"But there is another strong objection which I,
one of the laziest of all the children of Adam,
have against the Leisure State.
Those who think it could be done argue that a vast machinery
using electricity, water-power, petrol, and so on,
might reduce the work imposed on each of us to a minimum.
It might, but it would also reduce our control to a minimum.
We should ourselves become parts of a machine,
even if the machine only used those parts once a week.
The machine would be our master, for the machine
would produce our food, and most of us could have no notion
of how it was really being produced."
Gilbert Keith Chesterton
(1874-1936) British essayist, critic, poet, and novelist
Illustrated London News, March 21, 1925
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Reader comments about this quote:
 -- humorbomber, all towns, usa     
    Written in 1925, ol' G.K. was "spot on" wasn't he. That's why I like living in Belize -- close to the source of my food, without many of the invisibly-produced comforts which enslave modern man.
     -- Senor Reek, Corozal, Belize, Central America     
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    Right on!
     -- John-Douglas, Nassau     
    Generally a good philosophical point. I think, however, that lacking the wherewithal to build my own 747 (or - pick your model), I'm still glad it exists to take me to and from places like, uh, well, Belize, for instance where I can pretend to not employ 'the machine' that makes my DEET.
     -- Terry Berg, Occidental, CA     
  • 1
     -- Anonymous      
    Indeed! the more we delegate the less we understand - we must retain the ability to always have control over the machine. The point as you say Terry is philosphical - as long as there is someone out there that knows how to build my flying machine I am happy - its when none of us know how to recreate the machines that we should be concerned.
     -- RobertSRQ     
  • 1
    This is phiolosopy for the poor and downtrodden only. The wealthy and priviledged never have had a problem with leisure or in avoiding work, they loved every minute of it. After all that is what golf is for. They may not not have had machines but hundreds of slaves or servants to attend to their every wish.
     -- Bruce, 'Bama     
    Rather true already. I slaughtered and plucked my first duck a few years ago -- certainly something most of us no longer have to do. Unless it is wrapped in fancy packaging, most of us won't buy it. We are losing our agrarian skills -- what happens the next time there is an electrical failure shutting down the Eastern seaboard for 2 weeks? Maybe next time it won't come back...
     -- E Archer, NYC     
  • 2
    I think I missed the main point. Not knowing how things are produced is no problem in modern society. Our every day existence is based on experience and faith. In addition we are blessed with a plethora of rules and regulations and tons of lawyers and courts, and insurance. All of these enable us to walk into any restaurant or business, buy any product, and expect to be treated with due dilgence by man and machine or we will sue the hell out of them and the machine owners. The blessing of having all these laws, recourses, rights, insurance, and lawyers, is that businees booms, because people have confidence in the machines, operators, owners, and the system. If the system kills us at least our heirs can collect. Justice in the End.
     -- Bruce, 'Bama     
    This line of reasoning would have us believe that we started our enslavement by deciding to no longer live in caves and gather berries. Even then we were slaves to the benevolence of nature. The machine talked about gives one type of freedom while taking away another. We have to decide for ourselves what freedoms are the most important.
     -- warren, olathe     
  • 1 1
    Knowledge (not just the gathering of information but rather, a wisdom in how to implement that which exercises life, liberty and property for health, wealth, benefit to the family of Man and happiness) exponentially expands liberty. Slaves to the machine and otherwise socialistic religionists are a cancer that is the ultimate demise of the systemic mechanism..
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
  • 2
    Which may have been a reason why the Celts forbid the written word... processes could only be handed down by each generation, and the intelligentsia (who the Roman's killed off because they were the key to Celtic knowledge) therefore, their ways were not lost to time.....
     -- Robert, Somewhere in Europe     
  • 1 1
    The " Leisure State " vs Responsibility of ones person, and the acquired skills to exercise inventiveness to meet necessities needs. The Leisure State, dependent upon slaves, to create leisure time for the wealthy. Emigrants are drawn to our nation of electricity, and machines, while others know the trappings of and so called leisure, afforded by such devices. Horse and wagon days, candles, and oil. Planting, hunting, fishing, and building ones own home, were, and still are the test of independence. A reward of accomplishment. Now, what is called leisure was once a way of meeting the needs of everyday life. In most of the world it still is that way. Remove yourself from the ( City ) and look around ! Some live off the Grid, and live well through invention. Enslavement by way of invention, has been the dupe of the wealthy for many, many years. Preying upon the masses for a long time. Being lazy is engrained through false teaching of what is personal responsibility and accomplishment rewarded. Some inventions suppressed, while others promoted. Oil, the current power base. It could have been other ways, but the results would have been the same. Socialism must be abolished not manipulated, as also enslavement by way of so called modern invention ! It is a personal choice to choose the trappings of modern inventions. Or and I know from personal experience, you can not always count on modern invention in the field of life. Some Old ways are timeless in application as are old tools and there use. Skill is required not avoided for modern inventive sake. The same application goes for knowledge, and its use.
     -- Ronw13, Yachats Or     
  • 1
    The same can be said of government 'entitlements.' I think Americans concentrate too much on Freedom and not enough on Independence.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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