Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Someone's excited about Scott Brown

G. K. Chesterton once said, “the need here is a need of complete freedom for restoration, as well as revolution.” Restoration and revolution—America has need for both.

“We the people” must restore the sacrosanct status of the Constitution; God’s place of honor in our Government and culture, and respect for the sanctity of life. There is much that has been lost; there is much to be restored.

There is also a revolution to be tended, stoked, and guided. Thomas Jefferson, author of The Declaration of Independence, was of the opinion that “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” America clearly has its tyrants, and now that the patriots have awakened, perhaps it is time to refresh that “tree of liberty.”
Read the whole article here.


  1. And that quote is from our centennial What's Wrong With the World too! I think the context is well worth your consideration:

    This is, first and foremost, what I mean by the narrowness of the new ideas, the limiting effect of the future. Our modern prophetic idealism is narrow because it has undergone a persistent process of elimination. We must ask for new things because we are not allowed to ask for old things. The whole position is based on this idea that we have got all the good that can be got out of the ideas of the past. But we have not got all the good out of them, perhaps at this moment not any of the good out of them. And the need here is a need of complete freedom for restoration as well as revolution.
    We often read nowadays of the valor or audacity with which some rebel attacks a hoary tyranny or an antiquated superstition. There is not really any courage at all in attacking hoary or antiquated things, any more than in offering to fight one's grandmother. The really courageous man is he who defies tyrannies young as the morning and superstitions fresh as the first flowers. The only true free-thinker is he whose intellect is as much free from the future as from the past. He cares as little for what will be as for what has been; he cares only for what ought to be. And for my present purpose I specially insist on this abstract independence. if I am to discuss what is wrong, one of the first things that are wrong is this: the deep and silent modern assumption that past things have become impossible. There is one metaphor of which the moderns are very fond; they are always saying, "You can't put the clock back." The simple and obvious answer is "You can." A clock, being a piece of human construction, can be restored by the human finger to any figure or hour. In the same way society, being a piece of human construction, can be reconstructed upon any plan that has ever existed.
    [GKC WWWTW CW4:56-7, emphasis added]

  2. Excellent, Dr.T. I think the context makes it every MORE relevant to the situation of this culture, this government.

  3. Please excuse the alliteration, but it's sad to see GKC used as a blimp for the promotion of partisan political propaganda.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. A GKC reader asking us to excuse an alliteration is funny. Read the beginning of the well and the shallows. I think it's "in defense of bufoonery." Also, it's funny that you use the term "blimp." I think he would have gotten a kick out of that one.

    But as to your point... What propaganda are you talking about?

  6. Samantha

    To me the article constitutes propaganda in the sense of presenting a biased, tub-thumping, chest-beating, triumphalist view of a certain event in US politics.

    It's possible that, hailing from the small world outside the US, I'm unaccustomed to quite this concentration of stridency. To me it appears congested with rhetoric, and rather ugly. I see no influence or understanding of Chesterton, just an expedient appropriation of his words.

    GKC appears to be have been quoted merely to support a seemingly dubious buzz-phrase: "America’s Second Revolution", and in this context risks being interpreted as his having made an unqualified recommendation for restoration and revolution rather than, as I understand his intention, that neither of the two should be disregarded as a course of action or necessarily considered incompatible.

    I can understand the interest of identifying GKC's appearances in contemporary media but wonder whether the blog (which I enjoy very much) would be well served if this was employed to promote a party political agenda.

  7. I don't know whether to agree with Anonymous or not. I admire America for having a genuinely partisan politics, where there seems to be true philosophical differences between the parties. But I agree with him about the "concentration of stridency". The culture wars in America seem to have dragged everything into their vortex, so that one is afraid to speak even tentatively in favour of social health care or gun control at the risk of seeming a pinko enemy of freedom.

    On the other hand, I see nothing at all wrong with being biased, tub-thumping or chest-beating. I think one could fairly attribute all those characteristics to GKC!

  8. I agree with the "concentration of stridency" comments. I wrote a letter to the editor that was simply intended to alert people to the existence of the Manhattan Declaration. Wow! There were about 21 on line comments regarding my letter. All but one accused Christians of being intolerant. On the positive side, I did discover that some folks that read the letter asked their priest about the Declaration and then they discussed the Declaration in their RCIA class.

  9. I don't see why it would be sad to see the use of Chesterton to promote an ideology that he supported. Maybe I just don't complete understand your point though...

