Hillaire Belloc Online Course

Catholic Homeschooling High School: Hillaire Belloc

Hilaire Belloc was one of the most important English-language Catholic writers of the early 20th century. Belloc’s impressive output includes treatises on history, economics, and politics. Together with his friend G.K. Chesterton, Belloc was a bulwark of traditional Catholic sensibility in the face of the new ideologies sweeping across Europe in his day. Many of his works, such as Characters of the Reformation, The Crisis of Civilization, and The Crusades, remain popular among Catholic audiences today.

We are happy to announce the recent addition of a high school literature course focusing on Belloc’s 1912 masterpiece The Servile State. Taught by Mr. Phillip Campbell, this ten-session course will take the student on a deep dive into the historical and economic theories of Belloc. Written to address the appalling poverty of Industrial England in the early 20th century, The Servile State weaves a poignant argument that the excesses of industrial Capitalism (as well as the attempts to remedy them through collectivist Socialism) will lead ultimately to the reintroduction of legalized slavery, what Belloc calls the Servile State. In a time when our own political and economic institutions seem to be cracking under considerable pressures, it is an ideal moment to revisit Belloc’s theories and consider their import for our own day.

Phillip Campbell of course usually teaches history, not literature, but Belloc’s books tend to fill an interesting niche where history, economics, religion, and politics all overlap. Mr. Campbell’s commentary on The Servile State follows this eclectic approach, considering the book from an historical as well as an economic perspective. Mr. Campbell recommends the course for students in 11th-12th grade.

Here is the weekly breakdown of the course content:

Week 1: Introduction of the Book and Core Concepts
Week 2: Defining Belloc’s Terms
Week 3: Slavery as the Foundational Institution of Pagan Europe
Week 4: How Christianity Abolished Slavery
Week 5: England’s Transition to Capitalism
Week 6: Belloc’s Theory of Inherently Unstable Capitalism
Week 7: Socialism, Property, or Slavery
Week 8: The Aims of Reformers
Week 9: Towards a Servile State
Week 10: Observations and Critiques of Belloc’s Thought

Since the course is 10 weeks, if you want to combine it with something else to get a fuller semester, there are a few options. You can combine it with Chuck Chalberg’s course on G.K. Chesterton’s What’s Wrong With the World? for a very enriching 16 weeks study of the thought of Belloc and Chesterton on social and economic questions. Alternately, since The Servile State is ultimately an economic work, you could count is as an economic course and pair it with Phillip Campbell’s Introduction to Catholic Social Teaching for 14 weeks of econ focused content.

Click here to sign up for Unlimited Access (recorded, independent-learning courses)
Click here for the Moodle page for Phillip Campbell’s The Servile State (make sure you are logged in to Moodle)

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