Thursday, December 1, 2016

Review of the Servile State - Section IV

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HOW THE DISTRIBUTIVE STATE FAILED:—This failure original in England—The story of the decline from Distributive property to Capitalism—The economic revolution of the sixteenth century The confiscation of monastic land— What might have happened had the State retained it—As a fact that land is captured by an oligarchy England is Capitalist before the advent of the industrial revolution Therefore modern industry, proceeding from England, has grown in a Capitalist mould"
The Servile State, Synopsis of Section IV

Mr. Belloc says that the seeds of capitalism were sown in the sixteenth century, and were in full maturation by the nineteenth. I am sure it was not lost on the Anglo-Frank Catholic that this is also roughly the start and growth of Protestant theologies and Enlightenment philosophies, something he would consider as heresies against orthodox Catholic theology.

In 1535, the Church owned roughly 30% of English property, English aristocracy owned roughly 30%, the rest was divided among the peasantry and public land. Then, King Henry VIII started to confiscate property from the monasteries (lowering the amount of property owned by the Church), only to have that property taken from the Crown and given to the aristocracy (thus more land owned by them) by acts of an ever-stronger Parliament. By the time King Henry had passed away, the aristocracy had owned more than half of English land. With Parliament growing stronger, both the Crown and the Church weaker, the aristocracy owned more and more land until effectively becoming an oligarchy by the 1630's. This oligarchy was able to assert near complete control over the Crown, the Church, and local administration by the 1660's.

By the 1700's, less than one-half of the English population owned land and means of production. It was at this point that England became a capitalist state, well before the onset of the Industrial Revolution. Thus, when the innovations of the Industrial Revolution were made, the mindset of capital was already in place. The Industrial Revolution only made it easier for the oligarchs to gain more and more power, land, and capital.

It is interesting to note that it was simultaneously a stronger centralized power and a stronger church that allowed for the protection of the poor. It was when the stronger centralized power, in the hands of the king, tried to take too much power, and tried to take it from the church, did the balance of power give rise to a strong oligarchy and the fall of the peasant. Also, interesting to note, as the Crown handed more and more power to Parliament, the less and less free the peasants were, and the less property they were able to own for themselves. As the influence of the church diminished, the oligarchs had nothing telling them not to live in accordance to their greed and power lust. As the centuries past, capitalism grew in the heart of Europe.

As I wrote that last paragraph, I could not help but remember J.R.R. Tolkien. He was an anarcho-monarchist, or an unconstitutional monarchist. The king was king by the virtues he possessed. He had the authority to do what was necessary, but yet still, each subject was his own master in his own right. Note, the Shire. Technically, ruled by the Thain (usually a member of the Took family) and officiated by the mayor, the actuality was that each family minded their own business for their own affairs, and worked together when necessary. While Tolkien would have hate such a word, the proper balance of powers in the Shire made it an ideal distributist state. Any reading of Tolkien's works shows the destruction when one or a group gets too much power (please do not limit Tolkien's works to Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings adaptations, as great as they were). Belloc would have been proud.

  1. Introductions
  2. Definitions
  3. Maintaining that civilization was originally servile
  4. How the original servile state was dissolved
  5. How the distributive state failed
  6. Growth of capitalism and its instability
  7. The stable solutions to this instability
  8. Socialism
  9. The inevitable move towards the servile state
  10. Maintaining that the servile state has already begun
  11. Conclusion

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Review of the Servile State III

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How THE SERVILE INSTITUTION WAS FOR A TIME DISSOLVED:—The subconscious effect of the Faith in this matter—The main elements of Pagan economic society—The Villa—The transformation of the agricultural slave into the Christian serf—Next into the Christian peasant—The corresponding erection throughout Christendom of the DISTRIBUTIVE STATE—It is nearly complete at the close of the Middle Ages 'It was not machinery that lost us our freedom, it was the loss of a free mind'"
The Servile State, Synopsis of Section III

Mr. Belloc starts off the section by acknowledging that the Church did nothing to actively prohibit slavery, nor made a dogma that selling humans or imposing servitude on humans were sins. Yet, over the centuries as the Church grew, slavery disappeared from practice.