    Yours truly,


  10. Please list where the article promotes an ideology that Chesterton supported.

  11. Chesterton would have certainly, this is not even up for debate, been against the healthcare bill. This is the biggest issue right now. If you want to argue this, I won't. If you have read Chesterton honestly, there is no way you can honestly say he wouldn't have been against this.

    The ideology he supports is one of a government that supports people rather than controls people and that is what the author is using him to support.

  12. Right, DavyMax, Chesterton would have had a really big problem with a lot of our government, feeling it is intruding too much of its bigness on us. Things which local governments, or maybe state governments could handle are now being taken over by big government, and, as Chesterton rightly saw, that's bad for everyone--which I think we can all see quite plainly.

  13. I wonder what Chesterton would have thought of our current healthcare system. If you want to oppose powerful institutions that have often been more controlling than supportive, take a look at the HMOs.

    I admit that, if I had to bet, I'd bet that Chesterton would oppose the healthcare reform proposal, believing government "tyranny" to be more dangerous than corporate tyranny. I realize that he opposed Lloyd George's compulsory insurance statute. But I don't think we can know for sure what he'd say if he were still alive. Chesterton was, obviously, a keen observer and an original thinker, and I don't think we should presume to say what conclusions he would have drawn from decades more of history.

    If he would have opposed this healthcare plan, what would he have supported? Maybe the co-ops that were floated by some Democrats a few months ago? Or state-run public options with the federal government in a strong subsidiary role? Or would he have thought the relatively modest and pro-corporation proposals put forward by Republicans to be sufficient? It seems unlikely to me that he would have backed that last option--but who knows?

    Personally, what I find galling and a bit sad about the quuoted article is its tendentious oversimplification. Scott Brown is a defender of liberty and his political opponents are defenders of tyranny? Isn't is possible that both sides love liberty but differ on how to achieve it? I think that Chesterton would have thought so.

    And in view of the extreme rhetoric in American politics lately and of activists bringing firearms to protests, I think people should be careful about invoking statements that suggest a possible need for shedding "the blood of patriots and tyrants." I'm going to assume that the writers are peaceful people--but not everyone is. Being inflammatory isn't such a great idea right now.

  14. Brian,

    I think you're right in saying that Chesterton would have had some problems with the status quo. However, I can most certainly say that he would be against the current healthcare bill and that's what the people of Massachusets voted against, along with an array of other issues, but that was the biggest issue, and that was the author's point.

    Also, subsidarity and distributism doesn't equal "everything must be small." That's ridiculous. If anything should be big, must be big, it's an insurance company. You can't have an insurance company that services 10 people or 100 people, it's not viable. Insurance companies work because there are so many people that they insure. The Knights of Columbus has a huge corporation that provides insurance to many many people. They are consistently rated one of the best insurers. I think Chesterton would be a big supporter of their work, even though it's a big orginization.

    "Scott Brown is a defender of liberty and his political opponents are defenders of tyranny? Isn't it possible that both sides love liberty but differ on how to achieve it? I think that Chesterton would have thought so".

    Yea, sure. How are those two statements contradictory? I could love liberty but still be a defender of tyranny because I am ignorant of the tyranny I am defending and don't see it as such. Certainly, throughout history there have been many good-natured people that have been tricked into defending something terrible in the guise of something noble. I don't think that most people that support Obamacare are evil or what to be tyrants. Most of them think that that's what will support liberty and would help a lot of people. This doesn't mean their not defending something that is wrong though. (At least in my opinion)

    "Being inflammatory isn't such a great idea right now."

    I can't disagree more. Being inflammatory is the best thing possible right now. Oh, that more people would be inflamed! Every saint was inflamed and inflammatory. If we aren't go to be inflamed we aren't human. To have passion to have a flame in your heart that yearns for something and desires something better is essential to being a good person and a good Christian. Too many are sleeping in darkness and need a flame lit under their you know what. "et lux in tenebris lucet et tenebrae eam non comprehenderunt."

  15. Davy,

    I'm all for passion, but I don't think we mean the same thing by "inflammatory." Maybe I'm not being blunt enough. I'm trying to say that the article takes a big risk of inciting violence. It's telling readers that this may be time to shed "the blood of tyrants," and its suggesting that there are tyrants at the top of our government. I worry, based on television coverage of town halls and tea parties, that there are a few unstable participants who might take the article's rhetoric not as hyperbole but as a literal, lethal call to action. I think that we--and even the author of the article--can agree that this would be a tragic kind of inflaming.

