We have reached a comfortable plateau in the West: there is unprecendented wealth, unprecedented material progress, internal peace, societies where people can concentrate in their private matters, relationships, amusements – we can forget history even if still subject to biology and accident. Yes, there are the occasional follies of imperial adventures, worries on terrorist attacks and weapons of mass destruction, and on the horizon rise majestically the warning signs of environmental collapses to come, of climate change, pandemics, natural disasters. But at the moment things are fine: we have recovered from the nightmares of the world wars and the looming, oppressive threat of the Cold War one day turning hot and ending the whole world with it (suprisingly little is nowadays said or remembered of that atavistic fear that endured for so long time). No matter, we are now comfortable.
And it is so obvious to see that even in this fragile stability the engine of history has been blind passion, not reason. Capitalism has proven to be the mechanism that can use our base, grasping human nature for a kind of general advancement, for a kind of stability and progress – fundamentally, of course, based on unstability, on purely materialistic values, on this blind competition for growth and profit. So far it has worked: we have advanced, not because of our ethics and moral dispositions but despite of them. That advancement no doubt won’t last for ever. But aside from that immediate point, history looms very dark: at heart we are still animals, still mortally afraid of the night, acting reflexively to gain short term security and comfort, motivated by passion, not reason, being subject to biology and accident. With this world, these tools, this cleverness and these blind, destructive instincts: for how long can our luck hold?