even while deploring large-scale capitalism,nnot admire small-scale capitalismnand call it such? Because to call thensmall businessmen, craftsmen, andnfarmers of their day capitalist would, innthe distributist’s view, be very misleading.nIt would be to tar such people withnthe predatory attributes that both modernneconomic developments and modernneconomic theories have made thendefining features of capitalism. Distributistsnwished to dissociate themselvesnnot simply from the capitalism of monopoliesnand trusts but also from thencapitalism that would impute to everynsmall businessman the unconquerablenurge to become a big businessman.nChesterton would evidently have balkednat labeling his father’s modest ambitionsncapitalist:nMy people belonged to thatnrather old-fashioned Englishnmiddle-class; in which a businessnman was still permitted to mindnhis own business. They hadnbeen granted no glimpse of ournlater and loftier vision, of thatnmore advanced and adventurousnconception of commerce, innwhich a business man isnsupposed to rival, ruin, destroy,nabsorb and swallow upneverybody else’s business.nNotwithstanding the negative associationsnthat capitalism possessed for thendistributist movement, some have sincenwished to rechristen the movementn”popular capitalism”; and this may be anshrewd, even a legitimate, move. BothnLIBERAL ARTSnVICE ON VICEnAccording to the News Tribune of LanSalle, Illinois, last fall, motorists in nearbynSauget aided a local anti-drug organizationnby having their cars washed byntopless nightclub dancers. Customersnhad to be at least 21 years old, and a tentnwas set up to shield the car wash fromn”easily-offended eyes.” “Since it’s goingnto be topless, we have to keep it tonadults,” explained Gary Strubelt, thennightclub supervisor who organized thenevent. “We don’t want any mothersngetting mad at us.” Proceeds raisednfrom the event were donated to DadsnAgainst Drugs, an anti-drug organization.n48/CHRONICLESnBelloc and Chesterton did at timesnwonder whether a better name forn”existing capitalism,” since it had deprivednmost men of capital, would benproletarianism. “Popular capitalism,” innso far as it suggests that most mennshould own capital, is cleariy not proletarianismnand does therefore have muchnin common with distributism. A Conservativenmember of Padiament of mynacquaintance (now, alas, dead), whosenconservatism was much influenced bynCatholic social doctrine and by thenwritings of Chesterton and Belloc, usednto say that a principal aim of capitalismnproper should be “the liquidation of thenproletariat” through the wider distributionnof property rather than state benefits.nHowever, distributism has an ethicalnas well as an economic side. The dispersionnof property or ownership, as Chestertonnsaw it, is but “a minor applicationnof a much more vital principle; thatnwhat should be distributed is not merelynthe legal power of a man over money,nbut the divine or mystical power of anman over matter. Man is made man,nafter the fact that he prays, by the factnthat he ploughs, that he builds, that hencuts wood for transport or carves it fornornament; in short, by the fact that henhas this mystical privilege of masterynover the material universe.” All enterprisesnof whatever size necessarily obeynan imperative to make money or anprofit. But in the large enterprise thisnimperative will likely eclipse all others,nsince it is the one imperative that mattersnto the absentee capitalist who hasnonly the most tangential relationship tonthe thing or things he owns. By contrast,nin the personal ownership of productivenproperty — whether by one individualnor several — there exists annorganic relation between an ownerproprietornand the object of his work:nthe one, so to speak, is incarnated in thenother. Everyone connected with a smallnenterprise — even the person withoutnany stake in it — tends to take a pridenand interest in its product.nDistributism, then, though often interpretedn(as much by its supporters asnits opponents) as proposing solely ansociety of small peasant proprietors, innfact commits one to no more than thenbelief that small enterprises, be theynindustrial or agricultural, should predominatenover large ones. And thisnprejudice in favor of concrete, personal­nnnized property over abstract, depersonalizednaccumulations of capital is really anvery human prejudice; it arises from thensame human need which is satisfied bynthe ownership of even the humblestnhouse or home: the need to ensure thatnwhat John Paul II, in Laborem Exercens,ncalled “the subjective dimensionnof the person” finds an outiet in creativenfulfillment and embodiment.nConservatives both in Britain andnAmerica are perhaps more aware todaynthan they have been for a long timenthat statist attempts to promote welfareninvariably end in exacerbating the verynproblems they set out to cure. Thatnsaid, there remains an unresolved tensionnin conservativism as indeed therendoes in capitalism: between an ostensiblencommitment to private propertynand the private acquisition of wealth; anlicense to enjoy the one should notnimply a license to enjoy the other. Onnthe contrary, a state that truly sought tonpreserve and extend property wouldnalso resist and restrict vast concentrationsnof wealth. Few conservatives see •nas clearly as did Belloc the causal linknbetween unrestrained capitalism andnthe welfare state. So long as masses ofnpeople are prevented by the formernfrom possessing even a modicum ofneconomic independence, so long willnthey look to the latter for the ultimatensource of their well-being. Unless therenexists in a democratic society sufficientnnumbers of people with the dignitynand independence that property rightsnconfer on them, the pressure on thenprovider state will grow ever morenirresistible.nIt is not necessary in order to easenthis pressure that all those currentiynliving on welfare handouts should bentransformed overnight into small capitalists.nAfter all, most of us — whetherndependent on some form of welfare ornnot—are wage earners, not capitalists.nBut what is important is that our Westernnsocieties move towards a conditionnwhere, to use Belloc’s phrase, a “determiningnnumber” of people at least ownntheir own homes and at best have somensay in their own enterprises. There isnalready evidence from Britain (and Inbelieve America too) to suggest thatnwhere such a “determining number”nsets the tone of a community, thatncommunity is transformed by theirnpresence and example: by what Britain’snforeign secretary, Douglas Hurd,n