Reimagining American Community
Jan
01
G. K. Chesterton

Illustration by Bill Rogers. This portrait of G.K. Chesterton, author of Orthodoxy, is based on the famous 1935 photograph by Howard Coster.

W

hen things go wrong, Chesterton liked to argue, we need an unpractical man—a theorist, in fact. That is because false theory leads to bad consequences. Thus the unpractical Chesterton, with his extraordinary scope and comprehensive social vision, is a major inspiration for our intentionally unpractical, theoretical project here.

As transcendental as Chesterton could be, his ideas continue to inspire many readers to engagement and action, especially in these times. Books such as What’s Wrong with the World and The Outline of Sanity offer us cultural criticism that is very much relevant to a post-crash America. For those with localist ideals, his Napoleon of Notting Hill is an entertaining vision of what real community activism can mean.

Because economics is properly speaking a branch of ethics, Chesterton’s lack of formal training in the former does not diminish his insights into those twin phantasms of modern politics, capitalism and socialism, and their perennial state of co-dependence. In their place he argues for a society of truly free, property-owning families whose independent livelihoods are the necessary condition for human happiness and genuine liberty.

In addition to Chesterton the saintly apologist or the clever author of mystery stories or the portly opponent of George Bernard Shaw, we need another Gilbert: the eloquent analyst of our social condition—almost, but for his great good humor, an English version of Antonio Gramsci or Simone Weil.

We hope you find him here.

About the Author
A native Texan, Elias spent several good years studying classics and medieval Italian at UC Berkeley before wasting several more years in financial journalism around Chicago. He has written for Strong Towns, the American Scholar, the New Urbs blog, and the Gary Catholic Worker and is the co-author of a textbook on character education. He briefly published something called The Armchair Historian. None of his three teenage daughters display an interest in the Greek and Latin classics thus far. He and his family reside in leafy Valparaiso IN.