Old Principles and the New Order
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By Vincent McNabb, O.P.
The Distributist movement, led by Hilaire Belloc and G. K. Chesterton, and supported by Vincent McNabb, O.P., promoted a particular type of subsidiarity. Contrary to socialism and communism, which advocate for the redistribution of wealth, distributism seeks the distribution of the means of production to as many people as possible and advocates for a “return to the land,” with agriculture as the economic primary and the family as the basic unit of cooperative society. Per McNabb, the Church and her ministers must enter this territory: “The Church is not primarily interested in politics or economics, because neither politics nor economics are primary. Yet the Church is necessarily, and greatly interested in politics and economics because both politics and economics are moral.”
To control the production of wealth is to control human life itself. To refuse man the opportunity for the production of wealth is to refuse him the opportunity for life. (Hilaire Belloc)
Striking at the heart of the morbid modern economic collective, Old Principles and the New Order states incontestably that isolation from God, guarantor of all good things, “can end only in social slavery or in social chaos.” Apropos in its own time, this message remains uncomfortably applicable to the contemporary age. And yet in its unabashed assertion of first principles, one still able to chart a course toward decent and happy living for each citizen and every community.
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Vincent McNabb, O.P., (1868–1943) was an Irish Dominican priest and scholar. Active in apologetics and catechesis, he authored dozens of books and hundreds of articles, served as professor of philosophy, and filled numerous roles for his Dominican province. Such was the sheer presence of the man that G. K. Chesterton once wrote: “Nobody who ever met or saw or heard Father McNabb has ever forgotten him.”