Sadly, over the last two centuries, the direction in which this country has been changing seems to be away from liberty and towards more control. The present changes are hardly unprecedented and certainly not unforeseen. In this essay I will examine two authors, Hilaire Belloc and F. Hayek, who present a useful analysis of our present situation.
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Start your review of The Servile State Write a review Shelves: economics Hilaire Belloc offers us a concise history of economics in Europe generally, and the distributist and servile states specifically. He begins his exposition with a thesis as remarkable as it is shocking, "[T]hat industrial society as we know it will tend towards the re-establishment of slavery.
The author moves on quickly to the general history of distributism through the two Christian millennia, especially up until the Reformation of the 16th Century. It was here, Belloc maintains, at "the capital episode in the history of Christendom," that distributism was dismantled by the forced creation of capitalism. While Christianity had slowly pulled Europe out of the degrading slavery of the servile state, the Reformation, with its destruction of western unity, undid much or all of this progress.
The distributist state did not fall of its own accord but was instead knocked down. No longer do men as a rule own productive property and maintain their own livelihoods; instead, Belloc argues, the modern European and, I would interject, American is a wage-slave to a richer and more economically savvy capitalist.
Not only this, but the various states, while attempting to wrench the proletariat from the grasp of the rich man, actually go leaps and bounds toward further entrenching him in the mires of slavery. He is not a citizen so much as he is an employee. The two classes, created legislatively in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, have solidified this process.
Belloc variously argues that unemployment compensation and minimum wage laws reflect this servile status, and go to massive lengths to display that the employer is a greater man than his employee that, in fact, he is an owner and his employee a slave or at least a serf, though that terminology would never be accepted by society despite its accuracy.
Belloc goes on to prove that the socialist, communist and generally collectivist models will not only fail but will accidentally or intentionally, in certain cases create the servile state through concession and compromise.
The motives of collectivists will lead them to the servile state necessarily. In cutting through this haze, it becomes obvious that there are only two solutions to the current state of things as socialism falls by the wayside as impossible : 1. The stabilizing of the capitalist model by the creation of the servile state, in which the proletariat will lose their economic and political freedom in exchange for financial security, and the capitalist class will be guaranteed profit or 2.
The restoration of well-distributed productive property among the masses. While we are headed for the former, Belloc does not discount the possibility of the latter especially, in his time, in Ireland and France due to "a complex knot of forces underlying any nation once Christian; a smoldering of the old fires.
We have, in America, seen the dismantling of well-distributed productive property in the last century, through property taxes by which no one really owns, but only rents, property , the unfair tax dichotomy between rich and middle class, and the attempts through legislation to create an employer class and an employee class. How many today know the economic history of the West and much of the East , know its intimations and decay, its fall and possible future rise?
Americans have taken a tense hold against each other, half for collectivism and half for libertarianism. But the defects of both models become apparent when examined historically and philosophically.
These are distressing signs, as the increased polarization of our nation gives way for government to make greater and greater strides towards the servile state, all the while aiming for something entirely different. Belloc holds hope despite the odds: "I am upon the whole hopeful that the faith will recover its intimate and guiding place in the heart of Europe, so I believe that this sinking back into our original paganism for the tendency to the servile state is nothing less will in due time be halted and reversed.
The servile state
The Rise of the Capitalist State Note A very interesting text taken from The Servile State that presents an original thesis on the concentration of property in a few hands in England. According to Belloc that resulted from the expropriation, by the Crown, of properties that belonged to the Monasteries, and their subsequent fall into the hands of a few big landlords. Out of it the Capitalist State rose to dominate English society, by controlling the means of production during the time of the Industrial Revolution. Belloc says that a different development could have been possible, that would have produced a wider sharing of the benefits of the Industrial Revolution, without the horrors of proletarization and alienation. With the close of the Middle Ages the societies of Western Christendom and England among the rest were economically free.
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Family and career[ edit ] Hilaire Belloc portrait, c. His sister Marie Adelaide Belloc Lowndes also grew up to be a writer. In , five years after they wed, Louis died, but not before being wiped out financially in a stock market crash. The young widow then brought her children back to England. Hilaire Belloc grew up in England, and would spend most of his life there.