Zadie Smith and the State

Here is a gorgeous lament and cry from Zadie Smith, calling for a return to a robust welfare state that ensures the provision of the public goods and spaces that society needs. It is so honest in its feeling and so well written that I wanted to share it, even if I don’t agree with her that the state is the best way to achieve a robust publicity in this era of pitiless assaults on the common. Rather I think we must achieve a robust public, a common wealth, in a more democratic way, through active and collective efforts to manage our affairs for ourselves. But Smith’s beautiful piece reminds me again that any argument along those lines, for democracy and against the welfare state, must be made with care, and with due respect for the very real achievements of that model, achievements Smith describes so eloquently in her article. Damn, she’s good.

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