And yet there seems no way forward but through; the experience of the failure of the Bush administration policies. Which is beginning; we are losing Iraq and the dollar has begun its slide on international currency markets. The likelihood of middle-class tax increases and double-digit inflation is high, and there is the possibility of a series of climate disasters. I am hopeful that the Democrats will regain one of the houses of Congress in 2006. An actual bright spot from the elections just past: the instant-runoff ballot worked well in San Francisco; I'd like to see that implemented more widely. But there is the possibility of the establishment of a single-party government, either de facto or de jure. It is Germany in 1932, let us say, and the radical faction of the Republicans awaits the Reichstag fire. (Which, by the way, has never been shown to have been set by the Nazis; that story was spread by the Stalinists.) We have democratic traditions the Germans did not, there is no analog of Stalin to split the left or attack from outside, and it is much harder to widely spread factional hatred in these times, so I am hopeful we will do better than the Germans did, but there is, I think, a real risk.
Meantime, it seems to me important to dust off some of the old hopes for the future: world governance, world peace, freedom for all, equality for all, the elimination of poverty, a healthy relationship with the natural world. Now that these things have become real possibilities many are terrified; hence the ascendance of the reactionaries. At a certain level, I think it is accurate to say that we as a species are afraid to grow up. But there is no "good" alternative, and I think it is important to say that over and over, until it is believed and understood.