Thursday, July 06, 2006

GKChesterton Prophesies on Responsibility

When you realize that this was written in 1908, it's even more forceful:

Thinkers of this type always reply that we must not think of the fault of the individual..., but of what they call "the fault of the system." I believe the system to be the darkest and dreariest hole in which oppressors hid themselves from human anger. ...We are to refrain from bringing the responsibility home to anybody until some day it simultaneously comes home to everybody.

Because it is not easy for any competitive pork butcher at present to be exactly like St. Francis of Assisi, therefore we must ask to dinner and elect to Parliament the pork-butcher who is exactly like Nero; the one particular pork-butcher who butchers men like pork.

...let us realize that there is also the abominably bad case in which the system needs to be protected from the man; in which he is actually making it more devilish than the Devil intended it to be. Let us attack him by name. long as we go on cursing the system, the system will be perfectly safe.

I can think of a few applications for the excerpt above.

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