Sunday, May 17, 2015

What's the Big Idea?


'With my other boyfriends we always had discussions about how to improve the world,' Ariane said to me one morning as we lay in bed.

'What solutions did you propose?' I asked. 'Getting rid of armies and governments? Back to the land? The abolition of money?'

'Yes, those ideas came up. How would you improve the world, then?' Ariane asked me.

'Maybe not try to improve it,' I said. 'Stop having dreams of big solutions and try to make it work better with a few more little laws. I dunno.'

Ariane was frustrated by my lack of conviction. Communism was all about building Utopias, but trendy Western European theorists now called our age post-utopian. Where I came from, a lack of convictions was one of one's most deeply-held convictions.

'But how will you end exploitation, poverty and environmental destruction?'

'Maybe they can't be ended,' I said. When Ariane and I talked politics it always made me think of an episode from an old science-fiction series. I felt that my spaceship had touched down on a remote part of the Earth. My ideas were like a Martian language to her.

'But doesn't it matter to you that the gap between the poor and the rich has been getting wider,' she asked, beginning to sound irritated.

'Oh, inequality is not such a bad thing. it doesn't matter that the gap between the rich and the poor gets bigger, as long as the poor are getting richer, which they are.'

'But don't you feel a sense of outrage at the millions of impoverished migrant workers in China and Asia, filling up the slums of the mega-cities and working in sweatshops to make toys for our children and shoes for our feet?'

'Those people are playing catch-up after years of being held back by Communism. Anyway the alternative is that they stay where they came from, trying to keep the family goat alive on a barren hillside.'

...'Sometimes with you, I am worried that I am going to lose my identity,' she said.