Last year, I said, somewhat tongue in cheek, that socialism is about converting hysterical misery into ordinary unhappiness.
This is what I meant. Socialism won’t eliminate the sorrows of the human condition. Loss, death, betrayal, disappointment, hurt: none of these would disappear or even be mitigated in a socialist society. As the Pirkei Avot puts it, against your will you enter this world, against your will you leave it (or something like that). That’s not going to change under socialism. But what socialism can do is to arrange things so that you can actually deal with and confront these unhappinesses of the human condition.
I was reminded of that reading this wonderful piece by Anya Shiffrin about the death of her father.
Last spring, André Shiffrin, the legendary publisher, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer (he died in December). A New Yorker through and through, he nevertheless decided to…
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