I read these two quotes within a few hours of each other this week and they seemed to connect together.
“But we are no Utopians. We know that in order to change the situation we need to be both idealists and visionaries, but at the same time also brutal pragmatists. Our pragmatism, however, is subject to our vision for radical change. It is not a step back but a necessary precaution. Because we know that to be successful we must trust in the power of the people, in the productive power of democracy and participation.”
Alex Tsipras, leader of Syriza. Speech at friends House London on 15th March. Published in Searchlight, April 2013.
And this from a German play written over 90 years ago about events in rural England 120 years before that.
“NED LUDD: Mad though it be, vain though it be, we must fight, for we are men! If we endure the yoke we are no more than brutes.”
The Machine Wreckers (1922) – Ernst Toller
They both illustrate that fighting for a fairer world against the entrenched interests of global capital has never been easy and often appears to most as deluded and doomed to failure. And yet by fighting and losing and fighting again progressives have, against all the odds, transformed the Western world in ways which were inconceivable 200 years ago when Ned Ludd and his Luddites tried to defend their status as skilled autonomous artisans against the tidal wave of industrialisation that would eventually reduce them all to wage slaves.