Appeared in Vol. XIV, No. 2 Download PDF here
In this fascinating albeit brief article, Fr. Schall presents the reaction of Shaw’s “Monster” to their experience of American society in the 1920’s.
The American Republic is the last medieval monarchy. It is intended that the President should rule, and take all the risks of ruling.
– G.K. Chesterton, What I Saw in America, 1923, p. 120.
The conception that a majority has a divine right to decide in any matter is universal in America, not as a conclusion of reason, but as an accepted dogma.
– Hilaire Belloc, The Contrast, 1924, p. 59.
Within a formal discussion of the American Constitution’s establishment and the religious contribution to it, to consider two books on America, one written by G.K. Chesterton, the other by Hilaire Belloc, both English Catholic writers, both books written in the early 1920’s, requires some intellectual explanation.1 The initial reason for this consideration is the presumption that these two remarkable men might have seen something about the American Republic, about its polity and its future, that has escaped perhaps better known American or foreign observers and critics. In particular, I would ask, was there something about their very Catholicity that might have enabled them to penetrate to a philosophic depth actually extant within the American polity but otherwise obscure to philosophers of politics? Clearly here, I am hinting at the dimensions of the problem of reason and revelation as this problem exists within political philosophy in general and in the American experience in particular.
An affirmative case, I think, can at least be suggested for this sort of reflection, a case I would like to propose here. Naturally, the validity of this analysis would also presuppose, as does any thought of the Constitution itself, an abiding political “form” over time, such that the American regime of the late 1980’s “holds” the same “dedication” as did the regimes of 1776, 1860, and 1920. This position, not unmindful of the reasons Thucydides gave for the value of continued study of his famous history, must assume a metaphysical discussion about what I have called “the reality of society.”2 That is, the relationships that formed this civil society remain basically the pattern of its civil activities.
Moreover, in examining Chesterton and Belloc in particular, we might see in the subject matter of their travels, which was America itself, a depth quite different from that seen by those who ground themselves in what is called modern science or in other religious or philosophical backgrounds. Belloc and Chesterton’s “Englishness,” furthermore, as both stress, lead them to see how different – hence Belloc’s title, The Contrast – the United States and England really are.3 “In all my American wanderings,” Chesterton remarked about the diversity of the two cultures, “I never saw such a thing as an inn.”4
Likewise, there will be something “Straussian” in my approach.5 That is, the examination of classical, Biblical, or modern texts of political philosophy needs to penetrate to the meaning of the original writers, a meaning that sometimes, often, cannot be fully articulated in polities unwilling to listen. In a sense, as Solzhenitsyn hinted in his famous Harvard Address, democracies are not always as open as they profess to be.6 In them, we dare to speak what we suspect, what we find, only cautiously, because of the polity or academy in which the analysis takes place, because it might seem too radical, too unbelievable even to ears which profess the freedom to hear everything. Perhaps the books of the Straussian school on Shakespeare can serve as a model here, for they recognize, however circumspectly, that revelation appears somehow within the confines of the texts to be examined, through the eyes of the authors themselves.7
Chesterton and Belloc have an added dimension of interest for current thought because they wrote of the American experience before the expression of religion itself became so much caught up within the confines of modernity. Today, anyone confronting texts, from a religious source, on American or other political regimes must first endeavor to test whether the “religion” found in the analysis is in fact revelation as classically understood or whether it is an expression of modern ideology using religious terminology but promoting ideological philosophical concepts and revolutionary political intent.8 The religion in Chesterton and Belloc is classical Catholicism. In their view, it was the one that did respond to the philosophic problems that arose within political life. Thus, they were concerned not to conform religion to ideology, but rather to relate genuine philosophical problems to the positions found in revelation. This endeavor constitutes the real worth of their reflections on America.9
A careful reading of a text carries us back to the words the author of the text chose. These words were formed in the light of the inner word in which the author comprehended the truth of what he saw. The richness of the inner word is itself dependent upon the openness the author allowed himself when looking at the reality concerning which he reflected. We can choose to limit what we see to the instruments we use to pass from ourselves to what is not us. Our intellects themselves are, in this sense, instruments of our knowing what is not ourselves. And it is only in the light of knowing what is not ourselves that we can reflectively know ourselves.
