G.K. Chesterton: It is the State which changes; it is the State which destroys…

“It is the State which changes; it is the State which destroys; it is nearly always the State which persecutes. The Totalitarian State is now making a clean sweep of all our old notions of liberty, even more than the French Revolution made a clean sweep of all the old ideas of loyalty. It is the Church that excommunicates; but in that very word implies that a communion stands open for a restored communicant. It is the State that exterminates; it is the State that abolishes absolutely and altogether; whether it is the American State abolishing beer, or the Fascist State abolishing parties; or the Hitlerite State abolishing almost everything but itself.” G.K. Chesterton from The Shallows and the Wells.


  1. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts when contrasting the above with this related news item:

    The Ugly Brutishness of Modern Britain
    A demotic egalitariansim, allied with multiculturalism, has rendered civility passé.



    A few days ago at a crowded bus-stop in the city of Nottingham, a fat youth of about 13 started to throw food at a friend. Some of it nearly hit me and landed on the ground just beyond me, making a mess.

    “Excuse me,” I said to the youth, “could you pick that up?”

    “Shut the f— up!” he snarled, with real hatred contorting his face.

    Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, in England, come—obscenities. No one at the bus stop dared say, much less do, anything. For increasingly, the English are a people who know neither inner nor outer restraint. They turn to aggression, if not to violence, the moment they are thwarted, even in trifles. And those who are neither aggressive nor violent are by no means sure that the law will take their side in the event of a fracas. It is better, or easier, for them to pretend not to notice anything, even if it means living in constant fear.

    Under the circumstances, it is hardly surprising that, according to a survey recently conducted by Lloyds Bank, a fifth of all people with assets of more than $640,000 are thinking of leaving the country. Personally I am surprised it is so few. Other surveys have shown that at least 50% of the population wants to leave, in the main to flee the other 50% of the population.

    It is difficult to overstate the deleterious effect on the quality of life in modern Britain of incivility and bad behavior. One small manifestation is the littering of the country. No hedgerow, even in the most beautiful countryside, is without its discarded plastic bottles of soft drinks and wrappings of take-away food. In the matter of litter, the British are now by far the dirtiest people in the Western world, a sign of their unsocial mindset.

    Every Friday and Saturday night, the police riot vans come to my otherwise charming small market town in Shropshire where, were it not for the mass drunkenness of young people, no police would be needed. Not long ago I returned home just before midnight to find, about a hundred yards from my front door, the police bending solicitously over a collapsed, scantily clad and lumpen, drunken young woman lying unconscious in her own vomit. There is only so much of this kind of thing that one can take.

    The paralysis of the public administration in the face of the problem induces a state of despair in the more civilized half of the population. (The public sector now accounts for more than 50% of British GDP, so the paralysis is not caused by a lack of resources.) Recently, for example, three people stripped naked a vulnerable young man of low intelligence, tied him to a lamppost, covered him in food, insulted him and left him there for four hours, then cut him down so carelessly that he banged his head on the ground (by the time he reached the hospital he was in a state of hypothermia). They were not even sent to prison.

    In other words, practically no behavior is now beyond the pale for the British state. Sadly, the freedom to behave badly is almost the only freedom valued by, or left to, young Britons.

    The people who want to flee Britain are not economic migrants. It is not high taxes that they object to (many want to move to France, where taxes are not low), but barbarism. They are cultural refugees in search of a more civilized homeland, where fewer people are uncouth or militantly vulgar.

    What has caused this collapse of civility in Britain, which was, within living memory, a civil country? In my view, it is a demotic version of egalitariansim, allied with multiculturalism.

    Even middle-class people now behave in an increasingly uncouth and rough fashion in Britain because they think that by doing so they are expressing their solidarity with the lower reaches of their society. Imitation, they think, is the highest form of sympathy. This, of course, is an implicit insult to many of the poor, for poverty and unmannerliness are by no means the same thing.

    Multiculturalism is damaging because it denies that, when it comes to culture, there is a better and a worse, a higher and a lower—only difference. The word culture is used here in its anthropological sense, that is to mean the totality of behavior that is not directly biological.