As the pagan society collapsed, and the Dark Ages grew into the Middle Ages, the class of men who toiled the ground were no longer slaves, but serfs. The difference being is that the serf is no longer permanently bound to work forever as a slave, but has the option of being free once his quota to his lord has been filled. Note that by definition previously stated in Section I, this is still a servile state, as Mr. Belloc himself points out, that "[t]he Serf of the early Middle Ages [...] is already nearly a peasant." Nearly, but not yet.

It was not until the fourteenth or fifteenth century, after art and industry has boomed, does the serf become the peasant. Now the peasant pays rent to the lord instead of bound to work in servitude. This was when the poor could save, invest, and purchase of his own free will, just like his lord.

Once peasants grew into their own wealth and were able to work separate from the imposition from the lord, they were able to join in cooperation of trades called the guilds. Even here, the apprentice would work under the master, but the master was the owner of his own capital. This is in sharp contrast of the labor unions of today. The labor unions are merely a body of organized labor workers in order to represent the labor worker to management. It is not a co-op of masters and apprentices as is the guild, and the wealth of the labor union is owned by the union for the sake of maintaining the union whereas the wealth of the guild is owned by the masters of the guild. Labor unions may be better than nothing at all for the labor worker, but the guild structure is superior in this regard.

Common property during this time was very little, and was only as a tool for the function of private property. The guilds themselves only owned the guild hall in common, and the tools were the property of the trade master.

Mr. Belloc had stated, that by 1912, this collaborative state is quickly disappearing. More and more property is being owned by a few capitalists and less and less proletarians have access to ownership. He does not blame this change on the Industrial Revolution, as his contemporaries do, but instead on capitalism. He makes the claim that capitalism was present in England before the onset of the Industrial Revolution, and had capitalism not been present, the technological advances would have been to the benefit of England instead of to her determent and the determent of her workers.

It is interesting to note that a lot of millennials (only personal experience based off of my friends and acquaintances; I myself am a millennial; not a lot of hard fact to back this paragraph up with) seem to despise the idea of ownership. I rent a house with my wife, and my office space is also rented. Other than our car, and the stuff inside the house and office (TV, clothes, computer, etc.), we do not own any property. Our longing to actually own real estate is rare. Actually, a friend of mine had the opportunity to own a house, and backed out of the deal on the basis that he did not want to own a house. I am a travel agent, and I came across an article that millennials are more willing to spend their money on traveling instead of home owning or entrepreneurship.

The next section gets into the rise of capitalism and the fall of the distributist state.

  1. Introduction
  2. Definitions
  3. Maintaining that civilization was originally servile
  4. How the original servile state was dissolved
  5. How the distributive state failed
  6. Growth of capitalism and its instability
  7. The stable solutions to this instability
  8. Socialism
  9. The inevitable move towards the servile state
  10. Maintaining that the servile state has already begun
  11. Conclusion

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Review of the Servile State - Section II

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The Servile institution in Pagan antiquity—Its fundamental
character—A Pagan society took it for granted—The institution
disturbed by the advent of the Christian Church"
The Servile State, Synopsis of Section II

This section was rather short, only 6 pages. In this is section, Mr. Belloc made the claim that the servile state was the original state of civilization. Further, he states that he is writing of European states specifically, that between the Celts to the Greeks, slaves were a part of the very fabric of pagan European society. He then goes on to give credit to the Catholic Church for teaching emancipation of the slave.

He gives credit to philosophers for initially arguing that the ideal society would be without slavery, but despite the philosophers, there was never any great movement for slavery emancipation in the pagan societies.

He states this to state that slavery is within the ancestral memory of Europe, and in many ways, is returning. Just as pagan ideas are returning, so is the concept of slavery among free men.

Remember, 1912 was just after the Industrial Revolution. It was well after the Enlightenment and the Romantic periods. This was the beginning of the modern period. Secularism had embedded itself deep into societal thought and was not going to leave anytime soon (still not going anywhere now).

In 1912, the Liberal party had a very slim control over the House of Commons. The Liberals were classical liberals, not the New Left liberals of today. It was rife with internal party factions that simply could not work together. Similar to today, there was a heavy populist movement and concern for the families locked in the factories and mines. This was shown in 1918, when the Liberal Party split on faction lines, and have since failed to be a major British party, and the Conservatives took a sweeping majority. The Conservatives, like the Republicans here in the United States, have flirted with populism as a party platform off and on. Or at least made it appear that they cared about the rural peoples, the blue collar workers, small business owners, but then did little ease the political burden on them when they actually got power.

