According to that spurious bon mot of Chesterton's, when men cease to believe in God, they do not believe in nothing; they believe in anything. But, in practice, the anything most of the West now believes in is government. As Tocqueville saw it, what prevents the "state popular" from declining into a "state despotic" is the strength of the intermediary institutions between the sovereign and the individual. But in the course of the 20th century, the intermediary institutions, the independent pillars of a free society, were gradually chopped away — from church to civic associations to family. Very little now stands between the individual and the sovereign, which is why the latter assumes the right to insert himself into every aspect of daily life, including the provisions a Catholic college president makes for his secretary's IUD.Back in '08 I might have amended the G.K. to read when men cease to believe in God, they do not believe in nothing; they believe in Obama. In '12, however, Godbama is looking far less godlike and far more like a puny and unexceptional EU statist--a Herman Van Rompuy, say, only one who's easier on the eyes and who, when called upon to do so, can sing a mean Al Green.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
In Light of Rampaging Statism (the New "God"), Steyn Revises a Chesterton Quip
Do not miss the latest piece over at Steynonline. It's a doozie. Here's but a taste: