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What's Wrong With the World by GK Chesterton

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I am required to read this book for a European history class. It is old, published in 1910, so it is in the public domain and on Wikisource. I found Chapter 1.6 relevant to this site, in particular the last paragraph:

"What's Wrong With the World by GK Chesterton" wrote:

I am well aware that the word "property" has been defied in our time by the corruption of the great capitalists. One would think, to hear people talk, that the Rothchilds and the Rockefellers were on the side of property. But obviously they are the enemies of property; because they are enemies of their own limitations. They do not want their own land; but other people's. When they remove their neighbor's landmark, they also remove their own. A man who loves a little triangular field ought to love it because it is triangular; anyone who destroys the shape, by giving him more land, is a thief who has stolen a triangle. A man with the true poetry of possession wishes to see the wall where his garden meets Smith's garden; the hedge where his farm touches Brown's. He cannot see the shape of his own land unless he sees the edges of his neighbor's. It is the negation of property that the Duke of Sutherland should have all the farms in one estate; just as it would be the negation of marriage if he had all our wives in one harem.

Thoughts?

I recommend taking a look at the rest of the book, or at least the rest of that chapter. It is quite interesting.

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Might take a look at more of

Might take a look at more of it, but for now I'd say I kinda agree with him except with calling what he's describing capitalism because indeed, theft, fraud and use of state to gain unfair advantages isn't what capitalism was supposed to be, albeit technically capitalism does involve the state in a minimal role of enforcement (which is why I am an anarcho-capitalist, because there is a proven method of rights "enforcement" (more like protection) without a single coercive monopoly (the state).

Rockefellers and Rothchilds seem to be the men who, according to some, plot and manipulate governments to their advantage. To them individual freedom is apparently meaningless and since property is necessary for individual freedom to exist, and they have no problem with violating it, they're hardly supporters of property rights, hardly even capitalists. They're fascists of the highest order, the ultimate thieves.

And I've also heard of another ideology which goes hand in hand with this called "marxist leninism" which as I've heard it described apparently comes down to this principle: "do whatever you have to do to gain as much power over others as you can, anything, nothing is prohibited, not even lying, coercion, fraud, theft, intimidation, murder, war.. anything goes". And it's a real ideology with real people following it, and they probably even think what they're doing is good, because the reason they want power is to order the world as they feel is best for the world. It's really the ultimate form of imposing ones own opinion on how the world should be by force on everyone else "for their own good", regardless of whether they actually voluntary consent to it.

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For a balance in views

One of my favorite authors regarding capitalism is Thomas Sowell. Check him out on Wikipedia. His books are highly recommended.

I am a BIG Chesterton fan, but the quote needs to be balanced with more general wisdom: it is unfair to choose "greed" as a defining characteristic of capitalism, since greed is so widely distributed throughout mankind. It's like saying "having eyes" is a defining characteristic of mammals. To add to Libervisco's point, what we all hope for in a democracy is for everyone to have fair options that can be exercised. The purpose of having laws is to protect us from the Rothschilds and Rockefellers of the world, and the purpose of the U.S. Constitution is to protect the U.S. citizenry from the government. Regardless of the imperfections of the capitalist system in the context of American democracy, the socialist alternative REDUCES the decision making process to the set of options preferred by "society," i.e. the government.

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Bit of agreement and bit of disagreement.
rockinrickowen wrote:

One of my favorite authors regarding capitalism is Thomas Sowell. Check him out on Wikipedia. His books are highly recommended.

I am a BIG Chesterton fan, but the quote needs to be balanced with more general wisdom: it is unfair to choose "greed" as a defining characteristic of capitalism, since greed is so widely distributed throughout mankind. It's like saying "having eyes" is a defining characteristic of mammals.

That was very well said and I agree completely. The only caveat might be that the term "greed" might have different connotations for different people, but in any case we all are self interested individuals, inevitably. Greed in the worst case is this self interest amplified in what some may argue is excessive manner, but given that it's just an outgrowth of a more fundamental human nature looking at greed as the problem is missing the point. But I feel like preaching to the choir. Smiling

rockinrickowen wrote:

To add to Libervisco's point, what we all hope for in a democracy is for everyone to have fair options that can be exercised. The purpose of having laws is to protect us from the Rothschilds and Rockefellers of the world, and the purpose of the U.S. Constitution is to protect the U.S. citizenry from the government. Regardless of the imperfections of the capitalist system in the context of American democracy, the socialist alternative REDUCES the decision making process to the set of options preferred by "society," i.e. the government.

That's how it's supposed to work in theory yes, but it's obviously not how it worked out in practice and I think this again comes down to fundamentals of human nature or even the nature of sentient beings in general. Said government wouldn't be what it is if it didn't hold what Obama himself termed a "monopoly on violence", a coercive monopoly. But human beings do not wish to be coerced, it's against their impulse to prosper because we each desire to define our own path and choose our own actions. However, when we believe in some form of coercion as legitimate our self interests combined with this legitimization pushes us into a self contradictory position: we don't want coercion, yet we're supporting it by supporting government.

Worst of all, instead of becoming a way of restraining Rockefellers of the world it becomes what they depend on and manipulate most. Government, because it has this legitimized monopoly on violence, provides them with a short cut to power they otherwise wouldn't have. Constitution soon becomes, like all laws after all, a mere peace of paper. Government people often break their own laws and as USA today shows, they don't really give a damn about the constitution either. In "7 ways government screws up the economy" I wrote in the 3rd section on "The Corporation" how government creates and empowers corporatism.

Regards, and welcome.

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