Am I right to be angry?

Malcolm Bull

  • Age of Anger: A History of the Present by Pankaj Mishra
    Penguin, 416 pp, £9.99, February, ISBN 978 0 14 198408 7

In The Passions and the Interests, published in 1977, Albert Hirschman revisited the 18th-century argument that the pursuit of worldly self-interest might be the most effective way of controlling destructive emotions like anger. The pursuit of interests that are constant and predictable potentially offers an escape from the see-saw effect of trying to curb one passion with another. And because trade, unlike status, is not a zero-sum game, everybody should be able to pursue their economic interests simultaneously without coming into conflict. Over time, commerce will ensure peace by demonstrating the sheer inutility of anger, and the violent passions that lead to war will atrophy.

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