Nick Clegg and Distributism?

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 11:  Deputy Prime Minist...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

So says the BBC. No, I don’t think he really is calling for a form of Distributism, merely offering up sound bites that seem to be rounding the edges from our current form of rampaging Capitalism. There’s lots of talk in political circles at the moment of a more ‘friendly capitalism’ and I think he sees this as an opportune moment to claim some media time.

Nick Clegg talks of cutting red tape and reforming the tax system, both of which may have merits but go no way to reigning in the current monster. He also seems to parallel a quote of GK Chesterton’s but misses the point entirely:

“We don’t believe our problem is too much capitalism – we think it’s that too few people have capital.

It’s worth quoting the great GK Chesterton here:

“Too much capitalism does not mean too many capitalists, but too few capitalists.”

Clegg’s call is not for a more responsible capitalism, or a kinder face of capitalism but the continued rampage of neo-liberal economic thinking with a nod to worker participation as a way of heading off the unions. After all, if you have shares in a company then the last thing you’ll be doing is calling for industrial action? This is worker participation, but just enough participation to nullify the unions but not enough to pass any power to the workers or to make any difference to current practices whatever.

True worker involvement would mean the reduction in the ratio of high and low earnings within a company, worker participation in strategy and planning together with workers sharing equitably in the success of the endeavour. I would also like to think that it would involve a healthy does of Catholic Social Teaching to give the whole system a moral basis by which everyone would be catered for and not be left behind.

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