Any adequate discussion of political philosophy must include a discussion of those things that lie beyond politics. What lies beyond politics, however, must begin within a human person and his destiny. That is, the limits of politics are discovered in the endeavor to understand what political things really are – and they are principally speech about what is just and what is unjust, what is good, what evil.10 The fact that politics are limited, that is, that the explanation of all that is is not coextensive with a discussion of political things leads naturally and properly to a consideration of those questions that arise in political experience but which do not achieve their full and adequate response in political philosophy or in the life of any actual polity.
Individual, historical polities – Athens, Sparta, Rome, England, Spain, the United States – are seen to have existed and to have been imperfect in some intelligible sense. That is, they embodied some evil within their regime that was understood to be such. On the other hand, these regimes either grew or were founded according to intelligible principles which constituted their form, which enabled us accurately to describe their nature, to classify them. The accurate description of a regime must include some reference to its relation to what Aristotle called happiness, to what the Declaration called “the pursuit of happiness.” Regimes that claim themselves to exhaust this understanding of happiness have arisen specifically in modernity. In this sense, America was said to be the first specifically modern regime, the first regime that arose as a product of modern philosophy.11 Or as Chesterton put it, “What is the matter with the modern world is not modern headlines or modern films or modern machinery. What is the matter with the modern world is the modern world; and the cure will come from another.”12
Both Belloc and Chesterton, however, saw disturbing elements of modernity in the United States – Belloc’s remark that the majority decides the right of any matter – but both likewise understood America to retain aspects of representation and rule that were typically medieval. This is why both referred to the presidency as the last of the medieval monarchies, precisely because it exhibited the combination of rule, accountability, glory, and popularity that was typical of the medieval monarchy before the advent of the absolute king, which was not a medieval concept. “The idea is,” Chesterton wrote,
that the President shall take responsibility and risk; and responsibility means being blamed, and risk means the risk of being blamed. The theory is that things are done by the President; and if things go wrong, or are alleged to go wrong, it is the fault of the President. This does not invalidate, but rather ratifies the comparison with true monarchs such as the medieval monarchs. Constitutional princes are seldom deposed; but despots were often deposed.13
The theory of Aquinas on kings, in this sense, was closer in its own way to the theory of the American presidency than anything flowing from that modernity which, with Machiavelli, “lowered its sights” to consider only what men did do, to define the success of princes solely by their ability to remain in power.
Two questions lie at the heart of political philosophy: a) what is it to rule? and b) what are the limits of ruling? Though there are analogies in the rule of oneself and rule in the family, the first question initially arises out of political life itself, out of the intercourse of specifically human beings in so far as they are human. This is why Aristotle and Aquinas defined man as precisely the political animal, why politics is peculiar to man alone in the universe. Yet, to rule and to be ruled, Aristotle’s definition of a citizen, did not exhaust what it was to be a human being.
The second question involves metaphysics and revelation.
It asks what transcends the polity? Further, it asks whether there is anything addressed to reason which would serve to complete in in its own order? It is here, perhaps, that the classical revelational position differs most from that of Strauss, who, to his credit against the studied ignoring of this basic question by main line political science, felt that reason could not exclude revelation, nor revelation reason, but that the two were in themselves simply incompatible, that any harmonious relationship between the two would be philosophically contradictory. In reading Belloc and Chesterton, we cannot but be struck by the natural way they assume that reason and revelation deal with the same man in that manner in which he is man, through his reason and understanding. Neither Belloc nor Chesterton were Stoics who presumed that human and divine intellect were simply coterminus. But they recognized that if a problem did come up within political reasoning to which revelation provided an answer, this latter factor could not be excluded as simply irrational. Both with this sort of consistent evidence assumed the unity of being, of what is.
At first sight, we might hesitate to treat the texts of Belloc or Chesterton with the seriousness they deserve. After all, these are primarily travel books, especially the book of Chesterton. However, like Samuel Johnson, Chesterton was always disarmingly philosophical no matter about what he wrote, which was almost everything.14 Belloc himself practically walked orhitch-hiked across the United States a couple of times before World War I-“. . . only journeys a-foot and in early manhood flood the mind with reality.”15 Indeed, he married a woman from Napa, California, whom he had met in Paris.
