An economy built on massive lending and spending cannot be sustained. But the reason it cannot be sustained is not merely economic, it is moral. It regards material wealth as the ultimate goal, and people as merely a commodity to achieve that goal. It is selfish and therefore self-destructive.
An economy based on the family is self-sustaining. Its focus is on the nurturing and training of children and not on the mere acquisition of goods. The family ideal as defended by Chesterton is something quite different than the industrialized consumer family, where the family members leave the house each morning by the clock and on a strict schedule to pursue work and recreation and the majority of life outside the home. Chesterton’s ideal was the productive home with its creative kitchen, its busy workshop, its fruitful garden, and its central role in entertainment, education, and livelihood. Unlike the industrial home, life in a productive household is not amenable to scheduling and anything but predictable.
The only thing surprising about this ideal is that it was once shared by almost everyone. Children used to be considered an asset; at some point they began to be seen as a liability.
Chesterton saw the beginning of this problem when he noticed people preferring to buy amusements for themselves rather than to have children. He pointed out prophetically that children are a far better form of entertainment than electrical gadgets. The irony today is that the retailers that sell the electronic amusements are going out of business because there are not enough people to buy this merchandise.
Read the entire essay. Dale is the is the author of two excellent Ignatius Press books on Chesterton: G.K. Chesterton: Apostle of Common Sense and, most recently, Common Sense 101: Lessons From G.K. Chesterton. He has also edited and annotated several books/collections by Chesterton.
• Seeing With the Eyes of G.K. Chesterton | Dale Ahlquist
• Recovering The Lost Art of Common Sense | Dale Ahlquist
• Common Sense Apostle & Cigar Smoking Mystic | Dale Ahlquist
• Chesterton and Orthodoxy | Carl E. Olson and Dale Ahlquist (audio interview)