on February 22, 2001
In "Road to Serfdom" economist F.A. Hayek recognized the vision of Hilaire Belloc's 1913 book "The Servile State". Writing during World War II, Hayek said: "Even much more recent warnings [about Socialism] which have proved dreadfully true have been almost entirely forgotten. It is not yet thirty years since Hilaire Belloc, in a book which explains more of what has happened since in Germany than most works written after the event, explained that `the effects of Socialist doctrine on Capitalist society is to produce a third thing different from either of its two begetters - to wit, the Servile State."
In short, Belloc said, you get the worst of both worlds, a master class (monopolist Capitalists) using the power of government (Socialism) to control workers. There is name for the condition where one group of people uses the force of law to control the work another group of people; it is called "slavery".
He wrote this in a much different era and it takes some effort to put aside some of the things we take for granted. Belloc saw things like worker's compensation laws as baby steps toward slavery. They tended to create in the law two classes of people, employers (read "Masters") and workers (read "serfs"). It divided "us" into "us and them".
"Servile State" goes full circle, beginning with slavery in the Roman Empire. The slaves had a degree a freedom and could save up money to free themselves, but they were still slaves. Under Christianity the slave became a peasant with rights of inheritance. Christianity introduced a rough egalitarianism ("And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts crying, `Abba, Father.' So that he is no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, an heir through God." - Galatians 4:6-7.) and the breakdown of the empire encouraged rights by tradition (A farmer might say, "Well, we get to keep 2/3 of everything we grow because it's always been that way."). Belloc argues that rights were increasing throughout the Dark Ages. His view of the time may be a bit rosy, but recent scholarship has tended to lighten up that Darkness and vindicate Belloc's reading.
Then came the Renaissance and Reformation. The aristocracy began taking commonly held peasant lands. In England the aristocracy used these lands to graze sheep in order to sell the wool. Thomas More, a fierce defender of traditional rights, lamented this at the time in "Utopia": "`Your sheep,' I said. `Once they were gentle and ate little, but now I hear that they have become so greedy and wild that they are devouring the human population." Calvinism's theory of predestination would come along to justify this redistribution of wealth. The rich were rich because they were also the Elect. The newly impoverished peasants were poor because they were the damned. That the "ignorant peasants" tended also to cling to the Old Religion of Catholicism only reinforced this view. The aristocracy took the opportunity to extend their land monopoly by confiscating Church lands as Christendom crumbled.
From there on, according to Belloc, things tended to go downhill, at least in Europe. The State was growing in power and intrusiveness. Pure sweatshop monopoly Capitalism and pure Communism were both bound to fail, Belloc wrote. He said they were too unstable and he was right. Perhaps we would create a society where each person would own enough of the means of production to support himself. Perhaps we could become nations of small farms and family businesses. Belloc called this Distributivism and it owes much to Pope Leo XII's encyclical "Rerum Novarum" where the pope outlines a just society. Belloc, ever the pessimist, thought this would make a great ideal society, but that people weren't up for it. Instead he thought we would decline into a new thing, the Servile State. Whether it would be the slavery of fascism or the Welfare "Nanny" State run amok, he didn't say.
