Jul 17, 2007

Feudal Technocratic Distributism

As I mentioned earlier, the (rather unwieldy) name I have for the general theory of how Edan would work (and remember, Edan is an attempt to build a new way for all countries to work) is Feudal Technocratic Distributism. The name leads directly to a question – what the heck does that mean? Let’s take the name one element at a time to illustrate the idea.

‘Feudal’ is, of course, from feudalism. Feudalism was a system that included political power, social norms, and economics as a whole. Essentially, the feudal system made explicit the social contract (the feudal lord protected the lives, rights, and property of his subjects and they, in turn, provided services to the feudal lord to allow him to devote his time to his duties). It was typically a localized system where individuals had direct relationships with their leaders. Day to day governmental activity ranging from military training to taxes to lawsuits were local. Loyalty to the King was a method of preventing the fragmentation of society into dozens of smaller states (and the resulting increase in warfare) and also created a situation where the average person policed the loyalty of their leaders to the greater good. In addition to the explicitly personal nature of government, feudalism also tended to result in decisions and authority being delegated as locally as possible. Lords were jealous of their rights; the people were likewise jealous of their rights and leery of distant, impersonal authority. These social pressures combined to cause the reverse of the federal systems – distributed power and a strong disincentive to a large, central, impersonal bureaucracy.

When I speak of ‘technocracy’ I mean the political science meaning, not the political movement that began in the 1920’s. While Edan will not be ‘ruled by technical experts’ per se, technical experts will be involved within government in leadership roles based upon the existence of governmental monopolies (a topic for a near-future post). I plan to devote much more time to explaining this soon, so please bear with me.

Distributism is an economic system developed in many parts of the world prior to the Industrial revolution and then superseded by laissez-faire Capitalism via a number of mechanisms. Sometimes called the ‘Third Way’ (with Capitalism and Socailism/Communism being the other two ‘ways’), the goal of Distributism is to have as many families/individuals within a society as possible be economically independent or, at least, members of member-driven cooperatives and guilds. Like feudalism (an political system which ‘bleeds into’ social structures and economics), Distributism crosses over into social and political spheres by its nature.

By examining these elements, I hope you can see that they came from somewhere – that somewhere is Catholic social teachings – even though I didn’t know very much at all about catholic social teachings when I began Edan 8 years ago. In this case, while searching for arguments to bolster my own inchoate ideas of a just society I learned that the details had been worked out by others long ago. I hope that my synthesis of these ideas can lead Edan to be an example of a nation more just, more free, and more good than any that have come before.

The very intimidating-sounding Feudal Technocratic Distributism can be boiled down to a number of points that can help anyone understand the goals and methods involved.

These points are:

1. All men have a right to private property.

2. All men have a right to just compensation for their labor and their goods.

3. All business arrangements, including employment, must be entered into freely.

4. Private ownership of property is good for the person, the family, and the nation as a whole.

5. Work (whether physical, artistic, or intellectual) is a form of personal property.

6. Leadership and responsibility should be as small and local as possible.

7. All families should be as self-sufficient as is possible.

The last point is key and prevents Edan from being a game:

8. There is no utopia.

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