101 Years Ago – G.K. Chesterton on Great Powers


Christopher Houseman

By 1909, Chesterton was contemplating the prospect of the decline of the United States, especially in light of its war against Spain over the Philippines. The decline of the British Empire after the Second Boer War of 1899-1902 was a given.

It may be said with rough accuracy that there are three stages in the life of a strong people. First, it is a small power, and fights small powers. Then it is a great power, and fights great powers. Then it is a great power, and fights small powers, but pretends that they are great powers, in order to rekindle the ashes of its ancient emotion and vanity. After that, the next step is to become a small power itself.
Chesterton, G. K. (2010). Heretics (265). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

Says it all really, doesn’t it?

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One response to “101 Years Ago – G.K. Chesterton on Great Powers

  1. At least the British Empire was fairly benevolent. If my dear mom is to be believed they were trying to do something honourable in India.
    The US empire seems to have been more duplicitous in its handling of its colonies (Vietnam, Iran . . . . )
    And what will come next?