on October 9, 2002
In this liberty classic, the Catholic intellectual Hilaire Belloc writes that the present system of capitalism is likely to give rise to something new, the servile state, because of inherent instabilities within it. Belloc defines this state as, "That 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 we call the servile state." This servile state is a return to the form of pagan slavery that existed in Europe before the advent of Christianity abolished it. Belloc contends that from the original pagan form of slavery, Christianity brought about a new system of society, the distributivist society. In this system, every individual was an owner of property and belonged to guilds which allowed for him to own the means of production. However, the distributivist system failed with the breakdown of the Christian faith. For example, the Reformation allowed for the Crown to confiscate monastic lands. Thus, a small group of indiviudals, the capitalists, came to own the means of production and the property. Belloc does not blame the existence of capitalism on the Industrial Revolution like most other thinkers have. Rather, he sees the problem in society as existing before the Industrial Revolution. Belloc contends that had distributivism not broken down, the Industrial Revolution would have been beneficial to all concerned. The current system of the capitalist state is unstable however, and may give rise to one of two separate things. Reformers have tried to create from the capitalist system a collectivist (or socialist) state. In the collectivist state, private property would be abolished and a group of managers would control all property for the proletariat in trust. Belloc contends that this form of collectivism is likely to give rise to a third thing, the servile state. One way reformers have tried to accomplish this goal is through "buying out" capitalism. Since the state is an older institution than the capitalist owners, it has been considered possible that the state can "buy out" the capitalists. Belloc finds such an idea problematic and shows how this is not possible to occur. Alternatively, the other possibility is for society to return to a distributivist system in which all individuals own property and the means of production. Belloc finds this alternative to be the best, however, he notes that it is unlikely to happen given the current direction in which society is taking and amounts to "swimming upstream". So, while the socialist alternative works within the capitalist system, it will ultimately lead to servitude. Belloc points out examples of how legislation designed to benefit the proletariat has actually increased the development of the servile state. Examples of this include regulation such as employee compensation and minimum wage laws, which were in the initial stages of being enacted in Belloc's England. The future for freedom looks grim because the proletariat is willing to give up its political freedom in exchange for security and guarantee of subsistence standards. For example, Belloc points out that minimum wage laws actually benefit capitalists because they guarantee that there will not be unruliness among the workers. Also, such laws and regulations involve the creation of a class distinction between proletariat and employer. Given the direction the welfare state has taken contrary to liberty and towards further regulation, these cogent writings of Belloc from near the beginning of this last century serve as an important warning and prophecy for the future. We have indeed headed in the direction of servitude, and Belloc's distributivist ideal seems less and less likely.
For an interesting alternative understanding of the modern world and its condition see Julius Evola's _Revolt Against the Modern World_.
on September 14, 2011
I loved the book. I have been trying to learn about the economic system of distributism for a while, and this book kept coming up as the best starting point. At first, I was skeptical of Mr. Belloc's premise that capitalism degrades into a socialist servile state, but he made the point, and his stuff is very easy to comprehend for us not so smarty pants.
My biggest problem with this book was the editing. It seems like someone ran it through a scanner and then ran a spell check on it, which substituted way too many words with the wrong ones. It actually ends up changing the context of some of the sentences, and I had to go back and re-read whole sections because of it.
It is about the worst editing job I have ever seen, and i would advise people to NOT buy this edition. I am sure there are other editions out there without this problem, and I would highly recommned buying them.
on March 14, 2008
Hilaire Belloc's 1912 classic represents the former UK Liberal Party parliamentarian's break with capitalism, state socialism and the welter of piecemeal liberal and social democratic reforms that would ultimately evolve into the modern welfare state.
The book is simultaneously easy to read and clearly argued, yet sometimes verbose and long winded. Still it's logically argued and conceptually sound.
The `Liberty Press' edition I read included an excellent introduction by American sociologist Robert Nisbet. This extended essay includes personal biographical insights which indicate that `The Servile State' played an important role in the development of Nisbet's own stream of pluralist conservative thought, a line hitherto neglected by Nisbet's intellectual biographers. Nisbet, following Belloc, champions the role of intermediate institutions, between the citizen and the state, as providing the true institutional skeleton of freedom. Although usually characterized as a conservative, Belloc's Servile State played a critical role in influencing such radical non-conservatives as Dorothy Day and John Anderson, the founder of the Sydney left libertarian movement. This movement later spawned such prominent Australian international intellectuals as Germaine Greer, Robert Hughes and Clive James. Anderson, I believe, even attributed his rejection of Marxism to Belloc. One can easily imagine Belloc engaged in lively debate over drinks with these now prominent, if somewhat wayward, descendants.
Still `Servile State' is not purely a polemical book. It includes insightful historical analysis of the rise and decline of slavery in the west. It shows just how deep rooted and unpeculiar "the peculiar institution" has been. And just how poor most of the more popular explanations for it's survival across the centuries have been. The great myth of slavery is that it represented the permanent subjugation of defeated foreign enemies. Although prisoners of war were often enslaved, this source of slaves was statistically trivial. Belloc's explanation has the advantage of explaining the relative "success" of slavery, both in it's historical longevity and relative absence of social or intellectual critique. Slavery flourished as it provided a means to avoid poverty. The destitute would sell themselves and their descendants to provide for immediate needs. This piece of inconvenient history has actually become even more inconvenient since Belloc's day as the welfare state, and it's corresponding net of taxes, border controls and ID cards, has grown. Has 'democracy' allowed 'the masses' to sell themselves into state slavery on an installment basis?