    Let's inflame a passion for peace. Chesterton could passionately disagree and still be humane, humble and humorous. I think of a statement Maolsheachlann quoted recently on the Irish Chesertonian; "It is a perplexing circumstance that in so many quarrels both sides sincerely accuse each other of the same fault." Chesterton was capable of participating with gusto in those quarrels, yet he was also capable of transcending them and even laughing at them. It's depressing to see him used by a columnist who is being so humourlessly and simplistically strident.

    Of course we can believe that our opponents love liberty but are misled into supporting tyranny. Persoanlly, I think exactly that of working-class republicans who support policies that favor the interests of the moneyed elite over their own interests. I think that they are wrong to do so, but I know that they are well-intentioned. I appreciate that you know that supporters of the health care reform legislation may be well-intentioned. However, I see no such understanding on the part of the CFP columnist, who simply vilifies his opponents as an arrogant elite.

    In the interest of a more harmonious rhetoric, let me strongly agree with you about one thing: it would be ridiculous to think that everything should be be small. You're right that "insurance companies work because there are some many people that they insure"; in fact, you have just stated a principle behind key provisions of the health care legislation (including the mandate as a way of making it financially possible for companies to extend coverage to people with pre-existing coverage, and the "exchange" and high risk pool).

    The problem I see with insurance companies is not that they are too big, and it is not they are run by even evil people; instead, the problem is that these companies are structured on the premise that health care is a commodity, and they are therefore more interested in controlling costs and maximizing profits than in supporting the people.

    And likewise, the main problem that I see with the federal government is not that it too big, but that it is not effective enough in supporting the rights and needs of the people. I see health care reform as an effort to address one part of that problem.

    Chesterton might not agree. I'm not smart enough to project with certainty what he would have thought if he had lived and learned into the Twenty-First Century, and he's not here to tell me what to think--so I'll have to fend for myself. But even if Chesterton would have agreed 100% with the columnist's policies, I believe that the columnist's rhetoric is most unchestertonian.

  16. Good response! Bravo!

    Hmm... what to say? Well, I agree that it's not Chestertonian, but I think it's Bellocian (sp?). Chesterton was a big supporter of Belloc, so I can't say for sure, but I think that Chesterton would have still appreciated the article. Not because it's in the style he writes in, but because of the passion and the rhetoric. I'm willing to admit I may be wrong about that point, but given what he's written about other people who sound similar, I can only assume he would think the same about him. Also, I think that the author is correct in associating liberals with an arrogant elite. Not all of them are, but many of their leaders are and a lot of their base.

    As for the working-class Republicans I agree but with a reservation. In a 2 party system you have 2 choices. I think most working-class people are more well served by Republicans (who support all the evil corporations that give them jobs) than by Liberals, who pretend to fight evil corporations but end up just supporting their own special interests.

    I think we could both agree that most of the "solutions" presented to us are quite poor and show a very severe lack of understanding and knowledge. The other day I was listening to the radio and someone suggested that to sit on the Senate Finance Committee you should have to pass the same test low-level stock brokers have to pass. The funny thing is that they don't. The people deciding policy have no idea what is actually going on or the various implications of their decisions.

    You say government isn't too big. With all due respect, that's absurd. I ask this with all sincerity, How could you be such a Chesterton follower and not be convinced that government could be smaller? What about his arguments do you disagree with?

  17. Yet Chesterton could be "inflammatory" in Brian's sense of the word. He championed the French Revolution, lamented that so few politicians are hanged, and (in his fiction, at least) generally portrayed mobs in a favorable light.

  18. Precisely, Anonymous. He maybe wasn't as vitriolic, but the sentiment is there.

  19. Maybe he should have taken a page from Dickens's book when it came to mobs. Barnaby Rudge and a Tale of Two Cities are a much more realistic portrayal of where loosing these elemental passions really leads us. And personally, I think:

    Alas, alas for England
    They have no graves as yet

    Was a line unworthy of our author. Maybe that makes me a "wet".

  20. Thanks, Maolsheachlann! I'm preparing a talk on Chesterton and Edmund Burke for the upcoming conference, and I'd been wondering if GKC had ever commented on the Gordon Riots. His introduction to Barnaby Rudge would be a good place to look.

