Thursday, April 21, 2016

Distributism from the East

Distributism from the East: Distributism premises its economic principle of subsidiarity with the ethical principle of solidarity; as such an exploration of what economic justice is to the Orthodox is needed in order to see if it aligns with Distributism’s views. Saint Basil the Great has much to say on the topic of economic justice. For instance, he says in his homily “I Will Tear Down my Barns” that the rich “have been made minister[s] of God’s goodness, a steward of your fellow servants”2 and as such should not hoard what they have but use the money to help others. He further ties justice and economic activity together in his homily “To the Rich” when he says that wherever the rich man turns he will “behold the apparitions of [his] evil acts … the tears of the orphan, there the groaning of widow….”3 driving home that one’s economic actions have both real victims and spiritual consequences. The fact that St. Basil humanizes the poor and gives them identities (orphans and widows) is remarkable for a time period where the poor where generally viewed as a faceless mass for the rich to dump their excess wealth on if they decided to practice charity. In modern Capitalist countries the economic realities often make it easier to see the poor in the later manner, but in a Distributist society with its focus on subsidiarity and solidarity, we would be better able to see them in the former light.

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