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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.
- Maintaining that civilization was originally servile
- How the original servile state was dissolved
- How the distributive state failed
- Growth of capitalism and its instability
- The stable solutions to this instability
- The inevitable move towards the servile state
- Maintaining that the servile state has already begun