Chesterton and the Mistake in Contemporary Debate


Just last week it was G.K. Chesterton’s 141st birthday! While he didn’t get himself a Google Doodle (that was reserved for Nepal Republic Day – a fair call at this time), he remains incredibly quote-able on a range of contemporary topics. I give him a solid 10 on the Wilde-Churchill Quote-O-Meter, myself. Nonetheless, here’s a quote from his What’s Wrong with the World that I think has century-long staying power:

“This is the arresting and dominant fact about modern social discussion; that the quarrel is not merely about the difficulties but about the aim. We agree about the evil; it is about the good that we should tear each other’s eyes out.” (What’s Wrong with the World, p. 17.)

At first glance, this quote seems about as far away from contemporary debates as one can get. Microaggressions, cultural Marxism, radical feminism, knuckle-dragging chauvinism, white-male privilege, welfare-state entitlement, big government, small government or any old government – all of these things seem to be problems that we argue over, not agree on. Continue reading