Wednesday, 18 November 2015

A horrible hunger

The god of the aristocrats is not tradition, but fashion, which is the opposite of tradition. If you wanted to find an old-world Norwegian head-dress, would you look for it in the Scandinavian Smart Set?

No; the aristocrats never have customs; at the best they have habits, like the animals. Only the mob has customs. The real power of the English aristocrats has lain in exactly the opposite of tradition. The simple key to the power of our upper classes is this: that they have always kept carefully on the side of what is called Progress.

They have always been up to date, and this comes quite easy to an aristocracy. For the aristocracy are the supreme instances of that frame of mind of which we spoke just now. Novelty is to them a luxury verging on a necessity. They, above all, are so bored with the past and with the present, that they gape, with a horrible hunger, for the future.
G K Chesterton – What’s Wrong With the World (1910)

A curiously interesting quote. Chesterton may be stating the obvious but it isn’t something we usually account for. The rich and powerful have it all, so naturally enough they tend to be bored with the present and look to the future for their schemes, plans and entertainment.

In which case progress is substantially driven by the rich and powerful trying to keep boredom at bay. I’m not sure if I agree with the idea, but professional football, the art market and grand infrastructure projects may suggest Chesterton was at least partly right.

Is the EU a symptom of boredom among the rich and powerful?

It could be - we already know about the brats.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to say I think Chesterton produced a great deal of nonsense. Consign him to the woodburner.

Demetrius said...

If you throw stones at windows some will be broken and some will not be broken. You will then learn about stones and windows.

A K Haart said...

Roger - I like him. Much of what he wrote isn’t worth the effort of reading it but every now and then he climbed out of his comfy chair, rolled up his sleeves and hit a few nails on the head. He wasn’t analytical, but analysis doesn’t persuade anyone of anything.
He would have eviscerated Cameron and Corbyn.

Demetrius – you would also find out who has domestic CCTV.