Item description for The Party System by Hilaire Belloc, Cecil Chesterton, Sforza Ruspoli & Ron Paul...
Pertinent to America, Britain, and other Western democracies, this book explains that what people believe happens in national assemblies and parliaments is radically different from the reality. Instead of being places where debate is intense, passionate, and aimed at the national interest, the fact is most members of these institutions act on behalf of powerful, unelected interests. They know, implicitly, who really runs the country—and their only real task is to decide if they want to try and rock the boat (thereby risking their salary, their reputation, their future), or stay silent for fear or favor. The book demonstrates beyond any doubt that the very nature of the system is hostile to democracy as laypeople understand it.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 0.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.5" Weight: 0.46 lbs.
Release Date Mar 1, 2008
Publisher Ihs Press
ISBN 1932528113 ISBN13 9781932528114
Availability 0 units.
More About Hilaire Belloc, Cecil Chesterton, Sforza Ruspoli & Ron Paul
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.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Party System?
Amazing Man; Amazing Book! Aug 4, 2008
Hilaire Belloc was clearly one of the most amazing intellects in history. Over the course of his amazing literary career, he wrote and had published over 150 books. And many of these are among the best and most important books I have ever read. But, beyond this, Belloc was also, at times, a professional soldier, newspaper man, poet, writer of children's stories, controversialist, apologist, and even an elected member of Parliament! It was this last experience that caused him to write, together with Cecil Chesterton, the younger brother of G.K, this stunning and important book.
Belloc herein describes how the Party System had taken over parliamentary politics within early 20th century England. He avers, and proves, that this Party System served not the needs of the English populace, but rather the interlocking needs of the Elite. And he demonstrates clearly that much of the apparent conflict between the two false "wings" of the Party System was a blatant fraud. In reality, Belloc avers, the Elite were joined together by interests both cultural, familial, and financial. And they secretly worked together much more than they worked against one another.
In reflection, it is truly remarkable how Belloc's description of early 20th century English politics fits today's early 21st century American politics. Here also we have two supposedly opposed parties. Yet we see former Presidents Clinton and Bush sharing many common interests. "Democrat" Joe Lieberman stumps for "republican" John McCain. "Republican" Chuck Hagel is seen as a potential running mate for "democrat" Barack Obama. Impeachment has been declared "off the table" by the "democrat" House leadership. Again, as with early 20th century England, we have in America today, a situation where the conflict between the two "sides" of the Party System is pretty much a total fraud.
This little book is excellent, and well worth the price and time. Those who dearly love Belloc's lilting prose will be a trifle disconcerted, as the narrative, at times, shifts from the hand of Belloc to that Chesterton without warning. That notwithstanding, it is still a wonderful and most noteworthy book. God bless.
The origin of 'The Servile State'? Apr 25, 2008
"...Votes and elections and representative assemblies are not democracy: they are at best machinery for carrying out democracy. Democracy is government by the general will. Whenever, under whatever forms, such laws as the mass of the people desire are passed, and such laws as they dislike are rejected, there is democracy. Wherever, under whatever forms, the laws passed and rejected have no relation to the desires of the mass, there is no democracy." (Hilaire Belloc)
Hilaire Belloc was a one term Liberal Party Member of Parliament from 1906 to 1910. This book, co-written with G.K. Chesterton's journalist brother, Cecil Chesterton, captures Belloc's thoughts on the party system and democracy, written soon after his departure from Parliament. As a book it is something of an intellectual predecessor to his more famous and deeper book "The Servile State". "The Party System" introduces themes Belloc develops more fully in "The Servile State" and provides some clue to their origin. In "The Servile State" Belloc forecasts a future where politically well connected and untouchable super-rich would be in a position to compulsorily exploit the labour and resources of the general population thanks to their control via a regulatory and 'welfare state' (then still under it's earliest stages of construction) . The Servile State represented a bastardization of capitalism and socialism. Perhaps, as "The Party System" illustrates, his fears may have been emerged from close observation of the revelation of the role Cecil Rhodes and othe South African magnates played in provoking the Boer War and in engineering subsequent immigration legislation to promote their business interests. These revelations, however thorough and well documented, failed to derail these vested interests and no wave of reform followed in the wake of exposure. The front benches of both major British parties closed ranks to protect Rhodes.
