Saturday, July 25, 2020

A most imperfect apologist …

….   Hilaire Belloc – a cautionary tale. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)
The book that expounds his political outlook most succinctly is The Servile State (1912), an application of the principles of Leo XIII and Cardinal Manning, which foretold the world scene of the 1920s and 1930s with remarkable insight. Faced by the instability of the capitalist system and the social injustices it inevitably produced, he foresaw only three possible solutions: collectivism, the experiment that would be tried in Soviet Russia with catastrophic effect; distributism, “in which the mass of citizens should severally own the means of production”; or what he called “the servile state”, which is really what we live in today. The twentieth century saw a number of heroic attempts to put the ideas of this great book into practice. Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement in the United States springs at once to mind.
I remember seeing Belloc’s obituary in the newspaper. I was still in grade school, but if you went to a Catholic grade school, you knew of his poetry, especially the poems about Our Lady. His anti-semitism is inexcusable, of course, but as Somerset Maugham noted, men are not of a piece. The same man can in many ways quite admirable, while in others appalling. 

1 comment:

  1. “As we approach Belloc Night (27th July in Sussex) — when grown men in the environs of King’s Land at Shipley, eat bread, pickles, and cheese, and recite verses from the Cautionary Tales to their children — we are reminded of his sesquicentennial. For on Monday he turns one hundred and fifty; having been dead for only sixty-seven of them.”