Thursday, January 21, 2010

Chesterton's Revolution, Part I

At issue in the conclusion to What Is Wrong With The World is that an oligarchical class is oppressing the lower classes, creating wage-slaves through oppressive rents and laws.Chesterton writes, "the poor man is so ground down by the great rents of the great ground landlords that his wife often has to work as well as he." Of course, one thing leads to another, "Therefore she has no time to look after the children, therefore one in forty of them is dirty. Because the workingman has these two persons on top of him, the landlord sitting (literally) on his stomach, and the schoolmaster sitting (literally) on his head, the workingman must allow his little girl's hair, first to be neglected from poverty, next to be poisoned by promiscuity, and, lastly, to be abolished by hygiene. He, perhaps, was proud of his little girl's hair. But he does not count."

So as Chesterton argues, the problem is not defined as the conditions of poverty caused by the "great ground landlords," but instead, it is that poor girls have lice. So their hair must be cut. Chesterton describes this as a "plain parable, which is none the worse for being also a fact." In essence, he's summing up what is wrong with the world.

He goes on to say, "When a crapulous tyranny crushes men down into the dirt, so that their very hair is dirty, the scientific course is clear. It would be long and laborious to cut off the heads of the tyrants; it is easier to cut off the hair of the slaves. In the same way, if it should ever happen that poor children, screaming with toothache, disturbed any schoolmaster or artistic gentleman, it would be easy to pull out all the teeth of the poor; if their nails were disgustingly dirty, their nails could be plucked out; if their noses were indecently blown, their noses could be cut off. The appearance of our humbler fellow-citizen could be quite strikingly simplified before we had done with him. But all this is not a bit wilder than the brute fact that a doctor can walk into the house of a free man, whose daughter's hair may be as clean as spring flowers, and order him to cut it off. It never seems to strike these people that the lesson of lice in the slums is the wrongness of slums, not the wrongness of hair."

So rather than dealing with the root issue, we deal with the result. For if we eliminate the undesirable result, is not the problem resolved? Is this not in essence, what is wrong with the world? Rather than come to terms with the reality that our government is responsible for the ruin of our economy through massive deficit spending enabled by the lawless Federal Reserve, we attempt to spend ourselves out of recession. Rather than create a stable dollar, we inflate it to eliminate debt and stimulate growth. Rather than feed animals the diet God intended them to eat, we protect them with biotechnology when they live sickly lives. Rather than deal peacefully with neighbor nations, we impose our will upon them in the name of keeping the peace. Rather than outlaw criminality in business, we legalize and "bail it out" it.

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