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Kurt Andersen: It depends on the day how optimistic or pessimistic I am. I never find myself being erratically pessimistic or erratically optimistic. I find myself going up to 55%, 56% one way or the other. So my needle stays pretty close to the glass is both half full and half empty all the time. That can be affected by how many people were blown up in Baghdad today or any number of things.

But I think, and certainly in the near term, there’s not much cause for optimism. Having just written a book set 150 years ago which inclined me toward the long view, when I take the long view I can at least kind of grapple towards some more hopeful version of the next 100 years.

I think this age will be remembered as a time of, historically, at least as far as the United States is concerned, as a time of tremendous confusion and squandered opportunity in the now 15 years after the end of the Cold War. Roaring 20s time of a kind of acceptance. A kind of bland acceptance of pretty grotesque examples of economic inequality. So is that cheery enough for you?

 

Recorded On: July 5, 2007

 

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