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Too Much Optimism?

Tom Jagtenberg
April  2021


Now that the optimism of Donald Trump and Jaire Bolsonaro has been exposed as reckless indifference to public health, the perils of extreme optimism are obvious enough. Yet Trump and Bolsonaro are not alone - most political leaders have indulged flights of fantasy in the face of contrary epidemiology and hygienic measures necessary to curb any infectious disease, or in context of properly assessing any new vaccine. To be generous, one could call this political activity ‘cautious optimism’, as the newscasters would put it. At the risk of being brutal we might just settle for optimism. This essay continues an exploration of a more generic state: cultural optimism - an expectation that now characterises social life in the west, and possibly everywhere. It is particularly important to recognise the negative influence that optimism has today. In the context of a global pandemic and global climate change we are now at a critical point in world history.

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