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The problem with this is it can only work by imposing arbitrary restrictions on everyone. Under free market capitalism if you want to run a family business you can. If you want to run a multinational corporation you can. Nobody is rigging the system to force one outcome or the other and there are good economic reasons why both can be appropriate and successful in different circumstances. Distributism arbitrarily labels one of those wrong and the other right on ideological grounds, leading to an inflexible, inefficient and ultimately coercive economy because the 'right' answer has to be imposed somehow.

I think what is often missed about capitalism is that essentially it is based on individual freedom. The freedom to own property, to own capital, to deploy that capital as one sees fit, to take responsibility and the benefits from the outcome, to act individually if you wish or in concert in groups or organisations of any size.

In capitalist liberal democracies, if you want to create and run a workers cooperative, you certainly can and people have. You can run a family business, or a huge corporation. It doesn't really mandate a particular organisational structure, at least at that level. There are rules about how business entities are run to an extent, such as rules about boards of directors and financial reporting, but they don't actually stop you building an enterprise built on distributist or even Marxist principles.

The problem is these arbitrary systems of organisation, while they can be effective in some limited situations, just aren't flexible and efficient enough to be extensible to a whole economy. In mandating a particular organisational structure, and in distributism even a preferred scale, they also obstruct innovation. The old distributionist mantra 'three acres and a cow' sums this up nicely, it's an essentially static view of society. Again Marxism suffers from the same disease, never really developing good answers to how enterprises are founded, innovate, evolve and wind down in a natural way. Instead it has always had to resort to state executive fiat because there is no organic process for innovation and these life-cycle transformations in Marxism. In contrast under Capitalism, people and organisations simply do these things through the exercise of their individual freedom and discretion.

> Nobody is rigging the system to force one outcome or the other and there are good economic reasons why both can be appropriate and successful in different circumstances.

I would consider myself a capitalist, but you have to be pretty naive to think that corporations haven’t captured our governing class and rigged the system in their favor.

This Wikipedia article makes this point very early as a critique of capitalism, which is fair.

They have in some countries and not so much in others depending on the regulatory system. In the US yes corporations have enormous direct political influence due to the campaign finance and lobbying system, but other liberal democracies have very strict campaign finance laws that make that much harder. It's not an inherent or inevitable attribute of the system.

There are also plenty of examples of governments breaking up, trust-busting and punitively regulating big corporations so they clearly don't always get their own way.

In contrast I would argue that ossification and stagnation are inherent features of distributism and a lot of alternative economic systems that don't have good answers to the problem on innovation and economic dynamism.

Lobbying America is a good history of corporate USA's transition from serving the public good to whatever we have today.


Amazon's blurb:

"Lobbying America tells the story of the political mobilization of American business in the 1970s and 1980s. Benjamin Waterhouse traces the rise and ultimate fragmentation of a broad-based effort to unify the business community and promote a fiscally conservative, antiregulatory, and market-oriented policy agenda to Congress and the country at large. Arguing that business's political involvement was historically distinctive during this period, Waterhouse illustrates the changing power and goals of America's top corporate leaders.

Examining the rise of the Business Roundtable and the revitalization of older business associations such as the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Waterhouse takes readers inside the mind-set of the powerful CEOs who responded to the crises of inflation, recession, and declining industrial productivity by organizing an effective and disciplined lobbying force. By the mid-1970s, that coalition transformed the economic power of the capitalist class into a broad-reaching political movement with real policy consequences. Ironically, the cohesion that characterized organized business failed to survive the ascent of conservative politics during the 1980s, and many of the coalition's top goals on regulatory and fiscal policies remained unfulfilled. The industrial CEOs who fancied themselves the "voice of business" found themselves one voice among many vying for influence in an increasingly turbulent and unsettled economic landscape."

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