The two opposed errors of pessimism

I think that this was written in the depths of the Great Depression, though I am not sure. (In my earlier days of journalizing I wasn’t particularly careful about my citations.) In any case, it seems appropriate for these times.

 

“I predict that both of the two opposed errors of pessimism which now make so much noise in the world will be proved wrong in our own time — the pessimism of the revolutionaries who think that things are so bad that nothing can save us but violent change, and the pessimism of the reactionaries who consider the balance of our economic and social life so precarious that we must risk no experiments.”

John Maynard Keynes

This one seems no less appropriate — to say the least! But our rulers have reversed the formula.

Tsze-kung asked about government. The Master said, “The requisites of government are that there be sufficiency of food, sufficiency of military equipment, and the confidence of the people in their ruler.”

Tsze-kung again asked, “If it cannot be helped, and one of these must be dispensed with, which of the three should be foregone first?” “The military equipment,” said the Master.

Tsze-kung again asked, “if it cannot be helped, and one of the remaining two must be dispensed with, which of these should be foregone?” The Master answered, “Part with the food. From of old, death has been the lot of all men; but if the people have no faith in their rulers, there is no standing for the state.”

Confucius

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