The Servile State

The Servile State

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by Hilaire Belloc
     
 

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THIS BOOK IS WRITTEN TO MAINTAIN and prove the following truth: That our free modern society in which the means of production are owned by a few being necessarily in unstable equilibrium, it is tending to reach a condition of stable equilibrium BY THE ESTABLISHMENT OF COMPULSORY LABOUR LEGALLY ENFORCEABLE UPON THOSE WHO DO NOT OWN THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION FOR THE

Overview

THIS BOOK IS WRITTEN TO MAINTAIN and prove the following truth: That our free modern society in which the means of production are owned by a few being necessarily in unstable equilibrium, it is tending to reach a condition of stable equilibrium BY THE ESTABLISHMENT OF COMPULSORY LABOUR LEGALLY ENFORCEABLE UPON THOSE WHO DO NOT OWN THE MEANS OF PRODUCTION FOR THE ADVANTAGE OF THOSE WHO DO. With this principle of compulsion applied against the non-owners there must also come a difference in their status; and in the eyes of society and of its positive law men will be divided into two sets: the first economically free and politically free, possessed of the means of production, and securely confirmed in that
possession; the second economically unfree and politically unfree, but at first secured by their very lack of freedom in certain necessaries of life and in a minimum of well-being beneath which they shall not fall.

Society having reached such a condition would be released from its present internal strains and would have taken on a form which would be stable: that is, capable of being indefinitely prolonged without change. In it would be resolved the various factors of instability which increasingly disturb that form of society called Capitalist, and men would be satisfied to accept, and to continue in, such a settlement.

To such a stable society I shall give, for reasons which will be described in this book, the title of THE SERVILE STATE.

The Servile State is a book written by Hilaire Belloc in 1912 about economics. Although it mentions distributism, for which he and his friend G. K. Chesterton are famous, it avoids explicit advocation for that economic system.

This book lays out, in very broad outline, Belloc's version of European economic history: starting with ancient states, where slavery was critical to the economy, through the medieval economies based on serf and peasant labor, to capitalism. Belloc argues that the development of capitalism was not a natural consequence of the Industrial Revolution, but a consequence of the earlier dissolution of the monasteries in England, which then shaped the course of English industrialization. English capitalism then spread across the world.

Belloc then makes his case for the natural instability of pure capitalism and discusses how he believes that attempts to reform capitalism will lead almost inexorably to an economy where state regulation has removed the freedom of capitalism and thereby replaced capitalism with the Servile State, which shares with ancient slavery the fact that positive law (as opposed to custom or economic necessity by themselves) dictates that certain people will work for others, who likewise must take care of them.

George Orwell said the book foretold the sort of things that were happening in the 1930s with "remarkable insight".

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940015145472
Publisher:
Balefire Publishing
Publication date:
09/06/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
190
File size:
9 MB

Meet the Author

Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc (27 July 1870 – 16 July 1953) was an Anglo-French writer and historian who became a naturalised British subject in 1902. He was one of the most prolific writers in England during the early twentieth century. He was known as a writer, orator, poet, satirist, man of letters, and political activist. He is most notable for his Catholic faith, which had a strong impact on most of his works and his writing collaboration with G. K. Chesterton. He was President of the Oxford Union and later MP for Salford from 1906 to 1910. He was a noted disputant, with a number of long-running feuds, but also widely regarded as a humane and sympathetic man.

His most lasting legacy is probably his verse, which encompasses cautionary tales and religious poetry. Among his best-remembered poems are Jim, who ran away from his nurse, and was eaten by a lion and Matilda, who told lies and was burnt to death"'

Belloc was born in La Celle-Saint-Cloud, France, to a French father and an English mother, and grew up in England. Much of his boyhood was spent in Slindon, West Sussex, for which he often felt homesick in later life. This is evidenced in poems such as, "West Sussex Drinking Song", "The South Country", and even the more melancholy, "Ha'nacker Mill".

Three of his best-known non-fiction works are The Servile State (1912), Europe and Faith (1920) and The Jews (1922).

From an early age Belloc knew Cardinal Henry Edward Manning, who was responsible for the conversion of his mother to Roman Catholicism. Manning's involvement in the 1889 London Dock Strike made a major impression on Belloc and his view of politics, according to biographer Robert Speaight. Belloc described this retrospectively in The Cruise of the Nona (1925); he became a trenchant critic both of capitalism and of many aspects of socialism.

With others (G. K. Chesterton, Cecil Chesterton, Arthur Penty) Belloc had envisioned the socioeconomic system of distributism. In The Servile State, written after his party-political career had come to end, and other works, he criticized the modern economic order and parliamentary system, advocating distributism in opposition to both capitalism and socialism. Belloc made the historical argument that distributism was not a fresh perspective or program of economics but rather a proposed return to the economics that prevailed in Europe for the thousand years when it was Catholic.

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