Friday, 24 June 2011

Revolution - or permanent anarchy? GK Chesterton on the Suffragette strategy

*

"The objection to the Suffragettes is not that they are Militant Suffragettes. On the contrary, it is that they are not militant enough.

"A revolution is a military thing; it has all the military virtues; one of which is that it comes to an end. Two parties fight with deadly weapons, but under certain rules of arbitrary honor; the party that wins becomes the government and proceeds to govern. The aim of civil war, like the aim of all war, is peace.

*

"Now the Suffragettes cannot raise civil war in this soldierly and decisive sense; first, because they are women; and, secondly, because they are very few women. But they can raise something else; which is altogether another pair of shoes.

"They do not create revolution; what they do create is anarchy; and the difference between these is not a question of violence, but a question of fruitfulness and finality.

"Revolution of its nature produces government; anarchy only produces more anarchy. (...) You can only knock off the King's head once. But you can knock off the King's hat any number of times. Destruction is finite, obstruction is infinite: so long as rebellion takes the form of mere disorder (instead of an attempt to enforce a new order) there is no logical end to it; it can feed on itself and renew itself forever.

(...)

"It is exactly this unmilitant quality in the Suffragettes that makes their superficial problem. The problem is that their action has none of the advantages of ultimate violence; it does not afford a test.

"War is a dreadful thing; but it does prove two points sharply and unanswerably--numbers, and an unnatural valor. One does discover the two urgent matters; how many rebels there are alive, and how many are ready to be dead.

"But a tiny minority, even an interested minority, may maintain mere disorder forever.

*

"The working objection to the Suffragette philosophy is simply that overmastering millions of women do not agree with it. I am aware that some maintain that women ought to have votes whether the majority wants them or not; but this is surely a strange and childish case of setting up formal democracy to the destruction of actual democracy.

"What should the mass of women decide if they do not decide their general place in the State? These people practically say that females may vote about everything except about Female Suffrage."

*

The Unmilitary Suffragette, from What's Wrong with the World by GK Chesterton, 1910

***


Comment:

A tiny minority, even an interested minority, may maintain mere disorder forever - this is a striking recognition, a century ago,  of the methods of the Left which have led to political correctness: rule by the tiny minority.
 
Obstruction is infinite: so long as rebellion takes the form of mere disorder there is no logical end to it; it can feed on itself and renew itself forever - well, yes indeed.

You can knock off the King's hat any number of times - how can such behaviour be stopped (especially when it is tacitly approved by the King's rivals)?

Modern society seems unable to deal with this kind of stubborn, unrelenting disorder by any means other than yielding.

Presumably, the only effective methods would be judged too harsh to be acceptable in modern society: hence tiny minorities of really persistent troublemakers get their way, sooner or later.
 
*

6 comments:

  1. Modern society seems unable to deal with this kind of stubborn, unrelenting disorder by any means other than yielding.

    Presumably, the only effective methods would be judged too harsh to be acceptable in modern society: hence tiny minorities of really persistent troublemakers get their way, sooner or later.


    The tiniest disorder is tolerated if committed by Leftist groups or in pursuit of Leftist goals. Disorder by Rightist groups or for Rightist goals is not tolerated at all. Just try using political violence for "racist" objectives and you'll find yourself in jail and charged with a "hate crime" so fast your head will spin.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes - although these legal sanctions are recent developments of leftism, from the past decade or two.

    Relatively tough sanctions against the right are seen as acceptable - but not against the Left - especially not against PC-favoured Leftist groups, like the Suffragettes (upper class women intellectuals).

    ReplyDelete
  3. The day women were given the right to vote, was the day the western world began its meteoric plunge into the abyss.
    Why?
    Because from that day on, emotion counteracted reason, on a one to one basis.
    Some men may be emotional, but almost all are capable of reason. Some women may be able to reason, but almost all are emotional.
    Emotion is necessary for certain things, like raising babies and comforting men.
    Reason is necessary for other things, like raising a civilization and making difficult decisions.

    ReplyDelete
  4. A tiny minority, even an interested minority, may maintain mere disorder forever - this is a striking recognition, a century ago, of the methods of the Left which have led to political correctness: rule by the tiny minority.


    This is true. Tiny minorities at certain political and social pressure points can be very disruptive and, if in power, tyrannical. But I'm not sure that the PC cognoscenti are a 'tiny minority' that's manipulating the vast untutored multitude and making life miserable for another 'tiny minority' consisting of anti-liberal eggheads.

    It seems to me that most of the multitude have at least learned to parrot a miscellany of liberal-lefty platitudes and panaceas. A huge number of deluded wretches are quoting from the Oxford Anthology of PC Opinions. You meet them wherever you go. Not even the bus stop or the doctor's surgery afford a sanctuary from the egregious sentiments of Nick Clegg.

    ReplyDelete
  5. @Alex - as you know, I believe PC is pervasive - but the whole edifice is sustained by a relatively small intellectural elite working mostly via the mass media, law, education and public administration.

    Subtract that elite, or their means of propaganda, and PC would very soon stop its progress, reverse and quickly collapse - probably in a few months.

    But so long as the Leftist elite and mass propaganda mechanisms remain in place - they can shape and re-shape perceived reality - apparently without constraint from real reality (or at least the limits are much greater than anticipated).

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think The Crow hits the un-PC truth here, but another take is this:

    All defensive ideologies are primarily excuses for negation. They do not create a NEW vision of society; they attack an aspect of current society, and never have a sensible plan for a similarly functional part to replace it.

    This is why liberalism seems like sabotage from a distance.

    ReplyDelete