Sunday, May 07, 2006

Chesterton's Uncanny Predictions

John Peterson has collected a bunch of these, and I'll post them from time to time. Here is one that is timely:

Preliminary: From Frank Sheed's "Compilers Note," The End of the Armistice (1940)

"A word of explanation is needed as to how this book came to be. I was reading through a mass of Chesterton essays with the idea of selecting enough of them to make a book rather like The Thing. But I had not been reading long before I realised that, as far back as the middle twenties and continuously up to his death in 1936, his mind had been dominated by the present war. It is scarcely too much to say that he took it for granted as a simple fact of future history. That is to say he saw it not as possible, nor as probable, but as a thing already on the way and humanly speaking, certain to arrive. He saw how it would arrive. Germany would attack Poland; he saw closer still, that Germany would do so in agreement with Russia.

"Now when a man is as right as that in his forecasts, there is some reason to think he may be right in his premises. That is why I have sorted out and arranged these essays as his analysis of the whole problem of Germany in Europe."

1926. "It is infinitely more likely at this moment that wars will be waged for the possession of oil-fields than it ever was that they would be waged for the possession of hop-fields. It is much more likely that a million men will die because there is oil in Mexico or Mesopotamia than that even a hundred will ever die because there are vineyards in Burgundy or orchards in Hereford." (Illustrated London News, 5/22/26)


  1. By way of a shameless plug, I might add that I have posted a short passage here, in which Chesterton predicts the Internet (or something like it), and the problems it often creates in people's lives.

  2. There are so many prophetic insights to be found in Chesterton's work; the exaltation of "tolerance theory" that has essentially now become moral relativism, the attack on the common man by big government and big business, and the famous "net result of frivolous divorce will be frivolous marriage" line just to name a few.
    Yet, while it is amazing that GKC can have such insights into the "degrading slavery" of our age, what truly fascinates me about his work is that he goes beyond mere diagnosis. Unlike many modern philosophers, Chesterton does more than bemoan our current state. He provides solutions. The more I read the more I understand.

  3. Welcome to a larger world. :-)


Join our FaceBook fan page today!