Nearly Always The State…

We are living in difficult times. Our fears, and we all have them, often are being inflamed for purposes other than what a normal caution would advise. It is that moment when we need charity and grace to override our personal fears and realize just exactly what liberty means and its more spiritual outworking – free will – means. We must leave people, each one, their right to make their own decision. And that is hard. But let us remember that God has been doing that for each one of us for a very long time. None of us can see all ends. But He can.  

It is the State which changes; it is the State which destroys; it is nearly always the State which persecutes. The Totalitarian State is now making a clean sweep of all our old notions of liberty, even more than the French Revolution made a clean sweep of all the old ideas of loyalty. It is the Church that excommunicates; but in that very word implies that a communion stands open for a restored communicant. It is the State that exterminates; it is the State that abolishes absolutely and altogether; whether it is the American State abolishing beer, or the Fascist State abolishing parties; or the Hitlerite* State abolishing almost everything but itself.”

G. K. Chesterton, The Well and the Shallows, 1935.

*Someone asked of this quote: Does he mean Hitler?  Yes. He means Hitler. It’s true that WW2 didn’t officially start until 1939. But Hitler was building his power base and espousing his theories well before that time. Mein Kampf was written in 1925. And The Well and Shallows in 1935, 4 years before war breaks out. Dale Ahlquist brings out in his lecture, “The End of the Armistice” how prescient Chesterton was about what was about to be unleashed in Europe and especially against England in many of his essays from GK’s Weekly. It’s a great lecture for a quick read on the time period and Chesterton’s observations on Hitler.

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