27 June 2019

Chesterton and the Pickpocket

A look at GKC's implementation of Catholic Social Teaching in his writings. 

From The Distributist Review 

By Karl Schmude

In 1927, G.K. Chesterton was especially active in the promotion of Distributism. In that year he published his principal book on the subject, The Outline of Sanity, and engaged in a major public debate with George Bernard Shaw entitled ‘Do We Agree?’.
In The Outline of Sanity, Chesterton acknowledged that Distributism was an “awkward but accurate name” for “a policy of small distributed property”.1 He invoked the image of the pickpocket as a way of capturing the truth about present-day economic philosophies and practices. He pointed out that the pickpocket “is obviously a champion of private enterprise”. But he admitted that it would perhaps be an exaggeration to think of the pickpocket as “a champion of private property”! Thus he highlighted what he believed was the essential focus of the capitalist system, which is on making money rather than making goods—what he called “the extension of business rather than the preservation of belongings”. In doing this, said Chesterton, capitalism disguises the pickpocket with some of the virtues of the pirate—in particular, the enterprise of taking other people’s goods and creating a monopoly of control on the high seas.
By contrast, the aim of socialism—what Chesterton specifically referred to in The Outline of Sanity as Communism—is to solve the problems of private enterprise by abolishing private property. “It only reforms the pickpocket,” he wrote, “by forbidding pockets”.2
In essence, Chesterton saw capitalism and socialism—the Big Business of capitalism and the Big Government of socialism—as highly similar. Both involved the concentration of wealth and power—its lying in the hands of the few, whether they were capitalists or bureaucrats. Chesterton was a lifelong Liberal, in the 19th century sense of the term, and he harboured a deep distrust of the State and of bureaucracy which was the instrument of the State, for he saw this as part of the organised injustice of his society. If people were unjust and cruel when they had the advantage of economic power, as they did under capitalism, how much more unjust and cruel could they be under socialism, when they had the additional advantage conferred by political and legal power? In his pithy way, Chesterton said that, under both systems, the ordinary person is not minding his own business—he is minding someone else’s.
In his debate on Distributism with Shaw in 1927, which took place in London with Hilaire Belloc in the Chair, Chesterton argued that property ownership was the basis of freedom—economic and social freedom. This perspective was strongly articulated by Pope Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum in 1891, the Church’s first social encyclical of the modern era. By contrast, Bernard Shaw argued that only State ownership would bring about the widespread distribution of wealth. Chesterton pinpointed a crucial difference. Shaw, he said, proposed to distribute wealth. But distributists, said Chesterton, proposed to distribute power.3 Unlike the socialists, Chesterton did not patronize the poor by advocating the distribution of money among them. He advocated the distribution of power—power in the form of property, as wide as possible a spread of ownership, with the laws designed to check any growth towards monopolization. Thus, private ownership, as Andrew Greeley once put succinctly, is the means by which the poor can be helped without making them dependent.4
Chesterton and Belloc and others promoted Distributism tirelessly in the first decades of the last century—and yet today it would seem to have become almost entirely forgotten. Chesterton’s influence in other areas has continued to be felt—for example, his religious apologetics (books like Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man have endured and are often reprinted), and also his literary criticism (perhaps especially The Victorian Age in Literature and his biography of Charles Dickens, still hailed as one of the best books ever written on Dickens). However, his political philosophy has fallen into an abyss of neglect. Yet this was an area of writing and public advocacy to which he gave substantial attention—and a great deal of his financial resources as well. Many have lamented this about Chesterton, believing that it absorbed too much of his time and creative energy and distracted him from other, more lasting works. Chesterton himself did not share that view. He felt that his writing on Distributism was of supreme importance—and I think it can be argued that time may prove him right. Distributism has assumed new and pressing importance in the early years of the 21st century, as we struggle with global financial and political woes, notably in Europe and the United States but also in Australia (though ours is somewhat disguised, and distorted, by a boom in one area of our economy, the resources sector, and a sluggishness in other areas).
In the words of one modern writer, John Médaille, this is “the distributist moment”.5Why is this “the distributist moment”? What has happened in recent decades to make Distributism more sharply relevant than before?
