"The History of Hudge and Gudge"

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posted on Feb, 24 2013 @ 03:26 PM
"There is, let us say, a certain filthy rookery in Hoxton, dripping with disease and honeycombed with crime and promiscuity. There are, let us say, two noble and courageous young men, of pure intentions and (if you prefer it) noble birth; let us call them Hudge and Gudge." q1

With these words, author G K Chesterton introduces a fascinating parable of two characters; Hudge (the socialist) and Gudge (the capitalist), and proceeds to explain how these two characters conspire to keep the common man in chains. Chesterton, writing in 1910, introduces us to an idea that you may be familiar with: I mean, the idea that 'Big Government' and 'Big Business' are really just two sides of the same coin; that the fight they keep up in public is really a show fight, and that their ultimate objective is the same: The destruction of the Free Man, the Free Family, and all the traditions, customs, and virtues of our fathers.

How many times have we heard it said by modern third-way political commentators; that the party system is itself a tool of oppression, that the liberals and the conservatives who fight on the senate floor, merely retire at the end of the day to the same clubs, drawing rooms, and grand estates, to plot their own power?

The system is not new, it is as old as Parliament, and men like Chesterton (and like ourselves) have been pointing out the hypocrisy of this allegedly emancipatory construct almost since its inception. Are we paranoid? Are we mad? Is it just a coincidence that the Industrialist and the Socialist always play into each others' hands? That the sacred dogmas of both Individualism and Collectivism conspire to strip man; first of his dignity, second of his liberty, and lastly of his hope?

"And now, as this book is drawing to a close, I will whisper in the reader's ear a horrible suspicion that has sometimes haunted me: the suspicion that Hudge and Gudge are secretly in partnership. That the quarrel they keep up in public is very much of a put-up job, and that the way in which they perpetually play into each other's hands is not an everlasting coincidence. Gudge, the plutocrat, wants an anarchic industrialism; Hudge, the idealist, provides him with lyric praises of anarchy. Gudge wants women-workers because they are cheaper; Hudge calls the woman's work "freedom to live her own life." Gudge wants steady and obedient workmen, Hudge preaches teetotalism—to workmen, not to Gudge—Gudge wants a tame and timid population who will never take arms against tyranny; Hudge proves from Tolstoi that nobody must take arms against anything. Gudge is naturally a healthy and well-washed gentleman; Hudge earnestly preaches the perfection of Gudge's washing to people who can't practice it. Above all, Gudge rules by a coarse and cruel system of sacking and sweating and bi-sexual toil which is totally inconsistent with the free family and which is bound to destroy it; therefore Hudge, stretching out his arms to the universe with a prophetic smile, tells us that the family is something that we shall soon gloriously outgrow.

"I do not know whether the partnership of Hudge and Gudge is conscious or unconscious. I only know that between them they still keep the common man homeless. I only know I still meet Jones walking the streets in the gray twilight, looking sadly at the poles and barriers and low red goblin lanterns which still guard the house which is none the less his because he has never been in it." 2


I have created this thread today in order to reassert my conviction that there is, truly, a silent conspiracy at work in our political system today. The dogmas of "Right" and "Left" -- so arbitrarily and inconsistently defined -- cooperate to strip men of their freedom in a systematic way. The bright side of each philosophy draws men to their respective defense, but ultimately, when either side wields power, it is only ever the dark and dehumanizing aspects of each philosophy that we see employed in practice. Gudge preaches freedom and liberty, and personal choice, but builds a world in which only the rich can be free. Hudge preaches cooperation and solidarity and the dissolution of old tyrannies; but in practice, the only tyrannies he destroys are the family, the private home, and the simple pleasures and adventures for which most men live.

We are not alone! We are not mad! The hypocrisy and contempt of the plutocratic puppeteers is not an illusion: It is real. It is now more than 100 years since Chesterton penned his words, and revealed his "horrible suspicion" to the world. And the injustices he saw, and fought against, are still before us this very day.

So what should we do about it? I finish with his words:

"A little while ago certain doctors and other persons permitted by modern law to dictate to their shabbier fellow-citizens, sent out an order that all little girls should have their hair cut short. I mean, of course, all little girls whose parents were poor. Many very unhealthy habits are common among rich little girls, but it will be long before any doctors interfere forcibly with them...