Chesterton began his own book with the delightful observation that “I have never managed to lose my old conviction that travel narrows the mind.”16He thought, moreover, “internationalists” to be particularly dreary folks, while the most difficult thing to understand about foreign peoples and their customs, about which we easily laugh, was their humor, which is the very last thing we get. And until we do, we cannot understand them.
A foreigner is a man who laughs at everything except jokes. He is perfectly entitled to laugh at anything, so long as he realises, in a reverent and religious spirit, that he himself is laughable. I was a foreigner in America; and I can truly claim that the sense of my own laughable position never left me. But when the native and the foreign have finished with seeing the fun of each other in things that are meant to be serious, they both approach the far more delicate and dangerous ground of things that are meant to be funny. The sense of humour is generally very national; perhaps that is why the internationalists are so careful to purge themselves of it.17
Chesterton was quite conscious of the difficulty of the superficial traveller and always warned his audience that he was just an Englishman, a foreigner in a foreign land, the United States. Of his own text on America, he wryly wrote, “I continue to call these lectures out of courtesy to myself.”18 Such disarming humility, I think, leads us rather to pay more attention to what Chesterton said because he was so conscious of distortion.
The central theme about which I wish mostly to reflect on, then, concerns the nature of the American experience, as Belloc and Chesterton saw it, and where it might lead. However, there are two observations of Belloc that deserve special attention because they go so contrary to popular criticisms of America. The first is that Belloc, who was most concerned with the modern rise of what he called “the Servile State,” did not think Americans were a “materialistic” people. His reasonings are worth some consideration:
Mammon is not the passion forgetting money, nor the desire for what money can buy; still less is it the envy of those who have more money than oneself. It is the transference to the wealthy man of qualities not present in him and suggested only by the fact that he is wealthy. It is expressed in the feeling of genuine respect for a rich man and genuine contempt for a poor one; in the attribution of virtue to the one and of vices to the other. You will, I say, find that disease of the soul less present in the United States than in any other modern society.19
These observations of Belloc are of some moment because they suggest an understanding of wealth and its productivity that prevents particularly the religious person from assuming that the mere possession or existence of wealth is evil or that it implies somehow the deprivation of someone else.
Belloc went on to inquire why it was that Americans were so often conceived by Europeans to be “materialistic.” He located it in the freedom of entrepreneurship which requires a distance from wealth and a certain willingness to change and experiment. “What, then, is it in the American attitude which has been mistaken for Mammon?” Belloc asked himself:
It is the threefold conception (1) that success in accumulation connotes effort upon the part of any man; (2) that American opportunity should make this equally possible for any man; and (3) (negatively) that there is nothing else in the State either so easily measurable as the money-standard or so universally present.
The American sees civic life as a race, entry to which is open for all. Nature around him lies still largely unexploited; new ideas of its new use arise day after day. The race is, as a fact, entered by nearly all, and your place in it can be – very roughly – measured by your material achievement. It is natural that under such conditions such a test should be applied.20
No doubt confusion on this issue has come to be a religious issue of some moment because a failure to make the distinction between “Mammon” and wealth creation has been a major factor in the contemporary failure of religion to understand the relation between the elimination of poverty and the nature of wealth production.
Belloc, moreover, understood the spiritual nature of this issue in its own terms:
There is an attitude towards private fortune, the private possession of wealth, which is, exactly, idolatrous, that is, which (a) imputes to this dead thing living attributes, (b) worships that dead thing. For in these two errors combined does idolatry consist. Where that spirit of idolatry is present, where there is a worship of the wealthy man, where there is a confusion between the advantages of wealth and the objects proper for human admiration, there you have as base a corruption of the religious instinct as man can suffer. That is, very exactly, Mammon.
Now at the risk of appearing paradoxical and fantastic to nearly all European readers, and even to many American readers, I will boldly say that no modern society is so free from this detestable heresy as the American.21
It seems worthwhile to cite these reflections because, similar to Aristotle’s reflections on liberality and munificence, they reveal a philosophical attitude to wealth creation and the products of craftsmanship out of which alone material things can both be created or made and used for themselves. It is no accident that the origins of wealth creation are spiritual and failure to understand this process resulted in accusing wealth as such for the problems of poverty instead of the spiritual and political reasons that were behind what it was to be not poor. “There is really present here,” Chesterton also noted of America, “a democratic instinct against the dominance of wealth.”22
The second “contrary” theme in Belloc, one confirmed by the direction of immigration in the past century, concerns his observation that, on the whole, Americans are happier than any other people. He did not mean here the sort of ultimate happiness we might associate with religion or metaphysics, but the normal sort of happiness that might be expected in this life.
