the imaginative conservative logo

misanthropyPhilanthropy, as far as I can see, is rapidly becoming the mark of a wicked man.
G. K. Chesterton[1]

In my last essay I had the temerity to disagree with G. K. Chesterton over his idealization of the common man and his endorsement of the actions of the vulgar mob. Having done so, and wishing to reaffirm my humble status as one of GKC’s disciples, if occasionally a dissenting one, I would like to wholeheartedly endorse Chesterton’s position on Man, Men, and Misanthropy.

Chesterton’s view on Man is that of the orthodox Christian, as discussed in my earlier essay, “Who is Man?” Chesterton would have dismissed modern and modernist labels for man, such as homo sapiens, homo economicus or homo darwinius, and would have affirmed the view of man as being anthropos and homo viator. In other words, man is not merely clever, selfish, and a mere slave of his genes but is one who transcends instinct in his desire for metaphysical meaning and whose life is a journey with the purpose of growing ever closer to the goodness, truth, and beauty of the Divine.

Inevitably our view of Man will colour our view of Men. If we view Man as being essentially a gene-slave who is programmed to be selfish we will see our neighbours differently than if we view them as being made in Love’s image to love and be loved. The former sees man as essentially a gene-machine enslaved to instinct, thereby dehumanizing humanity to the level of an ultimately mindless mechanism; the latter views man as being made in God’s image and therefore as being in one sense divine. This is why a Christian is meant to see the face of Christ in all of his neighbours and the face of the suffering or Crucified Christ in the face of his suffering neighbours. The presence of God’s humanity fully humanizes our neighbours, making their lives sacred and our relationship with them one of necessary reverence.

It is this crucial connection between Man and Men which enables Chesterton to condemn philanthropy as the mark of a wicked man. This is of course provocative because it is counter-intuitive. If philanthropy means the love of Man, which it does, how can it be wicked?

It becomes wicked when the love of Man destroys the lives of men. Thus, for instance, the Reign of Terror, which followed in the wake of the French Revolution, was conducted in the name of liberté, egalité et fraternité. Inspired by Rousseau’s idea that Man is a Noble Savage, the Revolution’s ignoble savagery butchered men on the guillotine in the name of freedom, equality and brotherhood. The same “philanthropic” spirit was at the heart of Marxist demands for justice and the consequent communist bloodbaths of the twentieth century. In the century since the Bolshevik Revolution millions of men have been sacrificed on the altar of Marxist Man as thousands had earlier been sacrificed on the altar of the Noble Savage.

It would, however, be a grievous error to believe that philanthropy is only deadly when espoused by those who call themselves socialists. Those who call themselves capitalists have also spilt the blood of men in the name of the love of Man. Much of Chesterton’s spleen was vented against the philanthropy of John D. Rockefeller and his ilk. Today he would no doubt have vented in the direction of Bill Gates, whose megabucks are being used to coerce the poorer countries of the world into adopting the culture of death, which begins with contraception and which leads inevitably to widespread abortion.

The abortion industry is a perfect example of the fruits of “philanthropy” in which the love of Man, or in this case exclusively Woman, leads to the extermination of millions of babies in utero. In this case the demands of philanthropy have insisted upon child sacrifice, slaughtering the innocents on the altar of Feminist Man.

Bill-Gates-Money-TipA further instance of the way in which the Gates Foundation has used its plutocratic muscle for “philanthropic” purposes is in its bankrolling of the Common Core States Standards Initiative. In this all too common marriage between Big Business and Big Government, Bill Gates the billionaire and Barack Obama the socialist are working together to enforce a state-imposed curriculum in which the humanities will be sacrificed on the altar of “Humanity.” In what Chesterton prophesied would be the “coming peril” of “standardization by a low standard”, the Common Core will rip the humanities out of education to ensure that future generations are better able to reflect the desires and demands of utilitarian commerce and utopian politics. Thus, the common experience of men for almost three thousand years, as accumulated and shared in the Great Books taught in the Humanities, is being sacrificed on the altar of the socially-engineered New Man.

Once we have ascertained the damage done by philanthropists, such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Karl Marx and Bill Gates with their “love” for false notions of Man, we begin to see the wisdom of Chesterton’s provocative claim that “philanthropy … is rapidly becoming the mark of a wicked man.” Indeed, we come to understand why Chesterton insisted that “the quite simple objection to philanthropy … is that it is religious persecution”:

The essence of religious persecution is this: that the man who happens to have material power in the State, either by wealth or by official position, should govern his fellow-citizens not according to their religion or philosophy, but according to his own.[2]

In short, and to agree unequivocally with Chesterton, modern philanthropy is the imposition by a rich and powerful elite of their false religion of Man on the vast majority of men. Thus the “love of Man” becomes the enemy of men. Philanthropy becomes misanthropy.

Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.


[1] Illustrated London News, May 29, 1909

[2] G. K. Chesterton, All Things Considered (London: Methuen & Co, 1926), p. 10

The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility. Will you help us remain a refreshing oasis in the increasingly contentious arena of modern discourse? Please consider donating now.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
"All comments are subject to moderation. We welcome the comments of those who disagree, but not those who are disagreeable."
4 replies to this post
  1. I read at National Review an article that supports this “Common Core” for education. But all one need do is see what “foundational texts” are mentioned in the article as being in this “Core” to understand the mind that supporters of Core seek to “develop.” The Gettysburg Address, Common Sense by Thomas Paine, Emerson, Thoreau. Standard fare in the “liberal” canon. Yes, these should all be read, but it leaves out what a conservative would include in the “Foundational Texts” canon.

    Why not The Federalist Papers, The Anti-Federalist Papers, the papers of Fisher Ames, Madison’s Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention, The Pacificus-Helvidius Debates, or The Webster-Hayne Debate? You know, some real meat and potatoes rather than baby food. This way students would see other points of view presented and debated on the “founding,” and understand just how important those subjects were and are for governing a constitutional democracy.

    Indoctrination by omission.

  2. I disagree with the idea that there was anything “Philanthopic” about either the French Reign of Terror or the various mass murders of Communism. These were evil acts carried out by evil men, but men who were clever enough to cover their cruelty under the guise of “Helping humanity”. Conservatives make a grave mistake when they credit their enemies with having “Good intentions” when any person or regime that engages in mass murder clearly has vile intentions instead.

    • But that would be a socialist and liberal mistake. Assuming that people think they are doing evil. People always justify what the they do. They always have good intentions. They always think that what they are doing is for the ‘good’ of humanity.
      That is the worst thing about the romantic-liberal position and its propaganda. It acts as if they couldn’t do the same thing. But that is exactly what they do. They have given decades of diatribe that has promoted hate crimes in the millions. Directly influencing western destruction, depression, suicides, shame beatings, villianisation of the innocent. And blatantly character assassinating anyone who stands up to them.

  3. The love of Man is in its’ essence the love of the self. Politics has been and continues to be the stage for this ersatz love and the mountebank who preaches it, usually through political expediency , has no greater love. What comes from it is more often harm, waste, and unchecked power. An abstraction can never be the basis for true feeling.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: