Returning to my earlier blog, Reasons Not To Be Cheerful….
What’s wrong with optimism? I’ve been asked. Nothing, I’ve replied. In fact it’s the only way to be. I’m passionately of the half-full, not the half-empty school. What concerns me is a gaggle of optimists, a new movement, made up of optimists. While believing in half-full we have by definition to be aware of, no believe in, half-empty too. If they’re good reasons to be optimistic there are equally good reasons to be pessimistic. We need to be aware how easily one can pass into the other and back again.
That’s where Matthew Taylor talking of optimists as if they’re a movement slips up, and where Ridley as a proponent of the same gets it wrong. Optimism is rational, but as a movement it easily becomes the opposite, when the additional impetus it gains as a movement carries us places we shouldn’t go.
I too believe in the power of the free market, the resourcefulness of mankind, and the internet amazes me, and it’s already changed my life and will some more no doubt. But I also see the limitations of each. To take one example I mentioned, America has to face up to the fact that its economy is funded by the Chinese, and all that follows from this. Chinese free enterprise isn’t the same as what we know, and treasure, in the West.
America under Clinton and Bush was so sure of its direction, but look where post-financial crisis (if post we are) it is now. In hoc, and no easy way out.