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The Crisis of Civilization [Paperback]

By Hilaire Belloc (Author), Belloc (Author) & H. Belloc (Author)
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Item description for The Crisis of Civilization by Hilaire Belloc, Belloc & H. Belloc...

Here the great Belloc shows that ever since the disaster of the Protestant Reformation, Western civilization (which was formed by the Catholic Faith) has been coming apart--since Calvinism opened the door to usury, unbridled competition, the domination of the mind by money, and ultimately the return of slavery. Belloc says our 2 choices are a return to Catholicism or chaos! Essential for anyone who would understand our world today!

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Item Specifications...

Studio: TAN Books and Publishers
Pages   208
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 8"
Weight:   0.65 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 3, 1992
Publisher   T A N Books & Publishers
Edition  Revised  
ISBN  0895554623  
ISBN13  9780895554628  

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More About Hilaire Belloc, Belloc & H. Belloc

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Hilaire Belloc was born at St. Cloud, France, in 1870. He and his family moved to England upon his father s death, where he took first-class honors in history at Balliol College in Oxford, graduating in 1895. It has been stated that his desire was to rewrite the Catholic history of both France and England. He wrote hundreds of books on the subjects of history, economics, and military science, as well as novels and poetry. His works include The Great Heresies, Europe and the Faith, Survivals and New Arrivals, The Path to Rome, Characters of the Reformation, and How the Reformation Happened.

Hilaire Belloc was born in 1870 and died in 1953.

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1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Crisis of Civilization?

Why Manners and Ultimate Values Are Important  Sep 2, 2006
Hilaire Belloc's book titled THE CRISIS OF CIVILIZATION was published in 1937. Belloc lived through World War I, the Bolshevik Revolution and its aftermath, and saw the rise of the National Socialists in Germany. Belloc knew there were terrible disruptions in Western Civilization, and he was aware of the terrible effects of the Great Depression. Belloc argued that these catastrophies were due mostly to the Reformation and the decline of Catholic influences.

Belloc begins this study with a comparison of men and women during Ancient Hitory (Ancient Greek and Roman History)with those people who lived during the Dark Ages and Medieval Europe. Belloc makes a convincing case that the European serf during the Dark Ages and Middle Ages had significantly more status than slaves. Serfs had access to land from which they could not be removed, and these people had rights to this land. While serfs had feudal obligations to lords, the lords in turn had obligations to these serfs and were under legal obligation to respect the rights of these serfs.

Belloc also makes the case that the Medieval serfs gradually became free peasants and farmers. Belloc is on solid ground here. There are Medieval records of the serfs becoming free men ( and women). These people owned land, made contracts, supervised businesses, etc. In other words, there was social mobility for these people. Obviously, 21st. century men and women would not accept this conditions, but, as Belloc states several times in his books, one commits a blunder of "reading history backwards."

Belloc also undermines the popular history and media distortions that the Catholic Middle Ages were an age of total superstition and ignorance. The gradual rise of Medieval universities and the brilliant of such great men as St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) undermine such popular distortions. Readers should note the Medieval Europeans witnessed such technical advances as the pendulum, the mechanical clock, Gothic architecture, studies in advanced mathematics, etc.

Given living conditions during the Medieval Era, Europeans were prosperous compared to non-European and non-Catholic areas of the world. Belloc makes this very clear. Demographic studies indicate that Western Europe's popularion in the year was approximately 20 million people. By 1350, just before the Black Death hit Europe, Europe's population was approximatly 40 million people. This increase reflected improved living standards and longer life spans due to gradual increases in living standards.

Belloc carefully diagnoses the Reformation and its effects. Belloc argues that the Reformation underminded Catholic social and moral codes. The Catholic social order and economic thinking limited greed and the dispossesion of the poor. The Catholic guilds had rules and regulations that controlled workmanship and restrained monopoly. The Catholic authorities were that selling at a loss to ruin a smaller enterprise was wrong. Yet, the Reformation which was influenced by the greed of the powerful to loot the wealth of the Catholic Church undermined this moral code. Belloc makes clear that many of the Protestants believed that their wealth and greed were actually signs of God's favor, and the philosophical and spiritual values of the Catholic moral code was undermined by the emphasis on materialism and the outer limits of greed. Free peasants and small businessmen were gradually ruined. One should note that the English did not Poor Laws and poor houses until during and after the Reformation.