The book touches on Belloc's own explorations of the role of Henry VIII's confiscations of Church property and it's redistribution to court favourites thus founding the great landed fortunes of England. Thus as Belloc notes in other books, establishing a powerful vested interest materially invested in the official anti-catholicism that held sway in the anglo-saxon world virtually for centuries. Belloc sees this act and subsequent actions pushed through by a state dominated by the same interests, for example, the enclosure of the commons, as tilting the development of English capitalism and industrialism against the now landless masses and proletariat. Propertyless masses are simultaneously prey to both the advocates of socialism and victims of economic instability. The servile state, Belloc hypothesizes, is built by these pressures from below and above. The most prominent capitalists have no problem aligning themselves with the state, however interventionist. This insight, offered in 1912, before the great wars and great depression accelerated the growth of big government, is perhaps the book's most accurate prophecy.
So has the growth of the modern welfare state proved Belloc's prediction of a new servile state? His prediction fails, although the 20th century did see new slave regimes under totalitarian guise, the liberal democracies did not evolve as far in the direction of forced labour as Belloc and later day followers imagined. But then again the dreams of the original founders and pioneers of welfarism failed too. The original welfare pioneers imagined a society of economic justice and security with the poor and homeless protected by impositions on the rich. They never foresaw a day when middle income earners would often be taxed at rates from 30 to 50% of their income with no apparent shift to egalitarianism. Although state enforced compulsory labour has not emerged (yet), Belloc's imagined servile future with a progressively disempowered mass and a surviving class of super-rich but politically well connected capitalists sometimes seems somewhat closer to modern reality than the vision splendid of the welfare pioneers.
Maybe we need to think of Belloc's book as a warning rather than a prophecy.
on June 27, 2013
Belloc's »The Servile State« (TSS) is one of the key works to be read if you're interested in the debate about how to implement Catholic social teaching (CST), especially for someone interested in knowing more about the distributist (or distributivist) side of the debate. This is not to say that only Catholics will find TSS worth reading. Belloc's religious perspective aside, TSS should be read by anyone wanting to add a trenchant, too little know voice to the discussion of the history and nature of capitalism. In any event, Belloc's thesis is this: a) given its historical genesis in a society in which only a minority of the people owned lands and the means of production, b) capitalism inevitably tended and still tends towards an unstable imbalance between owners and workers; c) the only solution for this imbalance is either i) a socialization (nationalization) of all industries, ii) a return to the pre-capitalist mode of widespread productive ownership (what Belloc calls the proprietary or distributist state), or iii) a perpetual entrenchment of owners as socially benign managerial masters, on the one hand, and workers as well-cared-for wage serfs, on the other.
Now, if you're a supporter of free markets, your stomach is probably doing somersaults at what seems like boilerplate Marxism. However, distributism is not socialism, and certainly not Marxism. For one thing, distributists insist upon private property as a basic human right; for another, distributism is not necessarily (sic) wedded to the dialectical materialism of Marxism. This, in fact, is why Belloc argues that socialism, again pace Marx, is not the end result of concentrated crony capitalism: private ownership and freedom of labor are too central a part of our society, so unless we suffer a complete collapse of the market, socialism is really not an option for societies with a strong rule of law and property rights. Historical determinism this is not.
Since, however, concentrated capitalism is manifestly too unstable for the mass of workers (and thus also for the owners who rely on their labor), some solution must be found. Reverting to a wide dispersion of private productive ownership is Belloc's hope, yet he plainly admits that it would be too disruptive for most people, accustomed as they have become to reliable if not very romantic wage income and increasingly cheaper manufactured goods. This is one of Belloc's most striking points (even though he was writing about early twentieth-century England, not early twenty-first-century America): if over the next decade all the major industries in the USA were nationalized, how many ordinary people would notice, much less protest? As long as wages kept coming, Belloc argues, and as benefits kept getting stronger with federal backing, not many citizens would make a peep. As such, our society is closer to the servile state than to either genuine free-market or traditional widespread private ownership. We are, as Samuel Gregg argues in his book of the same name, "becoming Europe" (Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future), which, ironically enough, would have meant to Belloc that we are becoming a servile state. Indeed, when I asked one of the leading distributist authors in our day, "Don't most EU nations count as prime example of the servile state?", he agreed, adding that such a state is the only stable form of capitalism.
