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A Perpetual Revolution

G. K. Chesterton, as quoted in the Dime Store Guru blog:

“We have remarked that one reason offered for being a progressive is that things naturally tend to grow better.
But the only real reason for being a progressive is that things naturally tend to grow worse.

The corruption in things is not only the best argument for being progressive; it is also the only argument against being conservative.
The conservative theory would really be quite sweeping and unanswerable if it were not for this one fact. But all conservatism is based upon the idea that if you leave things alone, you leave them as they are. But you do not.

If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change. If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white you must be always painting it again; that is, you must be always having a revolution.

Briefly, if you want the old white post you must have a new white post. But this which is true even of inanimate things is in a quite special and terrible sense true of all human things. An almost unnatural vigilance is really required of the citizen because of the horrible rapidity with which human institutions grow old. It is the custom in passing romance and journalism to talk of men suffering under old tyrannies. But, as a fact, men have almost always suffered under new tyrannies; under tyrannies that had been public liberties hardly twenty years before.”

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