Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hillaire Belloc: The Servile State

The following is an extraordinarily perceptive passage from Hillaire Belloc's The Servile State (read the entire article on Mises Institute to better understand Belloc's work in full):

The practical man in social reform is exactly the same animal as the practical man in every other department of human energy, and may be discovered suffering from the same twin disabilities which stamp the practical man wherever found: these twin disabilities are an inability to define his own first principles and an inability to follow the consequences proceeding from his own action. Both these disabilities proceed from one simple and deplorable form of impotence, the inability to think.

Now, if the socialist who has thought out his case, whether as a mere organizer or as a man hungering and thirsting after justice, is led away from socialism and towards the servile state by the force of modern things in England, how much more easily do you not think the practical man will be conducted towards that same servile state, like any donkey to his grazing ground? To those dull and short-sighted eyes the immediate solution which even the beginnings of the servile state propose are what a declivity is to a piece of brainless matter. The piece of brainless matter rolls down the declivity, and the practical man lollops from capitalism to the servile state with the same inevitable ease.

He knows nothing of a society in which free men were once owners, nor of the cooperative and instinctive institutions for the protection of ownership which such a society spontaneously breeds. He "takes the world as he finds it" — and the consequence is that whereas men of greater capacity may admit with different degrees of reluctance the general principles of the servile state, he, the practical man, positively gloats on every new detail in the building up of that form of society. And the destruction of freedom by inches (though he does not see it to be the destruction of freedom) is the one panacea so obvious that he marvels at the doctrinaires who resist or suspect the process.

No comments: