Greg Ip: It's Not (All) About Berlusconi
Geithner's Policy Bet

Quote of the Day: November 11, 2011

"Tragedy, [Michael] Ignatieff replies, cannot be eliminated from history. He is surely right. But is he right that this is what utopians invariably seek and that the modern welfare state is the best we can hope for? In arriving at this conclusion, Ignatieff is particularly hard on, and uncharacteristically imperceptive about, Marx. While granting Marx’s fundamental criticism … he charges that Marx went on to prescribe a final “destination for the tragic spiral of human need” and thus succumbed to a “fantasy of deliverance from history.” “Marx,” he writes, “is largely silent about the natural and unalterable elements of our destiny, and it was upon this silence that his utopia was built.”

"This is a misunderstanding. Like Freud, Marx sought only to deliver humankind from needless misery to inevitable unhappiness. Implicit … is a definition of utopia; not the elimination of tragedy but its universalization. When each person’s sufferings and failures – her fate – are individual, rather than circumstantial and accidental, as is so often the case in the “great scramble,” then no more can be required of politics. The democratization of tragedy is surely a modest enough conception of utopia. But it is a long way from the contemporary welfare state."

--George Scailabba, The Modern Predicament