Mondragon: a rejoinder (letter)by Dr Peter HuntNews 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,