Another Famous T. Woods Stumbles Publicly

Mr. Tuttle,

I reviewed the Thomas Woods link on distributism.  In it he characterizes distributists thusly:

“Confronted with the complexities of foreign trade and financial organizations, he is like  a savage introduced to a dynamo or a steam engine.  He is too frightened and angry even to feel curiosity.  Attempts to explain the mechanism merely enrage him:…”

I must confess I am not exactly sure what a “dynamo” is.  Faced with such a machine I may well succumb to fear and anger.  Perhaps Awkward Guy may pull me back from the brink if I begin to allow my savage rage to surface in our discussion.

I have enjoyed two of Woods’ books, one on the US constitution and one on the recent financial crisis.  Both were insightful and well reasoned.  His attack on distributism is a worthless pile of venomous rhetorical tricks.  He creates a false dichotomy between distributism and free market economics.  Would anyone argue that the way to increasing independence and improving the competitiveness of small businesses is through increased government regulation?  Or is that just some straw man that Wood propped up to spew his venom on?

Then Woods takes us on a tour of the industrial revolution and points out how wonderful it was that jobs were created that resulted in increased life expectancy and decreased child mortality.  With this I have no quarrel.  But my intent is not to critique the industrial revolution.  As  I said in my first post, it is not until everyone is fed that other questions gain traction.

Finally, Woods creates another false dichotomy between those who practice distributism, small scale CSA farmers, etc. and those who blog about it.   And you have the discourtesy to fling that in my face.  To that all I can say is that you and he are both welcome to come over to my place and split wood, fix fences, shovel manure or do the bookkeeping for my business while we talk about it.

If your impression of distributism comes from his attack article and my semi-literate defenses, I recommend to you the wikipedia introduction to Distributism.

I really shouldn’t presume to speak for Ms. Wolfe.  Courtesy aside, she could probably kick my butt.  As for you, I must reluctantly agree.  You probably are not a true distributist.  Working as you do for the corporate socialist banking system in a state licensed  occupation, you are more of a co-opted tool of the state.  But the Force is strong in you and one day you will turn away from the dark side.

-Harry Dexter White


3 responses to “Another Famous T. Woods Stumbles Publicly

  1. I was reading The Lords of Finance when this blog started. In it HDW is described as “an intolerable human being” and the “unpleasantest man in Washington”. And I thought- “That’s me.” Ask my wife.


  2. Another P.S. Hilarious title, by the way. HT

  3. Mr. White:

    No discourtesy was intended, as I hope that you would know. In point of fact, the operative phrase in the exerpt from Woods’ article was “complaining about the need for state intervention”, not “those who blog about it”. If, as you stated, “Government’s first role in distributism is to get out of the way”, then I believe that we three are already in agreement on this point, at least.

    Aside from the issues of efficacy, Woods’ primary critique of distributism was, to my reading at least, pointedly opposed to any and all calls to institutionalize a distributist system, such as what might produce Belloc’s “distributive state”. On this topic, I must confess that I share his zeal.

    Now, my own reading of Woods’ other works would suggest that he has consistently defended the free market and I see nothing out of character in the cited article. (Naturally, this also includes his defense of voluntary CSA markets – where they might succeed, as opposed to, say, calls for state intervention in agriculture.) Quite the contrary, as you probably know, Woods is not a big fan of many regulatory restrictions to the free market (i.e. “get out of the way”).

    Unlike most distributists, however, this perspective extends to include opposition to anti-trust legislation, which Woods contends effectively punishes successful firms, usually at the behest of less successful competitors. Whether or not we might actually be better off with fewer big banks at the moment doesn’t change the fact that the loudest and, in our present corrupted system of governance, most effective voice against your local dairyman is probably DairyGold.

    This is Woods (and my own) real point: Only in a free market system can any alternative, including distributism (or bootleg dairies), be tried and tested. Only to the extent that it finds and satisfies customers or supporters will it succeed. If it’s success only depends on the abolition of competitive systems, well then “meet the new boss, same as the old boss”. In this regard, Woods is quite clear (and, I think, absolutely correct); any system other than a free market necessarily allows for the concentration of power and the fostering of corruption.

    So, given that Thomas Woods and I both appear to support the sort of system that would, at least, allow distributist businesses and communities a fair chance to succeed on their own merits, I have to ask what is it that we (or you) are arguing about, if not how such a system might otherwise be implemented? If it is merely the issue of efficacy, afterall, distributism wouldn’t need any further help except for the “government to get out of the way”, as it can only in a free market system.

    By the way, we’ve got some post holes that need digging and poop that needs scooping too, you know.


    Harry Tuttle

    P.S. You wouldn’t, by chance, be related to the Harry Dexter White that believed that post-war Germany should be forcibly stripped of it’s industry and converted to an agrarian society?

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