Saturday, February 12, 2011

Reclaiming 'Realism'

Inevitably, someone somewhere will point out that revolutions fail, that they collapse into precisely the kind of chaos that more pragmatic people had warned the world about. If that's an argument for never having taken the step towards change at all, it's a pretty unconvincing one, as Egypt shows.

Timothy Burke's post, 'Real and Fake Realism' is worth reading in this context.
Because the aspiration to rights for all and autonomy in economic, social and cultural life is not the end of history, there are no guarantees: not for Egyptians, nor for Americans. Everything we make and achieve and value can be taken away from us someday. Judging from America’s own discontented winter, we are the most likely agents of our potential deprivation. None of the things that fulfill our humanity come with guarantees: we do not love because we are promised that love can never fail, we do not invent and make and create because we have foreknowledge that what we imagine will always come into being. Nor can we take control of every circumstance to gain that guarantee. That was the hubris of the neoconservatives, and whatever happens to Iraq in the long run, it’s hard not to notice that it took 100,000 dead people to make it happen with none of those dead people agreeing to or expecting that cost in advance, versus some hundreds dead in Egypt, nearly all of them people who took their risks knowingly. 

(Via the most awesome Aaron Bady)


km said...

Great link.

There's a time for pragmatism. But it's a good thing that no one in Egypt knew that.

Space Bar said...

Yes, well - it's not over by a long shot.