Monday, October 18, 2010

Weekend by William McIlvanney (Sceptre Paperbacks 2006)

She paused the tape and started to spool forward. She was looking for a moment during the question time that followed Harry Beck's lecture. Mickey Deans had asked a question in a tone of such aggression it had stirred the room from somnolence into tension. Eventually she found it.
'You mentioned in class once that you still regard yourself as a socialist. How is that possible when you have such a jaundiced view of humanity?'
She thought she could almost hear Harry Beck's sad smile.
'First thing is, I don't think it's jaundiced. I think any kind of hope begins in honestly trying to confront what you see as the truth. That's all I've been trying to do. It's the darkness of that truth as I see it that makes me a socialist. After all, the dark is where the dawn comes from. I don't believe in Utopia. You won't find it on any map we can ever make. And if it did exist, we couldn't breathe the air there. It would be too pure for us. But I believe in our ability to drift endlessly towards dystopia. We seem to be programmed for it. As if we were saying to ourselves: if we can't beat the dark, let's celebrate it. I'm against that. I'm a dystopian socialist. Socialism is an attempt to share as justly as we can with one another the terms of human experience. Don't do the dark's work for it. If it's only void out there, let's write our own defiant meaning on it. And make it a shared meaning. I think believing in good is the good. Against all the odds. Even if I'm part of the odds against us. I think it's what makes us what we are.'

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