In brief, the past twenty years or so have brought two critical developments in the economic and political order. The first was the collapse of Communism in Europe, so that socialism as a political ideology and totalitarian system is no longer, in large measure, credible. More recently, the so-called ‘Arab Spring’, the widespread protests against centralised, dictatorial regimes now sweeping across the Arab world, is a sign of the continuing demise of state-controlled systems. Even where a totalitarian regime remains entrenched, as in China, the economic and to some extent social system has been liberalised in the direction of a market-based culture.
Yet at the same time—and this is the second major development in recent years—capitalism as a system of so-called ‘free enterprise’ has faltered, if not failed. The Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008 triggered a collapse in the housing and stock markets, and provoked governments in America and Europe to bail out, or underwrite, giant financial institutions and other private companies. The burden of debt in various countries has now reached unimaginable levels, and there is a mounting tide of concern that countries such as Greece or Italy or Portugal—and most recently, of course, the United States—will default on even the interest payments due on their massive loans.
Possibly the most striking development is a deeply ironic one—that of Big Government bailing out Big Business: of one form of concentrated power and wealth supporting and salvaging another, as though they were in collusion rather than competition. This is reminiscent of the ‘conspiracy’ of apparently dissimilar organisations that Chesterton (and Belloc) predicted a century ago. In his 1912 book, The Servile State, a work which George Orwell judged as prophetic,6 Belloc argued that the growth of capitalism went hand-in-hand with the growth of government—in fact, one was a natural transition to the other, and they were mutually inter-dependent. Chesterton, for his part, in The Outline of Sanity (1927), made a powerfully prophetic remark, I think—as if he could foresee, 80 years later (in 2008), following the bankruptcy of the investment bank Lehman Brothers, that many financial institutions—not to mention other huge companies such as the big car makers—would only avert collapse by government bailouts or guarantees. In 1927, Chesterton described the paradox in these words:
Apparently Big Business must be accepted because it is invulnerable, and spared because it is vulnerable.7
As John Médaille has noted more than 80 years later, we have a cult of bigness in both the political and the commercial realms. Big Business is apparently ‘too big to fail’. Or is it that it is ‘too big to succeed’—that is, without public bailouts?8
I would like to suggest that the transformed circumstances of our time are prompting a fresh look at Distributism—and raise new opportunities for its application. Let me look briefly at its philosophical and political roots. I will do this through the personal intellectual history of Chesterton, for I think this will help us to understand more fully the nature of Distributism, and assess more clearly how relevant it is to today’s economic and social conditions.
A key background factor in Chesterton’s conviction about widespread ownership was his historical sense. As the English writer, Russell Sparkes, has pointed out, Chesterton had a vital interest in the English past—especially its political, social and economic history.9 He felt acutely for the ordinary people of England (the ‘secret people’, as he said in a famous poem of that name, who ‘have not spoken yet’), and he resented deeply the dispossession which they suffered from the time of the 16th century Reformation.
There was a different historical experience in other countries in which Chesterton’s ideas attracted popular attention, such as Australia and America, where private property—particularly home ownership—received greater social recognition and financial support. In both countries, we can observe a living alliance between what Andrew Greeley called the ‘high’ and the ‘low’ traditions of social Catholicism—that is, between the theoretical tradition of papal encyclicals which was explored at length by social philosophers such as Jacques Maritain, and the practical experience and example of Catholic social leaders, such as trade unionists, in families and neighbourhoods shaped by the social ethic of their religious faith. They may not have read Rerum Novarum, but they lived it—in their communities. The ‘high’ tradition of social principle expressed and validated the ‘low’ tradition, reflecting the bond between a spiritual and intellectual vision and its organic expression at the grassroots.10
An important part of Chesterton’s intellectual history is the extent to which his social philosophy was influenced by both literary and political writers—by the vein of social commentary in Charles Dickens, almost all of whose great characters were found among the poor; and by the campaigns for the poor of England by the 19th century journalist William Cobbett, who was really an early distributist. Chesterton wrote appreciative biographies of both these figures. In their different ways, Dickens and Cobbett were his political heroes.
In addition to these intellectual models, Chesterton was also inspired by a practical example of Distributism—namely, that of Ireland where a land reform program took place, peacefully and successfully, as a result of the Wyndham Act of 1903—this Act being put through by the Conservative Minister George Wyndham, who became a great friend of Belloc’s.
