Thursday, August 26, 2010

golden age

Another fondly-recalled summer read: Edward Bellamy's 19th century utopian dream, Looking Backward, in which a Bostonian goes to sleep in 1887 and awakes in 2000 to a socialist paradise. I read this one on my iPod too, at the beach. (A free Stanza download.)

The author said it was "written in the belief that the Golden Age lies before us and not behind us."  A very pleasant summer dream indeed, and arguably a more "rational" optimism-- or at least, more flattering of human virtues-- than that portrayed in another of my beach reads, Matt Ridley's Rational Optimist...

Should we be optimists because the golden age awaits our species-evolution beyond commerce and acquisitiveness, as Bellamy proposed? Or because, as Ridley has it, self-interest places us all in the employ of one another and perpetually grows the pie-trough from which we all sup?

I know this : it's easier to be an optimist at the beach than at the Senate retreat. But this morning, I'm optimistic about school too.

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