Front Page Titles (by Subject) The Egalitarian State - Literature of Liberty, January/March 1978, vol. 1, No. 1
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The Egalitarian State - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, January/March 1978, vol. 1, No. 1 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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The Egalitarian State
“Introduction” to the Liberty Classics reissue of Hilaire Belloc, The Servile State. Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1977; original edition, 1913.
Hilaire Belloc (1870–1953) was part of the “libertarian Catholic” tradition that had such illustrious nineteenth-century predecessors as Lemennais, Lacordaire, Montalembert, Newman, Manning, and Lord Acton. Belloc's strong personality wedded catholicism to the radicalism of William Cobbett and the French Revolution. He also shared the earlier intellectual humanism of Sir Thomas More whose Utopia describes a form of society advocated in Belloc's classic, The Servile State.
In his 1913 prophetic book, Belloc anticipated and dissected the contours of the emerging egalitarian welfare state which he trenchantly labels the “Servile State”:
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.
Indeed, in the 60-odd years since the publication of The Servile State the liberty of the individual has suffered continuous erosion. Two world wars intervened with their collectivizing of nations and the trends towards totalitarianism and bureaucratic centralism, which divided people into two castes: workers and drones.
Increasingly, more families and individuals in the United States and the West are harnessed to a semiservile status. This servile caste is legally constrained (through the progressive income tax and other requirements) to labor, not for themselves, but “for the advantage of other families.”
Historically, Belloc celebrated the Middle Ages as the abolition of slavery and servile status. It brought the only remedy he saw for the inroads of servility: wide distribution of individual property-tenure to promote economic independence. He saw the Reformation as a backward step politically, economically, and socially, which unleased personal economic insecurity and modern despotism. The propertyless masses, helpless and dependent, were ripe for paternalism and lent a willing ear to the seductions of socialism and the servile state.
Belloc's and G.K. Chesterton's solution to the servile state was their economic-political doctrine of “distributivism.” This prescribed that everyone should own property, be self-supporting, and, since independence, would be immune to government promises. Such freeman would have no need to abandon individual freedom in the name of welfare paternalism.