tradLIFE: Breadlines

breadlines

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.

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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. favicon

37 thoughts on “tradLIFE: Breadlines”

  1. I think that one salient point that needs to be made (and this is not specifically a criticism of this article) is that there is a distinction between a “free market economy” and a “consumerist, corporatist” economy – though either one can be in mind when one speaks of “capitalism.”

    Typically supporters of “capitalism” will have the former in mind, while opponents of “capitalism” will have the latter. As such, they tend to be talking past each other when they argue about it.

    I would argue that what is “traditional” is a “free market economy” – which was articulated by Adam Smith and the Scottish school of liberty philosophers, but was not *invented* by them. Instead, a free market economy is basically the baseline of economic liberty that Western civilisation has sought even back into Roman times, even if it was rarely realised before the widespread rise of classical liberalism starting in the 17th century. A free market economy IS tradition because it is built on the presupposition of natural law and natural liberties that goes back from the classical liberals through Aquinas to Cicero and Tacitus and which is a bedrock of our civilisation.

    “Consumerism” or “corporatism,” on the other hand, are perversions. They exist only to coerce people into buying things they don’t need to support “economic growth” that is often ephemeral. Corporatism is a form of socialism – it is “state capitalism,” and that’s what we see today with big corporations – they work hand in fist with the government to stifle any competition and to enforce conformity.

  2. It isn’t “capitalism” but “cronyism” when big corporations can eliminate competition. Calling this crony capitalism or corporatism or even (economic) fascism is like saying Traditionalism is about burning LGBTs and others who misbehave at the stake. And the maze of myriad regulations is Socialism – the same factory in the Capitalism picture produces bread for the socialists, but the Government picks winners and losers there too.

    It is not free trade when what is being arbitraged is human rights or even property. They dump toxic waste directly into the rivers and the air, they cheat workers of their wages, they have nothing like Workman’s compensation. That is more cronyism.

    Distributism is the right word and the right paradigm. The world would be different if the first few ten thousand dollars you could earn from doing small things – including making artisan bread, or crafts, or being the neighborhood tailor was exempt from all taxation. If microbusiness was more profitable than welfare (or disability) a lot would come off the rolls. But this is true capitalism. The smallness is neither prevented nor forced.

    There is a difference between a dictated distributism and a libertarian distributism. The former tries to subsidize it and create pre-packaged government spec microbusinesses, so you have a million tiny Solyndras. The latter simply removes government interference entirely below a certain threshold (and if there is reasonable regulation, it occurs gradually as it gets larger, so as not to be a ceiling). It lets the locals organize things the way they want.

    Some things have intractable economies of scale. (Anything involving federal regulation does, hence anything there is cronyism). Other things have to be high-touch or local. Baristas and Truck Drivers can’t be outsourced. But there is a wide middle ground that allows all sizes and experiments. That is what big government suppresses. And what a just, keep order and the peace only (with subsidiarity) government would encourage. Don’t punish them for experimenting or doing the right things, only if they disrupt society. At that point it will be rediscovered.

    You cannot artificially pass “Traditional Regulations”. Ban pre-baked loaves? Then “bread-kits” or those automated bread machines (mix+water+push button and an hour later you have bread)? Or people will just eat something else – potatoes, or eggs? Do you mandate every home come with a chicken coop? (I’m planning to do this if I can’t find a good source of eggs where the hens go out and forage – they taste different and are more nutritious).

    And I’m more interested in “The Bread of Life” instead of “Damn Bread”. Somehow profanity is now part of Traditionalism?

  3. That’s why it is important to remember that Traditionalism is a culture or way or life rather than something that comes from the state.

    Regarding profanity: We aren’t puritans.

  4. I don’t think they are perversions. They are simply actions taken to gain advantages in the marketplace. But I agree, free markets are Traditional, but it has to be coupled with a culture that values the Permanent Things. Consumerism is just a symptom of the current anti-Traditional paradigm and enabled by Capitalism.

  5. True enough. Like anything else, when you leave off the First Things, you get the Last Crumbs.

  6. Enjoyed this article.
    As you say, capitalism as practiced is different from the theory. And our friends in the Tea Party are convinced that “capitalism” is a synonym for freedom and tradition. If only it were so. Here in Charlotte, the big banks are the ones trying to downplay Christmas, boosting more immigration, and supporting the homosexual lobby.