I now come to a quality in the American social spirit which cannot be attached to any material cause, which is a product of I know not what virtue or happy accident in the origins of that society. To this quality one can only give the name of Candour, it is straightforwardness and unasking sincerity. It has a general effect (I know not for how long this effect may endure) of joy.
I have heard innumerable judgments passed upon the American people by Europeans. Most of these judgments, as is natural with aliens, were unfavorable, and none were less favourable than the judgment of the English gentry – though the French and Italian gentry run their English colleagues close in the attack on America. But in all these judgments, favourable and unfavourable, unintelligent (as were the great majority) or intelligent (as were a rare few), there almost always appeared with a note of envy, of surprise, of bitterness – or of mere regret – the statement that the Americans were happier than any people of the Old World.
They are, much happier. It is the astonishing and outstanding thing upon the spiritual side which no one seeing that people, and telling honestly what he has seen, can hide.23
This observation is, I think, immediately related to the discussion in the Ethics of Aristotle – whom Belloc called “the great tutor of our race”24 – about the difference between political and contemplative happiness.
However, both Belloc and Chesterton were concerned that this relative political happiness could not continue unless this civic order had some grounding in a higher order. Indeed, Chesterton, obviously having just seen the famous book of Sinclair Lewis, wrote with much perception:
The March to Utopia, the March to the Earthly Paradise, the March to the New Jerusalem, has been very largely the March to Main Street. And the latest modern sensation is a book written to show how wretched it is to live there.25
This passage is of particular interest because, like Aristotle, it is aware of the difference between contemplative and political happiness and of the dangers of confusing the two. That Main Street might be something the human race might long for – a home, a job, equality, order, opportunity, common decencies – is a truth for which America had stood in the beginning. But the feeling that something higher or more metaphysical could be achieved in this very world, so that we might realistically expect Utopia, or the Earthly Paradise, or the New Jerusalem, this forebode the derangements of the political philosophies of modernity which came to set themselves against the normal desires of those whom Chesterton insisted on calling simply the “common men.”
However, the central theme that I wish to reflect upon from these two charming and perceptive books concerns precisely the problem of reason and revelation. In his Introduction to the recent collection, Studies in Platonic Political Philosophy, by Leo Strauss, Thomas Pangle wrote:
The choice to live as a philosopher ceases to be simply an act of faith or of will if and only if it is a choice to live as a philosopher preoccupied with the serious examination of the phenomena and the arguments of faith: if and only if, that is, the philosopher never completely ceases engaging in conversational scrutiny of those who articulate most authoritatively and compellingly the claims of the faithful, and if and only if through that perscrutation he repeatedly shows to his own satisfaction and to that of others that he has, not a definitive, but a fuller account of the moral experiences to which the pious point as their most significant experience. The theme of such dialogues will always be in one way or another the human soul and the needs or longings of the soul which, the pious claim, allow us an intimation of the divine.26
In the context of the Chesterton and Belloc books, several things need to be noted about this observation of Thomas Pangle. The first would be agreement with Pangle’s notion that the philosopher must, to be a philosopher, be open to the arguments that arise from revelation. The second point would be to agree that the moral experiences of both the philosopher and the faithful converge on the life of the same human persons. Finally, intimations of the divine do arise at the very heights of human contemplative and active experience.
The approach of Belloc to this same problem is worth citing here to illustrate the context in which he considered the issues posed by Pangle. “Every civilisation that has developed upon this earth,” Belloc wrote,
has passed rapidly enough from simplicity to doubt, and from doubt to despair, save indeed where it has been relieved, as was Rome in the fourth century, by that one sublime philosophy which can alone redeem us from despair, but cannot give us back our innocence. Every civilisation which has appeared upon this earth has either ended by accepting sorrow as a portion, or by rebelling against that human fate, and so destroying itself.27
Belloc thus began with a frank admission that, as a matter of fact, no civilization could save the best in itself on its own terms. Belloc held that Christianity did in fact propose an alternative to actual civilizations before the despair of civilizations based only on themselves. Further, it is to be emphasized that for Belloc, the test would come from an ideology which claimed the capacity to remove human sorrow from our midst. It would come, in other words, from gnostic utopianism in some as yet unspecified form.
