One of the books I continually re-read is Dietrich Von Hildebrands Trojan Horse in the City of God. I share the following Chestertonian idea. pp. 108 -109
"Progressivism holds that human culture always improves
.........But the thesis of progressivism is by no means confirmed by the facts of human history. Indeed, it is flatly contradicted by it. Progress can be spoken of in certain domains only.
It is true that in the course of history man has acquired an incomparably greater knowledge of the material world. In the natural sciences, in medicine, and especially in technology in the widest sense of the term, an enormous progress has been achieved.
When it comes to the question of a truly human life, when we look at history from the point of view of true humanism, it is impossible to conclude that real progress has been achieved. There are ascents in cultural achievement followed by descents. There are epochs of extraordinary cultural and spiritual plenitude, dominated by an overwhelming multiplicity of geniuses. But periods such as fifth-century Athens or fourteenth and fifteenth century Florence are mysterious gifts which are anything but the result of a steady progress.......Who could claim that the second century before Christ was on a higher cultural level than was the fifth century before Christ in Athens? It is impossible to overlook the obvious ups and downs that take place in history with respect to culture and true humanism. "
Von Hildebrand is much like Chesterton. Every paragraph has meaning. Chesterton is definitely the romantic, Von Hildebrand is more the wounded poet.