The Servile State
'The Servile State' Summary
This book lays out, in very broad outline, Belloc's version of European economic history, starting with ancient pagan states, in which slavery was critical to the economy, through the medieval Christendom process which transformed an economy based on serf labour in a state in which the property was well distributed, to 19th and 20th century capitalism.
Belloc argues that the development of capitalism was not a natural consequence of the Industrial Revolution, but a consequence of the earlier dissolution of the monasteries in England, which then shaped the course of English industrialization. English capitalism then spread across the world.
Belloc then makes his case for the natural instability of pure capitalism and discusses how he believes that attempts to reform capitalism will lead almost inexorably to an economy in which state regulation has removed the freedom of capitalism and thereby replaced capitalism with the Servile State, which shares with ancient slavery the fact that positive law (as opposed to custom or economic necessity by themselves) dictates that certain people will work for others, who likewise must take care of them.
In the ninth section of the book, titled "The Servile State Has Begun," Belloc explores various ways the servile state has started to creep its way back into modern life. Among these he includes minimum wage laws, employers liability laws, the Insurance Act, and compulsory arbitration.
Belloc used his Catholicism and his experience of living alongside the small-scale peasant farmers of the Sussex Weald to advocate his thesis of having a property-owning democracy based on peasant smallholdings that would bring together the different social classes.
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