Zonka recently sent us the following email:
The other day I read an op-ed by the Danish Cold War researcher, Bent Jensen, in Jyllands-Posten, where he wrote that a Russian friend of his recommended that he read the book The Flying Inn by Gilbert K. Chesterton from 1914, in order to understand what was going on in the European elites in general and the British elites in particular vis-à-vis multiculturalism and pandering to Islam… Naturally he was reluctant to believe that he could find any answers to the current state of affairs in a book almost a century old, however he did read it and gave a short synopsis of the book in the article.
His writing sent me looking for the book, which must have entered the public domain, and I found it online, albeit only in plain-text format that made it hard to read. So I spent most of the day yesterday putting it into a HTML format for better readability as well as reading the book… And I must say that it was an eye-opener. Not only did G.K. Chesterton have the uncanny foresight to see how Europe could be overtaken by Islam, but also describing the effete elite’s hypocrisy and double-standards to the dot.
And so I pass on the recommendations to read the book which can now be found at www.kimcm.dk/Documents/The_Flying_Inn.html.
Inspired by Zonka’s efforts, Henrik Ræder Clausen volunteered to translate the Jyllands-Posten op-ed into English:
The Political Madness
By Professor Bent Jensen
Director of the Danish Center of Cold War Research
We need a Danish Chesterton, writes Bent Jensen after he, on the suggestion of a Russian friend, read the G. K. Chesterton novel The Flying Inn from 1945 [Note: this is an error, the book was published in 1914]. The plot and the problems of the book appear as if taken straight out of the political-intellectual stage of Denmark, Britain and Europe of today.
Sometimes one needs to turn to the past in order to understand the present and get a notion of what is in store for the future. And frequently one needs to turn to fiction in order to gain a realistic and insightful description of what currently takes place in the real world. Sociological and political treatises don’t usually concern the most urgent problems of their time. Many are void of original thinking and suffer from a loss of reality.
A close Russian friend of mine had for quite a while encouraged me to read a devil-may-care novel by the English Catholic author G. K. Chesterton, who died in 1936. His novel, which simultaneously is a utopian piece, takes place in England at the end of the 19th century. “It will teach you what is happening in Denmark and Europe right now,” said my Russian friend. “Read it, the book is named The Flying Inn“.
I was skeptical. What relevance would an old novel from England have to the problems of Denmark and Europe today? But I discarded my skepticism and have now read The Flying Inn — and it is perfectly true: It would appear as if Chesterton is describing the present times. The book was translated into Danish in 1945, and I would imagine that back then it would have seemed weird to Danish readers — funny, but absolutely void of deeper significance. Today it reads as a revelation of wit and insight.
Briefly explained, The Flying Inn is about the ruling class and its fierce discontent with the state of the world, and in particular the way the lower classes choose to live their lives. The spokesman for the upper class is Lord Ivywood, a member of Parliament — a pale, anaemic and humorless world-improver, isolated from the British people, their faith and customs. Personally, the Lord believes in nothing except his own utopian ideas. The world is a failure, and I want to change it, as he puts it. Lord Ivywood’s opposite is a round, fierce and action-oriented captain of the navy, the red-haired Irishman Patrick Dalroy. He believes that the God’s creation is exactly how it is supposed to be. He does not believe in any of the modern rubbish about a state of world peace and eternal happiness, but finds life, with all its challenges, deficiencies and imperfections to be wonderful.
– – – – – – – – –
An important part of this earthly life is to enjoy a glass of beer, whisky or rum as thirst demands. And here we are at the core of the matter. The Higher Society has always considered the lower classes, the common people, to be vulgar. The underclass dresses wrong, eats and drinks wrong; it talks and even thinks in wrong ways. Thus it becomes an important task for the ruling classes in politics, journalism, science, and education to raise the incorrectly eating and thinking classes. It is also of utmost importance to make the lower classes abandon their love for their country and their culture — as well as their skepticism towards alien cultures seeking to intrude and dominate.
Lord Ivywood and his peers in other European countries have decided to make peace with the Islamic world — on Islam’s terms. Partly because there is profit to be made from such a peace, and partly because Islam would be good for the lower classes, for instance by curbing the ongoing drunkenness in England. Thus he becomes the prime sponsor of a law aiming at shutting down the old, public inns in England, where one goes after work for a pint or two. Unsurprisingly, the law contains a loophole that permits the members of Parliament and others of the ruling class to satisfy their own desire for alcohol.
Chesterton exposes in a sublime manner the hypocrisy, the double standards and the foolishness in the dominating layers of society. The pale Lord Ivywood, who is described as a walking corpse (and whose name contains death as well) has the notion that “debates are usually not harmful to parliamentary work.” Nevertheless, when he intends to pass yet another law to limit the harmless enjoyments of common people, he acts like a thief in the night and gets the law passed without even the slightest debate.
