The Illiberality of Modern Ideas
In actual modern Europe a freethinker does not mean a man who thinks for himself. It means a man who, having thought for himself, has come to one particular class of conclusions, the material origin of phenomena, the impossibility of miracles, the improbability of personal immortality and so on. And none of these ideas are particularly liberal. Nay, indeed almost all these ideas are definitely illiberal, as it is the purpose of this chapter to show.
Chesterton proposes that on every matter insisted upon by the modern (for his time, and more so in our time) liberals, these will result in the illiberalizing of social practice. Keeping in mind that this book was written in 1908, when Europe was at its peak in terms of realizing classical liberal ideas, Chesterton presciently saw where this road would lead. This is noted in Jacques Barzun’s work, From Dawn to Decadence:
Two writers, Chesterton and Belloc, did express alarm at the coming of The Servile State, but they were not heeded in the tumult of violent ideas and events.
Regarding Chesterton, the evidence is to be found in many chapters of this current book – including the one I am covering in this post. Regarding Belloc, The Servile State is a book authored by Belloc in 1912, in which he repudiates the convergence of big business with the state. We see, all too obviously and a century too late, where this road has led.
Chesterton offers that every contemporary proposal to bring freedom to the church is simply a proposal to bring tyranny to the world. The only solution to this problem is what Chesterton calls orthodoxy.
I may, it is true, twist orthodoxy so as partly to justify a tyrant. But I can easily make up a German philosophy to justify him entirely.
Chesterton refers back to the previous chapter, where he demonstrated that the only logical negation of oligarchy was the idea of original sin, as all men are backsliders – an idea which has been negated by those who consider themselves to be liberal. In this chapter he will address a few more similar ideas.
Miracles: it is believed more liberal to disbelieve in miracles than to believe in them. But how limiting has this become. Our disbelief in miracles has reduced our belief to the materialism that has proven that free will is an illusion.
In their doubt of miracles there was a faith in a
Article from LewRockwell