Confessions of an Old-Timer

Confessions of an Old-Timer

Ideas change but their formulas remain. Two people a thousand years apart may be of the same mind though they strove for different things; on the other hand, no bore is more boring than the disciple who quotes what I said twenty years ago. Yet I love him—not for the doctrine he continues to profess but because once in our lives we hated and loved the same things, sang the same hymns and were clubbed by the same police. By the same token, I would have loved the man who said, 2,500 years ago: “Good government is one of which the people know it exists; not quite as good is one which they praise”; or the man who said: “The meek shall inherit the earth.” I suppose I would have recognized their voices before I appreciated their ideas. So with other saintly fools or with my old fellow militants. Marching together made us into a movement. The idea was a flag, and some sacrificed themselves for the flag—I always thought they were dying for me, not for the flag. Solidarity was from each to all for each other—not from all to the flag.

Sometimes we were wrong—maybe more often than we know or care to admit; perhaps we, are wrong even now. Yet, were we given a chance to live our lives over again, we probably would make the same mistakes, fight the same enemies, hold the same illusions holy—or similar ones which also are based on the same assumption: that Man is good.

We were wrong most of the time when we tried to realize doctrines or when we followed a course of action that seemed to follow from the scriptures. We were never wrong when we acted in solidarity with people who tried to shape their own destinies. How could we be wrong so long as we asserted our faith in Man? Even defeat could not disprove us; it only made our faith stronger. “Man is good” is a proposition which is neither true nor untrue; it can be validated by men who believe in it militantly, or invalidated by faint-heartedness.

Socialist thought provides us with an imaginative and moral horizon.

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