Ainda não acabei de o ler, que as minhas viagens de transportes públicos, apesar de longas, não permitem milagres, mas o ensaio «What Is Living and What Is Dead in Social Democracy», de Tony Judt publicado na New York Review of Books, é, fundamentalmente, extraordinário. O leitor, tal como eu, pode não concordar sempre, mas fica sempre bem disposto por conseguir inferir da prosa que o autor é, essencialmente, uma pessoa com inteligência rara. Destaco, porque sou extremamente parcial e sectarista, esta bonita visão que Judt nos dá sobre os desastres que a Europa sofreu no século passado. E se tudo se tiver resumido a um estrondoso falhanço da esquerda?
«Three of these men [Popper, Hayek e Schumpeter] were born in Vienna, a fourth (von Mises) in Austrian Lemberg (now Lvov), the fifth (Schumpeter) in Moravia, a few dozen miles north of the imperial capital. All were profoundly shaken by the interwar catastrophe that struck their native Austria. Following the cataclysm of World War I and a brief socialist municipal experiment in Vienna, the country fell to a reactionary coup in 1934 and then, four years later, to the Nazi invasion and occupation.
All were forced into exile by these events and all—Hayek in particular—were to cast their writings and teachings in the shadow of the central question of their lifetime: Why had liberal society collapsed and given way—at least in the Austrian case—to fascism? Their answer: the unsuccessful attempts of the (Marxist) left to introduce into post-1918 Austria state-directed planning, municipally owned services, and collectivized economic activity had not only proven delusionary, but had led directly to a counterreaction.
The European tragedy had thus been brought about by the failure of the left: first to achieve its objectives and then to defend itself and its liberal heritage. Each, albeit in contrasting keys, drew the same conclusion: the best way to defend liberalism, the best defense of an open society and its attendant freedoms, was to keep government far away from economic life. If the state was held at a safe distance, if politicians—however well-intentioned—were barred from planning, manipulating, or directing the affairs of their fellow citizens, then extremists of right and left alike would be kept at bay.»