Belloc traces this materialism to the late 19th and 20th century. He reflects that the rise of socialist parties and the emergence of Big Communism were based on materialistic thinking. The gradual creation of a proletariat was dangerous of large numbers of working or unemployed poor became politiclly motivated. Belloc warns that such a proletariat would rather ruin civilization than live in terrible conditions for the benefit of the very wealthy.

Belloc mentions that Big Capitalism could not exist forever without some economic catastrophy. The Great Depression may have vindicated Belloc's assertion. Belloc was certainly of the Great Depression as this historical period occured during his life time.

Belloc makes several criticisms, but he has suggestions for the restoration of civilization. Belloc argues that Catholic social teaching and the guild system can restore property to the proletariat. He has a good case against usury which he defines as the issuing or lending of money just for the sake of circulation rather than for economic development. In an age of government sponsored and controlled central banks, the problem emerges when these bankers issue currency for circulation and charge interest to the member banks and ultimately everyone else.On the other hand, Belloc agrees that lenders should share in profits for lending funds for economic development such as industry, business, minning,etc. Such creditors share both the risks and rewards for such activities, and Belloc does not consider this usury.

One minor criticism of Belloc's book is that he should have given a more precise explantion of central banking as opposed to free banking. Belloc's suggestion of returning to the Catholic guild system may be too idealistic, but he makes a useful suggestion to avoid or mitigate economic catastrophy. In spite of such minor criticism, Belloc's THE CRISIS OF CIVILIZATION is thoughtful and worth reading for both Catholics and non-Catholics.
Learn some history - elsewhere  Aug 11, 2005
Do you people even have a clue what you are talking about?

Go and study some actual history instead of this tainted rubbish, and learn what actually happened.

Too many corrections to make to even begin.
Tremendous!  Apr 3, 2005
Long have I searched for an excellent and readable overview of the history of Western Civilization. In Belloc's tremendous work, I have found it. This is doubtless the greatest and most important broad overview of the Western Civilization I have ever encountered. Belloc herein argures that Christianity changed the foundation of the Graeco-Roman Empire from slavery to Faith. He further postulates that the Reformation was a terrible catastrophe in its resultant disintegration of unified Christendom. Belloc argues that Judeo-masonic communism and Judeo-protestant capitalism are the forces that undermine the future of civilization. This work is awesome, prophetic, and uniquely insightful. It is also tremedously well written. Indeed, reading Belloc is like having a conversation with a learned and wise old friend. You savor each word, and don't want the converstation to end. This is a great book!

Addendum 03-Apr-06

I have had occassion this past weekend to reread this very important book. In the interim, I had read on the order of twenty of Belloc's other titles, the four volumes extant of Warren Carroll's history of Christendom, several of William Thomas Walsh's great works, and a smattering of Dennis Fahey, Nesta Webster, and Gordon Craig Alexander, among others. What the latter intensive reading has demonstrated is the amazing wisdom contained in this short, but terribly imporant book.

