G. K. Chesterton Quotes from The Illustrated London News, 1908-1936

G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) wrote a weekly column for The Illustrated London News from 1908 to 1936.

I compiled the quotes below from my reading of these essays, which were compiled by Ignatius Press in Volumes 27-37 of The Collected Works of G. K. Chesterton. Over the last month or so, I’ve been publishing these quotes in volume-by-volume posts; I thought it would be handy to publish them all together as well.

G. K. Chesterton: The Illustrated London News, 1908-1936

“A turkey is more occult and awful than all the angels and archangels. In so far as God has partly revealed to us an angelic world, he has partly told us what an angel means. But God has never told us what a turkey means. And if you go and stare at a live turkey for an hour or two, you will find by the end of it that the enigma has increased rather than diminished.” (01-11-1908)

“Tradition (it seems to me) is simply the democracy of the dead.” (01-11-1908)

“The frivolous chatter is now all in public journalism. The public responsibility is all in private conversation.” (02-01-1908)

“Our generation professes to be scientific and particular about the things it says; but unfortunately it is never scientific and particular about the words in which it says them. It is difficult to believe that people who are obviously careless about language can really be very careful about anything else.” (04-04-1908)

“I detest and would destroy all tyrannical minorities …” (04-11-1908)

“… for the chief evil of our times is that the social collectivity has increased spiritual solitude. Never were bodies so much jostled; never were souls so much deserted.” (06-06-1908)

“We apply the word strict, narrow, bigoted or intolerant, to two separate states of mind which are not only different but are really quite opposite. To put the point quite crudely, we call a man narrow when he is illogical; but we also call a man narrow when he is logical.” (07-04-1908)

“In short, the only objection to the Missing Link is that he is missing.” (09-05-1908)

“If married people are to be divorced for incompatibility of temper, I cannot imagine why all married people are not divorced.” (09-19-1908)

“An open mind is really a mark of foolishness, like an open mouth. Mouths and minds were made to shut; they were made to open only in order to shut.” (10-10-1908)

“… active resistance is sometimes right, but passive resistance is always wrong.” (11-21-1908)

“Snobs say they have the right kind of hat; prigs say they have the right kind of head.” (12-12-1908)

“The nation that has no gods at all not only dies, but what is more, it is bored to death.” (01-09-1909)

“Mankind declares this with one deafening voice: that sex may only be ecstatic so long as it is also restricted.” (01-09-1909)

“We must first of all establish the principle that we do not want a newspaper to give us a vision of the world made perfect; we want a church for that. We do not want a newspaper to give us good news; we want a gospel for that. We want a newspaper to give us the true news, not elevating news or improving news.” (03-06-1909)

“To my thinking, the oppression of the people is a terrible sin; but the depression of the people is a far worse one.” ((06-05-1909)

“The definition of a prig, I suppose, is this: one who has pride in the possession of his brain rather than joy in the use of it.” (06-12-1909)

“One of the few gifts that can really increase with old age is a sense of humour.” (07-17-1909)

“The truth is that the evolutionary theory, if true, is totally useless for human affairs. It is enormous, but irrelevant. Like the solar system, it is a colossal trifle.” (09-18-1909)

“The test of a democracy is not whether the people vote, but whether the people rule.” (10-02-1909)

“The truth is that if a man wishes to remain in perfect mental breadth and freedom, he had better not think at all. Thinking is a narrowing process. It leads to what people call dogma. A man who thinks hard about any subject for several years is in horrible danger of discovering the truth about it.” (10-16-1909)

“Men do not differ much about what things they will call evils; they differ enormously about what evils they will call excusable,” (10-23-1909)

“The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice.” (06-11-1910)

“For it is one of the marks of real dignity of character not to wish to separate oneself from the honour and tragedy of the whole tribe. All men are ordinary men; the extraordinary men are those who know it.” (06-25-1910)

“But I cannot see how thoughts, as such, can have any of this human sanctity about them, or why I should respect an idea which I think a nasty idea merely because it has got into somebody’s head.” (10-29-1910)

“The truths of religion are unprovable; the facts of science are unproved.” (11-05-1910)

