19th century continental philosophy solves a number of present day domestic and foreign issues in one fell swoop (LitPolEcon 1/3)

On the other hand, what was it that delayed the fall of Rome? It was bread and circuses.  What is being done in our day? Is consideration being given to any means of amusement? On the contrary, our doom is being expedited… The country’s financial situation is to be improved by economizing.  Can anything more boring be imagined?.. From what I know about the political situation it would be easy for Denmark to borrow fifteen million rix-dollars…. Borrow fifteen million use it not to pay off our debts but for public entertainment… Just as there currently are boxes everywhere for contributions of money, there should be bowls everywhere with money.  Everything would be free: the theater would be free, prostitutes would be free, rides to Deer Park would be free, funerals would be free, one’s funeral eulogy would be free…

No one would be allowed to own any property.  An exception should be made only for me.  I shall set aside for myself one hundred rix-dollars a day deposited in a London bank, partly because I cannot manage on less, partly because I am the one who provided the idea, and finally because no one knows if I will not be able to think up a new idea when the fifteen million is exhausted.

What would be the result of this prosperity? All the great would stream to Copenhagen: the greatest artists, actors, and dancers.  Copenhagen would become another Athens.  What would be the result? All the wealthy would settle in this city.  Among others, the emperor of Persia and the king of England would undoubtedly also come here.  Here is my second idea: kidnap the emperor.  Someone may say that then there would be a revolution in Persia, a new emperor placed on the throne– it has frequently happened before– and the price of the old emperor would slump.  In that case, my idea is that we should sell him to the Turks.  They will undoubtedly know how to make money out of him.

Kierkegaard, Either/Or, Hong transl.

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Posted in literature, philosophy

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