Saturday, March 29, 2008

Why Sane Radicals Would Much Rather Not be Radicals

"Like the spotty, overweight and paralytically shy, radicals would rather not be the way they are. They regard themselves as holding awkward, mildly freakish opinions forced upon them by the current condition of the species, and yearn secretly to be normal. Or rather, they look forward to a future in which they would no longer be saddled with such inconvenient beliefs, since they would have been realised in practice. They would then be free to join the rest of the human race. It is not pleasant to be continually out of line. It is also paradoxical that those who believe in the sociality of human existence should be forced on this very account to live against the grain. To the cheerleaders for Life, it seems unwarrantably ascetic. They do not see that the asceticism, if that is what it is, is in the name of a more abundant life for everyone. Radicals are simply those who recognise, in Yeat's words, that 'Nothing can be sole or whole / That has not been rent.' It is not their fault that this is so. They would rather that it was not."

Terry Eagleton

As Eagleton remarks somewhere else, sensible socialists would like nothing else than to be the conservatives of the future - not in the sense that they secretly plan to join the Tory Party and the local golf club on their 40th birthday, but in the sense that a radically transformed socialist society would be worth conserving, and its traditions worth upholding, with all the blimpish, blustering, swaggering complacency with which Boris Johnson defends the present status quo. If you're a radical simply for the sake of being 'a radical' then you're a fucking idiot.

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