Liberality, equity and community

Distribusi – liberality, equity and community

This blog is underpinned by a commitment to liberality, equity and community. This choice of course reflects the three great themes of the French Revolution (liberty, equality and fraternity). However, Distribusi takes a radical turn by using the words ‘liberality’ and ‘equity’ (both drawn from the classical virtues).


John Milbank defines ‘liberality’ as a creed of generosity which supposes that societies are more fundamentally bound together by mutual generosity than by contract. The values of liberality have an ancient Roman and Germanic lineage that includes: the right to fair trial; the right to defence; assumed innocence; habeas corpus; a measure of free speech and free enquiry; and, good treatment of the convicted. This framework was later infused by the Christian notion of ‘charity’; the ‘benefit of the doubt’, and comfort, even to the accused, or immoral.

Equity (or ‘epikeia’)

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, sometimes it is bad to follow the law, and it is good to set aside the ‘letter of the law’ and to follow the dictates of justice and the ‘common good’. This is the object of “epikeia”, or ‘equity’. When applying this definition to the field of political economy, the aim is to yield a just distribution of welfare. This is not necessarily crude equality of income or outcome (although ‘equality’ in the broader and popular sense of the word is compatible).


As can be seen from the definition in the useful Etymology Online dictionary, the meaning of ‘community’ has evolved over time:

  • Old French: ‘community, commonness, everybody’
  • Latin: ‘community, fellowship’ ‘common, public, general, shared by all or many’
  • Medieval Latin: ‘a body of fellows or fellow-townsmen’
  • Old English: ‘community, fellowship, union, common ownership’.

Here we are closest to ‘fraternity’, i.e. solidarity between people living in community.

What is it with the name?

This genesis of this blog started with a question. ‘What are the best ways to achieve the equitable distribution of wealth so as to advance the good of each person in the community?’

Finding an available URL with the simple word ‘distribution’ proved difficult.

In Latin ‘dis’ means ‘wealth’ and ‘tribus’ can be roughly translated as a ‘community’. The ‘busi’ end of ‘distribusi’ also appears apt due to the focus on ‘social business‘ in this blog.

‘Distribus’ was not easily available. A colleague-friend with an Indonesian background confirmed that ‘distribusi’ means ‘distribution’ in Indonesian.

The last letter of distribusi is ‘i’; we importantly finish by affirming the intrinsic dignity of each person.

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