When it came to predict an example of how the American understanding of religious tolerance, which was itself indifferent to the truth of any creed, might arise within the American context, Belloc perceptively wrote:
It may well come about, at any moment, that the State shall pass a law compelling those who have the guardianship of human beings incapable beyond a certain degree to see to the removal of those human beings. The State may take it for granted as a universal doctrine, to be held and enforced upon all citizens, that the preservation of imbecile or imperfect life, much more its continuance from one generation to another by the propagation of children, is destructive of society; and it may order that these unfortunate beings be placed in what is called, in our modern scientific jargon, the lethal chamber.
Now for a Catholic to act in this fashion is, by Catholic definition, murder; and what is more, any action supporting, or even permitting this thing, is also from the Catholic point of view murder.28
This passage, of course, reads rather like current events and the only surprise in it is not the position of Belloc but the weakness of current Catholic political resistance to these movements of modernity. In any case, the root of this problem is not specifically religious, but that aspect of reason that is enlightened by faith. In Pangle’s account, reason somehow had a broader extension in moral particulars than reason plus faith, but the point found in the text of Belloc was rather that it was precisely the prodding of revelation that enabled reason to see itself more fully in the most wretched of human beings.
In his City and Man, Leo Strauss had remarked that the proposition of the abidingness of human nature through time, which grounded the philosophic dignity of each individual human person, itself came under questioning when it was realized that this distinct status of each person might limit the “progress” of science, which claimed to be exempt from any restrictions imposed from nature.29 The sort of science that claimed this privilege, of course, was precisely a science that rejected the Aristotelian hierarchy of natures and sciences based on them.30 Chesterton probably put the issue as succinctly as possible when he wrote that “Progress is Providence without God.”31 Thus,
Chesterton had a clear perception of the issue Strauss would stress as the real problem of modernity, the replacement of human nature as it was given in nature by a concept of man subject entirely to science and ultimately, because science is subject to the polity, to a political philosophy itself independent of any transcendent order.
Chesterton had already remarked on the nature of this issue in the American context: “The Declaration of Independence dogmatically bases all rights on the fact that God created all men equal; and it is right; for if they were not created equal, they were certainly evolved unequal.”32 And, of course, it was the presumed philosophical validity of evolution that made the idea of the universal dignity of each human being seem doubtful. Chesterton persistently argued from the evidence of experience, not of a theory of revelation, but of an observation of what happens when reason relies only on itself. What fascinated Chesterton was the practical untruth of the alternatives to revelation when they did not end up, as with reason, agreeing with the outlines of revelation itself reflected in human reasonings on its content.
“The world cannot keep its own ideals,” Chesterton observed calmly.
The secular order cannot make secure any one of its own noble and natural conceptions of secular perfection. That will be found, as time goes on, the ultimate argument for a Church independent of the world and the secular order.
What has become of all those ideal figures from the wise man of the Stoics to the democratic Deist of the eighteenth century? … The more the matter is considered the clearer it will seem that these old experiences are now only alive, where they have found lodgment in the Catholic tradition of Christianity and made themselves friends there.33
It will be noticed that this is the exact opposite of the position of Pangle. That is, for Pangle, it was the philosopher who saw the depths of reason over against the claim of the pious to live the moral life. For Chesterton, on the other hand, it was not a question of theory but of practice. The ideals duly recognized by philosophy were not somehow kept for long even by the philosophers. Chesterton noted that they could be kept, but only under their subsumption into a higher order.
What was the condition of the keeping of the highest of philosophic life? Thomas Aquinas had argued that most men most of the time would not be able to live according to the highest standards. Chesterton, indeed, in his book on Aquinas, had used this fact as one of the arguments for a kind of paradoxical democracy in the divinity itself.34 Curiously, the “intimations of the divine,” which, in Pangle’s words, arise from the longings of the soul of the faithful lead not just to divinity in Chesterton’s view, but to a sanity of life among the ordinary men of any time. This latter common sense, furthermore, made Chesterton mildly skeptical of schemes to improve the world by ridding ourselves of nations and states.