“Vanity means thinking somebody’s praise important, more important than yourself. But pride (which does not exist in heaven, but at quite an opposite address) is thinking yourself more important than anything that can praise or blame you.” (11-12-1910)

“Our chief trouble at present is that words and things do not fit each other.” (12-24-1910)

“A real soldier does not fight because he has something that he hates in front of him. He fights because he has something that he loves behind his back.” (01-14-1911)

“Because it is very hard work to apply principles of judgment to anything, people are everywhere abandoning the principles and practically deciding not to test life at all, but only to let life test them.” (03-25-1911)

“A woman putting up her fists at a man is a woman putting herself in the one and only posture in which she does not frighten him.” (04-22-1911)

“About half the history now taught in schools and colleges is made windy and barren by this narrow notion of leaving out the theological theories.” (05-13-1911)

“There are two sides to a question, but there is only one answer to a question; that is, only one right answer.” (06-03-1911)

“Nothing is baser in our time than the idea that we can have special enthusiasms for things, so long as they are secure, without pledging ourselves to uphold them if they are ever in peril.” (07-29-1911)

“Satire has weakened in our epoch for several reasons, but chiefly, I think, because the world has become too absurd to be satirized.” (12-16-1911)

“They are in revolt against something they have forgotten in favor of something else which (by their own account) they have not yet found.” (12-23-1911)

“If the mass of citizens are to rule, it is absolutely necessary that they should have very strong principles of thought. … if you want to build a wall of pebbles you must have very strong cement.” (01-13-1912)

“The only real object of all education is to teach people the proportion of things, that they may see what things are large and what small: we seem bent on teaching them to prefer in everything what is small to what is great, what is doubtful to what is certain, and what is trivial to what is eternal.” (08-24-1912)

“But this luxury of doubt, like other dissipations, is very weakening. An isolated orgy of denial like an isolated orgy of drink, does a man comparatively little harm in early youth; but the nipping and sipping of scepticism carried into later life undermines not only the brains, but the nerves.” (10-12-1912)

“I have gone through most of my life looking for an uninteresting subject — or even an uninteresting person. It is the romance of my life that I have failed to find either of them yet.” (01-11-1913)

“The highly astounding result is this: that Government (and especially representative Government) now actually exists to protect those very abuses which Government (and especially representative Government) was actually created to prevent.” (02-01-1913)

“[A crank] thinks things are self-evident which are really in the last degree questionable; and he thinks opinions are universal which the mass of mankind has never heard of.” (07-26-1913)

“No man has ever laughed at anything till he has laughed at himself.” (08-30-1913)

“The primary public duty before us is to uneducate the educated. For they have all been educated wrong, and cannot see with their eyes or hear with their ears or (least of all) understand with their heart. Now, curiously enough, the quickest way of unlearning things really is through calamity.” (11-08-1913)

“We all know the admirable epigrammatic description of a man who is sea-sick — ‘First he’s afraid he’s going to die, and then he’s afraid he isn’t.’” (01-10-1914)

“Some things improve, even in an age of progress.” (01-31-1914)

“The assailants of the Christian Church are so incredibly ignorant that they actually know less about it than the Churchmen do.” (02-21-1914)

“I do not particularly object to the pot calling the kettle black. The Party System is made like that. But I do strongly object to the pot calling the kettle white.” (02-21-1914)

“There may have been a time when people found it easy to believe anything. But we are finding it vastly easier to disbelieve anything.” (03-14-1914)

“Practically, it has come to this, that the people who are now opposed to reason are practically all the people who are also opposed to religion.” (03-21-1914)

“What right have we to expect modern people to understand the patience and piety put into ancient work, if we put such impatience and profane levity into the typical modern work?” (06-13-1914)

“But, like all men who have lost their own first principles, they cast about trying to draw the line somewhere and draw it everywhere but in the right place.” (05-29-1915)

“If I were Grand Inquisitor, I would try to burn out of the world not so much certain beliefs as certain phrases. I would argue with people about creeds; but I would kill them for catchwords.” (06-05-1915)

“If we are always whining for a man with a ‘genius for governing,’ we are simply proving ourselves destitute of an equally noble gift  — a genius for being governed.” (06-12-1915)

