Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What has become of radicalism?

“The poor are set to labour – for what? Not the food for which they famish; not the blankets for want of which their babes are frozen by the cold of their miserable hovels; not those comforts of civilization without which civilized man is far more miserable than the meanest savage – no: for the pride of power, for the miserable isolation of pride, for the false pleasures of one hundredth part of society.  -Shelley


It is remarkable that radicals like Shelley who wrote nearly two hundred years ago, still sound radical today. The vulnerable are still everywhere the victims of the powerful, the majority continue to labor under atrocious conditions for little money while the rich and powerful work less under better conditions for a great deal more money. Political debates rage but the primary political parties differ little in their basic paradigm and few are ready to make any genuine changes that will raise average people up to a tolerable level. The great radicals of the late 18th and early 19th century, like Paine, Godwin, Thelwall, Holcroft, William Blake, etc., are even radical by today’s standards. How little progress we have made.


No comments: