Friday 29th April 2005

Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell, 2004

You & I, the moneyed, the privileged, the fortunate, shall not fare so badly in this world, provided our luck holds. What of it if our consciences itch? Why undermine the dominance of our race, our gunships, our heritage & our legacy? Why fight the 'natural' (oh, weaselly word!) order of things?

Why? Because of this: one fine day, a purely predatory world shall consume itself. Yes, the devil shall take the hindmost until the foremost is the hindmost. In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction.

(p. 528)

Hegemony or Survival (America's Quest for Global Dominance), Noam Chomsky , 2003

One can discern two trajectories in current history: one aiming toward hegemony, acting rationally within a lunatic doctrinal framework as it threatens survival; the other dedicated to the belief that "another world is possible," in the words that animate the World Social Forum, challenging the reigning ideological system and seeking to create constructive alternatives of thought, action, and institutions. Which trajectory will dominate, no one can foretell. The pattern is familiar throughout history; a crucial difference today is that the stakes are far higher.

Bertrand Russell once expressed some somber thoughts about world peace:

After ages during which the earth produced harmless trilobites and butterflies, evolution progressed to the point at which it has generated Neros, Genghis Khans, and Hitlers. This, however, I believe is a passing nightmare; in time the earth will become again incapable of supporting life, and peace will return.

No doubt the projection is accurate on some dimension beyond our realistic contemplation. What matters is whether we can awaken ourselves from the nightmare before it becomes all-consuming, and bring a measure of peace and justice and hope to the world that is, right now, within the reach of our opportunity and our will.

(pp. 236-237)