“It is always best in emergency to rely upon habit. Custom does not make people slow; it makes them quick.” (06-12-1915)

“There is a kind of work which any man can do, but from which many men shrink, generally because it is very hard work, sometimes because they fear it will lead them whither they do not wish to go. It is called thinking. It is not taught in modern schools, though it was taught in mediaeval schools, and could be taught quite easily in its rudiments.” (07-10-1915)

“For the riddle in the very heart of the war is that it is so heroically hard to make all men feel equal, but so very easy to make all men feel superior.” (08-28-1915)

“In the innermost of all its issues, this war is being fought about whether Pride is a sin.” ((12-04-1915)

“France is a race made out of a religion; but Germany is a religion made out of a race.” (07-22-1916)

“I think it is a colossal fact that the Church created a machinery of pardon, where the State could only work by a machinery of punishment.” (09-02-1916)

“Among the few problems that deserve to be called problems is the proper balance of indignation and charity. It is no solution, as some moderns seem to suppose, simply to be charitable and pardon everybody, any more than it would be a solution simply to be indignant and kill everybody.” (04-28-1917)

“You cannot live in the same field with a man who lives in a different universe.” (04-28-1917)

“There are, of course, some shameless and shocking things which the Germans have not done even yet. There are not many; but there are some. They have killed prisoners, but they have not, so far as I know, eaten prisoners. But if anything can be calculated from any human tendencies at all, they would probably do it at a later state, or in another war — if we go out of our way to give them the chance.” (09-15-1917)

“It seems never to have occurred to some people to speculate about what all the work of the world would really be like, if the poor were quite so idiotic or quite so irresponsible as they seem to suppose. Every house we live in would fall down, every train we travel in would go to smash, every chair we sit on would break (this does sometimes happen to chairs in my own experience, but I believe this to be personal experience), every boat would sink, every flock would stray, every furrow would run crooked — the whole framework of our earthly lives would fall to pieces in an instant.” (04-13-1918)

“For there is present something I for one have invariably found wherever there is the mere worship of the intellect — I mean the decay of the intellect.” (05-11-1918)

“… I do not know, and no human creature knows, of what modern Germany may be capable. Modern Germany does not itself know; it gives to the blindness and madness of its plunge into the darkness the name of progress and a will to power. No man has any notion of the end of which torture and infanticide are but the beginnings.” (06-22-1918)

“In short, I am in favor of an alliance of States to fight for the independence of each; I am not at all in favor of a new State expressing merely the interdependence of all.” (08-10-1918)

“The Prussian Socialism is a strict State Socialism: in other words, the Prussians still believe in the divine right, or diabolical right, of the State. The theory remains that the State is the only absolute in morals — that is, that there is no appeal from it to God or man, to Christendom or conscience, to the individual or the family or the fellowship of all mankind. The very theory that was the ethical excuse of all their crimes in the past is the first principle of their political philosophy of the future.” (12-21-1918)

“A free Poland is not only necessary to a free Europe, but it rather specially necessary to a free England.” (01-11-1919)

“Collectivism is the child of Capitalism; and it has much more of a family likeness than it seems to fancy.” (01-25-1919)

“The special mark of the modern world is not that it is sceptical, but that it is dogmatic without knowing it. … In short, they always have an unconscious dogma; and an unconscious dogma is the definition of a prejudice. … A man who is awake should know what he is saying, and why he is saying it — that is, he should have a fixed creed and relate it to a first principle. This is what most moderns will not consent to do. Their thoughts will work out to the most interesting conclusions; but they can never tell you anything about their beginnings.” (03-15-1919)

“Until the autumn of 1914, thousands of thinking people in this island really did not believe that men so scientific as the Germans could be so sinful as the Germans.” (04-12-1919)

“… even if you think, as I do, that democracy is a good thing, that is not within a thousand miles of saying that it can only do good things.” (06-07-1919)

“The one thing the moderns will not trust a man to do is to conduct his own life.” (10-04-1919)

