Are distributist economic policies dysgenic?

Among many Trad Catholics, distributism seems to be the thing.  At a happy hour the other evening, some guy was yammering on about distributism and how it would cure all our ills.  It’s held up as the great panacea.

Now I can understand one’s dislike of the modern corporate-capitalist system in the West.  Corporate-capitalism (1) fosters transnational loyalties, resulting in things like corporations supporting mass Third World immigration into Western countries, (2) is ugly, as attested by the WalMart aesthetic, (3) is often environmentally unfriendly,  (4) is short-sighted, operating only in short business cycles, and (5) is itself dysgenic by its support of Mass Third world immigration into Western countries.

But is distributism any better?  Has it historical precedent?

Many distributist advocates point to Medieval Europe for precedent, but this is doubtful.

My recent exchange with Ron Unz on eugenics highlights a historic fact: much of Western history has been eugenic (see here, here, here, here and here).  Medieval England, in fact, was highly eugenic, as demonstrated by Gregory Clark’s findings in Farewell to Alms: the English upper classes reproduced at at 2:1 ratio over the lower classes, which resulted in the upper classes eventually replacing the lower classes through downward mobility and which resulted in a downward drift of genes and affiliative behaviors, such as decreased violence, and increased average IQ and innovation.

So, in reality, Medieval Europe was not the equitable distributive paradise that many distributists make it out to be.

But that aside, even if distributism were to be implemented today, how would it not be dysgenic? By redistributing wealth through welfare like practices, how would it not resemble the modern open-borders welfare state, which is itself highly dysgenic? Can distributists assure us that distributism would not be dysgenic?  How would it encourage the reproduction of the productive members of society and discourage the reproduction of the dregs?  How would it keep out the Third World hordes?  How would it safeguard one’s genetic interests?


My tone above might seem to be a little harsh. I am not wholly opposed to distributism.  Who knows, it probably would be better than our current globalist regime of leveling corporate capitalism.  Nonetheless, I wanted to register some concerns.

Primer on Immigration and Human BioDiversity

18 thoughts on “Are distributist economic policies dysgenic?

  1. “By redistributing wealth through welfare like practices, how would it not resemble the modern welfare state, which is itself highly dysgenic”

    Distributism is not about “welfare”, it’s about ownership of the means of production. .

    • Yes, but distributist writers often talk about a just social order, implying egalitarianism and an egalitarian distribution of resources. This seems to be at odds with the anti-egalitarianism of Medieval Europe as well as the Medieval economic practice of lands largely owned by the rich. I find it odd that many distributist writers turn to Medieval Europe as a model when Medieval reality seems to be nearly the opposite of distributism.

      • This is nosense. Distribution of resources doesn´t mean that all should have the same. Don´t mix ideas please

      • Elias,

        Yes, much of history is “ugly,” I suppose. For instance, Lawrence Keeley’s War Before Civilization demonstrates that genocide has been the norm, not the exception, throughout human history. Until recently, infant exposure has been the norm, often dwarfing per capita the number of abortions performed today.

        But should we ignore reality? Or talk about it?

        This is what separates men from children. You want children to be protected and to have pretty view of the world. But men cannot afford such luxury and must face harsh reality.

      • “Such a pretty little site with such ugly little ideas.”

        Such a worthless comment…

  2. Some thoughts:

    Traditional Christianity is utterly opposed to deliberate attempts at “perfecting” mankind. From the traditionalist viewpoint, “right-wing” eugenicists and “left-wing” Marxists are one of a kind. This association is not out of nowhere, as we know that prior to the discrediting of eugenics by the Nazis, many self-identified leftists and liberals in the West favored eugenics, e.g. the Fabians.

    So to the extent “reactionary” sites like this one support eugenics, even the most reactionary Christians will not be allies.

    The “eugenics” you talk about regarding Medieval Europe wasn’t a deliberate program, which is what I mean when I talk about eugenics. In the era before cheap and effective medicine that lowered mortality rates among the poor, it is not surprising that the rich out-bred the poor. Is there an example of a pre-modern society where the poor out-bred the rich? I haven’t heard of one. So from a purely scientific point of view, the notion of downward drift of “good genes” doesn’t explain the differences between the West and the rest.

    Distributism is not the same as medieval economics in practice; it is an early 20th century attempt to work out an economic theory that puts into work Catholic social doctrine. The feudals didn’t have an overarching economic theory. It was also, as you rightly point out, grossly unequal, but that is more likely due to feudalism, which had origins outside of Christian thought. At the same time, traditional Christianity opposes revolution, so you are not meant to fight inequality; rather, the rich are expected to show charity to the poor, while the poor are expected to bear their lot patiently.

    One definite traditionalist economic idea is that interest is an abomination: a debt is fixed once it is incurred. This more or less undermines all of modern economics. A society that really stuck to traditional Christianity would almost certainly not see a lot of economic growth. From the traditionalist point of view, this is not a bad thing, since the purpose of our existence in this world is held to be a preparation for the next, not an end in itself.

  3. Pingback: Human BioDiversity and Functional Socialism | Occam's Razor

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