"Now the whole parable and purpose of these last pages, and indeed of all these pages, is this: to assert that we must instantly begin all over again, and begin at the other end. I begin with a little girl's hair. That I know is a good thing at any rate. Whatever else is evil, the pride of a good mother in the beauty of her daughter is good. It is one of those adamantine tendernesses which are the touchstones of every age and race. If other things are against it, other things must go down. If landlords and laws and sciences are against it, landlords and laws and sciences must go down. With the red hair of one she-urchin in the gutter I will set fire to all modern civilization.

"Because a girl should have long hair, she should have clean hair; because she should have clean hair, she should not have an unclean home: because she should not have an unclean home, she should have a free and leisured mother; because she should have a free mother, she should not have an usurious landlord; because there should not be an usurious landlord, there should be a redistribution of property; because there should be a redistribution of property, there shall be a revolution.

"That little urchin with the gold-red hair, whom I have just watched toddling past my house, she shall not be lopped and lamed and altered; her hair shall not be cut short like a convict's; no, all the kingdoms of the earth shall be hacked about and mutilated to suit her. She is the human and sacred image; all around her the social fabric shall sway and split and fall; the pillars of society shall be shaken, and the roofs of ages come rushing down, and not one hair of her head shall be harmed." 3


And so it will be.

edit on 24-2-2013 by RedBird because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 24 2013 @ 03:43 PM
More and more, every day, it becomes increasingly apparent that the upper and lower classes are not subject to the same laws. In the middle ages, before the emancipation of the peasants, the nobility and the peasantry were subject to different laws. In time, "the letter of the law" became usurped by a social custom of equality. For many centuries before the official repudiation of classical slavery in Europe, slavery was on its way out already. For although the law enshrined the separation of these classes (of slaves, serfs, and peasants), the popular custom had been, increasingly, to dissolve the boundaries, and emancipate; first the slave, and later, the serf.

Our modern situation is entirely the reverse of this:

We have equality enshrined in law and constitution, but in popular practice, only the rich can decree certain punishments, and only a poor man can suffer it. We are going backwards; back to feudalism and oppression. How will long will it be before the first attempts are made to separate the rights, privileges, and powers of the rich from those of the rest of us by law? Perhaps it it already happening, only hidden behind the operation of corporate bodies and paper collectives.

The rich are always progressive, they always use the tools of new and popular ideologies to accomplish their goals. The corporation is a thing at once collectivist and anarchic -- a mere perversion of the ideal of socialism and common property.

posted on Feb, 24 2013 @ 03:59 PM
reply to post by RedBird

I can't award you enough flags and stars for this. Chesterton is highly underappreciated, and needs to be rediscovered.

The Moral Liberal: " Defending the Judeo-Christian heritage, limited government, & the American Constitution"

The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.
~ (G. K. Chesterton, Illustrated London News, April 19, 1924)

edit on 2/24/2013 by Ex_CT2 because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 25 2013 @ 08:43 PM
reply to post by Ex_CT2

I'm always glad to meet another fan of Chesterton's work.

He addressed many of the issues we are struggling with today, and his arguments and proposals were always so ... human.

He could turn any popularly accepted notion on its head, and get the reader to see just how silly it was once it had been stripped of its layers of assumption.

In many ways, he reminds me of Wittgenstein: not so much in his philosophy, or even his ideas, but simply in the way he used visualization and analogy to make us look at something in a new (or often, an old) way.

Speaking of Wittgenstein: Here was one of the thought experiments he used to show how our minds are conditioned to make unnecessary assumptions:

Imagine that the world was a perfectly spherical globe of even surface. Now imagine that you could wrap a rope all the way around the circumference of the earth and tie it off, such that it was taut around the surface. Now imagine that you were to add 1 meter of slack to the rope, and have people all around the circumference of the earth try and lift the rope up off the ground simultaneously to make up the slack. How high off the ground would you be able to lift the rope?

Most people, if they are presented with the question in this way, will first visualize the problem, before trying to think about it mathematically. And most people will probably guess that you would hardly be able to life the rope at all. (After all, you've only added a meter of rope, and it has to go around the whole world!)

The answer is actually about six inches, as given by the simple formula: r = C / 2(pi)

What Wittgenstein demonstrated by this thought experiment is that when we visualize certain problems, we allow the relative scale of variables to trick our minds into a false conclusion. This, said Wittgenstein, demonstrates that we make hidden assumptions about the world without even realizing it, and that we do so not only because of language, but because we are a "form of life" that is conditioned by our experiences to a certain context of scale and proportion. If you were to present someone with a nearly identical example that used "human scale" (such as a beach ball and a string), most people would quickly get the right answer.

I would argue that Chesterton employs the same method with many of his analogies and seemingly "silly" visualizations and thought experiments.


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