Friday, August 31, 2012

Signs and Portents

By A.S. Haley

With all the campaign brouhaha crowding out the news, it is very difficult to get a fix on the bigger picture. Make no mistake, however -- the bigger picture exists, even if we have trouble seeing it. Because man is fallen, and is therefore constantly engaged in looking at things that distract and detain him, it takes a special character to be able to lift one's perspective above and beyond the daily muck.

I do not pretend to have that character -- though I believe I can learn, through the eyes of those far greater than I, something of the intimations and portents which motivated them to warn of storm clouds gathering. One such individual with whom I have become much more familiar in recent days, through the writings he left us, is the marvelous English sage and journalist (for he was both at the same time), Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936).

As you can see from his dates, Chesterton did not live to see the beginning of the Second World War. But that is not to say that he did not foresee its advent.

Speaking in Toronto in 1930, ten years before Germany would invade Poland, Chesterton took as his topic "Culture and the Coming Peril." The "peril" of which he warned his audience was essentially the onset of industrialism and mass production, which required the creation (through advertising and propaganda) of mass markets, and whose creation he foresaw in turn would have the consequence of destroying individuality and local character. (Indeed, just eighteen years after Chesterton spoke, we would have George Orwell's 1984, which spelled out the same consequences in vivid detail.)

Read it all here.

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