Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Chesterton on America

It may have seemed something less than a compliment to compare the American Constitution to the Spanish Inquisition. But oddly enough, it does involve a truth, and still more oddly perhaps, it does involve a compliment. The American Constitution does resemble the Spanish Inquisition in this: that it is founded on a creed. America is the only nation in the world that is founded on creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature. It enunciates that all men are equal in their claim to justice, that governments exist to give them that justice, and that their authority is for that reason just. It certainly does condemn anarchism. and it does also by inference condemn atheism, since it clearly names the Creator as the ultimate authority from whom these equal rights are derived. Nobody expects a modern political system to proceed logically in the application of such dogmas, and in the matter of God and Government it is naturally God whose claim is taken more lightly. The point is that there is a creed, if not about divine, at least about human things. 

The essay is found here. 

3 comments:

bmiller said...

The American Constitution does resemble the Spanish Inquisition

Let me be the first to say this:

I wasn't expecting the Spanish Inquisition!

Mortal said...

"No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!"

bmiller said...

I apologize for immediately going for the low hanging fruit.

I actually read the essay and as always, Chesterton is a master of contrast.