I have read that Distributism is anti-mass production. Is this true? If so, what model does Distributism put forward for developing complex machines, medicines, and other products reliably and affordably?
This, too, like the former, is a very good question, precisely because it seems simple but belies a great deal of complexity.
Once again, some Distributists, encountering this question, might simply point out that there are models of mass production organized along Distributist principles, perhaps most notably such as the Mondragon Cooperative in the Basque Region of Spain.
But once again, I tend to feel that such an answer is too facile: at least in my mind, lingering implications of the question remain even after pointing out that Distributism can work with large-scale production.
I think there are philosophical correlations here to what I wrote about in the previous answer. Just as wasteful obsolescence has real-world consequences that market mechanisms alone don't seem fully to account for, so too most markets involving mass production have what are called "externalized costs" that seem bound up with ethical/socio-political questions, and can't be resolved simply by economic analysis.
Continued from Question 1.
Distributism believes businesses and individuals will flourish if the means of production is well spread; therefore, it believes that control of assets by the few is to be avoided. Socialism professes the opposite, believing there should be no private property, while Capitalism can lead to Oligarchy or Corporatism if left unchecked. On the other hand, Capitalism, when at its best, promotes people to innovate and out compete others either by making a new or better product or making a product better. How does Distributism promote innovation and prevent Oligarchy? At what point does a business become to big? Am I correct in guessing that American anti-trust laws are a form of Distributism?
I addressed some of this in the preceding, but this is a good question in its particulars.
To answer the ultimate question, I'd say that, yes, anti-trust laws and regulations preventing effective monopolies certainly are implicitly in line with Distributism.
On the topic of innovation and competition, though...
A questioner wrote to me with three questions following my recent podcast recording on Distributism, and as I took some time to answer them and thought them generally useful basic questions on the subject, I decided I'd post them with the answers I gave here.
Here follows the first question and its answer; questions 2 and 3 with their respective answers will be posted separately. Be not faint of heart, this is the longest answer by a good margin, but also the most fundamental question.