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. In , Hilaire Belloc published The Servile State, in which the Englishman prophesied that the world was moving to a reestablishment of slavery. This book made quite an impression on a number of thinkers, including F.
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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. Belloc proceeded to Balliol College, Oxford , as a history scholar. He was powerfully built, with great stamina and walked extensively in Britain and Europe. While courting his future wife Elodie Hogan — , an American whom he first met in , the impecunious Belloc walked a good part of the way from the midwest of the United States to her home in northern California , "paying" for lodging at remote farm houses and ranches by sketching the owners and reciting poetry.
The couple married in Elodie and Belloc had five offspring before her death in from influenza. After her death, Belloc wore mourning garb for the rest of his life and kept her room exactly as she had left it. Belloc placed a memorial tablet at the nearby Cambrai Cathedral. It is in the same side chapel as the noted icon Our Lady of Cambrai.
He fell ill while on active service with the 5th Battalion of the Royal Marines in Scotland. Francis churchyard. Belloc delivered a series of lectures at Fordham which he completed in May of that year. While pleased to accept the invitation, the experience left him physically exhausted and he considered stopping the lectures early.
At his funeral Mass, homilist Monsignor Ronald Knox observed, "No man of his time fought so hard for the good things. Recent biographies of Belloc have been written by A. Augustine Press in September Political career[ edit ] An graduate of Balliol College, Oxford , Belloc was a noted figure within the University, being President of the Oxford Union , the undergraduate debating society.
He went into politics after he became a naturalised British subject. A great disappointment in his life was his failure to gain a fellowship of All Souls College , Oxford in This failure may have been caused in part by his producing a small statue of the Virgin and placing it before him on the table during the interview for the fellowship.
During one campaign speech he was asked by a heckler if he was a "papist. If that offends you, then I pray God may spare me the indignity of representing you in Parliament. His only period of steady employment was from to as editor of Land and Water , a journal devoted to the progress of the war. Otherwise he lived by his writing and was often impecunious. In controversy and debate[ edit ] Belloc first came to public attention shortly after arriving at Balliol College, Oxford as a recent French army veteran.
Attending his first debate of the Oxford Union Debating Society, he saw that the affirmative position was wretchedly and half-heartedly defended. As the debate drew to its conclusion and the division of the house was called, he rose from his seat in the audience, and delivered a vigorous, impromptu defence of the proposition.
Belloc won that debate from the audience, as the division of the house then showed, and his reputation as a debater was established. He was later elected president of the Union.
He held his own in debates there with F. Smith and John Buchan , the latter a friend. Wells remarked that "Debating Mr. Belloc is like arguing with a hailstorm". Belloc Objects. Belloc Still Objects. Coulton , a keen and persistent opponent, wrote Mr. Belloc on Medieval History in a article. After a long simmering feud, Belloc replied with a booklet, The Case of Dr.
Coulton, in His style during later life fulfilled the nickname he received in childhood, Old Thunder. He won many races and was on the French sailing team. In the early s, he was given an old Jersey pilot cutter , called Jersey. He sailed this for some years around the coasts of England, with the help of younger men. Wells , George Bernard Shaw , and G.
Chesterton , all of whom debated with each other into the s. Belloc was closely associated with Chesterton, and Shaw coined the term Chesterbelloc for their partnership. The paper was later called the New Witness, and still later, G. Asked once why he wrote so much,  he responded, "Because my children are howling for pearls and caviar. For his own prose style, he claimed to aspire to be as clear and concise as " Mary had a little lamb.
The Path to Rome , an account of a walking pilgrimage he made from central France across the Alps and down to Rome, has remained continuously in print. More than a mere travelogue, The Path to Rome contains descriptions of the people and places he encountered, his drawings in pencil and in ink of the route, humour, poesy, and the reflections of a large mind turned to the events of his time as he marches along his solitary way. His book The Pyrenees , published in , shows a depth of detailed knowledge of that region such as would only be gained from personal experience.
At every turn, Belloc shows himself to be profoundly in love with Europe and with the Faith that he claims has produced it. As an essayist he was one of a small, admired and dominant group with Chesterton, E. Lucas and Robert Lynd of popular writers. The tale of "Matilda who told lies and was burned to death" was adapted into the play Matilda Liar! Quentin Blake , the illustrator, described Belloc as at one and the same time the overbearing adult and mischievous child.
Roald Dahl was a follower. But Belloc has broader if sourer scope. For example, with Lord Lundy who was "far too freely moved to Tears" : It happened to Lord Lundy then as happens to so many men about the age of 26 they shoved him into politics The stocks were sold; the Press was squared: The Middle Class was quite prepared.
But as it is! My language fails! Go out and govern New South Wales! From an early age Belloc knew Cardinal Henry Edward Manning , who was responsible for the conversion of his mother to Roman Catholicism.
In The Cruise of the "Nona" , he mentions a "profound thing" that Manning said to him when he was just twenty years old: "All human conflict is ultimately theological. Hence battle. He became a trenchant critic both of capitalism  and of many aspects of socialism. 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 an end, and other works, he criticised 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.
He called for the dissolution of Parliament and its replacement with committees of representatives for the various sectors of society, an idea that was also popular among Fascists, under the name of corporatism. They show him as an ardent proponent of orthodox Catholicism and a critic of many elements of the modern world. Outside academe, Belloc was impatient with what he considered axe-grinding histories, especially what he called "official history. Those views were expressed at length in many of his works from the period — These are still cited as exemplary of Catholic apologetics.
They have also been criticised, for instance by comparison with the work of Christopher Dawson during the same period. As a young man, Belloc lost his faith. Then came a spiritual event, which he never discussed publicly, that returned him to Catholicism for the remainder of his life. According to his biographer A. The momentous event is fully described by Belloc in The Path to Rome pp. It took place in the French village of Undervelier at the time of Vespers. Belloc said of it, "not without tears", "I considered the nature of Belief" and "it is a good thing not to have to return to the faith".
See Hilaire Belloc by Wilson at pp. He believed that the Catholic Church provided hearth and home for the human spirit. Belloc sent his son Louis to Downside School — It is not so. Islam essentially survives, and Islam would not have survived had the Crusade made good its hold upon the essential point of Damascus. Islam survives. Its religion is intact; therefore its material strength may return.
Our religion is in peril, and who can be confident in the continued skill, let alone the continued obedience, of those who make and work our machines? There is with us a complete chaos in religious doctrine We worship ourselves, we worship the nation; or we worship some few of us a particular economic arrangement believed to be the satisfaction of social justice Even a slight accession of material power would make the further control of Islam by an alien culture difficult.
A little more and there will cease that which our time has taken for granted, the physical domination of Islam by the disintegrated Christendom we know.
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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.
The servile state
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.
The Servile State