A Little Something on Chesterton’s Birthday

by Jason Peters on May 29, 2012 · 2 comments <span>Print this article</span> Print this article

in Short

“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives,” said G.K. Chesterton, whom another G.K. honors in today’s Writer’s Almanac. “The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.”

Chesterton was born this day (May 29th) in London, 1874.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar James Berry May 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm

A wise man, GKC, and a prognosticator, too, it seems.

avatar Gabe Ruth May 30, 2012 at 8:26 am

“It has become a breach of etiquette to praise the enemy; whereas, when the enemy is strong, every honest scout ought to praise the enemy. It is impossible to vanquish an army without having a full account of its strength. It is impossible to satirise a man without having a full account of his virtues. It is too much the custom in politics to describe a political opponent as utterly inhuman, as utterly careless of his country, as utterly cynical, which no man ever was since the beginning of the world. This kind of invective may often have a great superficial success: it may hit the mood of the moment; it may raise excitement and applause; it may impress millions. But there is one man among all those millions whom it does not impress, whom it hardly ever touches; that is the man against whom it is directed. The one person for whom the whole satire has been written in vain is the man whom it is the whole object of the institution of satire to reach. He knows that such a description of him is not true. He knows that he is not utterly unpatriotic, or utterly self-seeking, or utterly barbarous and revengeful. He knows that he is an ordinary man, and that he can count as many kindly memories, as many humane instincts, as many hours of decent work and responsibility as any other ordinary man. But behind all this he has his real weaknesses, the real ironies of his soul: behind all these ordinary merits lie the mean compromises, the craven silences, the sullen vanities, the secret brutalities, the unmanly visions of revenge. It is to these that satire should reach if it is to touch the man at whom it is aimed. And to reach these it must pass and salute a whole army of virtues.”
- Varied Types, Pope and the Art of Satire

Although it’s possible Newt Gingerich has cheated the prophet on this point.

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