Belloc completed this book in the late 1930's, near the conclusion of his amazing literary career. He then wrote at a time when FDR's New Deal Socialism controlled the United States, Hitler's national socialism directed Germany, which Belloc still called Prussia, and Stalin's scientific socialism ran the Soviet Union. What the programs of all three despots had in common, of course, was socialism. And it was this evil in all of its various disguises that Belloc here inveighed against. Of course, a greater crisis soon ensured, the tragedy of World War II, ended by the unspeakable horror of nuclear immolation of Japan's most Catholic city, Nagasaki. Yet the words of Belloc still ring true, even in this dawning decade of the 21st century. Without a societal return to the Faith, we are certainly doomed to serfdom, and possibly much worse. Read this wonderful and beautifully written masterpiece, and be well informed and richly blessed by the process. God bless.
Finally, a Right Wing Attack on Capitalism.  Nov 27, 2003
Hillaire Belloc's _The Crisis of Civilization_ is a reactionary polemic against runaway capitalist greed and the subsequent demands of international communism first published in 1937. The tone of this book is probably treasonous to many Amercans because of the disparaging comments about Capitalism and free-market economies. Belloc traces the history of Western Civilization from the rise of the Roman Empire to the state of the world in the twentieth century. The Roman Empire, which largely took on the philosophical initiative of the Greeks, was possessed of great organizational strength. However, the Roman Empire's prosperous economy was based on slavery and an overwhelming sense of despair prevailed. This was the setting where Christianity arrived to take center stage. Belloc describes the early Catholic Church much the say way as today's liberal historians: as an oriental mystery cult with a anthropomorphic God who died and rose again. The difference between the other mystery religions and the Christian Church was that the Church took the Death and Resurrection of Chirst as a literal truth rather than as a symbol standing for something else. Later theological and philosophical thought became more and more definite and less speculative as Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Belloc then goes on to describe the assault that the rise of Islam carried out on the Christian areas of the eastern Roman Empire under Constantinople. Europe would have become Muslim if Western Europe had not defeated Islam at Tours and later launched the Crusades which temporarily delivered the Holy Land back into Christian hands. Belloc regrets the subsequent schism between the Roman Church and the Eastern Church based in Constantinople. Feudalism was the form of government in Medieval Europe, where one's position was based upon status and hierarchical rank. Under this system, the peasantry gradually became more and more economically independent either as agricultural workers or small-business artisans. The guild system set up provided economic security to its members although it did not attempt to make everyone "equal." Competition was limited so that underselling from competitors did not swamp the lesser members of the guild out. This was so that monopolies could not be formed. Usury, the taking of interest on non-productive loans, was viewed as a sin and forbidden by Church law among Christians. Belloc does not idealize Medieval Europe, however. He relates how the Catholic Church became a "religious reign of terror" in the late middle ages. The Church had lost much of its moral authority because of the massive amount of material wealth it had accrued, particularly its extensive land holdings. The Church thus had to maintain its control by brute force. If a government has moral authority and goes in accord with human nature it does not have to resort to arbitrary tyranny to keep the peace. In some cases of heresy, the harsh retributions carried out reflected popular outrage at someone who would act destructively towards the Christian unity of society. Belloc likens these instances of rooting out heresy to the lynchings carried out in the South where law enforcement was not functioning properly. The Protestant Reformation, initiated by Luther against some Catholic practices, utterly destroyed the Catholic Christian unity of Western Europe. The result was a multitude of varying denominations all claiming to be possessed of the true faith but were rather groups following their own wills based on either personal ahistorical misinterpretations of the Bible or political agendas behind splits with the Catholic Church. King Henry VIII lined the English nobility's pockets when he broke from Rome and looted England's monasteries. Calvinism in particular was especially dangerous to the Catholic Church as it had the most complete system of theology, a well organized structure, and an international appeal. The chief errors of Calvinism were that it culminated in the belief that God's universe was mechanistic and deprived man of free will in matters of right and wrong. It denied that the Eucharist was the literal Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, a dogma held by the Church from the beginning. After the Reformation, Capitalism began to arise. The traditional restraints placed upon usury were also removed. Capitalism and the Proletariat came with a vengeance in the 19th century. Industrialization produced nations of sweltering slums. Small businesses were unable to compete with massive conglomerates. Wealth became controlled by the few and the majority of the people were, in Marxist terminology, "wage slaves." Communism, as Belloc notes, was the natural reaction of despair to Capitalist exploitation. Communism was doomed to fail because it was only the bastard child of Capitalism and its idea of a man totally shaped by his economic circumstances goes against the organic and occasionally irrational nature of humanity. The dangers of radical leftism are well known. The French Revolution attacked the Catholic clergy in France as being "counter-revolutionary." The Russian Revolution savaged the Orthodox Church, trying to completely divorce Russia from her spiritual tradition. At the time _Crisis of Civilization_ was first published the