Part 5 of
Allan C. Carlson's
"The Natural Family
Where It Belongs"
(a book review)

Dateline: 15 February 2014

I am reviewing Allan C. Carlson’s new book, The Natural Family Where It Belongs: New Agrarian Essays (Click Here if you would like to begin with Part 1 of this series). 

Chapter 4 of the book is titled, Hilaire Belloc’s Servile State. Hilaire Belloc wrote The Servile State in 1912. Of Belloc, Allan Carlson writes...

"Belloc... saw Europe’s High Middle Ages (circa A.D. 1250) as the era when human society embodied moral virtue, good order, and social justice; and they saw philosophical nominalism, scientific logic, and capitalism (properly defined) as the modern enemies of the good society.”
Belloc insisted that the critical parts, or cells, of this good society were productive families, secure in their property. The whole objective of his political economy was to break down the corruptions of modern capitalism and socialism, and re-establish families in working homes set on land in freehold tenure. His models were the artisans and the free peasants of the High Middle Ages, a community held together by the Christian church and a religiously infused aristocracy attentive to its duties. To be understood The Servile State must be read through this lens, one rarely used by Tea Party enthusiasts or talk-show pundits."

The rest of the chapter continues this line of discussion and introduces Belloc’s “distributist alternative.” Distributism is a common theme in Allan Carlson’s political and agrarian writings. Distributism is not capitalism and it is not socialism. It is what’s often referred to as the “third way.” It is an economic system worth understanding. Carlson ends the chapter....

“From Aristotle to Thomas Jefferson to contemporary writers such as Wendell Berry, the linkage of property ownership and a vital home economy to true liberty and security has endured as a basic political vision. Whereas raw capitalism ends up in an unholy alliance with collectivism known as the Servile State, the distributism of Hilaire Belloc would deliver an economy fit for families. Far from being a reactionary medievalist, Belloc may actually represent the most prescient of analysts and guides to a sustainable and child-rich future.”

I find that paragraph mighty compelling.


Chapter 5 of the book is titled, Bard of the Wapsipinicon: Jay G. Sigmund. It is a biography and introduction to the poetry and prose of a largely forgotten man from Iowa. 

I really bogged down in reading this chapter. I wanted to understand the importance of Jay G. Sigmund and his literary work, but I just couldn’t connect with it. My mind wandered as I read, like it tends to do when I’m sitting through a lackluster Sunday sermon. 

That said, I will freely admit that I am totally unrefined when it comes to most poetry. If you have a mind and a love of the art, I suspect that you will really appreciate learning about Jay G. Sigmund.


Click Here to read part 6 of this book review.

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