Gilbert Keith ChestertonGilbert Keith Chesterton, (1874-1936) British essayist, critic, poet, and novelist

Gilbert Keith Chesterton Quote

“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types -- the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. He admires them especially by moonlight, not to say moonshine. Each new blunder of the progressive or prig becomes instantly a legend of immemorial antiquity for the snob. This is called the balance, or mutual check, in our Constitution.”

Gilbert Keith ChestertonGilbert Keith Chesterton
~ Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Illustrated London News, 1924

Ratings and Comments

David L. Rosenthal, Hollywood

Gilbert Keith Chesterton.... (1874-1936) British essayist, critic, poet, and novelist.... and occasionally extraordinary cynic.

Joe, Rochester, MI

Progressive = mistakes; Conservative = no correction of mistakes. Sounds like our government today.

Anonymous, Reston, VA US

an over simplification of a complex subject

E Archer, NYC

LOL! A GK classic.

MK, Houston, TX

While I cannot speak for all conservatives, I for one believe change is good... as long as it is done within our Constitutional representative system rather than through the non-elected courts.... People are free to change anything they want... even the Constitution, as long as they do it legally and in the open. Unfortunately, that is NOT what Progressives seem to want to do... but rather they elect to force their views down the throats of a society that largely rejects it.... that is Tyrany in my dictionary. So much for that one.

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    Anonymous    5/13/09

    This is an interesting perspective... very cynical and pessimistic, though. I'm a Progressive (at least I think I am), but I do not seek to force my views down the throats of anyone. Rather, I seek to make sure that no one tries to inflict their personal beliefs on everyone.

    Mike, Norwalk

    I like it. The U.S. application is a mirror image. It used to be that it took a Republican to implement a failed Democrat's endeavor. Now that the progressives fill both parties, the Obamunist brigade can't be stopped in dismantling the once liberty guaranteeing Constitutional Republic.

    jim k, austin

    I'll go along with Mike on this one. We need to get the "progressives" out of both parties, maybe in 2010.

    Logan, Memphis, TN


    Ken, Allyn, WA

    Profoundly correct; and yes, Progressive socialism is a disease that needs to be excised, or maybe exorcised, from both parties.

    Justin, Elkland

    Gilbert has it wrong again. The business of Conservatives is to try to prevent the so-called Progressives from making the same mistakes repeatedly. Trial and error only works if you learn from the errors. Preventing past mistakes from being correced is the job of the Statist.

    Waffler, Smith

    Best quote yet!

    Mike, Norwalk

    Justin from Elkland, if the business of Conservatives is to try to prevent the so-called Progressives from making the same mistakes repeatedly, why are Conservatives so enthralled with and ardently supportive of the police state's enforcement of a national establishment of religion, compelled compliance, license, victimless crimes, larceny with impunity, alienation of inalienable rights, despotism and all other forms of tyranny?


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