His Childlike Faith in Politics
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.
Chesterton was told, by those older and wiser, that as he matured, he would lose his ideals and focus on the practical. It turns out exactly the opposite occurred. It is not his ideals that have been lost, but his faith in those who pretend to speak for those ideals:
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.
He was raised a liberal, and has always believed in democracy – meaning “a self-governing humanity.” This is based on two principles: first, the things in common to all men are more important than the things peculiar to each man; second, the political instinct is one of those things held in common.
This might seem slightly off, but Chesterton will explain: the political instinct is made manifest in the laws of the state. But Chesterton does not see this as time bound; tradition plays a fundamental role:
It is obvious that tradition is only democracy extended through time. It is trusting to a consensus of common human voices rather than to some isolated or arbitrary record.
Tradition is nothing more than the extension of the franchise, taking into account the knowledge and wisdom of those who came before, who learned lessons in our stead and passed these lessons on to us. Tradition refuses to submit to the oligarch of the moment:
All democrats object to men being disqualified by the accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by the accident of death.
A good man’s opinion is of value, whether he is alive today or in some time past. And in this journey, Chesterton finds that all that he discovers has been discovered in the past – it had been discovered by Christianity. But before coming to this, he begins with his childhood fairytales.
Fairyland is nothing but the sunny country of common sense. It is not earth that judges heaven, but heaven that judges
Article from LewRockwell