«The essential idea of Distributism is the idea of Directness. It concerns direct ownership, direct expression, direct creation and control. We do not say we are in favour of entirely abolishing indirect action. We do say that the modern world is entirely abolishing direct action. We do not say there ought to be no such thing as a cactus or an orchid grown in Kew Gardens, at the public expense for the public instruction. We do say that there will soon be no such thing as a cabbage really grown by private enterprise for private use (...) if we continue in our present direction; which might rather be called an indirection, seeing that it is in the direction of everything that is not direct.
It is assumed to be an intrinsic improvement that a man should grow a cabbage, cart a cabbage, sell a cabbage, and then take an omnibus to another town to buy another cabbage, instead of eating the cabbage he has grown. But we say that if everything depends on exchange, everything will depend on the rulers of exchange; and if everything depends on carting, we are putting the cart before the horse and the horse above man. It is only by the permanent potentiality of growing and eating the cabbages, that we may hope that the feeding of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
The cabbage is whirled away on a great wheel from the man who has grown it, and returns to him after having gone the whole round of the official process of taxation, public expenditure, and public trade. Some think that the cabbage looks a little forlorn, and even slightly soiled or damaged, when it comes back out of that far-reaching machinery. (...) That sort of thing is inevitable but instructive: the instant a thing moves from home, out of the direct influence of its maker, it accumulates a dust or accretion of slightly alien things; and by the time it reaches its remote destination, it is not the thing that was sent forth.
It is so with the voice; it is so with the vote; it is so with the return in mere money for effort or expenditure; it is so in a comparatively trivial matter like the writing of a book, as compared with the printing or binding of a book. This is not, of course, a reason for not binding books or completing ordinary processes of civilization. (...) It is a reason for preserving deliberately a normal life that shall be more narrow and more genuine; in which we can argue with the men we have really met and enjoy the things we have really made.»
G. K. Chesterton, On Direct Action (1928)