Sunday, April 20, 2008

"But now that we leftist intellectuals can no longer be Leninists, we have to face up to some questions Leninism helped us evade: Are we more interested in alleviating misery or in creating a world fit for Socrates, and thus for ourselves? What is behind the regret we feel when we are forced to conclude that bourgeois democratic welfare states are the best we can hope for? Is it sadness at the thought that the poor will never get all the way out from under the rich, that the solidarity of a collective commonwealth will never be attained? Or is it, instead, sadness at the thought that we, the people who value self-consciousness, may be irrelevant to the fate of humanity? That Plato, Marx, and we ourselves may just be parasitical eccentrics living off the surplus value of a society to which we have nothing in particular to contribute? Was our thirst for world-historical romance, and for deep theories about deep causes of social change, caused by our concern for human suffering? Or was it at least in part a thirst for an important role for ourselves?"

- Richard Rorty, from "The End of Leninism, Havel, and Social Hope"

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