A final factor in the formulation of a distributist philosophy, which Russell Sparkes reminds us of, is the inspiration which Chesterton and Belloc, as Catholic laymen, received from the formidable figure of Cardinal Manning. Manning’s influence was both personal and intellectual. He combined a sturdy doctrinal orthodoxy and fidelity to the Church with a bold social radicalism. He was instrumental in the Catholic conversion of Belloc’s mother Elizabeth, and his thinking on social issues decisively shaped Belloc’s thinking—and through Belloc, Chesterton. Chesterton kept a portrait of Manning in his home study at Beaconsfield.11
Manning was closely linked with Pope Leo XIII and played a key part in the preparation of Rerum Novarum (1891). He was, as a present-day Chesterton scholar, Dermot Quinn, has put it, a friend of the Pope and a friend of the poor.12 His funeral through the streets of London was the largest in Victorian England, testifying to the great love which the poor of London had for a Catholic Cardinal, especially after his settling of the London Dock Strike of 1889.
There was another factor of significance in shaping Chesterton’s social and political thought, and that was the cultural climate of Edwardian England. The Edwardian age was quite short (extending from Queen Victoria’s death in 1901 to the First World War), but it coincided with Chesterton’s rise to public prominence as a writer—and Chesterton himself became a leading figure in the popular debates of the time. The cultural climate of the Edwardian Age was marked by an extraordinary intellectual energy, a vigorous contest of ideas. It’s important to emphasise that this contest of ideas, the debates of this time, were popular. They were not confined to academic circles or a cloistered intellectual elite. John Coates, in his impressive study of this era, Chesterton and the Edwardian Cultural Crisis (1984), suggests that we would have to go back to the pamphlet wars of the 1640s in England to find ‘a comparable engagement of the popular mind in disputes about rival views of life, images of society or possible futures’.13 The Edwardian era was a time of mass-circulation journalism—in London’s Fleet Street and elsewhere—when life-changing ideas were being popularized among a vast public of eager and inquisitive readers. Chesterton himself wrote at first for a newspaper, the Daily News, whose readers did not share most of his views. The paper was Nonconformist Protestant in general religious outlook and it favoured certain attitudes like temperance and appeasement towards Imperial Germany, which Chesterton was far from endorsing. As Cecil Chesterton, G.K.’s journalist-brother, noted:
Thousands of peaceful semi-Tolstoian Nonconformists have for six years been compelled to listen every Saturday morning to a fiery apostle preaching … War, Drink and Catholicism.14
But in writing for such a disparate audience, Chesterton saw that it had unrecognized needs which he could address effectively by his distinctive style of playful paradoxes and sharp-edged aphorisms.15 The Daily News, in fact, proved a crucial testing ground for Chesterton’s lifetime of intellectual controversy, including his great struggles in the cause of Distributism.
The Edwardian Age was also a period of substantial social reform, when the foundations of the modern welfare state were being laid. How did all this affect Chesterton—and contribute to his advocacy of Distributism? I think that it provided him with two great challenges. One was what he saw as a new embodiment of social dependency and servitude—the welfare state, against which he reacted. The other was the atmosphere of cultural upheaval and crisis which helped to enliven and sharpen his own ideas, and also to shape his style of rhetoric. Chesterton was, in John Coates’ argument, ‘above all an author of cultural crisis’—and his analysis of this crisis was both original and penetrating.16
Margaret Canovan argues, in her study of Chesterton as a ‘radical populist’, that he conceived of human need in an intensely personal way. He did not fall into abstractions like ‘humanity’, or harbour feelings of elitist superiority which tended to characterise his contemporaries like Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells. He opposed the new welfare state legislation, which involved various compulsory measures affecting education, health and insurance, because he thought it was paternalistic and repressive. It was an affront to the liberty of the poor, who were being treated by a new system of organised compassion as though they were a problem demanding a solution, a social problem, rather than a society of people in need—in need of freedom and independence, just as the rich enjoyed. The reformers, as Canovan succinctly puts it, added the insult of regimentation to the injury of exploitation.17Thus, Chesterton found himself—and I think this continues to be a relevant issue for all of us, 100 years later—opposed to both the oppressors and the reformers: that is, on the one hand, the entrenched upper class rich, who tolerated a society in which one-third of the population was perpetually on the verge of starvation, and on the other hand, the humanitarian idealists, whether they were Liberals (who introduced the welfare state) or Socialists (who believed the solution was to abolish private property rather than distribute it).