  7. I wanted to note that Western concepts of individualism derive from Christianity; the idea that we are all children of God, specifically in the Christian sense, was a concept of personal worth unknown to us before Him; and which notions of economic rights depend upon.

  8. BTW, my wife makes some really good homemade bread. Just thought I’d share it, since we’re on the subject.

  9. And personal-scale business lends itself to continuous improvement. I am finally getting the Ciabatta to stay on the baking sheet.

  10. The Big Banks are more genuinely socialistic than most socialists these days.

  11. The only true leadership is by example where people decide to follow.

    A private men’s club (are there any left?) where they relax in overstuffed chairs, smoke cigars, and sip something alcoholic might be a place where such doesn’t matter.

    But one of the measures of the coarseness of society is what is considered acceptable in public. And a large part of being Traditional is a requirement for self-control and self-correction. Profanity and the Promiscuity Pride Parade are merely different stairs on the down escalator to Hades.

    It might be an open question if you can be partially – one quarter, a half, or 90% “Traditional” and have things work. I don’t swear, but that is because my Father cleaned up his language before I was able to learn to speak. He wasn’t “puritanical”, but realized that the next generation will have a hard enough time with virtue when the examples are universally good. We should be trying to outdo each other in being such examples.

  12. Excellent article… but don’t just stop with Distrubtism look into C. H. Douglas Social Credit and John Hargrave’s Green Shirts.
    This is a good video on a basic income. However, natutarlly the Libertarian is batsh*t crazy… We could completely shrink the size of the federal government and give everyone a basic income…
    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/swiss-consider-welfare-overhaul-guaranteed-minimum-income/

    Today capitalism is cultural Marxism… it does everything to destroy family… just look at the Koch brothers. David Koch is going before the Supreme Court to support fag marriage. Look at the CEO of Starbucks… supports fag marriage and tells the shareholders that oppose to leave.

  13. Blasphemy rather than profanity puts me in jihad mode. I was raised strictly regarding profanity but sometimes being too careful about it can seem effeminate. I figure a little coarseness here and there can prove we are not robots or disciples of Emily Post. Just my opinion.

  14. I think we should distinguish between capitalism (free market) and those who use it recklessly or for evil.

  15. The neopagans stretch that idea to say that Christianity leads to cultural Marxism. A quick refutation is slavery in both the old and new testaments. Servants still had rights as human beings but not full economic equality.

  16. Coarseness is no substitute for fortitude. It is harder to simply be politically incorrect, or even engage hypocrisy or double standards or error. Weak people can’t control their tongue.

  17. That’s ignoring the nature of capitalism. The Koch brothers are complete capitalist and their support of gay marriage is capitalistic. Which is also why you have Reason Magazine (uber free market disciples) support forcing Christians to make gay wedding cakes and take gay wedding photos. The capitalistic notion of maximizing the number of options for a consumer… even if that means forcing them server someone they don’t want to.

  18. Exactly… this is what capitalism is… cultural Marxism. All cultures are the same and all cultures are consumers. And don’t be fooled… the big banks are completely capitalistic. More immigration gives them cheap labor and supporting the homosexual lobby is growing new fabulously gay markets.

  19. Maybe we’re using different definitions. I do think voluntary Distributism sounds nice.

  20. The more I read this site the more it feels like I’m on some leftists website. All this nonsense about putting the community and family above your own individual life is just more collectivist backward nonsense. The only system that has left to an improvement in human life has been Capitalism.

  21. Who said anything about HATING your family or your community, what I take issue with is placing the group(family, community, nation, or race) above the individual and as the primary unit in society.

  22. …and sometimes, people who snipe against Capitalism haven’t given *it* enough thought either. I’m not one of the “Capitalism AND Traditionalism” types, but having “emerged” from the libertarian school of thought, I’ve noticed there’s far too much naive or even careless rejection of free market analysis among third-way types.

    Many supporters of “traditionalism” have even gone so far as to fully embrace “socialism” as if that’s what is meant by a third-way…a third way between capitalism and communism.

    I’m not asking for everyone to be free market scholars before rejecting the free market, I’m just asking for resistance to trite talking points and informed criticism before rejecting something like “capitalism”, which is so powerfully connected to our own “traditions” here in America.

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