“This is the age in which thin and theoretic minorities can cover and conquer unconscious and untheoretic majorities, being spread over them like spiders’ webs. A small group that has a philosophy, even if it is a heresy or merely a fallacy, has now an abnormal advantage over the masses that have no philosophy, but only a sort of broad bewilderment produced by the reading of newspapers. There were times when the democratic masses did have a philosophy. It was called a religion. But some of the thin theoretic spiders, unrepresentative but ubiquitous, have contrived to destroy that; and there is no mental machinery for common sense.” (12-20-1919)

“Something is wrong with a trend of thought that hates even the holidays of man.” (12-27-1919)

“We give the name of enlightenment to a lightning succession of illusions and delusions.” (05-29-1920)

“Thousands of business men excused themselves for brutality and cynicism by a vague notion of a newly discovered law of life. Darwinism was a failure as a true philosophy, but it was a success as a false religion.” (05-29-1920)

“… education is easy when dogma is universal. It only becomes difficult when men are divided about dogmas.” (06-12-1920)

“They have arranged to teach history without considering what history teaches; they have obtained powers of compulsion for teaching the truth to everybody; and then, looking into their own minds, have found that the truth is not in them.” (06-12-1920)

“It is the indictment against the whole of our modern mechanical and urban civilisation, and it is simply this — that people cannot enjoy themselves. That is, they cannot amuse themselves, and therefore they must be amused.” (06-19-1920)

“The mind is not free till it is free from fashion as well as from tradition; and therefore free from the future as well as the past.” (07-10-1920)

“People are taught to say that they have grown indifferent through over-familiarity with the creeds of the past. But, as a fact, when they are indifferent it is generally through complete ignorance of the creeds of the past.” (09-18-1920)

“But one thing is at least certain — that none of these people talking about evolution and progress have the most remote notion of what their ancestors really did believe.” (09-18-1920)

“The mere word “Science” is already used as a sacred and mystical word in many matters of politics and ethics.” (10-09-20)

“The mood of revolt will grow more and more bitter so long as we can prove we are right; we must pray for the higher talent of proving we are wrong.” (10-23-1920)

“But, as a matter of fact, the Conservative has exactly the same error as the Progressive. It consists in the fact that each of them allows truth to be determined by time. That is to say, he judges a thing by whether it is of yesterday or to-day or to-morrow, and not by what it is in eternity.” (10-30-1920)

“The work of Karl Marx has not been opened by one in a million of the men who would call themselves Marxians.” (10-10-1921)

“… Bolshevism and Big Business are very much alike; they are both built on the truth that everything is easy and simple if once you eliminate liberty.” (10-29-1921)

“The truth is that so long as Bolshevism looked like anarchy it was possible to mistake it for liberty. As soon as it became something like order it became certainly and obviously slavery.” (11-12-1921)

“The Bolshevist formula is an amazing example of the power of words. But it is not, as some say, the power of words to incite and madden the mind. Rather it is their terrible power to satisfy it, and send it to sleep.” (11-19-1921)

“I strongly object to the wrong arguments on the right side. I think I object to them more than to the wrong arguments on the wrong side.” (11-26-1921)

“I like the Americans for a great many reasons. I like them because even the modern thing called industrialism has not entirely destroyed in them the very ancient thing called democracy. I like them because they have a respect for work which really curbs the human tendency to snobbishness. I like them because they do not think that stupidity is a superiority in business and practical life; and because they do not think that ideas are always insanities.” (01-21-1922)

“No creed or philosophy, simple or complex, ancient or modern, can be altogether free from the peril of being employed for ends of venality or vanity.” (02-18-1922)

“[Love] is creative; it makes him do things, such as hang a poem on a tree, like a lover in Elizabethan drama; or hang himself on a tree, like a lover in Russian drama.” (02-25-1922)

“Indeed, these critics are more irrelevant when they think they are complimenting the French than when they think they are condemning them. They talk about the French wit, as if Foch had won the Battle of the Marne by a series of brilliant epigrams.” (03-11-1922)

“It is usually thought sufficient to make a vague demand for more ‘organisation,’ for the modern man is in favour of introducing order into everything except his own ideas.” (04-01-1922)

“The truth is that any advance in science leaves morality in its ancient balance; and it depends still on the inscrutable soul of man whether any discovery is mainly a benefit or mainly a calamity. This is, perhaps, the strongest argument for a morality superior to materialism, and a religion that refuses to be bullied by science” (04-01-1922)