Over the years, especially since World War II, we have become used to the pervasiveness of the welfare state in the form in which it has now developed; but a reaction has set in. There is the testimony of social thinkers such as the Aboriginal leader, Noel Pearson, who has consistently lamented the damaging grip of dependency which the welfare state has imposed on Australia’s indigenous people.18And most recently, of course, we have witnessed the mob riots in the U.K.. These have been dubbed, with rather bitter humour, ‘the first bludger uprising’; enacted, not by the poor and those in extreme material need, but by the welfare-dependent and the unemployed, which represents a savage verdict on a society that, often with the best of intentions, has produced a culture of powerlessness—and also purposelessness.
At a deeper level, the cause of the U.K. riots—and they are but a dramatic instance of a broader social and spiritual malaise—is the fragmentation of the family. This process of disintegration continues apace, and it imposes a growing burden on the welfare state, not only in direct allowances of one kind or another, but in indirect costs, especially the salaries of an expanding army of experts—counsellors, special needs teachers, medical and legal functionaries—who are enlisted as substitutes for the family. The precarious condition of the present-day family, I think, is a basic issue—a huge challenge, in fact—in contemplating the feasibility of Distributism in our society.
There is a final dimension of the debates of this period which I would like to highlight—and that is the remarkably good-humoured nature of them, particularly on Chesterton’s part. Hilaire Belloc, in one of his poems, wrote: ‘There’s nothing worth the wear of winning, but laughter and the love of friends’; and this was an encouraging feature of the intellectual exchanges of the Edwardian era. When we think of how polarised and embittered debates now tend to be, how easily arguing descends to quarrelling, it is heartening to engage in a contest of ideas about supremely important matters without its being engulfed by rancour.
The atmosphere of cultural crisis during the Edwardian era appealed to Chesterton’s debating skill and power of repartee, as well as his ready wit. For example, in the ‘great debate’ in 1927, which was attended by a huge crowd with many people having to be turned away, Shaw tried to show the audience that the legal right attached to private property was limited, and he demonstrated this by referring to the umbrella he had with him. This umbrella, he admitted, he had borrowed that evening from his wife. Shaw said, in a jocular way, that he was goaded by some of Chesterton’s speech, and that he was tempted to get up and smite him over the head with his umbrella. When Chesterton rose to his feet, he responded that Shaw had fallen into a simple fallacy. The reason he refrained from hitting him over the head, Chesterton said, was not because Shaw did not own his umbrella but because he did not own Chesterton’s head!19
While the lively intellectual climate of Edwardian England played a key part in the cut and thrust of debate and the presentation of ideas, there was something of significance about Chesterton’s own mind that gave his philosophy of Distributism a special quality and rhetorical edge—and that was the highly integrated nature of his thought. Chesterton’s social and political philosophy formed an integral part of his total philosophy, his overall view of life. His economic philosophy was intrinsically related to his political philosophy, and his social thinking was an essential part of his spiritual outlook.
The integration of Chesterton’s thought is reflected most plainly, and revealingly, in the titles of his books of applied philosophy. His definitive statement of sociology is called What’s Wrong with the World, and his key book on Distributism carries the title of The Outline of Sanity. Thus they are not simply about his social and political thought, but rather about the extent to which human nature is itself integrated, and conditions in the economy are linked to the condition of the society—and of the soul. As Dermot Quinn, has pointed out, Chesterton’s social philosophy is not distinct from his wider sacramental vision. He did not have a separate category of thought marked ‘economics’ or ‘social science’. He had a reverence for the material universe and could see ordinary things as carrying the sacramental quality of a divine gift—the world of matter being blessed and uplifted by a divine incarnation—by what Christ had done to elevate and redeem his human creation. In Chesterton, we are always conscious of the moral, not just the material, economy he is addressing.