Spanish Civil War was raging. In this case the counter-revolutionary forces of Francisco Franco aided by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany was successful against leftist insurgents by adopting their tactics. Belloc concludes that a return to the guild system, a decentralized, non-competitive economy backed by law might have a chance at reversing the decay of society. This would not create any type of utopia on earth, but it would grant greater economic freedom with more people running their own businesses and a greater distribution of private property. Belloc notes that the problem with this system (which has been labeled "distributivism"), is that it presupposes the Christian faith as a basis for society and a prohibition against usury for it to be implemented. This book will definitely be of interest to those who are seeking a "third way" between neo-conservative/classical liberal capitalism (the Republicans) on one hand and the socialist left (the Democrats) on the other.
The Crisis of Civilization.  Oct 27, 2003
_The Crisis of Civilization_ consists of lectures delivered by Catholic intellectual and historian, Hilaire Belloc, at Fordham University in 1937. The book is radical in that it advocates Belloc's unique economic system which he was to christen "distributivism" in his book _The Servile State_ which amounts to a return to the medieval guild system, as well as a curtailment of capitalism, monopoly, and usury, a restoration of property, and a return of Europe to the Roman Catholic Faith. For Belloc, the Faith (by this he always means the faith of Roman Catholicism) was central to the development of Western civilization, and with the Reformation and the splitting of Christendom a great loss occurred for Western civilization. The first chapter of this book deals with "The Foundation of Christendom" and shows how Christianity spread throughout Europe by operating through corporate cells (much as the communist revolutionaries operate), which consisted of Ekklesia - the familiar hierarchy of deacon, priest, and bishop, all united under the Western Patriarch, the heir to Saint Peter, the Pope. According to Belloc, it was Christianity which made possible the rise of the pagan slave to the level of serfdom, which involved ownership of property while living on the manor of a lord. With the collapse of the Roman empire, the medieval society was born, and it was this society which involved widespread ownership of the means of production, privately owned. However, a crisis occurred in medieval society brought about by heresy and a rising anti-clerical tide which resulted in the questioning of hierarchy and authority, the denial of the validity of the Roman mass, and eventually the Reformation. One heresy that was initially destructive for Christendom was that of the religion of Mohammed, which Europeans did battle against during the Crusades. For Belloc, Calvinism (or in its Catholic form Jansenism, or Gallicanism) was particulary destructive because of its doctrine of predestination. Predestination caused men to look for the Elect among the successful and thus was born a mindset which involved striving to obtain money and wealth in this life as opposed to focussing on the afterlife and the world beyond. This striving for wealth gave birth to competition and with the Industrial Revolution was completed the system of capitalism (based upon competition) which Belloc finds so noxious. Belloc also remarks that it was at this time that traditional emphasis on "status" was replaced by emphasis upon "contract". This emphasis upon contract made it difficult for the proletariat to obtain the benefits of production, reducing them to the level of "wage slaves". In addition, the lending at excessive interest or usury became commonplace in Europe. Nearly all religions have condemned usury, including of course Islam and Roman Catholicism, however when usury was allowed to proliferate the bonds holding society together began to weaken. Belloc unequivocally condemns the usurer keeping to the original teachings of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. Monopoly capitalism gave birth to an entirely new system of oppression, and in opposition to this was developed the ideology of communism (which denied tradition, religion, the existence of God, and the tradition of private ownership of property). Communism was presented as a panacea for the evils of monopoly capitalism; however, as Belloc believes it is a truly wicked doctrine attempting to rise up against tradition and overthrow society. Belloc also shows how materialism began to flourish through the doctrines of both Karl Marx and Charles Darwin in the nineteenth century. Instead of the communistic solution, Belloc offers a unique alternative to restore widespread ownership of property as well as to curtail the evils of monopoly and usury. Belloc writes, "First, the better distribution of property; secondly, the public control of monopolies; thirdly, the re-establishment of those principles and that organization which underlay the conception of the guild." Indeed, the widespread ownership of property and the means of production is for Belloc to be made possible by the establishment of a guild system (based on the medieval guild system) which will curtail the effects of monopolies from buying out the small business owner. Of course, such a system will only be made possible with the return of Europe to the Faith. Belloc ends the book with a discussion of the need for a Roman Catholic presentation of history, against the many Protestant and anti-Catholic historians (for example, Gibbon and Mommsen). He also notes the need for a Roman Catholic newsletter and system of education. The system presented here by Belloc is consistent with the teaching of the Roman Pontiffs. In particular, the encyclical _Rerum Novarum_ issued by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 calls for a society which would look much the same as that advocated by Belloc along with a corporativist state. The traditional teachings of the church and of such scholastics as Saint Thomas Aquinas on the free market and the "just wage theory" as well as the condemnation of communism by the papacy also play an important role in the thinking of Belloc.

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