“… while the old man may stand by some stupid custom, the young man always attacks it with some theory that turns out to be equally stupid.” (06-03-1922)

“If free thought means that we are not free to rebuke free-thinkers, it is surely a very one-sided sort of free thought. It means that they may say anything they choose about all that we hold most dear, and we must not say anything we think in protest against all that we hold most damnable.” (06-10-1922)

“All tends to the return of the simple truth that the private work is the great one and the public work the small. The human house is a paradox, for it is larger inside than out.” (08-05-1922)

“For anyone who makes himself responsible for one small baby, as a whole, will soon find that he is wrestling with gigantic angels and demons.” (08-12-1922)

First, there is that stink of stale and sham science which is one of the curses of our times. The stupidest or the wickedest action is supposed to become reasonable and respectable, not by having found a reason in scientific fact, but merely by having found any sort of excuse in scientific language.” (09-29-1923)

“Now, the Carthaginians were a highly civilized and even refined people, whose religion largely consisted of burning alive a large number of children as a sacrifice to Moloch.” (12-29-1923)

“Have we no right to protect the outlines, the forms, the achievements of man, the creations of national culture, against an infinite alien immigration of things possibly inferior and certainly unknown?” (03-01-1924)

“It is obvious, of course, that a permanent ideal is absolutely necessary to anything like progress or reform. You cannot reform what is eternally formless; and you cannot march towards what is always moving about.” (03-08-1924)

“The notion that America is advanced only shows how deceptive is the mask of machinery and materialistic science.” (08-02-1924)

“Why is it that for the last two or three centuries the educated have been generally wrong and the uneducated relatively right?  … What the educated man has generally done was to ram down everybody’s throat some premature and priggish theory which he himself afterwards discovered to be wrong; so wrong that he himself generally recoiled from it and went staggering to the opposite extreme.” (08-09-1924)

“Personally I think the Socialist and the Capitalist are very much alike, especially in the great unifying quality of both being wrong.” (11-08-1924)

“But, instead of calling things dogmas when he accepts them as dogmas, he only calls them dogmas when he does not accept them. Other people’s dogmas are dogmas; but his dogmas are only truths. This does not seem to me to show any deficiency in the matter of dogmatism.” (03-14-1925)

“And those who have this taste do, in fact, find that it helps them to think about religion, to have some sort of clear statement of what they really think about it. In other words, they can think more clearly with the assistance of a creed. They find this impression strongly supported by the style of thinking they observe in those who do it without a creed. They do not believe that Euclid would have got on any better if he had merely experienced emotions instead of writing down axioms; or even if he had tried to express the nature of an isosceles triangle by breathing softly or agitating his left leg. They believe that there is a rational side of religion — that is, that it is possible to have definition, and therefore to have doctrines or dogmas.” (03-14-1925)

“But, anyhow, the historian ought to be made to understand that his day is only a day. He is apt to treat it as if it were a day of judgment. ” (08-15-1925)

“The world is growing so wild and experimental that almost everything that can be suggested as a fancy is found to be already a fact.” (09-12-1925)

“If the collective economic power is not strong enough to tyrannise, it is not strong enough to do anything that a Socialist wants it to do. If it has not power enough to commit injustice, it has not power enough to prevent injustice.” (10-10-1925)

“The modern trouble is that people find it easy to assume that there are regulations about semaphoring; they find it easy to realise, even at an early age, that there are rules for spelling; in the same sense, at least, they can be brought to believe that there are rules for reading; but nothing in heaven or earth or under the earth will really persuade them nowadays that there are rules for reasoning.” (11-21-1925)

“When such a critic says, for instance, that faith kept the world in darkness until doubt led to enlightenment, he is himself taking things on faith, things that he has never been sufficiently enlightened to doubt.” (02-13-1926)

“The difficulty is not so much to get people to follow a commandment as to get them even to follow an argument.” (03-13-1926)

“Suppose a solitary feudal gentleman could have sent his own account of the situation suddenly all over a country or a continent, in one tremendous shower of arrows or one rush of incredibly swift horsemen! That is the power of the modern Press, now almost entirely in the hands of a few wealthy private citizens.” (05-29-1926)