Distributism [writes Dermot Quinn] chimed with the rest of Chesterton’s thought…. The point and pith of Chestertonian economics is integration. Ask a distributist the purpose of work. He will reply with unconscious wisdom that it is to keep body and soul together. Chesterton explored that insight, made it a motto.20
In The Outline of Sanity, he argued that real social reform—by which he meant the recovery of a distributist or ownership society—would have a moral effect, not just a social one. It would bring about a more normal society, giving rise to conditions more in harmony with human nature, and therefore more conducive to human goodness and happiness.21
Chesterton thought that social reform would not only have a moral effect, but that it could only spring from moral motives. There must be, he argued, ‘a moral movement’, and it must be inspired by ‘the spirit of a religion’.22 One of the chapters of The Outline of Sanity is called ‘The Religion of Small Property’, in which he connects the land with spiritual life, urging a respect for the ‘soil’ as well as for the ‘soul’. He even advocates a ‘reverence’ for the soil, not in any pantheistic way, but as holding an association with ‘holy things’—‘carrying holy things with us and taking them home with us’. There is here a powerful sense of consecrated matter—of the ramifications of the Incarnation of Christ; that God’s assumption of human nature had a profound and pervasive impact throughout the world of created things. There is almost a Eucharistic hint as Chesterton writes: ‘In the most exalted phrase, we need a real presence.’23
In a later chapter of The Outline of Sanity, he speaks of the recovery of a balanced social order being dependent on a spiritual vision, which will give new meaning to the old phrase, ‘the sacredness of private property’.24
Thus Chesterton’s social vision had spiritual roots. He saw a deep connection between the institution of property and the Incarnation of Christ. He believed that, in creating man, the greatest gift which God had given him was freedom—and property, he thought, was ‘the essential insignia of freedom’.25
In his linking of social reform with a moral impulse, Chesterton is reflecting the tradition of the social encyclicals of the past century and more—beginning with Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum in 1891, and extending right through to Benedict’s first encyclical in 2009, Caritas in Veritate (‘Charity in Truth’). The social encyclicals are not just social. They take full account of the spiritual as well as the material nature of human beings and place the Church’s social teaching at the service of human dignity. For example, Benedict’s Caritas in Veritate affirms, in the introduction, that ‘charity is at the heart of the Church’s social doctrine’. The social encyclicals need to be linked with the total corpus of papal teaching. There is a long-standing integration in Catholic thought, which reveals the communitarian vision of the Popes, the ideal of an integrated human community, so sharply at odds with the secularist notion of self-interested autonomy. This integrated vision emphasises the key principles of Catholic sociology—namely, the crucial importance of, firstly, human solidarity in society and, secondly, of subsidiarity; that is, the principle of power being exercised, and of services being provided, at the lowest practical level—beginning with the family, and only extending to larger and higher social units when necessary.
The Catholic vision combines economic thinking with spiritual and social understanding—and what God has joined in the human person should not be put asunder. A salient example, highly relevant to the development of Campion College, in fact, is the public witness of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Joe de Bruyn. Joe is a well-known trade union leader who devotes the bulk of his time to improving the conditions of ordinary working people, but he is an industrial leader who has publicly opposed proposals for same-sex marriage and, at an earlier time, IVF facilities for lesbians. These have not been an irrelevant insertion of moral views into the industrial arena, but rather a recognition of how deeply connected economic and social welfare are—that the economic condition of a society finally rests on a solid family-based social foundation. Again, the recent mob riots in the U.K., arising from destroyed family life, have graphically demonstrated this under-appreciated truth.
Thus, when we examine Chesterton’s social thought, we find a mirror of papal teaching, both in the content of Chesterton’s and the Church’s philosophy, and in the fact that his social thought can be found in any and all of his writings, not just in those works expressly devoted to social and political themes. This is reflected, if I might emphasize it again, in the titles of Chesterton’s main books on Distributism—What‘s Wrong with the World (1910) and The Outline of Sanity (1927). These are not specialist-sounding titles but ones of general philosophy which have a social application. (Incidentally, this is what, in my experience, makes so difficult the tracing of a Chesterton quotation. He could have said what he said virtually anywhere—and so often did!)
There is one final observation I would like to offer about Chesterton’s espousal of Distributism—and that is, the psychological motives and memories from which it flowed. From his earliest childhood, Chesterton cherished a love of smallness. From his earliest years, he was, as he relates in his Autobiography, much more attracted by the microscope than the telescope. He wanted to understand reality in all its teeming tangibility, all the life he could touch and feel, rather than as part of a contrived intimacy. He wanted to study it through the microscope rather than the telescope. Thus his psychological experience of family life in his youth prepared him intellectually in adult life for his political imagining of Distributism.
