Every time I see the “Breadlines” meme, the comment section is always flooded with reactive support for capitalism, usually from Tea Party types. Typically it is something akin to “I support Traditionalism and capitalism!” Anyone that says this is missing the point of the meme and they also have not given capitalism enough thought.
Socialism (at least universalist socialism) is obviously crazy. Taking money and/or goods from society’s producers and handing them to society’s takers for no reason other than that they happen to exist serves only to bring the entire society down to its lowest common denominator.
Capitalism, on the other hand, seems to be something entirely different. On the surface, it appears to be a system where anyone in society—not just the best and brightest—can become as wealthy as their abilities will allow. Producers compete to provide the best product or service for the lowest price, all to the benefit of society’s consumers.
The problem is that it does not actually work out like that. Big corporations compete only when they have to. They actually hate competition and do everything they can to eliminate it. More often than not, the best products are left behind for the cheapest junk. As if sacrificing quality for profits were not enough, labor is outsourced to the other side of the world (with the final product being wastefully shipped back to its destination market) in order to squeeze out a few more percentage points for the board of directors. Big impersonal corporations with no loyalty to place or folk that push out the artisans and creators are no friends of Tradition.
Traditionalism is not an “-ism” in the usual ideological sense, but more of a world view. Rather than deciding what system is best for the economy, Tradition asks how communities can best be served economically. It firstly abhors a culture of consumerism and urges a reevaluation of needs versus wants. Capitalism has told us that we will be happy if we buy stuff—stuff we pay for by working in dimly-lit boxes all day doing the same robotic task until the day we die—but Traditionalism responds that the things that yield a good life are almost always intangible. Traditionalism means preferring the rituals and connections with one’s environment rather than treating everyone and everything as commodities.
To bring this full-circle, we make our bread because it offers us a chance to find reward in working to create something ourselves. It is even better if we work together with family or friends to do it. Sharing your bread means so much more (to say nothing of the quality) when it emerges from your oven and not a plastic sleeve.
And I get it. Not everyone wants to spend time in the kitchen making bread every time a sandwich is made. But that is why Tradition requires a cultural shift. Previous generations made do by staying well-connected with their extended family and by building and maintaining strong communities. If you don’t have bread, your cousin or grandmother may have made some. If you really must buy it, support your community and buy a fresh baked loaf from your baker. He and his family will appreciate it.
If a label is needed, this is called Distributism. The means of production are decentralized, or “distributed”, as much as possible. None of this happens by state action either. It happens by making a conscious cultural shift in favor of family, community, and Tradition and moving away from grotesque international systems of economics.