He Said That? 7/8/17

From G.K. Chesterton (1874–1936), English writer,  poet, philosopher, dramatist, journalist, orator, lay theologian, biographer, and literary and art critic, Eugenics and Other Evils: An Argument Against the Scientifically Organized State (1922): 

Government has become ungovernable; that is, it cannot leave off governing. Law has become lawless; that is, it cannot see where laws should stop. The chief feature of our time is the meekness of the mob and the madness of the government.


6 responses to “He Said That? 7/8/17

  1. Or, as P. J. O’Rourke put it:

    So when can we quit passing laws and raising taxes? When can we say of our political system, “Stick a fork in it, it’s done?” When will our officers, officials and magistrates realize that their jobs are finished and return, like Cincinnatus, to the plow or, as it were, to the law practice or the car dealership? The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop.
    Parliament of Whores (1991)

    A prime candidate for the SLL Literary Circle, BTW.


    • O’Rourke or Chesterton?


      • Parliament of Whores, specifically. It dates from a period when O’Rourke’s neocon proclivities were nowhere near as pronounced as they unfortunately are nowadays. As for Chesterton, I’ve only read him in short quotations, which give me the impression that he’s a typical religious political conservative, for whom, in general, I have – to cast it in the most charitable light – strictly conditional and selective appreciation. Theology is merely the attempt to turn poetry into science; which may begin with decent poetry but invariably ends as an appalling burlesque of science (after Walter Kaufmann). And that means it is a wholly inadequate defense against the statist collectivists.


        • I think I read Parliament of Whores, long ago, and by and large liked it, although my political philosophy was not as well developed as it is now. My exposure to Chesterton is on par with yours–limited to quotes. This one captured sentiments with which I’m in agreement. As for the union of religion and politics under the banner of conservatism, from O’Rourke, Chesterton, or anyone else, count me out. Not only does it provide a “wholly inadequate defense against the statist collectivists,” it gives them cover for coerced alltrustism. Anything that’s good (altruism, supposedly) is even better when it’s enforced by the state. Religious conservatives have been left sputtering.


          • . . . it gives them cover for coerced altruism.
            I have no truck whatsoever with that kind of religious political conservative. There is a better sort, who sincerely desire a (classical) liberal political order, yet utterly fail to comprehend that cultivation of obsequience to a mythical Big Dictator In The Sky is a major enabler of the exaction of obsequience by the all too real Big Dictators On Earth. And, speaking of sputtering conservatives, that is just one reason why Ayn Rand will eventually – one way or another – be proven correct: religion is not a sound foundation for a free society.

            IP727 @July 9, 2017 7:50 pm:
            The technical term for that is “self-licking ice cream cone.” 😉


  2. Government needs to expand, to meet the expanding needs of government.


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