Thursday, May 31, 2007

What's Wrong With Jeff Culbreath?

Blogger and back-to-the-lander Jeff Culbreath's recent post, What's Wrong With G.K. Chesterton, caught my attention. "Gout" says one, "high cholesterol" says another, "his life was too short" says a third. These we might agree upon; Jeff takes issue not with these, but with G.K.'s defense of the common man and democracy. The Regular Joes of Chesterton's time probably had a bit more common sense than those of today. But if I were to ask the first ten RJs for their honest to God opinions, then I firmly believe that the bulk of those opinions would be in conformity with the democracy of the dead. The problem today is not a rule by the people, but the sensitivity that so many feel: that Truth should be quieted so as not to offend any person.

On another note, I noticed a link on Culbreath's page to something called What's Wrong with the World (www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net). This new spot on the web is a group blog edited by Paul J. Cella.

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2 comments:

Jeff Culbreath said...

Thanks for the link and the laugh.

You wrote:

"But if I were to ask the first ten RJs for their honest to God opinions, then I firmly believe that the bulk of those opinions would be in conformity with the democracy of the dead."

But that's a belief that is demonstrably false. Note the opinion survey in my blog entry. The results of this survey are entirely entirely consistent with my own experience. The contorted opinion of RJs on the subject basically amounts to this: "Do whatever you want - who am I to tell anyone what not to do? - but just don't ask me to approve."

If you're still not convinced, stand on the corner of a busy street in any city with a population over 50,000 and ask the first ten people you meet the same question.

Chestertonian said...

Jeff, your criticisms are ok so far as they go. Your problem is a failure to balance what Chesterton said about the common man with what he said about cultural and political forces that undermine and corrupt the common man, particularly compulsury education and the relentless efforts of cultural elites to wreck all traditional moralities.

Chesterton recognized the corrupting influence of these forces even in his own day, and predicted that things would only get worse: "The next great heresy will be a heresy against morality, especially sexual morality, and its center will be not on Moscow, but in Manhattan" (quoting from memory, so it may be off a bit; but the meaning is there.)

Chesterton also said that the main result of compulsory education was to rob the common people of their common sense.

It is not accurate to criticize Chesterton for being "wrong" about democracy, without also taking into account what he wrote about forces that undermine democracy.