Upon hearing that, I was reminded of two reservations I had in mind during this, my second, reading of TSS. (The first time time read TSS, it mostly went over my head, since I was still pretty rusty on economics in general and hadn't read enough in distributism from other writers.) First reservation: what does Belloc (or my distributist colleague) mean by capitalism, and why should I accept that definition? Short answer, they're talking about "crony capitalism," or Chinese-style "statist capitalism," but, as the T-short says, "Crony Capitalism ≠ Free Enterprise"! To his credit, Belloc notes a number of times in TSS that the abuses of concentrated capital by owners is not of the essence of capitalism, but is in fact *a political failure* consistently to apply long-standing rules about the equality of the right to property. (My colleague, by contrast, is inclined to see our current crony-capitalist state, and Europe's more benign nanny state, along Marxist lines as the historically necessary result of capitalism per se; but that says more about him, I think, than it does about Belloc or distributism.) This is a huge concession, though, since classical free-market advocates don't mean that free markets are "free-floating" (à la abstract entities brought into existence by the mere incantation of "the pure laissez-faire model"); free-market theory *assumes* a politically egalitarian order animated by commonly shared moral expectations (which is why the "there are not *PURE* free markets" argument (à la Ha-Joon Chang) is as dumb the "Somalia argument" is against libertarians). So, if even Belloc grants that capitalism per se isn't the problem, can we please do away with the Marxoid rants about greed and the profit motive and ugly commercialism, and instead strive for concrete public policy changes that promote widespread entry into the market? That's also what free markets mean: they liberate civilians to enjoy equal low-barrier, access to the marketplace of common goods, and "free up" goods that are otherwise locked out as insolvent capital goods (c.f. De Soto's »The Mystery of Capital«).
My second reservation was, "If Europe is the servile state, what's wrong with it?" I mean this not from my own perspective, but in the eyes of most humans at this point in history. Historically, people left their farm holdings for a reason: farming is really hard, and arguably no more secure than taking one's chances on the labor market. Why castigate our ancestors for choosing a path that has manifestly led to longer lifespans, lower infant mortality rates, accelerated innovation in science and art, and, indeed, to the very society which we love to hate? Indeed, Belloc--a landed aristocrat, by the way--would apparently rather have farmstead families struggle on their own with pitchforks than have neighborhoods of factory families struggle together with coal shovels.) Belloc does acknowledge this 'populist' fiat, saying that the main obstacle to a distributive state is not law or greed but simply the fact that most people don't think ownership is worth it, but you can tell he finds it offensive. This signals to me a key discrepancy in some distributist writing: on the one hand you hear that America needs better social support programs, like Europe, and that America needs for nationalized regulations, like Europe--but then you hear that Europe is sustainable capitalism. To wit, even a casual reading of "the social encyclicals" (from Leo XIII's »Rerum Novarum: Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on Capital and Labor (English translation!)« in 1891 to Benedict XVI's »Charity in Truth: Caritas in Veritate« in 2009, so far) endorse policies much more in accord with European statism than American liberalism. If the point of the state is to promote, and intervene, on behalf of the common good, and if European nanny states seem to be doing that--Denmark or Sweden are always cited as being among "the happiest" places in the world--, then why not go with the servile state? (Something about subsidiarity, mumble mumble.) Which is it? Should America be like Europe and enjoy a strong social welfare network, or should America vastly reduce its federal machinery and approach what in any other context would be utter anathema to distributists--something like a libertarian free market?
In any case, one final objection I have to Belloc's historical, rather than aesthetic or logical, case is this: capitalism was born in the middle ages, so if Belloc wants to take us back to the middle ages, he wants to take us right back to the inception of the servile state. To start, read Rodney Stark's »The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success« or Thomas Woods's »How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization« to learn more about the medieval roots of capitalism. On top of that, the fetish that distributists have for "guilds" is just that--a fetish. There is plenty of evidence that the guilds stifled creativity, restricted outsiders from entering the market, catered to the aristocracy at the expense of the common people (with the cost of their finely made fine arts), and were basically everything that's wrong with crony capitalism but on a smaller (and therefore harder to see) scale. Read Sheilagh Ogilvie's »Institutions and European Trade: Merchant Guilds, 1000-1800 (Cambridge Studies in Economic History - Second Series)« to get a much fuller picture than the glass menagerie daydream that too many distributists like to wax about. If you read this, you must also read Thomas Woods's Beyond Distributism, which is, I think, a revised or expanded version of a chapter in his The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy (Studies in Ethics and Economics). A couple other theologically informed pro-market books you should check out are Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem and Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy.
