September 11th 2004

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Battle lines drawn for October 9 Federal poll

EDITORIAL: Issues for the Federal Election

FAMILY: Better deal demanded for families

NOT SO DRY CONTINENT: Australia has water options

FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Taiwan faces continuing threats from Beijing

POPULATION: Falling birth-rates stir action in Taiwan, Singapore

INDIA: The economic test for India's new government

PEACE-KEEPING: Sudan and the progressive mind

OPINION: The case for new states in Australia

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Howard versus New Class Labor / Tap Tap. Who's there?

CINEMA: Bus 174 - A jolting, two-hour masterpiece

CLIMATE: Global warming - the sceptics have won

DEMOCRACY: Lay your hammer down

Labor's foot-soldiers (letter)

Mondragon: a rejoinder (letter)

The West and Islam (letter)

BOOKS: The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French defeat in Vietnam

BOOKS: 7 Myths of Working Mothers, by Suzanne Venker

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Mondragon: a rejoinder (letter)

by Dr Peter Hunt

News Weekly, September 11, 2004

Has there been a more abused quotation from Chesterton than the one in Tim Wallace's first paragraph (News Weekly, July 21)? So often has the epigram, "If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly" been used to excuse bad work, when Chesterton was simply defending the splendid amateur epitomised by the versatile woman working in the home.

In using it to defend Mondragon, he is really saying: "If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing wrongly", for I had maintained that the highly-centralised organisation was a case of the wrong solution, not a badly-done version of a good one.

I would like to make it clear that this judgement of Mondragon and its collectivism in no way denies the splendid work Race Mathews has done in the research for his thesis, each chapter of which I read and commented on at his invitation, before it became a book.

The research on Belloc was particularly good. But as Belloc and Chesterton both asserted, simply sharing profits and decision-making is not enough. It is too centralist and prone to rise or fall with the giant markets. None of this, of course, denies a major role for co-operatives.

Rather than favouring some romantic or revolutionary change, I recognise, as do such distributists as Dermot Quinn, Stratford Caldecott and Allan Carlson (whose splendid book The Agrarian Mind is so helpful to sane economics and effective farming enterprise), the need for campaigns for positive change and actual, workable models and reforms, especially in places where land-hunger is most evident.

"Self-sufficiency" is no ideal dream, nor is it self-indulgent. The world's hungry mainly need land.

As for Australia, effective decentralisation will only be possible if land distribution is tied in with immigration, as Bob Santamaria knew 70 years ago.

Dr Peter Hunt,
Franklin, Tasmania

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