The fear was that the corporations and the wealthy were taking advantage of the peasant. They were drafting contracts that were impossible to break, and did not allow the poor to grow out of their poor conditions, and then used the courts to enforce these contracts. In short, the rich got richer, the poor got poorer, and the government either did little to stop that or did much to aid it. Does the rhetoric sound familiar?

  1. Introduction
  2. Definitions
  3. Maintaining that civilization was originally servile
  4. How the original servile state was dissolved
  5. How the distributive state failed
  6. Growth of capitalism and its instability
  7. The stable solutions to this instability
  8. Socialism
  9. The inevitable move towards the servile state
  10. Maintaining that the servile state has already begun
  11. Conclusion

Monday, November 21, 2016

Presentation of the Theotokos to the Temple

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Today is the prelude of the good will of God,
Of the preaching of the salvation of mankind.
The Virgin appears in the temple of God,
In anticipation proclaiming Christ to all.
Let us rejoice and sing to her:
"Rejoice, O Fulfillment of the Creator's dispensation."
         --Troparion of the Feast of the Presentation of the Theotokos, tone 4

Today is the Feast of the Presentation of the Theotokos to the Temple, on of the Twelve Great Feasts of the liturgical year. Today marks the transition from the Old Testament into the New. This begins the nurturing of Mary from a daughter of Israel into the future Theotokos (God-bearer).

"The former indeed had also justifications of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made the first, wherein were the candlesticks, and the table, and the setting forth of loaves, which is called the holy. And after the second veil, the tabernacle, which is called the Holy of Holies: Having a golden censer, and the ark of the testament covered about on every part with gold, in which was a golden pot that had manna, and the rod of Aaron, that had blossomed, and the tables of the testament. And over it were the cherubims of glory overshadowing the propitiatory: of which it is not needful to speak now particularly.
Now these things being thus ordered, into the first tabernacle the priests indeed always entered, accomplishing the offices of sacrifices. But into the second, the high priest alone, once a year: not without blood, which he offereth for his own, and the people's ignorance"
          --Hebrews 9:1-7 (Douay-Rheims translation, text is public domain)

Mary becomes the new tabernacle, the new Holy of Holies, for within her womb and her womb alone dwelt God.

This story passes to us through Holy Tradition, and was first written down in the highly popular-at-the-time Protogospel of John.

This feast is also a good reflection on ourselves. Mary was able to say "Yes" to Gabriel because she had prepared herself for the Lord's plan. She kept herself in constant prayer with God and was open to His will. And by her "Yes" came salvation for mankind. How many of us are as prepared?

Friday, November 18, 2016

Review of the Servile State - Section I

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DEFINITION: - What wealth is and why necessary to man - How produced The meaning of the words Capital, Proletariat, Property, Means of Production - The definition of the Capitalist State - The definition of the SERVILE STATE - What it is and what it is not - The re-establishment of status in the place of contract - That servitude is not a question of degree but of kind - Summary of these definitions"
The Servile State, Synopsis of Section I

The definitions of terms as Hilaire Belloc defines them. Please note that he would use the UK spellings of words where I use the US spellings instead. Also, please note that I use the neuter definition of "he," "him," and "man," in that I do not necessarily mean that I am speaking of a male, but of humanity.

Wealth - matter which has been consciously and intelligently transformed from a condition in which it is less to a condition in which it is more serviceable to a human need.

Labor - human energy so applicable to the material world and its forces

Land - material and those natural forces

Capital - wealth reserved and set aside for the purposes of future production, and not for immediate consumption, whether it be in the form of instruments and tools, or in the form of stores for the maintenance of labor during the process of production

Property - the arrangement in society whereby the control of land and of wealth made from land, including therefore all the means of production, is vested in some person or corporation.

Proletarian - a man politically free, that is, one who enjoys the right before the law to exercise his energies when he pleases (or not at all if he does not so please), but not possessed by legal right of control over any useful amount of the means of production

Proletariat - a class of proletarians

Private property - wealth (including the means of production) as may, by the arrangements of society, be in the control of persons or corporations other than the political bodies of which these persons or corporations are in another aspect members
Example in the book: Mr Jones is a citizen of Manchester, but he does not own his private property as a citizen of Manchester, he owns it as Mr Jones, whereas, if the house next to his own be owned by the Manchester municipality, they own it only because they are a political body standing for the whole community of the town. Mr Jones might move to Glasgow and still own his property in Manchester, but the municipality of Manchester can only own its property in connection with the corporate political life of the town.

