Third Ways

How Bulgarian Greens, Swedish Housewives, and Beer-Swilling Englishmen Created Family-Centered Economies—And Why They Disappeared

Alan C. Carlson

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Interview with Allan Carlson

Freewheeling capitalism or collectivist communism: when it came to political-economic systems, did the twentieth century present any other choice? Does our century? In Third Ways, social historian Allan Carlson tells the story of how different thinkers from Bulgaria to Great Britain created economic systems during the twentieth century that were by intent neither capitalist nor communist. Unlike fascists, these seekers were committed to democracy and pluralism. Unlike liberal capitalists, they refused to treat human labor and relationships as commodities like any other. And unlike communists, they strongly defended private property and the dignity of persons and families. Instead, the builders of these alternative economic systems wanted to protect and renew the "natural" communities of family, village, neighborhood, and parish. They treasured rural culture and family farming and defended traditional sex roles and vital home economies.

Carlson's book takes a fresh look at distributism, the controversial economic project of Hilaire Belloc and G. K. Chesterton which focused on broad property ownership and small-scale production; recovers the forgotten thought of Alexander Chayanov, a Russian economist who put forth a theory of "the natural family economy"; discusses the remarkable "third way" policies of peasant-led governments in post-World War I Bulgaria, Poland, and Romania; recounts the dramatic and largely unknown effort by Swedish housewives to defend their homes against radical feminism; relates the iconoclastic ideas of economic historian Karl Polanyi, including his concepts of "the economy without markets" and "the great transformation"; and praises the efforts by European Christian Democrats to build a moral economy on the concept of homo religious—"religious man."

Finally, Carlson's work explains why these efforts—at times rich in hope and prospects—ultimately failed, often with tragic results. The tale inspires wistful regret over lost opportunities that, if seized, might have spared tens of millions of lives and forestalled or avoided the blights of fascism, Stalinism, socialism, and the advent of the servile state. And yet the book closes with hope, enunciating a set of principles that could be used today for invigorating a "family way" economy compatible with an authentic, healthy, and humane culture of enterprise.

Additional Information

Format Cloth
Pages 225
Publisher ISI Books
What They're Saying...

"Allan Carlson is a master at uncovering long forgotten thinkers and obscure crusaders who offer bright insights into the dilemmas of our own time. This book teaches that many of the familiar polarities of our thought—capitalism/socialism, freedom/patriarchy, conservation/progress, faith/science—are not necessary divisions, and that many more promising 'third way' resolutions lay waiting to be rediscovered."
Phillip Longman, Schwartz Senior Fellow, New America Foundation

"One can always be sure that when reading Allan C. Carlson’s works you’ll thereafter be able to see the wood for the trees…His latest work…canvasses a long-ignored and largely forgotten public policy tradition that was shoved aside, at times forcibly, by what Carlson calls 'freewheeling capitalism and collective communism.' Carlson concludes that almost all the cultural devices, laws and regulations devised by architects of the diverse Third Ways then being promoted ultimately had two purposes: [One] to protect the altruism rooted in self-denial that defines the healthy bonds of wife to husband, parent to child, neighbour to neighbour, and generation to generations; and [Two] to prevent family-oriented altruism from being supplanted by Nanny State intrusions, since this will inevitably lead to Belloc’s Servile State."
Joseph Poprzeczny, News Weekly

"Again, Allan Carlson has given us a tour de force, showing how collectivism and economic rationalism both undermine the bedrock contribution families make to western civilization."
Richard Vedder, professor of economics, Ohio University

"Carlson alerts us that this 'third way' is the only real path to independence and self-government in an age in which the Servile State insinuates itself ever more deeply into the fabric of our lives. Friends of liberty everywhere should read this book."
Patrick Deneen, Markos and Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis Chair in Hellenic Studies, Georgetown University

"Carlson limns the premises and achievements of seven such alternatives and considers that they failed or waned… Common to all seven [alternatives] is recognition of the family rather than the individual as the essential unit of society. As Carlson cogently discusses them, all can enlighten and inspire those seeking contemporary alternatives to global industrial capitalism."
Ray Olson, Booklist

"This is an enjoyable and informative read, and anyone interested in building-or rebuilding-a economy based on realism will find it useful. I believe that the usefulness of this book will increase as we come to realize the increasing unreality (and weaknesses) of the current economy. Eventually, reasonable men will want answers, practical answers, to the hard questions that will soon overtake us. This book is a good start towards giving those answers."
The Distributist Review

"Carslon’s Third Ways not only shows the importance of Christian thinking for the twentieth century but also for twenty-first century political economics. Christian charity, personal responsibility, and the family as the chamber of liberty can regain prominence only when the welfare state fails. However, external economic factors and utilitarian motives are limited in what they can do to restore people’s personal and public morality. Since the real crisis of the West is of a moral and personal nature, the answer needs to be both moral and personal. This will also make it practical."
The Clarion Review

ISBN 1933859407
ISBN13 9781933859408
Eligible for Readers Club Discount Yes

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