    Off to find my copy of Chesterton on Dickens ...

  21. "America clearly has its tyrants..."

    Could you please name these tyrants, Nancy?

  22. Anonymous, in "The Hysteria of Mobs" (January 18 1908), availabe in volume XXVIII of the Collected Works, Chesterton defends mobs and even the Gordon Riots. He says:

    "I can never comprehend why all historians and romancers talk of the Gordon Riots as things without object or excuse. The Gordon Riots had the perfectly reasonable object of preventing the pure, consistent, and intolerant policy of English Protestantism from being reversed; and they had the perfecty reasonable excuse that it was being reversed. Whatever my own convictons may be, I cannot see why Protestants should not have ordinary human rights, such as the right of festivity and the right of insurrection. For this reason, I have complete emotional sympathy with Guy Fawkes Day and with the Gordon Riots."

  23. As for my view, all I can say is that I disagree with Chesterton here, and every time he defends mobs and the French Revolution and Rousseau, or criticises Burke. I don't think that disagreeing with GKC on important issues means you can't call yourself a Chestertonian; I passionately agree with him on nearly everything else. Anyway, I don't want to weigh in on a discussion on American health care, on which I am even more ignorant than I am on most subjects. Good luck with your Chesterton and Burke talk, maybe you will post it somewhere after the conference?

  24. I'm sorry; the date I gave pertains to the Illustrated London News issue.

  25. Anonymous and Maolscheachlann,

    It's certainly true that Chesterton wasn't a pacifist, but idealizing the aims of a past revolution, or even dreaming poetically of a future hypothetical one, seems different from trumpeting the need for a "second (potentially bloody) revolution" in the here and now. If Chesterton ever used revolutionary rhetoric as coarse and bellicose as that in the CFP column, I'd be surprised. (Then again, he may have, for all i know; I haven't read nearly as much Chesterton as many of you. And we all have cranky moments--I'd forgive him a few.)


    You may be right about Belloc, but i won;t hold Chesterton guilty by association, no matter whom he "palled around" with. :)

    I didn't say that the government isn't too big; I said that its size isn't its main problem. Like insurance companies, the government has to be big in order to do its job. Even assuming that its job is a subsidiary one, there's a very large, 50-state "front line" for the federal government to back up. There is fat that should be cut out of the government, and there are areas in which the government has too much control (though we might not agree on what those areas are).But was the government's vaunted "bigness" the reason that it failed to help the poor of New Orleans (either before or after Katrina)? Has the intelligence community failed at key moments because simply it was too big, or bcause it was too fragmented? ("Big" and "fragmented" aren't the same thing, by the way.) Did the government fail to stop Bernie Madoff or the the madness of derivative trading because it was too big, or because it was too passive? (Wasn't the SEC actually too small?) And do you really believe that big government is the reason that many Americans lack affordable access to decent health care?

    I don't really claim to be a "such a Chesterton follower"; politically, I'm probably about as much of a Chestertonian as Shaw was. But, as Shaw does, I like Chesterton's style. In many ways, I like his style of writing, thinking and being. And I think that when he is used by a demagogue, it does his style (and his passion, and his rhetoric) no credit.

  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

  27. In the case of New Orleans, yes, the reason there wasn't sufficient aid was because the state of Louisiana screwed up and waited around for the Federal Govt to come in and help. There's no reason that Louisiana or New Orleans couldn't have properly prepared for the tragedy. The reason they didn't is because there is little accountability when the Federal Govt is supposed to be responsible for coming to everyone's aid.

    For the Intelligence community, I don't think their too big, I think that they were fragmented and also, they are too politically correct. Take fore instance the recent Fort Hood attack. No where in the report is there a mention of his name or the major reason for the attack, which was Islam. I think that this is again a problem with accountability and bigness. If the Federal Govt. would stick to the things it's supposed to be doing more attention would be brought to these things and they would be less likely to happen. The govenrnment DID stop Bernie Madoff! Otherwise, you wouldn't know about him. Was the response time slow, sure it was. But with those types of things it's very hard to catch people into a certain amount of time has passed. Again, if govt were smaller maybe he would have been caught earlier because more attention and resources would be brought to their legitimate functions. Also, his schemes would be much harder were there not victims who wanted to get rich the easy way. Chesterton doesn't really have "policies" as much as he has moral and social sentiments.

