Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Chesterton on Progressives and Conservatives

 "The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected."

"The Blunders of Our Parties", Illustrated London News, 19 April 1924.

16 comments:

Cal Metzger said...

All right, I take back some of what I said about Chesterton; that's a genuinely funny line.

Joe Hinman said...

that's a good quote

part 3 orf my thing on ethical naturalism

ethical naturalism part 3 final: Euthyphro

Dave Duffy said...

Vic,

Your blog is taken from an idea from Lewis. If you were to take an idea from Chesterton, another of the Duffy household favorites, what title would you give your blog?

Ilíon said...

Heretical Idea?

Ilíon said...

The sort of "conservative" Chesterton is talking about is the sort we might call RINOs (if we're being America-specific) or "Conservatism, Inc" (if we’re speaking more broadly than America).

Gyan said...

The quote applies to English conservatives. The American conservatives, by contrast, are radical. They are true destabilizing agents in the world. They are cheerleaders for ongoing abolition of man and destruction of all social norms.
They celebrate hyper-individualism and capitalism and they falsely pretend that abortion is justified in America on socialistic grounds.

They seek to reduce all politics, all human affairs to reason. Thus, they seek to build what Dostoevsky called Crystal Palace in Notes from Underground.

B. Prokop said...

Gyan is correct. Americans all too often forget that our political labels do not translate well to other countries. Britain's "Conservative" (a.k.a., Tory) party is actually well to the left of the USA's Democratic Party. Britain's Liberal Democratic Party is to the right of its Labour Party (despite the word "liberal" in its name). The equivalent Across the Pond to the USA's Republican Party is the UK Independence Party (UKIP).

Ilíon said...

B.Prokop: "Gyan ..."

Has just revealed himself to be a leftist.

B.Prokop: "Britain's "Conservative" (a.k.a., Tory) party is actually well to the left of the USA's Democratic Party."

Even today, that can't be true. For, it it were true, American leftists wouldn't hate the Tories with the same fury they hate the Republicans, and Britian's Labour Party and other leftists would hate the Democratic Party with the same fury they hate the the Tories and the Republicans.

B.Prokop: "Britain's Liberal Democratic Party is to the right of its Labour Party (despite the word "liberal" in its name)."

That's true (except for the parenthetical -- it's not "despite", it's "because"); it takes some fancy footwork to out-flank Labour on the left.

B.Prokop: "The equivalent Across the Pond to the USA's Republican Party is the UK Independence Party (UKIP)."

If Trump manages to remake the Republicans, that might be true in six or eight years; despite being constantly branded "extreme rightists", UKIP are pretty standard "moderate" leftists.

B. Prokop said...

I apologize for being unclear. When I wrote "Gyan is correct", I was referring only to his statement "The quote applies to English conservatives" and not to his entire posting.

Everything subsequent to that opening remark is problematic at best, and flat out wrong at worst.

Gyan said...

1) the British conservative party, at present, is conservative in name only. The conservatives of GKC's remark have no equivalent today.
2) To a stripe of hyper-individualist, the normal people are always leftist. For von Mises, even Hayek was a socialist.
3) Is it deniable that capitalism has a spirit of destruction of traditional norms? Just see the track record of capitalism? Who has birthed feminism, individualism, social anarchy?

Gyan said...

Let me add that the word "capitalism" as used by GKC does not mean the system of free enterprise but an economic system where many work for a few. That is, a system in which there are few owners of the means of production (the "capitalists") and a mass of workers that are employed by the capitalists.

That is, the society is dominated not by the owners but by hirelings. In contrast, the distributive society is one in which many own the means of production. The society is dominated by owners.
The Ownership Society as dreamt of by American Conservatives in which the mass of people own shares in giant corporations fails the criterion of ownership as understood traditionally.
Ownership, to justify its end, needs to be a stable and public relation between a person the the thing owned. Stock-ownership via mutual funds is rather an investment rather than true ownership.

Nick said...

Most European "right-wing" parties are center-left by American definitions. Except on issues such as immigration (which is called "extreme right" in Europe), there isn't much truly "right" about them.

Gyan said...

Please, the American conservatism is marked by the opinions that derive from the revolution of 1789--inalienable rights of man, hatred of all inequality, free trade.
They proclaim it themselves. They themselves prefer the term "classical liberals" as being entirely applicable to them.

The European conservatism has ever stressed the rights of the community as preceding rights of individuals.

B. Prokop said...

Gyan,

What I objected to in your initial comment was that when you said this "American conservatives ... are true destabilizing agents in the world. They are cheerleaders for ongoing abolition of man and destruction of all social norms." you confined that description to conservatives, when it ought to have included progressives (what Ilion refers to as "leftists") as well.

Joe Sheffer is, alas, long dead now, so it is incumbent upon me to take up his baton of Middle of the Road Extremism as the last bastion of sanity in a mad world.

Dave Duffy said...

"Heretical Idea?"

Lord help me, after my falling out with Episcopal Church, I have a weakness for this kind of humor.

I think I will read a passage from Chesterton at our next Vestry meeting.

Ilíon said...

^ As you surely understand by now, the only "respectable" orthodoxy of our time is to be proudly and self-righteously heretical. So, VR's hypothetical new blog *can't* be called "Orthodox Idea(s)", because orthodoxy is heretical, and dangerous, in Current Year.

So, he has to call it "Heretical Idea(s)", since (presumably) it would *be* about orthodox ideas.

It's all very meta-