“We shall soon be in a world in which a man may be howled down for saying that two and two make four. …” (08-14-1926)

“Nothing of importance can be separated entirely from its social effect, which is politics, or from its ultimate value, which is religion.” (08-14-1926)

“Anything that is fashionable is on the brink of being old-fashioned.” (08-28-1926)

“In the darkness of barbarism men knew the truth without the facts. In the twilight of half-civilization, they saw the truth illuminating the facts. In the full blaze and radiance of complete civilization they found all the facts and lost the truth forever.” (09-04-1926)

“But as long as the average passenger is in the broad-minded condition so well described by Mr. Mackail, so long as he likes one thing one at one minute and another thing the next and nothing long, or for any logical reason, the big companies that control the modern State can do with the citizen exactly as they like.” (12-11-1926)

“I protest against the power of mad minorities to treat the majority as if it were another minority.” (01-01-1927)

“To scatter flowers on a grave is simply a way in which an ordinary person can express in gesture things that only a very great poet can express in words.” (01-29-1927)

“We cannot all play like Paderewski or think like Plato, but we should be a great deal nearer to it if we could forget these little tags of talk from the daily papers and the debating clubs, and start afresh, thinking for ourselves.” (02-18-1928)

“The thing that has gone out of sight — that is the thing that a wise man will always keep in his mind.” (03-03-1928)

“For that is what is meant to-day by being broadminded: living on prejudices and never looking at them.” (05-05-1928)

“When somebody wishes to wage a social war against what all normal people have regarded as a social decency, the very first thing he does is to find some artificial term that shall sound relatively decent. He has no more of the real courage that would pit vice against virtue than the ordinary advertiser has the courage to advertise ale as arsenic.” (06-30-1928)

“But it would be true to say that the modern man often only essays, or attempts, to come to a conclusion. Whereas the mediaeval man hardly thought it worth while to think at all, unless he could come to a conclusion.” (02-16-1929)

“Those who believe in the dignity of the domestic tradition, who happen to be the overwhelming majority of mankind, regard the home as a sphere of vast social importance and supreme spiritual significance; and to talk of being confined to it is like talking of being chained to a throne, or set in the seat of judgment as if it were the stocks.” (11-16-1929)

“If the mediaeval religion had really been such a silly superstition as some of its simpler enemies represent, it quite certainly would have been swallowed up for ever in such an earthquake of enlightenment as the great Renaissance. The fact that the vision of a superb and many-sided human culture did not disturb the fundamental ideas of these late mediaeval Christians has a simple explanation: that the ideas are true.” (01-18-1930)

“But when any part of the general public is drawn into a debate on physical science, we may be certain that it has already become a debate on moral science.” (02-15-1930)

“Thus, while all over Western Europe are dotted psychological educators luring on little minds with flowers and feathers and coloured ribbons, the barbarians in Eastern Europe, filled with a passion for discipline, are conducting infant instruction with loud bangs, discharges of artillery, and deafening assertions that there is no God.” (02-22-1930)

“The doubts that come with age are not about the ideal, but about the real.” (04-26-1930)

“The moment men begin to care more for education than for religion, they begin to care more for ambition than for education. It is no longer a world in which the souls of all are equal before heaven, but a world in which the mind of each is bent on achieving unequal advantage over the other.” (04-26-1930)

“Now that everybody is talking about the public being informed of this or that, is there any way of stopping the public being misinformed in this endless and exuberant fashion?” (07-12-1930)

“Never until the nineteenth century was it supposed that the Church or Temple was a sort of side-show that had nothing to do with the State.” (07-26-1930)

“A vast amount of darkness and mystification has been brought into the world by the use of the word ‘enlightenment.’” (08-22-1931)

“Nothing so much threatens the safety of democracy as assuming that democracy is safe.” (08-22-1930)

“Nowadays, the young rebels do not want to lay down a rule, but to lay down exceptions. They want to deal with exceptions. They want to be exceptions. I do not say they wish to be regarded as very exceptional people; for that slight error has been common enough in youth, and is not altogether unknown even in age. But they have broken up the scheme of existence into exceptions, which have no real rule to connect them.” (08-29-1930)