    As for healthcare. First off, we have the best health care system in the world, by far. Thus, we pay more for it. So, you're question is a ridiculous one. It's like asking, "and is big government the reason that many Americans lack affordable access to Lamborghini's, ipods, and flatscreen tvs?" Of course, healthcare is more important, but is it up to the govt. to say don't buy these other things, buy health care? I adamantly say, no! I teach in Newark, NJ. Many of my students are below the poverty line and receive free lunch in school. Also, almost every one of them has brand spanking new clothes, an ipod, a ridiculously nice phone, an xbox 360 of Playstation 3, etc. etc. Now you're telling me that they can't afford health care? I say no, they could afford healthcare, and in New Jersey their parents can get them free healthcare from the state if they don't have a job, and Mothers and Children get free healthcare for a year before and 3 years after pregnancy. For many people, they don't have healthcare because they don't bother to buy it and don't value it as much as their money. If that means it's not "affordable" you're using a definition altogether novel of that word.

  28. Even if I accepted your premise, which I'm sure includes something about the "Big evil insurance companies" that are just looking to make a profit and not the welfare of their clients, then I would certainly agree that that's because of Big Government! I couldn't agree more with Chesterton when he repeatedly points out the relationship of Hudge and Grudge, Big Business and Big government are one! The problem is that many don't see this. They say, well business is too big so we need a bigger govt. to control it, or government is too big so I support big business. This is ludicrous. Just look at any major corporation's relationship with the Govt. Phillip Morris USA is a perfect example. They support almost all legislation that limits marketing on cigarettes and all the age limits to buy cigarettes, etc. Why would they do that? Because they are locking in their above 50% market share. They are using the govt. to it's advantage, and they wouldn't be able to if it weren't so big. The smaller companies like Lorrilard and Reynolds (at least in the cigarette industry) are very much against a lot of the legislation because they won't be able to compete. I only bring that example up because I know the most about it, but there are countless examples of that same idea. Government and politicians use Big Business to their advantage, and Big Business uses Big Government to it's advantage, and they both get bigger and stronger together.

    Also, how is the author a demagogue? Here's the definition I got. "a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises to gain power"

    First off, I don't see him as a leader trying to gain power. Secondly, I don't see any false claims or use of popular prejudices.

  29. Let me just add, now that I've seen Maolsheachlann's quote from Chesterton about the Gordon riots, that Chesterton managed to be empathetic and to transcend his own perspective even when sympathizing with the mob. I mean, you can completely disagree with his point, but it's still very cool that if he's going to attribute "the right to insurrection" to anyone, he's going to attribute it to his religious-political adversaries as well as his allies.

    If the CFP columnist had acknowledged some "perfectly reasonable" objects and excuses of the Obama Administration--even while passionately disagreeing with that administration-I might see some appropriateness in his use of Chesterton.

  30. Brian:

    It's certainly true that there's a difference in style and tone between Chesterton and the CFP columnist, and I don't quarrel with your description of the latter's rhetoric as "coarse and bellicose."

    But I don't think Chesterton would take refuge in the claim that what he wrote about a past revolution, or a hypothetical future revolution, has no proper bearing on contemporary circumstances.

    I don't have Orthodoxy at hand, but in it he says that if you tell the owner of a sweatshop that slavery was suited to a former stage of civilization, he can reply with perfect logic that sweatshops are suited to the present stage of civilization. Times and circumstances change, but what was essentially just in 1798 remains essentially just in 1910 -- and 2010.

    Chesterton always stood by what he wrote, and one way we can honor him is by taking him at his word.


    Would you believe that when I turned to that essay in the CW, I found that I had not only read it but underlined that very passage? Still, I'll give you a shout-out at my talk -- if you'll tell me how to pronounce your handle.

  31. Brian:

    You posted your last comment while I was still composing mine. You make a good point regarding Chesterton's comment on the Gordon Riots. Of course, to say that the rioters had a motive in rioting is almost a truism, and a motive is not the same thing as a moral justification -- as GKC points out in calling the policy the rioters stood for "intolerant."

    To give it a contemporary application: I'm often struck by the fact that advocates of abortion-on-demand are so ready to deny their opponents the basic rights of peaceful assembly and civil disobedience that Gandhi and Martin Luther King justly claimed.


    I'll practice that.

