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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.
- 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