“The world does not ask whether propositions are proved, but only whether people are persuaded.” (02-13-1932)

“For though to-day is always to-day and the moment is always modern, we are the only men in all history who fell back upon bragging about the mere fact that to-day is not yesterday. I fear that some in the future will explain it by saying that we had precious little else to brag about.” (03-12-1932)

“I do not doubt that the despotism of Darius or Xerxes over the Persians would have presented much more internal unity and rapid efficiency. And yet … and yet, I could never quite bring myself to wish that Europe had lost the Battle of Marathon.” (04-23-1932)

“I have been accused of being an enemy of the Jews, though I do not admit that I am. ” (06-11-1932)

“It grows plainer, every day, that those of us who cling to crumbling creeds and dogmas, and defend the dying traditions of the Dark Ages, will soon be left alone defending the most obviously decaying of all those ancient dogmas: the idea called Democracy.” (07-16-1932)

“The vague Liberals of the nineteenth century cut away the Divine ground from under Democracy, and Democracy was left to stand by itself. In other words, it is left to fall by itself. Jefferson said that men were given equal rights by their Creator. Ingersoll said they had no Creator, but had received equal rights from nowhere. Even in the democratic atmosphere of America, it began to dawn on a great many people that it is very difficult to prove that men ever received the equal rights at all.” (09-03-1932)

“We are already drifting horribly near to a New War, which will probably start on the Polish border.” (09-24-1932)

“If I hold different views from those of my countrymen, it is my business to convert my countrymen, if possible, by direct and straightforward arguments addressed to them and addressed to the question. … I do not like this method of educational propaganda very much.” (10-29-1932)

“There is a certain type of Modernist who manages to accept a thing at the same time as fashionable and as final.” (11-12-1932)

“There is so much that is nonsensical in the daily news-sheet, and so little that is new in the daily life, that there may be a dangerous breach between the unreal and the real. It is not the most commonly discussed of the problems of the Press; but it is one of the most vital, or deadly.” (01-14-1933)

“The whole is pervaded by a queer prejudice; to the effect that we gain liberty or enlargement merely by losing the habit of respect for this or that idea that humanity has respected. But we are not enlarged by that loss, any more than by the loss of any other sensibility to anything that is large.” (1-21-1933)

“That, it seems to me, is the trouble just now; not that so many people have found reasons for discontent, as there are always reasons for discontent, but that so many people wish to be discontented. So many people are discontented unless they can be discontented.” (02-18-1933)

“… the new philosophies and new religions and new social systems cannot draw up their own plans for emancipating mankind without still further enslaving mankind.” (03-11-1933)

“And there is always a misunderstanding between the two types of thinkers, those who live on two planes of thought; the people who think of human beings as humanity, and the people who think of humanity as human beings.” (07-01-1933)

“It is the new orthodoxy that a man may be uncertain of everything; so long as he is not certain of anything.” (08-19-1933)

“It is amusing to reflect that in a few years, perhaps, all our political and ethical titles and labels will mean the exact opposite of what they say.” (09-30-1933)

“The trouble with the modern disputant is not that he does not understand the case for his opponent’s convictions. It is that he does not understand the case for his own convictions.” (11-04-1933)

“On the whole, Mythology is a much better thing than Propaganda. Mythology is simply believing whatever you can imagine. Propaganda is, more often, believing that other people will believe whatever you can invent.” (05-26-1934)

“The men who started, a few hundred years ago, weaving the modern philosophy from a few primary ideas, which were mostly primary truths, have managed since that time to get all human thought into an endless and hopeless tangle. And that is a more cruel sort of constriction even than the old coils of bondage. For they at least had been tied with a deliberate purpose, and could be untied with a deliberate purpose. But even those who have tied us up in a tangle do not know how to untie it.” (06-16-1934)

“One very odd fact, for instance, is that the anti-traditionalist never asks the traditionalist why he follows a tradition. He will gather impressions about the idea from anyone in the world, except the man who happens to hold it.” (06-30-1934)

“Any sort of people who happened to irritate us, by not being the same sort of people as ourselves, only needed to be cured by an electric shock from the new electric battery called Education.” (01-12-1935)

