Transcendental Man

The only logical cure for all this is the assertion of a human ideal. In dealing with this, I will try to be as little transcendental as is consistent with reason; it is enough to say that unless we have some doctrine of a divine man, all abuses may be excused, since evolution may turn them into uses. It will be easy for the scientific plutocrat to maintain that humanity will adapt itself to any conditions which we now consider evil. The old tyrants invoked the past; the new tyrants will invoke the future evolution has produced the snail and the owl; evolution can produce a workman who wants no more space than a snail, and no more light than an owl. The employer need not mind sending a Kaffir to work underground; he will soon become an underground animal, like a mole. He need not mind sending a diver to hold his breath in the deep seas; he will soon be a deep-sea animal. Men need not trouble to alter conditions, conditions will so soon alter men. The head can be beaten small enough to fit the hat. Do not knock the fetters off the slave; knock the slave until he forgets the fetters. To all this plausible modern argument for oppression, the only adequate answer is, that there is a permanent human ideal that must not be either confused or destroyed. The most important man on earth is the perfect man who is not there. The Christian religion has specially uttered the ultimate sanity of Man, says Scripture, who shall judge the incarnate and human truth. Our lives and laws are not judged by divine superiority, but simply by human perfection. It is man, says Aristotle, who is the measure. It is the Son of Man, says Scripture, who shall judge the quick and the dead.

GK Chesterton, What’s Wrong with the World

Unpractical man

There is no such thing as backing a winner; for he cannot be a winner when he is backed. There is no such thing as fighting on the winning side; one fights to find out which is the winning side. …. A man who thinks much about success must be the drowsiest sentimentalist; for he must be always looking back. If he only likes victory he must always come late for the battle. For the man of action there is nothing but idealism.

GK Chesterton, What’s Wrong¬†With¬†the World

Gardens and jungles

Socialism is a garden, where every plant gets its plot. And a garden can be very pretty, even productive, after a fashion. But the garden exists for the gardener. Nobody asks what the rose bush wants; nobody cares if the carrot has rights; nobody worries about the weeds. A garden is very much about selecting some to thrive and some to die.

Liberty is a jungle, and men have a natural hatred of jungles. You have to protect them, or they’ll be eaten up by other schemes. But in the jungle every plant gets a chance. Only in the woods do the trees have rights.

Exodus 21:2-7

2 When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing.
3 If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him.
4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out alone.
5 But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’
6 then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever. – Exodus 21:2-6

I think the most troubling part of this passage is where the wife comes from. But I think the most reasonable explanation may be that she is the slave owner’s daughter. If that is true, then giving her to him would be a kind of adoption.