Your absentee landlord has a herd of cattle and has assigned you two
cows for your rented plot of a one-sixth acre. Acting through his
agents on the estate, the landlord can demand as much rent as he wants
as often as he wants and routinely evicts families too destitute to
pay. With a few potato plants, milk, and eggs, you and your family
barely evade starvation. When the potatoes rot in the ground and
everyone is starving, , His Lordship refuses to. to cut down on his
demands for rent, continues exporting food, and keeps a steel grip on
the hunting and fishing rights. When he finally visits the estate, the
landlord is fatally shot in front of a hundred witnesses. A police
investigation is stymied by the traditional Irish code of silence.
You have two cows and pasture them in the glen where your family and
clansmen have lived for a thousand years. After Culloden, your Chief
and his family move to London and decide that herds of sheep are more
profitable than people. Ignoring the custom that the land is the
property of the whole Clan, the Chief serves eviction notices on
everyone excep the Gillies who care for his deer herd. When you and
everyone else refuse to leave, the Chief calls in the redcoats to burn
out your crofts. Left with nothing but the clothes you wear, you and
your family migrate on foot to a Dickensian slum in Glasgow. What once
gave life to thousands is left a howling wilderness except for sheep,
red deer, and rich tourists on hunting holidays. The Chief builds an
opulent mansion with the profits. Two hundred years later the Chief’s
descendants are unable to afford the upkeep of the house and are
forced to sell it at a loss.
You have two cows. The Nazis demand that you provide a weekly quota od milk
on pain of death. The local Soviet partisan unit takes the milk at gunpoint
to deny it to German bellies. The Nazis accuse you of lying and shoot you.
In their haste to burn down your farm, they torch the barn with both cows
You have two cows. The State demands that they be handed over without
payment, “For the good of the Revolution.” When you refuse, they are taken
at gunpoint. The United States and the Vatican spend billions to relieve
the ensuing famine. The Party takes all the foodstuffs and sells them
abroad as proof of “superior Soviet agricultural practices.”
You have two cows. The Party declares you a Kulak for having more than your
neighbors and deprts you and your family to Soviet Central Asia. Your
former neighbors are then ordered to give up their private plots and become
employees of a State-owned collective farm. When they refuse, the secret
police seizes all the food and starves them into submission. What was once
the breadbasket of Europe is transformed into a howling wilderness. Comrade
Stalin is forced to begin importing food from, “decadent Capitalist
Your collective farm has two pigs. One of them looks just like Nikita
You have two sick cows. You take them to the local State-run animal
hospital only to discover that it has no vets, nurses, or patients. There
is only office space for public health bureaucrats. Your Representative’s
attempts to alter this aee stymied by threats of a general strike.
You have twi cows and are unable to compete with corporate mega-farms. So.
you market the milk “Organic” and sell is for exhorbitant prices to
Limosine Liberals. You laugh all the way to the bank.
“You Have Two Cows…”
I not only drink organic milk, I drink organic raw milk. Does this make me a limousine liberal? I do not drive a limousine, nor would I, and few people would call me a liberal. These stereotypes could become offensive.
Well, my intention was never to convey stereotypes. I was merely trying to satirise how much damage the wrong economic system can cause to an entire society. Perhaps “limosine liberals” was the wrong term, but one of the only ways that small businesses can compete with the corporate Leviathans is by producing organic foods and selling them to those who are willing to pay a higher price for them. I sometimes wonder, though, whether the label “organic” may sometimes be stamped on food which is nothing of the sort. All the same, I consider it a very positive development when small farms and businesses are able to take a bite out of corporate profits. Therefore, the last section is meant to be a happy ending.
If, as I suspect, you found the Irish section offensive, I can only say that it is not meant to be an attsck on the British people. When the police are not public servants, being a “rat” is seen as worse than being a murderer. This kind of an attitude is passed down over generations and becomes very hard to shake, even when the police do deserve the public’s trust. One of the tragedies of Irish culture is that this code of silence ever existed at all.
Where’s Capitalism? In fact, it seems Brendan that you are making Distributism sound like Capitalism. From what I’ve read, Distributism is suppose to follow Catholic Social Teaching and sell things at “fair” prices. Selling to those with excess money at “exorbitant” prices (Capitalism?)is just as bad as the “Lord” who exports his food while people starve. Getting too close to “Hudge” and “Grudge” here, it seems.
Capitalism is covered under “Classical Liberalism.”
Dear Joseph and Darren,
Thank you for your comments. How is this for an alternative ending?
You have two cows and cannot conventionally compete with corporate megafarms. Then, you advertise the milk as organic and sell it over the internet. Corporate America loses scores of customers to you and others like you. You laugh all the way to the bank.
Thanks for explaining things, Brendan.
–a contented organic heifer (who does not drive, nor is driven by, a limousine, but who knows that the cost of a quart of milk is more than just money and therefore prefers local produce from unpoisoned soil, and dairy products from cows who are treated as God’s creatures were intended.)