Belloc sees our challenge as "to make democracy, democratic". In his analysis the Party System, at least as constituted in Britain at his time, as a major obstacle to genuine democracy. Belloc sees the two major parties dominated by twin interlocked and interconnected, self selected and self recruiting oligarchies. Essentially these oligarchies are the governing class, they dominate parliamentary process, essentially reducing 'elected representatives' to a network of placemen beholden more to their oligarchs than the electorate. Executive dominance over parliament, to Belloc, is the death of democracy. It's independents and independent minded parliamentarians who give vigor to the democratic process. Parliament wasn't always a rubber stamp to a dominant executive, as Belloc reminds us.
"If we take the year 1870 as the pivot year, we shall find that in the forty years that preceded 1870, nine Administrations which could normally command a majority of the Commons were upset by the independent action of members of that House. In the forty years that have passed since 1870 only one instance of this happening can be mentioned - the defeat of Mr Gladstone's Home Rule Bill of 1886. There the circumstances were in many ways exceptional, and even that example is now nearly a quarter of a century old. In the last twenty-four years not a single case of such independent action on the part of the Commons has occurred."
Belloc argues that the 'democratising' effects of the extension of the franchise throughout the 19th century was offset by the counterveiling force of the growth of the Party system, and the "transfer of effective power from the House of Commons to the Ministry, or, to speak more accurately, to the two Front Benches, Government and "Opposition."" His historical discussion in "The Party System" of the Revolution of 1689 feeds his distributist critique of British "capitalism" detailed in "The Servile State" and other volumes.
"The Revolution was made not only by but for a group of wealthy intriguers with an object in the main financial.That group of men and their successors proceeded to enrich themselves at the public expense in every conceivable way. Perhaps the best commentary upon the Revolution of 1689 is to be found in the enclosure during the century and a half which followed the accession of the House of Hanover of more than 6,000,000 acres of common land by the rich landowners and their satellites who had drawn the sword for "civil and religious liberty.""
Belloc knew all political systems, including monarchy, depended on some degree of popular assent. Modern "democracies" pretentiously and tendentiously claim this honour as their's alone. Belloc still wanted "to make democracy democratic". He wanted parliament to live up to it's representative role. He noted the lack of an alternative institution to replace the executive dominated parliament of his day and saw the failure of reform as having consequences in terms of a predicted decline in British power both internationally and economically. This is another of Belloc's predictions to have come true, and indeed, if anything the system is even more executive dominated, and in Belloc's terms, less democratic today. Although Belloc had no illusions about the then young Labour Party, it's rise did have a consequence that Belloc didn't predict. Belloc saw the old Conservative / Liberal oligarchies of his day as too intertwined and inter-related, often by family connections, to represent genuinely competitive alternatives. Indeed he saw the old aristocratic divisions between Tories and Whigs as a more genuine political division and competition. The rise of Labour may have counteracted this tendency of intermarriage and collusion between allegedly rival Front Benches. Or at least it may have provided a temporary respite, today the social and class origins of the respective Front Benches are tending to converge yet again.
In Australia, another parliamentary "democracy", with a system influenced heavily by the British model, a much touted summit, stacked with high profile business and arts 'celebrities' supposedly to generate new ideas for the government of Australia from now to 2020 has recently been finalised. The great brainstorming session only managed to dredge up the same ideas, ...a republic, a bill of rights..., that have been doing the rounds for the last forty years. Yet in "The Party System" Belloc considers radical alternatives such as replacing ministerial responsibility with elective multi-party committees to replace the old Ministers. There is no contest as to whether Belloc or the combined forces of the great thinkfest actually applied the most thought.
Belloc's writing style is not always the easiest to follow and sometimes he seems to take a long time to get to his point. But what a point it is. Recommended for students of Belloc and as a thought provoker for those concerned about modern democracy's undemocracy. It's interesting to note that when Vice President Cheney was recently asked about polls that indicated the American public's opposition to the Iraq War, his reply was one word. "So?" It would be interesting to envision Belloc's reaction were he alive today.