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G K Chesterton described how I view the 2024 election in 1908

“They said that I should lose my ideals and begin to believe in the methods of practical politicians. Now, I have not lost my ideals in the least; my faith in fundamentals is exactly what it always was. What I have lost is my old childlike faith in practical politics. I am still as much concerned as ever about the Battle of Armageddon; but I am not so much concerned about the General Election. As a babe I leapt up on my mother’s knee at the mere mention of it. No; the vision is always solid and reliable. The vision is always a fact. It is the reality that is often a fraud. As much as I ever did, more than I ever did, I believe in Liberalism. But there was a rosy time of innocence when I believed in Liberals.”

– G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

15 comments to G K Chesterton described how I view the 2024 election in 1908

  • Stonyground

    I think that it is normal to grow more cynical and jaded as you get older, if you learn anything from life any idealism that you ever had is going to get ground out of you. I do still think that there was a time when politicians, although out for themselves, wanted to get voted back into power and understood that they had to at least look as if they were trying to make life better for the proles that they supposedly represented. The situation that we now find ourselves in is certainly unprecedented in my lifetime, I’ve now spoiled the ballot in two general elections having no one that I was prepared to vote for. The current crop of politicians, both Labour and “Conservative” seem to hate and despise me as well as their own country. I see Reform as being a well meaning bunch of amateurs but they are the only hope for breaking the stranglehold that the current bunch of malevolent imbeciles have on our country.

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

    ― G.K. Chesterton

    Never was this more apt.

  • Todd Turley

    Excellent quote.
    RE: Stonyground, Politicians’ integrity was the primary lens to see through the illusion. Now 24/7 media condition the proles to use sincerity, intellect, or aura as more reliable.

  • Martin

    We got a conservative party that conserves nothing of value and a Labour Party who constantly screws the actual British working class.

  • Kirk

    Simple solution to the problem of corrupt politicians: Don’t have any.

    Anyone who can be described by that term should not be in any position of authority, anywhere in the system.

    I’m sorry, but that’s the fundamental flaw in the whole idea of governance; you put people in permanent charge of things, they’re going to go corrupt on you, and start working to bend things to their own (and their unindicted co-conspirators) “best interests”.

    It matters not one whit what system of governance you choose; the root problem is that idea of “professional, full-time politician”, the man or woman who spends their life at politicking, mostly for their own benefit. I’ve met a bunch of these cretins over the course of my life, and not a one of them struck me as someone I’d entrust my dog to. They’re all “on the make”, and almost certainly on the take.

    Shoot the idea in the head, says I. Lifetime limitations on government service in any capacity. Men like J. Edgar Hoover and Fauci would never be able to work their evils, if we limited government service of all sorts to a maximum of three to five years. Anything above shop foreman? Limited. If that means we have to resort to a form of “professional conscription” to man agencies like the IRS, so be it. Better an inexperienced honest man in a position of authority than an experienced criminal out for his own profit and desire to exert authority.

    If it were also up to me? I’d have an entry made in the DSM IV-V for a new disorder: Authoritarian personality complex, identifying those who feel the need to tell other people what to do and how to live their lives. I’d also make a diagnosis of that disorder a disqualification from public service… Of any sort.

  • Roué le Jour

    Is it cynicism to notice, as you get older, that the slings and arrows you are suffering are not coming from the outrageous fortune in front of you but the sea of troublesome idiots in government behind you?

  • SteveD

    Why is it that, on this site, everyone says exactly the same thing over and over again?

  • Bulldog Drummond

    It needs to be said

  • Discovered Joys


    Because the problems arising in the developed world come from the application of intolerant governance, again and again? Until enough people wake up to challenge the stultifying orthodoxy complaint is necessary (and increasingly difficult under ‘allowable speech’ rules).

  • Paul Marks

    It is true that in 1908 the state in the United Kingdom had been on the rise for more than 30 years (since the early 1870s) – but it was still relatively small, this was still basically a free society.

    Perhaps the most cynical thing that had happened recently (from the standpoint of 1908) was the 1906 Trade Union Act – which took Disraeli’s, insane, 1875 Act even further – putting unions above the Civil Law even if they actively sabotaged a place of business by obstruction (the military term “picketing” or “picket line” is used) and organising the persecution of workers who did not want to join unions.

    Such a measure was bound to increase UNEMPLOYMENT over time – yet the Liberal Party government denied that it would, even as it organised “Labour Exchanges” in a (futile) effort to deal with the rise in unemployment it denied would happen – but knew would happen.

    The cynicism of the Liberals in this period was indeed extreme.

    As for the Conservatives – they were led by Arthur Balfour – also an ardent “Social Reformer” i.e. someone who believed that more government spending and more regulations did good, rather than harm (in reality it does harm).

    Given this “choice” it is easy to understand someone collapsing into despair – even in 1908.

    As John Morley (the friend and biographer of Gladstone) was starting to – his economic research had already shown him that “Social Reform” (i.e. ever bigger government) was counter productive – but he could not (yet) convince his young friend Winston Churchill of this.

    And his historical research had shown John Morley that Gladstone, his friend and mentor, had, by his administrative reforms (the creation of the modern state machine), made the income tax, which Gladstone sincerely wanted to get rid of (as Lord Liverpool had done in the youth of Gladstone) permanent.

    The very machine that Gladstone had helped create would make his policy objective (and he was sincere about the policy objective), of getting rid of the income tax, unattainable.

