The Comforts of Pessimism

Charles C.W. Cooke in NRO:

It is a rare and happy day on which I shed my well-worn Eeyore outfit and clothe myself instead in optimism and in buoyancy, but today is one of those days. Having recently read the self-audits that a handful of my

  1. The King Prawn

    I like the way Krauthammer expressed it:

    The blessing of pessimism is that you expect little, receive less, and remain serene.

  2. Lord Humungus

    All I am saying, is give indifference a chance.

  3. I prefer the entrepreneurial version of optimism. Something like: There is in reality a problem. There are viable ways to fix it, set a goal(s) and go for it. Overcome all obstructions on the way by going around them or through them. Work 24/7 until goal accomplished or you fail. If you win go to next most important problem to overcome, if you fail pick yourself up and do the next thing. Talking about the problem with no set goals and action is a waste of time (‘meetings’ are only for plans of actions that are actually carried out not discussing ‘the problem’ endlessly).
  4. George Coussmaker

    Great post, and the subject is filled with nuances. I’m a confirmed pessimist with regard to the world and the likelihood that people and societies can ‘progress’ and change.  Individuals and societies suffer delusions of grandeur and the opposite. The global system as we know it is doomed.  A great Renaissance, better than anything known before, is a possibility, however. Just as the Black Death fueled the last great Renaissance.

    A healthy skepticism of people and their motives, especially when they’re trying to sell you something, is critically important for your financial and physical health. I’ve also learned the same regarding love.

    But I remain solidly optimistic regarding the individual opportunities we all have, through the grace of God, to achieve wealth of spirit, and a final place in a glorious heaven; where joy and life is eternal. 

  5. Lord Humungus
    PracticalMary: Talking about the problem with no set goals and action is a waste of time (‘meetings’ are only for plans of actions that are actually carried out not discussing ‘the problem’ endlessly). · 17 minutes ago

    And thus the seeds of indifference are sown.

  6. Z in MT

    I used to think I was an optimist because one is taught from an early age that pessimists are unhappy, dour sorts – and I wasn’t that.  However, my friends and co-workers always told me that I was a pessimist.  It wasn’t until I read this wise comment on Ricochet, that I gladly accepted the title of pessimist.

  7. Z in MT
    Lord Humungus: All I am saying, is give indifference a chance. · 28 minutes ago

    I love this comment, but I am pessimistic that indifference is a stable outlook on life.

  8. Group Captain Mandrake
    What say you Ricochet?  Optimism or pessimism?

    Today, pessimism.  Having attended a fine party last night, my good feelings were dashed when I saw earlier this morning on NY1 smiling faces announcing the inauguration of the most left-wing NY Mayor since the end of the inflationary period.  I do hope that he’s fooled everybody with his repellent background and that his policies will turn out to be positive for the city.  It would be a great pity if he turns out to be an obligatory spell in purgatory between Conservative mayors.  I’m now going to console myself by eating a large Christmas pudding that I set aside for just such a time as this.

    My pessimism doesn’t get better when I widen my view to include Obamacare, the constitutional doormat, Obama’s foreign policy including Syria, Iran and the rest of the middle east.   As for North Korea, fuggedaboutit!

  9. Lord Humungus
    Z in MT

    Lord Humungus: All I am saying, is give indifference a chance. · 28 minutes ago

    I love this comment, but I am pessimistic that indifference is a stable outlook on life. · 53 minutes ago

    You might have a point, and then again, you might not. Surely you can see that it doesn’t matter to me one way or the other, right?

  10. John Walker
    PracticalMary:

    I prefer the entrepreneurial version of optimism.

    As David Deutsch puts it in The Beginning of Infinity:

    • Problems are inevitable.

    • Problems are soluble.

    To this I would add:

    • Government is the chief obstacle to solving problems.

    The reason for the third point isn’t as obvious as it seems.  Government prospers by “managing” problems, not by solving them.  A problem solved is a reason for abolishing the bureau which manages it, and hence there is no incentive to solve any problem.

    I am optimistic because bureaucracy propagates at the speed of paper while human creativity and self-organised problem solving propagates at the speed of light.

  11. Pseudodionysius

    Heaven is for optimists; Hell for pessimists; Purgatory for the conflicted.

  12. civil westman
    John Walker

    I am optimistic because bureaucracy propagates at the speed of paper while human creativity and self-organised problem solving propagates at the speed of light. · 1 hour ago

    John – I suspect you would know if this is indeed true. Is it still true in the era of supercomputers, NSA-type data mining and database creation? It may be entirely emotional on my part, but these activities seem to have the potential to kill infant political opposition in its crib.

    Register me very pessimistic for the short to medium term, until the values we all once held dear are rediscovered (after the fall of progressivism and its incident chaos) – because they are fundamental to our human nature. The conditions precedent to that rediscovery will, I fear, be bleak.

  13. rico

    By nature, I tend to function as an optimist, but today I see no rational reason to be optimistic about the future of our country.

  14. John Walker
    civil westman

    I suspect you would know if this is indeed true. Is it still true in the era of supercomputers, NSA-type data mining and database creation? It may be entirely emotional on my part, but these activities seem to have the potential to kill infant political opposition in its crib.

    I have no insider information or special insight into this, but while the scope of information collection and cross-correlation is breathtaking, my suspicion is that the means of exploiting and acting upon it are as incompetent as a host of other large-scale government IT projects in the FAA, IRS, FBI, etc.

    Further, while the means of repression grow, technology increasingly permits individuals to “route around” coercive government by initiatives such as those discussed in Judith Levy’s recent post “Sidestepping Leviathan”.

  15. Brian McMenomy

    I’m a tragic optimist.  Tragic, because I see the havoc the fact of fallen human nature can wreak.  Optimistic because I know who wins in the end.

  16. Mike Rapkoch
    Lord Humungus: All I am saying, is give indifference a chance. · 4 hours ago

    Maybe “detachment” is the more effective attitude.

  17. Songwriter

    The key to happiness is to lower one’s expectations.  And I eschew the term pessimist for myself. I prefer “realist.”

  18. RushBabe49

    I used to say that I was an “individual optimist” and a “species pessimist”.  I expect to spend a lot of time in the future trying to sidestep Leviathan, and I have a plan for that.  Life in the USA is going to become harder before it gets easier, and I’m grateful to have my Ricochet friends to help me.

  19. Randy Webster

    It might have been Heinlein who said that pessimists were right more often, but optimists enjoy life more.

  20. 6foot2inhighheels

    I was a big fat crybaby pessimist in early 2009, when nearly everyone I met was clueless about the problem of big government.  In five years we’ve seen an awakening of activist conservatism and libertarianism that, despite the best efforts of the left’s cultural/media machine, has only grown stronger.  

    I know little tea party ladies who have become powerful citizen lobbyists, citizen coordinators, talk radio hosts, political writers, politicians, trainers and warriors.  Some folks have organized big groups that drive new laws through the legislature, others operate alone, in jobs like watchdog reporting.  

    Freedom has become a cultural industry, with a job for everyone.  All that’s left is the heavy lifting to build the bridges that will connect and  unify the movement.  Ricochet’s social structure, including its unique meet ups,  is a very big part of that, which is why I’m now a smiling optimist.*

    *I take the long view.

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