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Utopia of Usurers

G. K. Chesterton

Book Overview: 

“Now I have said again and again (and I shall continue to say again and again on all the most inappropriate occasions) that we must hit Capitalism, and hit it hard, for the plain and definite reason that it is growing stronger. Most of the excuses which serve the capitalists as masks are, of course, the excuses of hypocrites. They lie when they claim philanthropy; they no more feel any particular love of men than Albu felt an affection for Chinamen. They lie when they say they have reached their position through their own organising ability. They generally have to pay men to organise the mine, exactly as they pay men to go down it. They often lie about the present wealth, as they generally lie about their past poverty. But when they say that they are going in for a “constructive social policy,” they do not lie. They really are going in for a constructive social policy. And we must go in for an equally destructive social policy; and destroy, while it is still half-constructed, the accursed thing which they construct.”

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . of truth, his difficulty is this and simply this: More food, leisure, and money for the workman would mean a better workman, better even from the point of view of anyone for whom he worked. But more food, leisure, and money would also mean a more independent workman. A house with a decent fire and a full pantry would be a better house to make a chair or mend a clock in, even from the customer's point of view, than a hovel with a leaky roof and a cold hearth. But a house with a decent fire and a full pantry would also be a better house in which to refuse to make a chair or mend a clock—a much better house to do nothing in—and doing nothing is sometimes one of the highest of the duties of man. All but the hard-hearted must be torn with pity for this pathetic dilemma of the rich man, who has to keep the poor man just stout enough to do the work and just thin enough to have to do it. As he stood gazing at the leaky roof and the rickety cradle in a pensive ma. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This collection of Chesterton essays compiles a number of brief discourses on political and economic topics, very much directed at persons and issues of his own day. Ostensibly these writings were selected and compiled as the clearest examples of Chesterton’s own political-economic thought, an ob...more

Some of the most thought-provoking political and social commentary I've read in years. It's hard to believe Chesterton's essays are nearly a century old; they are hugely applicable to the current cultural problem of equating financial success with virtue, and the problem of media bias (in many di...more

I wish every Crypto Conservative who slimes along trying to claim Chesterton as one of their own every ten years or so was forced to read this book.

That's right fuckos, go ahead and promote the work of a man who wanted to dismantle capitalism and was in favor of radical land redistribution.

Post...more

Good book I think GK Chestertons prognosis and assessments of capitalism have much merit. I think his humility gives off a glaring sincerity in his writing. The book also is good news, GK elaborates on many figures, companies, and institutions in his time. His critiques were not ill informed, man...more

This book is a collection of essays critical of "capitalism and capitalists," or at least that is how Chesterton would characterize it. This characterization is incorrect, as history would subsequently show, the abuses that Chesterton thinks he addresses are not products of capitalism, but of lar...more

I usually enjoy Chesterton. This collection of essays had a few more out-dated allusions than usual. Also, I hadn't realized how much he hated Capitalists. He had no love for Socialists, either, so I'm left wondering what economic system he would espouse. He made good observations about the exces...more

A disappointment, mostly, though not without some redeeming features. The work constitutes Chesterton's World War I-era screed against capitalism. Particularly in the beginning, it is in parts hardly coherent. He makes ridiculous claims like people would appreciate getting broken products from a...more

For over thirty years, G. K. Chesterton has been one of my favorite authors, but this month has made me question my evaluation to some extent. First I read Lord Kitchener, which had the virtue of being short and crisp; but The Utopia of Usurers and Other Essays displayed the author as a fish out...more

As usual, Chesterton is a master at explaining things and getting to the heart of the matter. He makes some very pithy points that will leave you pondering for awhile. That being said, his attacks on capitalism as a whole, while also attacking communism in the same breath, is confusing to say the...more

As a relative newcomer to Chesterton it is none the less quite clear this work is a little atypical to his oeuvre in this provocative, sometimes prophetic if slightly uneven work. Certainly it's clear while the wit is a little less evident than usual, the righteous anger he feels against the capi...more

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