Friday, 1 May 2015

The greatest possible sum of happiness


Amid the scorched-earth debating styles which general elections seem to encourage, it is perhaps worth injecting a touch of optimism. Life may be improving and may continue to improve simply because billions of people want it and have the money to make it happen.

And it was just this that she saw rising again — the forward, irresistible march, the social impulse towards the greatest possible sum of happiness, the need of action, of going ahead, without knowing exactly whither, but at all events with more elbow-room and under improved circumstances; and amid it all there was the globe turned upside down by the ant-swarm rebuilding its abode, its work never ending, fresh sources of enjoyment ever being discovered, man’s power increasing tenfold, the earth belonging to him more and more every day. Money, aiding science, yielded progress.
Emile Zola - L'Argent (1891)

This passage shows the usually level-headed Mme Caroline being taken in by the visionary eloquence of Zola's anti-hero and would-be mega-banker Aristide Saccard. Zola's intention was to highlight the hugely destructive nature of wild financial speculation, but possibly Mme Caroline saw something beyond greed and ambition.

Perhaps the world is moving towards a future where government becomes just another service and people shop around for the best deal. 

The human spirit and money may be an unlikely combination, but who can tell? With global rule by totalitarian nutters on the horizon, we need something to cling on to.


Demetrius said...

If the internet seizes up in a few years as predicted there will be no money and no government.

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - the internet is probably too valuable to be allowed to seize up.