Почти не пишу в ЖЖ. Сейчас читаю новую пачку гениальных коротких книжечек от Алена де Боттона. Вот рассуждение из "The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work".
It was in the eighteenth century that economists and political theorists first became aware of the paradoxes and triumphs of commercial societies, which place trade, luxury and private fortunes at their centre whilst paying only lip-service to the pursuit of higher goals. From the beginning, observers of these societies have been transfixed by two of their most prominent features: their wealth and their spiritual decadence. Venice in her heyday was one such society, Holland another, eighteenth-century Britain a third. Most of the world now follows their example.
Their self-indulgence has consistently appalled a share of their most high-minded and morally ambitious members, who have railed against consumerism and instead honoured beauty and nature, art and fellowship. But the premises of a biscuit company are a fruitful place to recall that there has always been an insurmountable problem facing those countries that ignore the efficient production of chocolate biscuits and sternly dissuade their ablest citizens from spending their lives on the development of innovative marketing promotions: they have been poor, so poor as to be unable to guarantee political stability or take care of their most vulnerable citizens, whom they have lost to famines and epidemics. It is the high-minded countries that have let their members starve, whereas the self-centred and the childish ones have, off the back of their doughnuts and six thousand varieties of ice cream, had the resources to invest in maternity wards and cranial scanning machines.
Amsterdam was founded on the sale of raisins and flowers. The palaces of Venice were assembled from the profits of the carpet and spice trades. Sugar built Bristol. And yet despite their frequently amoral policies, their neglect of ideals and their selfish liberalism, commercial societies have been graced with well-laden shops and treasuries swollen enough to provide for the construction of temples and foundling hospitals.