“First, it is odd, in a question of reverence to religion, that the only religion we do, in fact, expose to superficial irreverence is our own religion.” (03-23-1935)

“Now, if there is one thing in which all my moods are at one, if there is one thing that connects my earlier optimistic antics with my last doctrinal convictions, is that I do most violently revolt against despair. According to my first instincts it was a perversion; in my present faith it is a sin.” (0-30-1935)

“… Progress is never merely the solving of problems; it is always also the setting of problems. … Progress is the mother of Problems. I do not say that Progress is therefore undesirable; or that the problems are therefore insoluble. I only say there will always be numberless new problems to solve.” (04-06-1935)

“One of the chief problems of our time is the prevalence of popular ideas which are really only the reversal of normal ideas.” (04-27-1935)

“Tyranny is the opposite of authority. For authority simply means right; and nothing is authoritative except what somebody has a right to do, and therefore is right in doing. It often happens in this imperfect world that he has the right to do it and not the power to do it. But he cannot have a shred of authority if he merely has the power to do it and not the right to do it.” (06-29-1935)

“Orthodoxy is that primary principle, or right reason in things, by which they can be judged independently of new fads or of old prejudices. There is an intrinsic intellectual rightness that can be judged in all times on its own terms; and orthodoxy was the term I once found convenient for it. (07-06-1935)

“The theory of progress may be argued; but it must be proved. It is necessary to show that certain social stages are superior to previous social stages on their own merits; and in many cases it may be possible to prove it. In some cases it is certainly possible to disprove it.” (07-13-1935)

“The worst argument in the world is a date. For it is actually taking as fixed the one thing that we really know is fugitive; and staking all upon to-day at the moment when it is turning into yesterday. (07-13-1935)

“I cannot believe that men are quite so different that any of the want to be the same.” (07-20-1935)

“But what goads the experienced persons to a senile rage, approximating to madness or murder, is the fact that they are asked to accept, as fresh, ideas which even in their own experience are stale to the point of stinking …” (07-27-1935)

“Between newspaper stunts and newspaper suppressions on the one side, and dictatorships with their censorships on the other, it is highly probably that our immediate posterity will know less about what is going on than they did before there was a printing press.” (08-24-1935)

“… the value of anything, the question of whether it is or is not good in itself, is now hopelessly confused by the fuss about the man who was the first to find it” (09-07-1935)

“For the whole world of mere stunts and scoops and trading and self-advertisement is spiritually a world utterly dead; although it is very noisy. It is, in the very precise and literal meaning of the phrase, a howling wilderness.” (09-14-1935)

“The modern way of talking does not run any risk of considering man without mankind. It is now in mortal peril of considering mankind without man. It talks about a social organism, forgetting that it is a metaphor to call the state an organism.” (09-21-1935)

“Still less have we got the World-State of modernity; in which millions of different sorts of people will somehow manage to be as independent as rebels and yet as unanimous as slaves.” (11-30-1935)

“The old way of liberating human life was to lift it into a more intense consciousness; the new way of liberating it is to let it lapse into a sort of absence of mind.” (12-21-1935)

“Thus I will admit anything against old customs, except the idea that they are dead and meaningless. It is the society without customs that becomes dead and meaningless.” (12-21-1935)

“The modern world has, in the literal sense, made everybody much too insignificant.” (12-21-1935)

“If families will not be responsible for their own children then officials will be responsible for other people’s children … The total control of human life will pass to the State; and it will be a very Totalitarian State.” (01-04-1936)

“What has harmed modern government, including what we call representative government, is a certain quality that is seldom mentioned, though I think I have mentioned it here, for I think it is very serious. It is the loss of the old ideal which associated a love of liberty with a scorn of luxury.” (01-25-1936)

“The mere guesses of popular science have already hardened into the certainties of public opinion.” (03-28-1936)

“The doctor is satisfied to find any remedy that will cure the disease; it does not bother him that, in the long development of the philosophy of medicine, the remedy is worse than the disease. So long as his argument is immediately applicable, he does not care if it lays the world waste by being universally inapplicable.” (06-02-1936)

Leave a Reply