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The Outline of Sanity Paperback – September 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews


“A clear and compelling explanation of Distributism, that misunderstood, misrepresented idea.”  —Dale Ahlquist, president, American Chesterton Society

“The time is ripe for American Catholics to be introduced to G. K. Chesterton.”  —Barbara E. Rose, cruxnews.com

“A must-read for even the most vague of Chestertonians.”  —Gilbert Magazine

“At once enduring, topical, and brilliant.”  —New Oxford Review

“A truly rich book! It is full of unique wisdom that applies as much today as when it was first written.”  —David Rockett, president, the Agrarian Foundation

About the Author

G. K. Chesterton's writing career spanned 35 years and included nearly 100 books and thousands of articles in 125 different periodicals, on topics ranging from travel, economics, and politics to religion and philosophy.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 184 pages
  • Publisher: Ihs Press (September 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0971489408
  • ISBN-13: 978-0971489400
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #685,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
The Outline Of Sanity is a philosophical treatise on the social vision of renowned British author and Christian philosopher G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936), known as "distributism". Chesterton presents his antithesis to the impersonal bustle of increasingly fast-paced modern life, and offers a logical means for human beings swept by the tide to regain control over life and future. With a Catholic foundation yet meant to encompass people of all religious persuasions, Chesterton's vision of Distributism is a powerful one that justly demands consideration, particularly in this modern day and age where his concerns of a society of alienation multiply a thousandfold!
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Were Chesterton a camel, the thing that broke his back was a half- baked philosophy called Distribustism, a clunkily- named alternative to both Capitalism and Socialism. For a long time I believed that, because you can even read it in biographies of Chesterton and, naive reader that I am, I thought biographers knew what they were talking about.

Having dipped into this book, which reprints articles on that subject, however, I realize Distributism wasn't his hobby horse; it was his passion and his soul. It also strikes me as the best idea to come down the pike in about a hundred years, and if you want to call Chesterton a prophet (small 'p'), here's good reason for doing so. In other words, long before Marshall McLuhan, (an avid student of Chesterton) he said the medium is the message. In still other words, he said something I'm always saying, vote with your wallet. He even advocated the radical idea of making your own media choices.

In "The Bluff of the Big Shops" he points out that no matter how enticing a megoplis super mega store may be, you still always have the option to shop at small mart. In this book, first published in 1926, he meditated on the future of the then relatively recent, newly mass-produced Ford car. What Chesterton stands up for is private property and private enterprise. Although this sounds almost the same as free trade and free enterprise, to Chesterton there is an important distinction. One means the right of the wealthy to do what they like, and the other the right of the poor to do anything at all. His meaning is closer to the original draft of the American document, recognizing the right to life, liberty, and ownership of property.

I got this book through the American Chesterton Society, although I'm happy to see it's also on Amazon.
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G.K. Chesterton (1874-1937)wrote THE OUTLINE OF SANITY as a possible alternative to Big Capitalism and Big Communism. Chesterton offered an economic solution that was both "idealistic" and practicle. Bascially, Chesterton argued that, "Smaller is better." Chesteron knew that the economic arrangements in Great Britian and these United States had serious flaws that undermined small farmers, small shop owners, and industrial workers. He suggested that men should gradually attempt to reverse the trends that were taking place by restoring men as owners of small shops and small land holdings in place of large farms and monopolisitc owned factories which ruined so many people. Chesteron was clear that Big Communism an evil system which offered so actual solution.

Chesterton described Big Capitalism as a system whereby monopolists used a corrupt parliament and a corrupt legal system to condemn land and property to control economic activities and concentrate vast wealth in the hands of a few plutocrats. He described Big Capitalism as a system where the very wealth concentrated wealth in the pockets of a few while economic despoiling most people. He described Big Communism as a system where no one could have pockets because a politically powerful oligarchy of party hacks would run the economy and use and abuse the mass of people.

Chesterton also critisized the Machine Age, but he did not critisize machines or technology. Chestertoned that unfair and corrupt legislation resulted in Big Capitialism having access to factories and machines. He also noticed that the economic situation in Great Britain resulted in idle machines since so many men were unemployed. In other words, what good were machines without men to work them.
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