For it is wild folly to suppose that nations will love each other because they are alike. They will never really do that unless they are really alike; and then they will not be nations. Nations can love each other as men and women love each other, not because they are alike but because they are different.35
The best possible worldly order remained a bit chaotic and infinitely varied.
Chesterton wrote, however, as if revelation and reason belonged to the same actual world.
Eighteenth century ideals, formulated in eighteenth century language, have no longer in themselves the power to hold all those pagan passions back…. Men will more and more realize that there is no meaning in democracy if there is no meaning in anything; and that there is no meaning in anything if the universe has not a center of significance and an authority that is the author of our rights.36
It is to be noted that Chesterton did not reject the philosophic ideals of the eighteenth century because they were philosophic. He worried about them because they were not delivering what they promised and, like Belloc, he saw what could be the consequences of a theory of rights that had no basis other than the passing opinions of a majority. Paradoxically, to use his favorite word, whereas a Thomas Pangle fretted about the intimations of divinity arising from the longings of the pious, a Chesterton worried about the tyranny arising from the philosophers who rejected this same divinity in the name of autonomous man.
“The problem of the modern world,” Chesterton wrote ironically, “is that it has continued to be religious when it ceased to be rational.”37 This position, it will be noted, is undoubtedly the very opposite one we might have expected. We should have expected a writer like Chesterton to have said that the modern world continued to be rational but ceased to be religious. However, Chesterton was quite correct. Eric Voegelin and others have insisted again and again on the substitute religious nature of modern political ideology.38 Reason, in point of fact, is not under fire from revelation but from a rationalism incapable of recognizing the real problems that arise from human political experiences.
What we do not find in Belloc or Chesterton in the early 1920’s was any suspicion that religion might come to embrace the sort of philosophies typical of the Enlightenment philosophies, now conceived as capable of actually establishing the transcendent kingdom of God on earth. Belloc would have been astonished to have found some theologians advocating or allowing the kind of murder of imbeciles or existing human forms in whatever stage of development. He so clearly saw this to be contrary to classical Catholicism. “The danger of democracy is not anarchy,” Chesterton wrote, “it is convention.”39 The disappearance of revelation will evidently not come in existing democracies from persecutions, but from conformity.
“America is the only nation in the world,” Chesterton wrote, in conclusion,
that is founded on a creed. That creed is set forth with dogmatic and even theological lucidity in the Declaration of Independence; perhaps the only piece of practical politics that is also theoretical politics and also great literature. It enunciates that all men are equal in their claim to justice, that governments exist to give them that justice, and that their authority is for that reason just. It certainly does condemn anarchism, and it does also by inference condemn atheism, since it clearly names the Creator as the ultimate authority from whom these equal rights are derived. Nobody expects a modern political system to proceed logically in the application of such dogmas, and in the matter of God and Government it is naturally whose claim is taken more lightly. The point is that there is a creed, if not about divine, at least about human things.40
Chesterton even remarked that Jefferson “certainly states that natural rights were supernatural.”41 However lightly the claims of God might be taken by modern governments, it seems clear that for Chesterton and Belloc, these claims grounded both the dignity of the civil order and ultimately protected the human beings within them from tyranny, even should it come from themselves. Their assessment of the American Republic remained that faith was needed for freedom and virtue. What we do not find in them is what to do if faith itself becomes suffused with politicized “reasons” dogmatically closed to any transcendence. However, there seems little doubt what they would have held. Recover what is lost, even for the good of the civil order.
1G.K. Chesterton, What I Saw in America (New York: Dodd, Mead, and Company, 1923); Hilaire Belloc, The Contrast (New York: Robert M. McBride and Company, 1924).
The Ignatius Press in San Francisco is currently engaged in republishing all the works of Chesterton, a project which will include What I Saw in America.
Three recent studies of Belloc might be mentioned: John P. McCarthy, Hilaire Belloc: Edwardian Radical (Indianapolis: Liberty Press, 1978); Robert Speaightt, The Life of Hilaire Belloc (New York: Farrar, Straus & Cudahy, 1957), and A.N. Wilson, Hilaire Belloc: A Biography (New York: Atheneum, 1984).
2See James V. Schall, “The Reality of Society according to St. Thomas,” The Politics of Heaven and Hell: Christian Themes from Classical, Medieval, and Modem Political Philosophy (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1984), Chapter XI, pp. 235-52.
3Belloc began his book with these memorable lines: “When I first crossed the ocean to the New World it was an adventure of boyhood: I was not yet of age…. I went as every man goes, who starts from Europe upon that western quest; I went with no conception of the revolution awaiting my mind…. It was in crossing the Grand Banks that I discovered this new air; I was appalled and vastly intrigued. I was coming to unknown things.” Belloc, ibid., pp. 3-4.
4Chesterton, ibid., p. 20.
5See Leo Strauss, Persecution and the Art of Writing (Glencoe, IL: Free Press, 1952).
6Solzhenitsyn at Harvard, edited by R. Berman (Washington, DC: Ethics and Public Policy Center, 1978).
7See Allan Bloom and Harry Jaffa, Shakespeare’s Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964); John Alvis and Thomas West, Shakespeare as a Political Thinker (Durham, NC: Carolina Academic Press, 1981); Michael Platt, Rome and the Romans according to Shakespeare (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 1983). See also Paul A. Cantor, Shakespeare’s Rome: Republic and Empire (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1976), and the review of the Alvis-West book by James V. Schall, “The Supernatural Destiny of Man,” Modem Age, 26 (Fall, 1982), 411-15.
8See James V. Schall, “Political Philosophy and Modern Religion,” World & I, 2 (February, 1987), 645-49.
91n this context of Catholics looking at the American polity, two further books, besides Tocqueville, might be noted: Jacques Maritain’s Reflections on America (New York: Scribner’s, 1958) and Frederick D. Wilhelmsen, Christianity and Political Philosophy (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1978).
l0See the discussions of this point in Hadley Arkes, First Things: An Inquiry into the First Principles of Morals and Justice (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986); Henry Veatch, Human Rights: Fact or Fancy? (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1984).
“This is the position of Joseph Cropsey, “The United States as Regime and the Sources of the American Way of Life,” Political Philosophy and the Issues of Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977), pp. 1-52.
12Chesterton, ibid., p. 62.
13Chesterton, ibid., p. 122.
14See the recent studies of Chesterton: Stanley L. Jaki, Chesterton: A Seer of Science (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986); Michael Finch, G.K Chesterton (London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1986); Christiane d’Haussy, La vision du monde chez G.K Chesterton (Paris: Didier, 1981); John Coates, Chesterton and the Edwardian Cultural Crisis (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1984). The Chesterton Review, published at the University of Saskatoon, in Canada, has been a marvelous source of essays and reflections on Chesterton and Belloc, as has Seven: An Anglo-American Literary Review, published at Wheaton College, in Illinois.
15Belloc, ibid., p. 37.
16Chesterton, ibid., p. 1.
17Chesterton, ibid., p. 158.
18Ibid., p. 111.
19Belloc, ibid., p. 65.
211bid., p. 63.
22Chesterton, ibid., p. 184.
23Ibid., pp. 71-72.
24lbid., p. 112.
25Chesterton, ibid., p. 90.
26Thomas Pangle, “Introduction,” to Leo Strauss, Studies in Platonic
Political Philosophy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), pp. 22-23.
27Belloc, ibid., pp. 73-74.
28Belloc, ibid., p. 163.
29Leo Strauss, City and Man (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964), p. 7.
30Perhaps the best expositions of this difference are found in E.F. Schumacher, A Guide for the Perplexed (New York: Harper Colophon,
1977) and J.M. Bochenski, Philosophy – an Introduction (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1972).
31Chesterton, ibid., p. 236. 32Chesterton, ibid., p. 293.
33Chesterton, ibid., pp. 294-95.
34See G.K. Chesterton, St. Thomas Aquinas, in G.K. Chesterton: Collected Works (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986), Vol. II.
35Chesterton, ibid., p. 274.
36Chesterton, What I Saw in America, ibid., p. 296.
37Chesterton, ibid., p. 263.
38See Eric Voegelin, Science, Politics, and Gnosticism (Chicago: Gateway, 1968).
39Chesterton, ibid., p. 281.
40Chesterton, ibid., p. 7.
41Chesterton, ibid., p. 149.