Having said ALL THAT, I strongly recommend TSS, especially at such a good price for the Kindle edition. Read it and then read as much of Belloc's other works! Also read the related books by G. K. Chesterton on distributism: What's Wrong with the World, Utopia of Usurers, and The Well and the Shallows. For a more systematic look at Distributism (capital D!), read Beyond Capitalism & Socialism: A New Statement of an Old Ideal, Distributist Perspectives: Volume I, Distributist Perspectives: Volume II: Essays on the Economics of Justice and Charity (Distributist Perspectives series), The Hound of Distributism, and Toward a Truly Free Market: A Distributist Perspective on the Role of Government, Taxes, Health Care, Deficits, and More (Culture of Enterprise).
I could go on all night providing links, but for now, do the reading, join the debate, love God, and love the poor!
on December 23, 2009
Belloc's account of The Servile State,the condition in which society is characterised by a majority of dispossessed proletarians without the means of production who are faced with the choice to work for the benefit of the minority (an oligarchy of those who do possess the means of production) or starve has only one omission - it does not (nor does it intend to) provide a remedy.
For Belloc, servility is the way things have been throughout much of human civilisation. He looks to Rome for the roots of the particular sevile nature of social and economic life in England - which then spread to infect other nations. The arrangement between the owners of the villas and their slaves evolved over the centuries until Belloc's ideal is to be found in the latter part of the middle ages with their cooperative system of guilds, small holdings, common land and dues to the wealthy landowners. The key for Belloc is private property and possession of the means of production. A serf might well have to work certain hours for the lord but he was also free to produce for himself and to improve his own situation. The guilds etc protected against monopolies and the means of production remained widely distributed.
Refuting the usual argument that dispossession followed on the heels of the industrial revolution, Belloc cites the start of the slide into a new state of servility as the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII. During this period the Crown confiscated the lands of the monasteries - approximately 1/5th of the productive land of England. Henry lacked the power to retain all this land which found its way into the hands of a number of wealthy families - some of whom grew to rival the King in terms of wealth and influence. The power of the monarchy was reduced - over time - to that of a puppet of Parliament, which was largely in the hands of the new plutocracy.
When the inventions of the Industrial Revolution arose there was a need for capital in order to commence these great experients. The only source of that capital, following the decline of the cooperatives and the disenfanchisement of the masses, was the rich property owners. The proletariat were utterly at the mercy of the capitalists. As is the way with capitalist systems, the rich minority grew richer as the poor majoirity grew poorer.
Belloc's book remains relevant today - indeed it is essential reading for the masses are often utterly ignorant of the state of affairs, believing having had the terms of their education set by the powers-that-be, and lacking the reasoning to question what they are told by their informers). Many (of the servile) would deny their state of servility as they have been hoodwinked. Freedom, for us, is the freedom of licentiousness, the freedom to spend, and therefore the freedom to perpetuate the system and our own servility.
Communisms great failing was to confiscate the means of production from the rich and to entrust them to the state. Belloc's ideal is to spread the means of production, to grant to each family the right to private ownership and the means of producing food and enough goods not only to maintain life but to increase personal wealth but without the limitless greed of the capitalist. Belloc would have liked the medieval system of cooperatives to have met with the developments of the Industrial Revolution to the benefit of the majority. The vision is compelling, but the problem is how to get there. The powerful rich are not going to let go of their monopoly, the dispossessed are also disunited and deprived of the education to challenge the status quo, and the violent confiscations of the Communists led only to their own evils.
Belloc's prose is impeccable; the book eminently accessible and a pleasure to read. It is high time his other great works were brought back into popularity - The Four Men, The Path to Rome, his histories, poetry and essays. This prolific and original writer deserves to be more widely read in the current age.
on June 28, 2008
The Servile State is perhaps Belloc's most complete exposition of his theory of the various possible forms of political economy. Belloc argues that Western Civilization was first founded on a servile economy, where a very small group of men owned the land, labor, and the capital necessary for production. Yes, they owned the labor. Hence, the appelation, servile. Belloc then argues that Western Civilization gradually became, from this servile state, a distributive political economy. By this, Belloc meant that ownership was widespread among free men. Belloc argues quite convincingly that this is the natural state of man. And it is certainly the state of Western Civilization when the predominat influence on civilization was the Mystical Body of Christ, His Holy Church. Belloc argues that this state of affairs came to be changed with the Reformation, what he, in other books, has styled the "shipwreck of civilization". Focusing on England, in particular, Belloc proves that a small, landed aristocracy became overwhelmingly powerful in this "rising of the rich against the poor" and, later, established the inherently unstable capitalist society.