  32. Did you miss my posts or are you just ignoring them?

  33. Davy,

    Well, we'll have to agree to disagree about a lot--which is fair enough.

    I'll start with one point of agreement; Louisiana and New Orleans were too slow to respond to Hurricane Katrina. There's plenty of blame to go around. But it is morally clear that the US as a whole had a responsibility to help the people of that state and city, and it is historically clear that we, though the government acting as out agent, failed. We failed not because our government was too big or controlling, but because it wasn't effective enough.

    I see no evidence that the failure to stop the Fort Hood shooting happened because the government was preoccupied with activities that were not their direct responsibilities. It's possible that what you call "political correctness" was part of the problem, and that the responsible authorities overreacted to concerns that disciplinary action against the major might have represented anti-Islamic prejudice. But preventing inappropriate discrimination within the military is a legitimate responsibility of the government--even if it was taken too far in this case.


  34. Now, healthcare: I've already told you that size isn't my problem with these companies, and that I don't believe that the people who run them are evil. And yet, you remain "Sure" that my "premise... has something to do with Big evil insurance companies." This, I have to say, is part of the problem with contemporary political rhetoric in America; instead of actually listening to each other, we too often assume we are "sure" of the motives and beliefs of others.

    I do, however, believe that for-profit companies tend to prioritize profits over compassionate service; to prioritize profits is their proper mission as for-profit companies. And I think this makes them problematic as providers of health insurance; it makes it hard for them to but patients' needs and rights first. Your example of the Knights of Columbus actually helps to make my point; it's not surprising to me that a non-profit organization like that one would be one of out better insurers.

    Your assertion that "we have the best health care in the world, by far" begs a lot of questions. "Best" in what respect? By what measure? We probably are still leaders in health-related technological innovation, for example. However, we are not, according to statistics I've seen from WHO and elsewhere, among the highest-rated in life expectancy, infant mortality, equity of access, or patient satisfaction, among other aspects and measures. We do spend the most on health care, but many experts do not agree with you that we are clearly getting what we pay for.

    I don't know your students or their families, so I won't comment on what they can and can't afford. I can tell you that if I were to suddenly lose my job, I wouldn't be able to afford COBRA healthcare premiums, and I know people who are actually in that position. And I've known others in other situations who could not afford coverage (and who did not have the luxuries you mention). My wife has worked in public health and met many patients who were unable to get the coverage they needed.

    (to be concluded)

  35. There's no doubt that business uses government to its advantage when it can--which is all too often. We need to diminish the role of money in politics, and we need to begin by reversing the Supreme Court's execrable decision that "corporate citizens" can spend unlimited money supporting and opposing candidates.

    Since you know a lot about the tobacco issue, though, can you tell me if the large tobacco companies supported the imposition of the Surgeon General's warning advertising restrictions? Or if they liked being sued by the Justice Department and states in the nineties? My point here is that the government is theoretically capable of acting as a check on big business; we need to restore its ability to do so on a regular basis. We can, for example, empower the government to require that health insurance companies cover people with pre-existing conditions, that they spend a reasonable amount of their revenues on patient care rather than padding their profits, that they refrain from imposing lifetime caps on spending for their policy holders (all measures included in versions of the health care legislation, by the way).

    As it is, one of the best services big government offers big business is the service of scapegoat. With rare exceptions, such as the outrage over Wall Street bonuses, the people tend to vent their spleen against public servants and not against profiteers,

    There is a prejudice (not an evil or bigoted prejudice, but a prejudice--a prejudgment or habitual attitude--nonetheless) that Americans have towards distrusting "big government" and glorifying the lone rebel, the pioneer, even sometimes the pirate. The CFP columnist manipulates those prejudices in support of what I firmly believe to be a false and divisive claim: that our elected leaders are tyrants. Therefore, I call him a demagogue.

    But ours is supposed to a government of the people, by the people and for the people. We need to work towards making the government truly ours; we don't just need to make it smaller.

  36. In the Katrina response you did nothing to counter my claim, other than say, no, it was government being too big.

    And I did listen to what you said about healthcare, and you described the companies as evil. They care more about making a buck than saving people's lives... Pretty sure that would be evil. So, maybe you're not listening to yourself, and that's the problem with American politics. When you have people honestly defending partial birth abortion, maybe they should take a minute and listen to what they're saying. Or when you have states arresting parents for educating them in the way they see fit, maybe they should take a minute and listen to what they are saying, and so on.