    Hence any conduct—lying scantily clad in a pool of vomit, for example—is part of a culture, and since all cultures, ex hypothesi, are of equal worth, no one has the moral right to criticize, much less forbid, any kind of behavior. And if I have to accept your culture, you have to accept mine. If you don’t like it—tough. Unfortunately, the lowest level of culture is the easiest to reach and, again ex hypothesi, there is no reason to aim higher.

    Incivility in Britain thus has a militant or ideological edge to it. The uncivil British are not uncivilized by default—they actively hate and repudiate civilization.

    Theodore Dalrymple is the pen name of the physician Anthony Daniels. He is a contributing editor at the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal.

    A version of this article appeared April 20, 2012, on page A13 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: The Ugly Brutishness of Modern Britain.

    • Fr. Hans Jacobse :

      Multi-culturalism was a suicide pact, a way to denigrate the dominant values and lead culture into degeneration. More along the same lines:

    • Fr. Hans Jacobse :

      Harry, the thumbnail version: if people don’t govern themselves, in the end they will cede their freedom to the state in order to be governed.

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

      Harry, one other thing. England has been in this quandary before, at the start of the industrial age that decimated the morals of the working class. John Wesley turned that around in the Great Awakening. What we need ultimately is moral renewal, repentance really.

  2. cynthia curran :

    Well, Charles Murray wasn’t just discussing about the liberal elite as some conseratives think. In fact, he discusses about a church attending upper-class. These are people that attend like Rick Warren’s church Saddelback and so forth. And of course upper-middle class that attend Roman Catholic churches and a few Orthodox churches as well as protestant ones. The kids in these churches tend to have less kids out of wedlock and so forth. Great Britian as few people attending church but they are some that are devout. The lower white class in Britian along with the lower immirgant class acted like a chapter out of the Nika Riot, burning down the city proving that bad behavior is not a modern thing.

  3. cynthia curran :

    One thing what is happening in Greece, the state can’t afford to pay the priests in Greece, so many are being let go. And the Church is trying to go into business adventures to make up for the revence lost. Also, the church is less able to attend to the poor since less money from the state. This is why it might show that getting welfare into the hands of the state isn’t always good when the state lacks monrey.

    • macedonianReader :

      Well if they are having this problem they can just adopt the methods the Greeks are utilizing in America. Enlist an Americn Priest who has an ounce of missionary know-how to build a parish for them. Then when he gets to the point of inking the deal on a new building and solidifying the parish, kick him out and place a nice Greek one in his place to reap the bennies and tow the party line on the Macedonian name issue. As long as the Greek Priest is able to set up an annual Greek Festival from that point onward, he’s accomplished the exit strategy.

      Works well, think.

      • I heard this is happening to Fr. John Peck. Met. Gerasimos is booting him to put in a Greek priest. The parish has something like over 100 members now. A friend who knows people there told me people at the parish are devastated. Does anyone know if he is getting a severance or is he just being thrown under the bus?

        • Nicole Troon :

          How can we help Fr John? He is an OUTSTANDING resource for the OCA and Orthodoxy…I have no idea how to translate his many spiritual, personal, and organizational talents and gifts into the “regular” working world, do you?

          • Fr. John is a first rate priest but this whole turn of events shows that in the GOA you cannot be too successful in your work. Anything that threatens omogenia before Orthodoxy will eventually be surpressed. Fr. John’s essays are an example to us all. He is a courageous pastor full of missionary zeal and integrity.

      • OrthodoxReader :

        No severance. He’s being thrown overboard.


  1. […] ~Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica: Our Thoughts Determine Our Lives Filed under: Christian, darkness to light, Eastern Orthodox, Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica, Elders, good/evil, Wisdom Tagged: golden embroidery, religion, spirituality, theology ☆ ☆ ☆10) G.K. Chesterton: It is the State which changes; it is the State which destroys…http://www.aoiusa.org/2012/04/g-k-chesterton-it-is-the-state-which-changes-it-is-the-state-which-destroys/By Fr. Johannes Jacobse on Friday, Apr 20th 8:19 amKeywords: Culture, Politics, G.K. Chesterton […]

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