Writing in 1912, Belloc held that the capitalistic society could not endure in its then present form. Looking back, it is how remarkable how prophetic was his vision. He argued that the collectivist form of socialism was, in essence, a chimera. Further, he set forth that the decayed capitalist state would ultimatley revert to a servile status.
As we look about us in 2008, it is truly striking how many of the features of the servile state are upon us. One factor that Belloc did not emphacize so much, but that is also dispositive of our current situation is the crushing impact of debt. Acknowledging that point, we can say that Belloc's book is remarkably prophetic, beautifully written, as are all of his works, and still tremendously important. Pick up this important little book. Give it a good and thoughtful read. And be richly blessed by the experience.
on December 26, 2009
The Servile State is Belloc's treatise on Distributivism; however he spends more time refuting the doctrine of capitalism. He does this by taking a historical approach: the book looks at slavery in the Roman Empire, Feudalism in the Middle Ages, and the Industrial Revolution of the Modern Era. With this setup, Belloc goes on to make the startling claim that the laborers in the capitalist system are no different than the slaves in the Roman Empire. He also says the serfs under Feudalism were better off than the factory workers of the early 20th century. Finally, he contends the problems with Capitalism inevitably require the Communist solution. Thus Distributivism cannot be a solution unless the people willfully choose to depart from the path they already upon.
These are all contentious claims and Belloc does defend them. Whether he does so persuasively is not so clear, but his book is a must read for those concerned about finding a possible "Third Way" between Capitalism and Socialism.
on November 1, 1996
This is probably Belloc's most famous piece of social commentary.
Published in 1912, it foretold
the gradual merger of capitalism and socialism to form what
we today call the "consumer society."
Belloc traces Western
economic development from Roman times. He argues that the West
had just shed the last vestiges of feudal slavery in favor
of an independent yeomanry by the late Middle Ages when the
Protestant Reformation of the 16th century turned all this around, and resulted in the polarization
of wealth that has continued to this day. His thesis is that capitalism,
left to itself, is inherently unstable and must rely on state
intervention. Ultimately, however, the large corporations benefit from moderate socialism.
mass of working people are reduced to servile wage earning
conditions -- achieving basic material comfort, but no
meaningful economic freedom -- being kept in line by the bureaucrats to the benefit
of big business.
on December 26, 2012
In our barbaric past, we were free individuals. We had only that which we could find or produce, and defend. As we became more social, those who had much, provided a means of sustenance for those who had little in return for which those who had little provided labor that annually renewed and increased the wealth of those who had much.
Over time, there have been many changes. The earliest of these changes were provided by the generosity of the 'haves' to the 'have not'. The Lords or Squires who had within themselves the capacity to require so much of the serfs that the serfs might only barely exist, in some cases, saw fit to accept less and allow the serfs to retain more. This allowed the serfs to rise from serfdom by forming guilds and other forms of cooperative ownership that allowed each of them to prosper more greatly as part of a collective group than they could have hoped to do individually and to attain the capacity to own a means of producing wealth. Over the centuries, this trend has continued in one form or another until reaching the model of capitalism.
Capitalism has prospered, but at a cost. That cost has been the loss of stability. This loss of stability has given way to still more changes in the system that now appear to bind it towards a return to a state of servitude. According to the author, this servitude is something that will be accepted by both, the business owners and the workers. In fact, they will cooperatively work toward its implementation. He indicates that among the earliest evidences toward the transition will be minimum wage laws. Not bad for a 1912 publication. He goes on to describe something that I think we find today in so-called "Work for Welfare" policies.
This book is something I have been watching unfold in my lifetime of 61 years. I find the author's comments at the end of the book to be thought-provoking. It's a short, comfortable read. One that I think is well worth the time and energy. It provides yet another framework for understanding some of the more complex economic relationships of our lifetimes.