    Also, you need to do a lot of fact checking on those WHO statistics. They're completely skewed. If you want to look at statistics, look at Medicare, Medicaid, or Veterans' hospitals, or at other countries with socialized medicine and look at the facts. If someone is poor they get medicaid, so it's not because you're poor that you don't have insurance.I have a few uninsured friends, and the reason they're uninsured is because they say it's not worth it to them, if they get really sick they'll go to the emergency room for free. Is that correct reasoning? Is that a good decision? I don't think so, but that's THEIR decision. Now, first off, forcing people to have health insurance is definitely NOT a legitimate function of our govt. If it is, they can mandate anything. This is not just a silly rhetorical jab, it's the absolute truth. It doesn't mean that they WILL mandate everything, but that will set the premise.

  37. We should ask ourselves, "Will the government run plan be cheaper? Will it be of higher quality?" If the answer to either is in the affirmative than your position has some traction. (Also, it's not cheaper if it's just being paid for in higher taxes. That will hurt your friend without a job even more.) If they want to lower the cost this will be a "price control." Can you give me one instance in which a national govt has instilled a price control that has worked out well? In the thousands of years of human government price controls always lead to shortages, falling quality, or black markets. Now, do we want any of those things for healthcare? I think not. Even if those WHO stats were correct (Which I assure you they're not), where do all these other countries get their drugs and treatments? Are we really willing to say, enough is enough, we don't want anymore new drugs or new technologies in healthcare? NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING, is as important to the health of a nation than it's continual progress in the field of technological improvements.

  38. Who cares if we can provide an Iron Lung to everyone, if we can provide 95% of our population with the vaccine to polio. Who cares if we can provide someone a hospital bed while they die from a bad heart, when we can provide 95% with a heart transplant. The list goes on and on. And if you look at what is the 2nd leading cause of death in America, it's Cancer. What is the most important thing in treating cancer? Early detection! In every other country in the world you have to wait much longer to get basic MRI's let alone getting cancer screenings. How many deaths could have been prevented had they been willing to shell out some more money for the proper care. That's not to mention all the cancer treatments that are coming out. I'll be you a thousand to one it won't be from Costa Rica, UAB, Saudi Arabia,Cyprus, Sweden, Netherlands, Luxemborg, Iceland, Greece, Monaco, Portugal, Norway, Austria, Oman, Spain, Singapore, Malta, Andorra, or San Marino, all countries that the WHO expects us to believe has better healthcare than the US.

  39. No, the tobacco companies were not in favor of those restrictions, but once Phillip Morris hit 50% market share, they were very in favor of all that stuff. It's really amazing, and something that most people don't realize. You say that big government can check big business, but it really ends up just checking small businesses while big business figures out a way around it. The reforms you've listed are reforms that many Republicans have supported. So, that's obviously not the reason for them voting against it. Most republicans have also asked for reforms or the health insurance industry.
    You say we need to restore the ability of government to check big business regularly. How do we restore something that never existed in the first place. When did it ever successfully help competition and small businesses regularly. (It's not fair to say it checked big businesses if that checking didn't help and small businesses or the people as a whole)

    As for the demagogue thing, I could just as well call you a demagogue then because you are using a claim I think is false and using a prejudice. I wouldn't. The idea of a demagogue is someone who purposefully uses prejudices or claims he knows to be false in order to rise in power.

    How could the govt be ours if it's not smaller? How can their be any more accountability unless it be more limited? It's impossible. The govt has to have a limited function so that people can vote on their capabilities in performing those limited functions. If the federal govt is just supposed to "govern" and look out for the welfare of the people with no constraints, there is no standard on which to judge their effectiveness. The same goes for state and local governments. The federal government has turn into a hydra that can override any state law it sees fit and enter into that state and take what that state deems is legal. (Look at California and medicinal Marijuana) Or they can say no one in your state can drink under the age of 21 or we don't give you the money that we took from your citizen's in taxes for roads. That's absurd! I don't see how you could be supportive of a government that feels that they have the right to do these things.

  40. Anonymous,

    Point taken. I'm sure Chesterton would have agreed that the same right to insurrection that existed in earlier times could have been invoked in his own time.

