Revolution instead—notes on passions and politics
THE confusion of my political ideas and feelings sometimes becomes so grave that, feverish with rage, contempt, dread, despair, intellectual claustrophobia, I am alarmed by my own instability. Rage: at criminal oppressors, whether slum landlords for their soul-stagnating exploitation of the cowed, or white-sheeted assassins waylaying blacks and civil rights workers, or war-makers. Contempt: of mugwumps and cowardly hypocrites forever; currently, of young self-proclaimed revolutionists who, in the name of exalted ideals, Freedom and Justice, provoke from authority a responsive violence, an illegal force, a tyranny, which must be one of the things they really want—why else would privileged taunters, these new remittance men, throw plastic-bag bombs of urine in cops’ faces and call them pigs? Dread: of technology; of our future which, to the extent it can be imagined, can hardly be desired by us as we are; of what science has sanctioned us to do with its potent marvels first in the West and then to all mankind. Despair: of any remedy to our plight; what we most need is a change of heart, and no political change imaginable could accomplish that, only a religious one, and none such seems likely to happen. Intellectual claustrophobia: from onrushes of thinking about all this, trapping myself every time, no matter which way I go, into the mad notion that man himself, the world itself, is mad. The notion is mad both because it is unreal—after all, much of what I know about these matters comes to me through the mass media, that pseudoreality, not through my own experience—and also because it is irreconcilably self-contradictory, darkly unthinkable.