I don't know if that's optimism.


"However, it’s not impossible. The coming catastrophes are going to be gigantic—I read recently that the Indians are now building a wall between India and Bangladesh. They know that 100 million people are going to try to get into India just to live because of floods due to global warming and rising sea levels. So they are preparing to kill 100 million people. The American government is preparing militarily to prevent Mexicans from storming into the United States, as people starve in Mexico. So this is what the future holds. The existing situation is poised on an edge of catastrophe, which might take fifty years to unfold. At some point, people will have to deal with it. I don’t know if that’s optimism.

When I was younger, it seemed like it was about to happen: people in the streets, freedom, socialism—but it turns out that the human race is sluggish. The task is also scary. The army is big. Society is hard to understand, and no one really knows what’s going on. And it’s millions of people, and there’s religion, and there’s parents. I walk down the street, and I think, it’s just insane—don’t people know what’s happening? In 75 years this whole area is going to be under water, and they’re worrying about what kind of jeans they want to buy! It’s hard to imagine that what you experience right now is not going to be there in twenty years. During the First World War, it took until 1916 before the big demonstrations began in the cities of Germany. And it took another two years before people finally said, we’re not going to fight anymore. And that was rather mild—the First World War was nothing compared to the Second, and that was nothing compared to what’s coming now. Nearly 60 million died in the Second World War. Now we’re talking about hundreds of millions starving to death and drowning. So that’s why I’m not chipper about it. Socialism or barbarism, as Luxembourg said. Those are our two alternatives."

Paul Mattick

2 comments:

Micah said...

I'd say it's probably not.

socialism and/or barbarism said...

Nor do I: it is pessimism (at least insofar as I mean that and at least insofar as it recognizes the lability of the breaking point, the absence of a clearly punctual point at which people do something about it), and in the best way. See the ending of this:

http://socialismandorbarbarism.blogspot.com/2011/05/roman-letter-18-on-new-men-and-new.html