said...

"I would not expect the Distributists to be able to explain the economic bubbles. Those bubbles exist because of a the type of economy which exists. Which is why the Austrians can explain them, because it is not unlike them, while it is wholly unlike a Distributist economy which specifically exists to eliminate bubbles and other instabilities."

If distributists wouldn't be expected to explain economic bubbles, how can we expect them to eliminate bubbles and other instabilities? Does distributism propose monetary utopia?

4:29 AM  
Blogger love the girls said...

Casey Khan writes : "Does distributism propose monetary utopia?"

No.

7:36 AM  
Blogger Casey Khan said...

The question is still begged, if distributists wouldn't be expected to explain economic bubbles and such, how can we expect them to eliminate bubbles and other instabilities?

8:19 AM  
Blogger love the girls said...

It's not begged. It is simply the wrong question. Just as it would be a wrong question to ask an Austrian how within his system does the duty of a just wage occur? Because for an Austrian the concept of duty to pay a just wage simply does not exist.

Instability in all its various forms is intrinsic to modern society, remove those instabilities, and economic fluctuations become ripples on a pond.

11:28 AM  
Blogger love the girls said...

Perhaps I should write, 'modernist' society.

9:41 PM  

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