He is a deadly public danger…

RichFool640

“Well,” he asked, with no unfriendly stare, “and what have you found?”

“No,” I answered, shaking my head sadly, “I do not think it would be quite kind to tell you what I have found.” – G. K. Chesterton, The Fool

Since it is April Fool’s Day, it seems appropriate to discuss some incarnation of foolishness.  The Fool is part of a collection of essays discussing the “old controversies” as Dale Ahlquist, President of the The American Chesterton Society, puts it.  And one of the old controversies is allowing that most undemocratic of things: the rule of society by the sensibilities and desires of the few.   Chesterton observes this sort of man who rules the many into poverty and disenfranchisement “by always taking the view of everything most comfortable for his country, his class, and his private personality.”

The moral is that a certain sort of person does exist, to whose glory this article is dedicated. He is not the ordinary man. He is not the miner, who is sharp enough to ask for the necessities of existence. He is not the mine-owner, who is sharp enough to get a great deal more, by selling his coal at the best possible moment. He is not the aristocratic politician, who has a cynical but a fair sympathy with both economic opportunities. But he is the man who appears in scores of public places open to the upper middle class or (that less known but more powerful section) the lower upper class. Men like this all over the country are really saying whatever comes into their heads in their capacities of justice of the peace, candidate for Parliament, Colonel of the Yeomanry, old family doctor, Poor Law guardian, coroner, or above all, arbiter in trade disputes. He suffers, in the literal sense, from softening of the brain; he has softened it by always taking the view of everything most comfortable for his country, his class, and his private personality. He is a deadly public danger. But as I have given him his name at the beginning of this article there is no need for me to repeat it at the end.

-G. K. Chesterton, The Fool, A Miscellany of Men, 1912

Read the essay: The Fool

image source: Parable of the Rich Fool, Rembrandt, wikimedia commons

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