The New Servile State

One of the principal tenets of Fabian socialism is that human labor is the sole factor of production.  Land and technology only enhance human labor.  Land is either a “cost-free” factor of production, or not a factor at all, since human beings did not create it.  Technology is accumulated or congealed human labor.

Anything in excess of the cost of capital in terms of human labor returned to the landlord or capitalist as profit is surplus value stolen from workers and consumers.  Redistribution, except in the case of actual inability to work, is an expedient until people can work at a wage system job.

With human labor the only means of production, and therefore of gaining income, the Fabian program includes a demand for “full employment.”  Any activity not directly productive (i.e., that does not provide marketable goods and services) should be eliminated.

People must work for what they get, no exceptions, with “work” defined as direct production of goods and services.  Management and support, e.g., accountants and salesmen, are drones.  Hopefully engaging in hyperbole to make a point, Fabian George Bernard Shaw declared that anyone who does not work for his or her income should be killed.

 

Advancing technology displaces human labor and lowers the value of human labor relative to technology. It becomes virtually impossible for workers to support families at market rates of labor alone.

 

With the ascendency of the Fabian philosophy, fundamental changes took place in society.  Women were first encouraged, then virtually required to take wage system jobs.  Child rearing was better left to professionals who would not make the mistakes of amateur parents.  Education became job training.  Government agencies replaced the family and organized religion, as the State was better able to provide social services.

The State became, in the phrase of totalitarian philosopher Thomas Hobbes, a “Mortal God.”  All should be dependent on the State for every want and need, imposing a condition of servility on everyone.

G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc knew the only alternative to the Servile State was widespread capital ownership.  Observing the direction the Fabian program must take, the Chesterbelloc alerted people to what was going on.  In particular, Belloc published The Servile State in 1912, advocating “distributism,” a policy of widespread capital ownership, with a preference for small, family-owned farms and artisan workshops.

The Fabians and the Chesterbelloc made a critical mistake, however.  Where the goal of the Servile State a century ago was to force people into wage system jobs to impose control, the overriding concern of today’s New Servile State is create enough jobs to maintain that control.

 

Jobs disappear at an accelerating rate. The only solution to this dilemma is for “as many as possible of the people to become owners.”

 

This is because advancing technology displaces human labor and lowers the value of human labor relative to technology.  It becomes virtually impossible for workers to support families at market rates of labor alone.  This forces more family members to work, and justifies minimum wage laws, family allowances, government old age pensions, etc.

Such measures, however, increase costs to producers and raise the price level.  Governments, unable to finance social welfare out of tax revenues, issue money backed with their own debt and manipulate its value to meet increased levels of expenditure.  This, in turn, inflates the currency and forces additional increases in wages and benefits, making labor-displacing technology or the transfer of jobs to lower cost areas more financially feasible.  Jobs disappear at an accelerating rate.

The only solution to this dilemma is for “as many as possible of the people to become owners.”  This has the double advantage of generating adequate income and returning power to people.

As the wealth and income gap increases, and the presumed economic recovery continues to benefit relatively few people, an aggressive program of expanded capital ownership becomes imperative.  World leaders should give the “Capital Homesteading” proposal of the Center for Economic and Social Justice serious consideration.

 

Michael D. Greaney is Director of Research at the Centre for Economic and Social Justice. He published recently “So Much Generosity” and “Political Animal”.