Collectivist or Socialist - an ideal society in which the means of production should be in the hands of the political officers of the community

Capitalist - A society in which private property in land and capital, that is, the ownership and therefore the control of the means of production, is confined to some number of free citizens not large enough to determine the social mass of the State, while the rest have not such property and are therefore proletarian

Servile State - The arrangement of society in which so considerable a number of the families and individuals are constrained by positive law to labor for the advantage of other families and individuals as to stamp the whole community with the mark of such labor

From here until the end of the series, the definitions of the above words will be the ones used, even if the definitions of the words have shifted due to time displacement. It was written over a century ago, after all.

Within the first few paragraphs, Mr. Belloc makes some heavy claims. First, he claims that man cannot exist without wealth and that the very production of wealth is a necessary function of man, including luxuries. Second, he claims that to control the production of wealth is to control a man's life itself.

After defining all his terms, including the definition of the servile state, he then attempts to draw a distinction between men compelled towards labor for a number of reasons, such as: enjoyment, religious compulsion, or even fear of destitution, and the men bound into labor, even to the point of State enforcement. The distinction Mr. Belloc makes between a servile and a non-servile state is one of legality. Regardless of consequence, a man is free to not work, and can use that freedom of refusal to bargain with in a non-servile state, but as soon as men lose that ability to choose, and is compelled by the State into labor, and if there is also a class of free men for whom the servile men must labor for. As in, a class of free men or corporations of free men, and a class of slaves. He then purposefully resists the urge to debate whether slavery is inherently good or bad, and insists on only the economics of such state.

He also goes on to state that there are many degrees of servitude. A slave may only be enforced to work part time, and is part time free, but none the less is still a slave and thus there is a slave class. Also, there could be a class of slaves defined by income: that men inherit freedom or slavery, or loss their freedom or gain their slavery. Either way, there exists a permanent class of slaves.

He does admit that it would be folly to determine when exactly a group of men contracted to work for their survival and livelihood becomes servitude. He shows examples of each:
  • When a family is contractually obligated to work for a few years, but at the end of the contract, they are better off than when they started, that is not servitude.
  • When a man is without both wealth and capital, and willingly enters into a contract for as small as a week, that is not servitude. He still is free not to continue to work and may freely live in destitution.
  • When a man is without both wealth and capital, and enters into a contract for either himself or his family for a long period of time, and they would not be better off after the contract ends, that is servitude.
He ends the section stating the Europe was previously servile when it was in its pagan state. He claims that it was centuries of Catholic teaching that eventually brought pagan Europe out of its servitude. However, through Capitalism, Europe is sliding back into servitude.

  1. Introduction
  2. Definitions
  3. Maintaining that civilization was originally servile
  4. How the original servile state was dissolved
  5. How the distributive state failed
  6. Growth of capitalism and its instability
  7. The stable solutions to this instability
  8. Socialism
  9. The inevitable move towards the servile state
  10. Maintaining that the servile state has already begun
  11. Conclusion

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Review of the Servile State - Introduction

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‘‘ . . . If we do not restore the Institution
of Property we cannot escape restoring
the Institution of Slavery; there
is no third course.’’
The Servile State, introductory quote

THE SUBJECT OF THIS BOOK: – It is written to maintain the thesis that industrial society as we know it will tend towards the re-establishment of slavery – The sections into which the book will be divided”
The Servile State, Synopsis of the Introduction

The purpose of this series is to comb through the relatively short, but deep, book by Hilaire Belloc called The Servile State.

Hilaire Belloc, born Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc in the suburbs of Paris, France in 1870. He was raised in England as a Catholic, and eventually joined the British House of Commons for the Liberal Party.

He had a very prolific writing career, and often worked alongside of another English Catholic writer, G.K. Chesterton. The two together, along with papal encyclicals, created an economic system that has been dubbed distributism.”

 In this economic ideology, the means of production are owned as widely as possible, instead of by the state (socialism/communism), a handful of few (plutocracy), or by corporations (capitalism). In more recent terms, it is against both “big business” and “big government.” It is built on the principles of subsidiarity (that solutions are to be met by the most local means possible) and solidarity (the diverse group of individuals or family units that come together to tie the society together as a whole).

