"If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry." --- Ernest Hemingway A Farewell to Arms
“Very often, optimism is nothing more than a defence of one’s laziness, one’s irresponsibility, the will to do nothing. It is also a form of fatalism and mechanicism. One relies on factors extraneous to one’s will and activity, exalts them, and appears to burn with sacred enthusiasm... It is necessary to direct one’s attention relentlessly towards the present as it is, if one wishes to transform it.” --- Antonio Gramsci The Prison NotebooksMy themes for this edition are optimism and pessimism. You all know Gramsci's adage, "optimism of the intellect, pessimism of the will" (actually, he took it from Romain Rolland). Gramsci was condemning the anarchists for their intellectual optimism about human nature and about the masses' capacity for self-emancipation, which for him was a key justification of the need for a Leninist-style vanguard party to tell the masses what to do.
Like the SPGB, and as indicated in the very name of this blog, we're waiting for the majority of workers to come to the conclusion that socialism is worth building and worth fighting for (and only then actually get on with the task). However, unlike the SPGB, we don't think that there is nothing worthwhile that anyone can do in the meantime to shorten the age of waiting. The obvious fact that the world is - on the whole, and even taking into account all its enduring horrors and injustices and inequalities - a better place, for many more people, than it was in 1904 seems to us to show that some progress is possible even within (some forms of) capitalism. We'd even argue that such progress - albeit it is limited, distorted, corrupt and, often, made for the wrong reasons by the wrong people - itself contributes to the eventual building of socialism, by educating and galvanising those who will build it... To be even briefer: we accept the doctrine of the lesser evil, and the definition of politics as the art of the possible; the SPGB don't. Then again, they're the genuine article, a Marxist party that has not changed its stance or diluted its principles over the years - and that has to make the[m] a whole lot better than all the pseudo-left sects put together."