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...
First, it's worthwhile admitting that some Distributists might seem to try simply to evade this question by pointing out that competition may exists in varied environments, from those of greater to those of lesser strain; and we would simply like a minimum of strain, less of a dog-eat-dog environment where those who fall behind in innovation simply die in the market.
But I'd personally go further than this, and challenge the premise somewhat. Not all innovation is desirable, ultimately. Slowing down innovation, especially in light of sundry valid concerns of environmentalism, is arguably, on balance, a good and desirable thing. Furthermore, frugality and reducing waste are both virtuous behaviors, and in the Distributist worldview an ideal market system is conducive to virtuous behavior and facilitates and incentivizes growth in virtue among the citizenry; whereas, arguably, under the current dominant paradigms of economic life, vicious behaviors of rapacious consumption and exploitation instead seem to be what are rewarded.
Finally, to speak more from within the science of economics itself rather than in terms of ethics, a lot of progress in innovation nowadays comes precisely via the function of obsolescence, be it planned and perceived.
The dawn of 5G wireless is a great example. The innovation itself seems a good thing; certainly many industries, including beneficent ones like healthcare and hospitals, will really benefit greatly from this innovation. But... the market cost of this innovation is rather complex. It comes at the expense, partly, of people throwing away perfectly good smartphones in order to buy new ones that will perform on the new network. Piles of waste, new cell towers marring the landscape, shenanigans like Apple slowing down consumers' phones to urge them to buy the new gadget in order to fund the innovation process... all these are real costs involved in the progress of innovation, but aren't necessarily costs captured by a market analysis, or reflected on any ledger detailing the price function. Sometimes, indeed, the value of a given stock seems to go up precisely in direct proportion to the growth of the size of piles in landfills, or the size of the stack of rubbish on consumers' curbs on trash day: and for Distributists, this is a concern, as I think it ought to be for us all.
So, ultimately, I am prepared to admit that under an economy characterized by Distributism, some innovation might really slow down somewhat; but on the whole, this is not necessarily a negative outcome. I will flesh out this point somewhat in the following...
To read Question #3 in this series, click here.