4/8/13

"Representative Government"

“GOVERNMENT (and especially representative Government) now actually exists to protect those very abuses which Government (and especially representative Government) was actually created to prevent.

The plain, natural history of all political institutions is that you want a policeman to keep his eye on the traffic; but you also want somebody to keep his eye on the policeman. Parliaments, petitions, elections, juries, all the things that were ever rightly or wrongly called free institutions, all rest on the idea that we cannot put our trust in princes, because we cannot put it (without some balance of dispute and examination) in any child of man. But the Party System, as it is by this time, is quite the most cunning instrument for preventing such criticism ever devised by human ingenuity. It silences a criticism, it stops all self-purging, it turns back all repentance, and freezes all hopeful anger far more than the most brutal methods of the old tyrannies. The despot did dismiss a servant for cheating. The aristocrats did break a fellow-aristocrat for treason or cowardice. Common human annoyances could be counted on to kick common human nuisances.


Our method is much subtler. We set up one man and call him Liberty; we set up another man and call him Loyalty. If the first man becomes a tyrant, all who love Liberty must help him to tyrannise. If the second man betrays his country, all who love Loyalty must help him to betray his country. All other systems have left reform doubtful; this is the only system that has nearly succeeded in making it impossible."

~G.K. Chesterton: Illustrated London News, 2/1/13.

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