In the face of what Chesterton saw, nearly a century ago, as the trend towards totalitarian conformity, he proposed the solution of small and elementary units as the basis of human freedom and happiness. As Margaret Canovan pointed out, Chesterton wanted to cut down political units to a size compatible with democracy.26
His later philosophy was grounded in childhood experiences and insights. And this psychological preparation enabled him to recognise that capitalism and socialism were not only damaging in a social sense, but that they were psychological failures as well. As Lawrence Clipper has noted, they failed psychologically because ‘the human mind cannot comprehend, criticize, or love human organizations on such a vast scale.’ The trend of the times, he believed, should be reversed—from ever greater concentrations of property ownership to a spreading of such ownership to ever larger numbers of people. The gain would be twofold. The psychological benefit would be a return to a scale of life that the individual could see and comprehend; the socialgain would be a rebalancing of powers among numerous people. Chesterton always emphasized the psychological basis of Distributism—that it was a ‘human’ system, while other economic programs were dehumanized and ‘abstract’.27


  1. G.K. Chesterton, The Outline of Sanity (Leipzig: Bernhard Tauchnitz, 1927), 16.
  2. Ibid., 9.
  3. Do We Agree? A Debate Between G.K.Chesterton and Bernard Shaw with Hilaire Belloc In the Chair (London, Cecil Palmer, 1927), 26.
  4. Andrew M. Greeley, Neighborhood (New York: Seabird Press, 1977), 42.
  5. John C. Médaille, Toward a Truly Free Market: A Distributist Perspective on the Role of Government, Taxes, Health Care, Deficits, and More (Wilmington, Delaware : ISI Books, 2010), 253.
  6. George Orwell, ‘Second Thoughts on James Burnham,’ in Collected Essays(London: Mercury Books, 1961), 371.
  7. Chesterton, The Outline of Sanity, 104.
  8. Médaille, Toward a Truly Free Market, 157.
  9. http://distributistreview.com/mag/2010/11/the-distributive-alternative/.
  10. Andrew M. Greeley, No Bigger Than Necessary: An Alternative to Socialism, Capitalism, and Anarchism (New York: New American Library, 1977, 7-12; ‘Catholicism in America: Two Hundred Years and Counting: A Personal Interpretation,’ The Critic34 (1976), 38-39.
  11. G.K. Chesterton, Autobiography (London: Hutchinson, 1936), 84.
  12. Dermot Quinn, ‘Manning, Chesterton and Social Catholicism,’ 18 (1992), 502.
  13. John Coates, Chesterton and the Edwardian Cultural Crisis (Hull, England: Hull University Press, 1984), 47.
  14. Margaret Canovan, G.K. Chesterton: Radical Populist (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovic, 1977), 14.
  15. John Coates, ‘The Fleet Street Context and the Development of Chesterton’s Prose Style,’ Prose Studies 6 (1983), 62.
  16. Coates, Chesterton and the Edwardian Cultural Crisis, 214.
  17. Canovan, G.K. Chesterton: Radical Populist, 46.
  18. Noel Pearson, ‘Social Policy Begets Social Misery As the Western World Fails the Poor,’ The Weekend Australian, July 30-31, 2011, 14.
  19. Do We Agree?, 33.
  20. Dermot Quinn, ‘the Historical Foundations of Modern Distributism,’ The Chesterton Review Vol. 21 (1995), 452-53.
  21. Chesterton, The Outline of Sanity, 51.
  22. Ibid., 256-57.
  23. Ibid., 240-41.
  24. Ibid., 265. ‘… I confess I know only one thing that will thus give to a new soil the sanctity of something already old and full of mystical affections. And that thing is a shrine—the real presence of a sacramental religion.’
  25. Ian Boyd CSB, ‘The Fiction of Chesterton,’ Conference on ‘Chesterton and the Evangelization of Culture’, Buenos Aires, 21-24 September 2005, 2.
  26. Canovan, G.K. Chesterton: Radical Populist, 146.
  27. Lawrence J. Clipper, G.K. Chesterton (New York: Twayne, 1974), 66; G.K. Chesterton, G.K.C. As M.C.: being a collection of thirty-seven introductions. Selected and edited by J.P. de Fonseka (Freeport, N.Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1967; orig.ed. 1929), 267. Cf. Chesterton’s comment to Bernard Shaw and other socialists: ‘You have left certain human needs out of your books; you may leave them out of your republic.’ Maisie Ward, Return to Chesterton (London: Sheed and Ward, 1952), 58.

Karl Schmude is the President of the Australian Chesterton Society and a frequent speaker and writer on religious and cultural subjects. He is a co-founder of Australia’s first Catholic Liberal Arts college, Campion College in Sydney.

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