The book opens with a description of “a menagerie of asylum members”, that is, the major or minor fools who create a considerable share of the noise also known as “public debate”. Here we find socialists, clowns, priests, a man fooling around with cardboard boxes, someone wearing a garland of carrots around his hat, and an atheist “in a state of rabid anger”. Finally, we also find in the menagerie a Turk wearing a red fez, who explains that British civilization actually originated with the Turks, a fact utterly forgotten by the British. One of his brilliant proofs for this statement is that the British prefer turkey for Christmas. The similarity to the imams of our days is striking.
This ignorant madman is excessively popular with the higher classes. Miss Browning, a regular visitor to the Ethical Society, is fascinated by the wisdom thrown about by the moon prophet (Chesterton’s mocking label). She now believes she has understood a lot about Islam, including that everything originated in the East. A learned Englishman, Dr. Moon, has already proposed that the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral should be equipped with a hybrid of a cross and a half moon, a mooncross. When voting, Muslims must not be exposed to the humiliation of having to place a cross. Instead, half-moons are to be applied. Lord Ivywood obviously supports the proposal. He works in a diplomatic manner towards the goal of forging Islam and Christianity into a higher union, named Chrislam.
All of his would seem to be taken straight out of today’s political-intellectual menagerie in Denmark, England and Europe. Learned people have already, and with sincerity, proposed the removal of the cross from the Danish flag Dannebrog and from the Danish passports, because they offend Muslims. Muslim public holidays have been proposed. Danish children are no longer able to get leverpostej (pig pâté) and similar traditional Danish food in the kindergartens, because according to Islamic tradition they are “unclean”. A professor of law believes that compensating murder with payment to be made out in camels just might be appropriate in an old European nation. Some Danish judges consider it just fine to have Islamic symbols in Danish courts. Sharia could be just fine as well. The list goes on and on.
One of the hilarious scenes in the book is an exhibition of paintings, which have been censored because depictions of humans are forbidden according to Islam. What remains are the ornaments and decorations in eastern style. Chesterton describes the opening of the exhibition, where “the regular visitors in the marketplace of vanity” as a matter of course attend and happily endorse the censorship. The self-satisfied crowd constitute “a very small world”, though “it is exactly large enough and small enough to constitute the ruling class of a country — noticeably a country void of religion.” Anyone could easily name these self-satisfied and thoughtless regular visitors in the market of vanity in Denmark or England.
But fortunately still present in Merry Old England are simple Englishmen who do not intend to give up their traditions and culture. As mentioned, an Irish Catholic, Captain Patrick Dalroy, spearheads the public revolt against the Islamization from the upper classes. Dalroy may say that he doesn’t comprehend England or the English, but that is only a pretense. He understands and knows classical England, and teams up with his good friend, innkeeper Humphrey Pump, whose inn by the river and the apple trees has been forced into closure by Lord Ivywood — for the good of the people, of course. But the creative Irishman exploits a loophole in the law that enables himself and his English friend to travel around in England on a cart — later exchanged for a car — bearing the old inn sign, a barrel of fine rum and a big, round cheddar cheese.
According to Captain Dalroy modern man is utterly confused as to life and its meaning. He expects something never promised him by nature, and for that reason he destroys all that nature has already granted him. In Lord Ivywood’s atheistic mission houses for social improvement and salvation of the planet there is “a preachery up and down the doors” about the perfect peace, unlimited mutual confidence, universal joy and souls uniting. The atheists are hunting all joy and jolliness out of the country, says Dalroy, they discard all the old songs and good tales. They ruin the basis of friendship between men by closing institutions as the English inns. The simple Dalroy thinks, in opposition to the joyless world-improvers, that it is the intention of God that humans are meant to have some fun in their existence.
Chesterton without respect describes diplomats in this fashion: They are permitted to divulge neither knowledge nor ignorance. This is one of their tragedies. For that reason, they try to appear as if they know everything.
This is an apt description of current Danish and European politicians. They not only assume that they know everything. They also assume that it is their right to interfere with everything. They intend to regulate everything, to control everything — from the tiniest to the largest. What kind of electric bulbs that can be permitted in our living rooms. How cucumbers and tomatoes are supposed to shape themselves. Where people can be permitted to smoke tobacco. Where they are located on the roads. What they can and cannot be permitted to say. And even how the earth and the sky are supposed to behave. Actually, we do have a ministry endowed with the task of making the earth and the heavens do as they are supposed to.
The political madness is becoming all-encompassing. In Chesterton’s novel captain Dalroy saves England from the mad lord and his Islamic allies. We are in need of both a Danish Chesterton and a Danish Dalroy.
To read the complete text of The Flying Inn by G. K. Chesterton, click here.