Thus brings us to The Servile State. Each post will be on one section of the book at a time. The first edition was originally published in 1912, and I am using a 1977 posthumous reprint of the second edition originally published in 1913.

The introduction was to set up the purpose of his essay, the purpose of the book. He outlines the book in nine sections and a conclusion. Belloc maintains that modern society is inherently unstable, and working towards a means of stability, but at a price. He states that there will be an established compulsory labor force enforced legally upon those “who do not own the means of production for the advantage of those who do,” that the labor force will be secured in their slavery because of their already lack of “necessaries of life and in a minimum of well-being beneath which they shall not fall.”

The nine sections include:

  1. Definitions
  2. Maintaining that civilization was originally servile
  3. How the original servile state was dissolved
  4. How the distributive state failed
  5. Growth of capitalism and its instability
  6. The stable solutions to this instability
  7. Socialism
  8. The inevitable move towards the servile state
  9. Maintaining that the servile state has already begun
  10. Conclusion
The goal is to write a post either daily or near daily. Each post will be on each of the sections, ending with the conclusion, and will be linked to this page as I work through it.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Angel Cried to the Lady Full of Grace or On Marrying Jordan

As of this post, the 2016 Paschal season is over and I am looking towards Pentecost (hush you Gregorian calendar users who celebrated Pentecost months ago).

When it comes to liturgical hymns for the Paschal season, my favorite is "The Angel Cried" which is sung write near the end of the Eucharistic Prayer in the Divine Liturgy and before the Lord's Prayer, taking place of another Theotokian (Marian) hymn usually sung during this time. Listen here:

For me, it exceptionally captures the joy and elation of the season and its celebrations.

During this Paschal season, I got married to Jordan. Having grown up Latin Rite Catholic and not having any friends or family prior to my conversion to Orthodoxy that were Orthodox or Eastern Catholic, I had never been to an Orthodox wedding until my own, and had only watch YouTube videos of them. No amount of wedding planning or preparations truly prepared me for that day, especially emotionally.

When Jordan walked down the aisle to meet me in front of the iconostasis, the above hymn was sung by the choir. Now this hymn takes on a new meaning for me. Not only does it celebrate the Resurrection of Christ, the salvific action of Christ for His Bride (the Church), but now also celebrates the joining of myself to my bride. It now also celebrates the resurrection of myself, dead to Alex the bachelor, but risen anew as Alex the husband, called to lay everything, even my life, for Jordan.

Really, I just wanted to share a beautiful hymn, and now made even more meaningful for me.

Christus resurrexit! Resurrexit vere!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Getting Married!

Next month, I will be married. I have told others off and on how I met my beautiful fiancée, but now I want to tell more on a wider format, and it will only be from my point of view, not hers.

Back in 2012, I was a member of the swing dance club at ISU as a Heartland student, and as winter break was approaching and finals right around the corner, the club threw a winter dance. It started roughly at 8 PM, ended roughly at 11 PM. Afterwards, there was a blues dance after party until 3 AM.

I showed up with my friends, and the swing music started. I was enjoying the music, talking and dancing with my friends on one half of the dance floor. At around 9 PM, one of my friends saw that a group of women from Bradley University were on the other side of the dance floor, grabbed me by my shoulders, and pushed me towards the Bradley women. I tried to catch my balance, but I was not doing well at that, so I grabbed the first woman I could out of the group to regain my balance. Luckily for me, grabbing this woman was much smoother than my flailing around for balance. As I grabbed her, I said "We are going to dance now." She responded, "O--okay!"

Assuming she was from Bradley, I said, "So, I hear you are from Bradley."

She looked at me confused and responded, "Um, no. I go to ISU."

We got to talking a bit more. She said that she was a part of the Doctor Who fan club, a biology major, loves Sci-fi, classic rock, and also swing dancing. Great! I love Doctor Who as well! I used to be a physics major, so I love science. Sci-fi is one of my favorite TV genres, I grew up on classic rock, and I clearly love swing. Needless to say, we hit it off quite well.

After meeting at 9 PM, we danced for the rest of the night together, including the blues after party until 3 AM. Two weeks later, we started dating. A year after we started dating, I proposed. She said yes. Now, we are going to be getting married. And yes, we still dance together.