    The irony was profound – and bitter.

  • David Norman

    Pretty much everyone says the same thing over and over again which is why I rarely if ever listen to MSM debates between politicians. At least on this site the same thing is often said in a thought provoking way and sometimes with elegance and even wit. It helps, of course, that by and large I am on the same page as others.

  • Marcus R.

    Given this “choice” it is easy to understand someone collapsing into despair – even in 1908.

    It’s a fight that we have to keep fighting every generation, over and over again.

  • Paul Marks

    Marcus R. – yes Sir.

    Is Mr Sunak another Arthur Balfour? Another “Social Reformer”? His record in office, such as the “Furlough Scheme” – to pay people to NOT go work, suggests that, yes, Mr Sunak is another Arthur Balfour – another nice man who loves his family, but has no anti Collectivist fire-in-his-belly.

    As for Sir Keir Starmer – an economic Collectivist and (perhaps even worse) someone who wishes to crush Freedom of Speech and all other basic liberties under the cover of “human rights law”.

    Oh well – if we are put in prison by the new Progressive government and its courts (oh yes the judges are also Progressives – they have been “trained”), at least we will not have to worry about not having a pension.

    By the way – the Prime Minister before Balfour, Lord Salisbury, understood that “Social Reform” (i.e. bigger and more interventionist government) would make problems worse (not better) that they otherwise would be, but was already in despair even in the 19th century.

    In 1867 the Disraeli voting Act gave the vote to some people who were not paying the main tax of the time, which was already income tax – Lord Salisbury understood the implications of such a move. If the income tax had been abolished then the issue would have been made moot – but, in spite of both Disraeli and Gladstone promising to abolish income tax in the election of 1874, it was NOT abolished – indeed it (of course) started to increase.

    Lastly it is ironic that the two Prime Ministers of the time when the British Empire was at the peak of its power, Gladstone and Lord Salisbury were both ANTI Imperialists – Gladstone openly so, Lord Salisbury writing anti Imperialist articles (I believe not under his own name – but I could be wrong about that) in the old Saturday Morning Review.

    An interesting example showing that, even back then, what the government does and what the Prime Minister of the day would like it to do, can be two wildly different things.

    Margaret Thatcher used to sit with her husband Denis – reading the Telegraph newspaper and sincerely condemning the various bureaucratic things the government was doing whilst-the-lady-was-herself-Prime-Minister.

    People elected to public office (at national or local level) will be familiar with the feeling of powerlessness – of watching officials doing the opposite of what one would like them to do, and even being in the position of having to vote for policies one despises – for fear that even worse policies will be imposed if one is forced out of office (which, in the British system, is a constant fear – one can be removed very easily).

  • Kirk

    Like I’ve been pointing out for years… Human beings are terrible at hierarchy and governance. Every form of this idea we came up with, “government”, inevitably gets taken over by the exact wrong sort of human being to be in that sort of position of power. Often, there is no way in hell those people would ever be given that power and authority by those who know them, but the almighty bureaucracy is blind to their vices, and puts them in charge of nearly everything.

    This being the case, I’d highly recommend that we cease with this entire project, “government”, and do something else. If we must have it, then power and authority must be diffused and reduced to the bare minimum.

    You can observe this on the micro-level; you can see it on display at the macro. Human beings are inherently unable to run things sanely or fairly, in the aggregate. Some few rare individuals may be able to do that, but they’re so few and far between that you cannot rely on their presence or action, and the sad fact is, you have to plan for the mean. Which is well and truly “mean”.

    I’ve been watching all you apes since I was a small child; in that time, which is nigh on sixty years, I’ve never, ever seen more than about one or two people I’d seriously trust with the sort of power over others that we routinely hand over to some of the greatest scoundrels and scalliwags you could ever have feverish nightmares about.

    There ain’t too many saints out there; stop basing your plans for running things on the idea that everyone is automatically saintly and trustworthy. You just don’t know who the hell you’re dealing with, until they’re put in charge of something and feel like they’re beyond reproach or criticism. And, since we seem to believe that “once in charge, always in charge…”, that generally encourages these arseholes to do as they damn well please, once elevated.

    If you must have these vast reef structures of non-virtue, I implore you to at least make holding a position within them an affair of risk; there must be consequence for malfeasance, self-interest, and corruption. As it stands today, if you’re someone like Nancy Pelosi, who routinely uses her position to generate “generational wealth”, you’re effectively untouchable. This has encouraged a certain, shall we say, brazenness on her part? I think we could agree on that term. If your “system” allows for that, then it’s not a very good system, is it?

  • Paul Marks

    Kirk – the financial corruption is bad, but the intellectual (yes intellectual) corruption is vastly worse.

    Nancy Pelosi stealing a few million Dollars has no real effect on a country the size of the United States – but Nancy Pelosi believing (sincerely believes – yes financially corrupt people can be sincere, they really can) that government is there to HELP THE PEOPLE is death-to-the-United-States.

    The American establishment believes that a vast interventionist government is GOOD FOR THE PEOPLE (not just their own opportunity to steal money) – and whilst they remain in power America will continue to decline till it collapses.

    The establishment is not going to change their beliefs (it is who they are – far more than the financial corruption is) – so they must be defeated.

    They must defeated – they must be driven from power.

    Not just a new President – the end of the Deep State, the Corporate State.

    The alternative is the total collapse of what is left of society.

    And the establishment will not go quietly.

    So stand by for hard times – very hard times.

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