Back in 1912, Hilaire Belloc wrote what many consider to be his best book, The Servile State. Belloc emphasized that he was referring not to socialism or capitalism, per se, but to what we today in the Just Third Way loosely label “the wage system.” It was Belloc’s megablast against the Fabian socialism that he saw taking over the British Empire.
Not that Belloc’s confrere G.K Chesterton was behindhand in his efforts to counter the rather stealthy infiltration of Fabian socialism into the whole of society . . . the Fabian Society’s emblem being — appropriately enough — the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. Chesterton, however, was somewhat less confrontational (and a trifle more outgoing) than Belloc, as well as a bit crafty himself.
Belloc, after all, often managed to live up to his boyhood name of “Old Thunder,” having evidently been marked for life by being born in the middle of a thunderstorm. Chesterton rarely if ever seemed to get annoyed, even with the Fabian socialists like George Bernard Shaw, who kept insisting that distributism (a policy of broadly owned capital, with a preference for small, family-owned farms and businesses.
Thus, Belloc would state a theory as if it were already proved, and recommend specific programs to ameliorate the situation or correct the problem. Chesterton (after a few early run-ins with Shaw) rarely gave specifics, and thereby remained more theoretically (if paradoxically) sound. This, unfortunately, meant that the distributist movement fell apart during Chesterton’s lifetime, and disappeared completely as a movement after his death.
But back to Belloc. What both Belloc and Chesterton objected to was the condition of dependency and powerlessness imposed by the wage system. “Power,” as Daniel Webster said more than 200 years ago, “naturally and necessarily follows property.” Belloc even went so far later as to criticize Major Douglas’s “social credit” since it looked only to income, not to ownership, and thus ignored that personal empowerment so necessary for people to grow in virtue and become more fully human.
Shaw, of course, was all over Chesterton in their final debate in 1927 for his wanting to redistribute power. Shaw declared power was nothing; that the only thing that mattered was income, and that’s why Fabian socialism and distributism were the same, despite Chesterton’s stubborn refusal to admit otherwise.
That, as Tweedledee and Tweedledum declared, is logic.
But why was Chesterton so dead set against socialism and turning everyone into a dependent? Not that he was a cheerleader for capitalism, which turned people into dependents as well.
Judging from various hints in his writings, it becomes evident — at least to readers of this blog — that Chesterton had a better grasp of the so-called “new things” of socialism, modernism, and esotericism than some of his latter day admirers are will or able to admit. Some distributists, after all, still insist on going to the mat on whether distributism and any form of socialism are in any way compatible.
That is why “The Democratic Religion, or, The Great Reset,” a new article that appeared yesterday in the Catholic e-zine “Catholic365”, may open a few eyes regarding not only what the “new things” are, but where they came from . . . and some people might not like what they see. It turns out that some revered figures in the world of social ethics might not be all they’re cracked up to be — and that the “Great Reset” isn’t really all that great, and also not much of a reset when push comes to shove.
|Henri de Saint-Simon|
It turns out, in fact, that there is not one thing proposed under the heading “the Great Reset” or Inclusive (or Stakeholder) Capitalism — that sounds quite a bit like Belloc’s Servile State — that hasn’t been tried and failed before. Take the twenty-seven “guardians,” for example.
Oh, you mean the “Industrial Hierarchy” Henri de Saint-Simon proposed early in the nineteenth century?
Ditto for the Universal Basic Income, stakeholder capitalism, a reinvented Christianity, and all the other alleged innovations that also turn out to be a rehash of proposals that Orestes Brownson hinted are the work of Satan.
But make up your own mind and read the article . . . then get yourself a copy of Economic Personalism, whether the free download available from the CESJ website, or the hardcopy that can be purchased from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
And then think about it.