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.