    But he didn't invoke it, as far as I know, because the circumstances weren't comparable. Lloyd George wasn't Louis XVI. And neither is Barack Obama. Chesterton might say that the CFP columnist has the same kind of "object and excuse" and basic right" as the Gordon rioters, and he might even extend some "emotional sympathy", but that doesn't mean that he would agree with the columnist's assessment of the circumstances--or, in particular, with his intemperate use of the word "tyranny."

    Ultimately, a lot of my dislike for the article's use of Chesterton has to do not with whether our author would have agreed or not, but with how the article represents Chesterton to the world. Imagine, for a moment, that some sad person prints out the article and tucks it into his backpack along with a gun, and proceeds to Washington to try to refresh "the tree of liberty" with "the blood of patriots and tyrants." That's, to say the least, not something with which we want Chesterton associated.


    I'm itching to respond, but I think I'm probably getting too off-topic and verbose, so I'm going o try setting up my own blog (at least temporarily) and answering you there. I'll let you know when it's ready.

  41. We really need an ACS forum so that we can talk about all this stuff. The blog format with comments isn't really amenable to that.

  42. I think a forum would be wonderful! And most Chestertonian!

  43. I e-mailed Nancy, but haven't received a response, probably because it's Sunday. But there are free forum hosting sites, so I don't see why it should be a problem.

  44. Davy (and anyone else interested),

    Please see my response at

    P.S. I think the forum is a great idea.

  45. Shades of the Ball and the Cross....!

    (Only kidding.)

  46. To quote Amazon's description of the Ball and the Cross, may my "fanatically held opinions inspire a host of comic adventures." (I should probably make that the tagline of my blog.) :)

  47. Davy, right about it being Sunday and me not being around. Sunday is family day at the Brown house, and we leave our computer off so we can take some time to be together, play games, go on long walks, read together, make homemade pizza, etc. So that's where I was.

    But it looks like you all kept this conversation very civil, good job everyone.

    There is a secret plot amongst the Chestertonians to create a better space on line for conversations/debates/friendly arguments. Stay tuned for that, but meanwhile, do feel free, as Brian has, to start up your own daily newspaper to splash around it. Chesterton would fully support that.

    Anon: I don't know who the tyrants the author of that article was referring to are, because I didn't write the article. I could only guess and I might be wrong. Scott Brown could be just as much of 'tyrant' as any other politician for all I know. I think the point is, the people made a decision and the sway went against what the popular press thought, and that's the revolution.

  48. Nancy,

    I wonder if you might agree that the article doesn't do a fabulous job of the kind of "people first" civility for which you beautifully call in your front-page post today?

  49. In case anyone is building up a head of steam and in danger of exploding due to the immediate lack of discussion facilities, I've made a forum available here

    Utilise or ignore as you wish!

  50. Forgot to say: queries about the forum can be made via my blog.

  51. Thanks, Mr. Fisher.

    Brian: yes, I agree. It is much easier to politicize everyone and polarize everyone today. In fact, another thing I've been pondering is why, today, our elections are so close. Are people really 50/50 like that? Or have we been trained to name-call and categorize people so well (mainly by the media, but also by the educational system in this country) that we truly feel ALL this or ALL that?

    One of the things I like about Chesterton is he sees the good and bad of BOTH sides. Neither Democrat nor Republican has the exclusive on good nor bad, but you'd never know it talking to people today. People want to either love Obama or hate him. No one wants to treat him like a thinking man and engage him in conversation, or engage his ideas and plans in thoughtful argument. They'd rather picture him as a savior or a devil. That's easier to deal with, for them.

  52. Nancy, it's interesting you ask about the closeness of elections, because it's something I've often pondered, and in a book titled God, Actually by Roy Foster, an Australian writer, he puts it forward as suggestive of God's existence. (This is the book. It's pretty good, although it rejects Catholicism for its "ritualism" and "formalism".) His "argument from bipartisanship" might sound fanciful, but the prevalence of half-and-half political and cultural cleavages the world over HAS often made me ponder. Are human beings just so constituted that we'll eventually hit on SOMETHING that divides us into two camps? But the things we do disagree about are usually fundamental and don't seem like just an excuse for division.

  53. "I came for division" - Christ

  54. "There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide the world into two kinds of people, and those who don't" – Robert Benchley :)

  55. Horne, thanks for setting up the forum!

    I started a topic with a question about Chesterton's call for "a change as vast as Socialism" (What's Wrong with the World, 47). I thought it would be good to start with a nice, non-divisive topic. :)


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