25 Following
basswood

basswood

Currently reading

Yes, Your Teen is Crazy!: Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind
Michael J. Bradley, Jay N. Giedd
Waiting for the Barbarians
J.M. Coetzee
On Power: Its Nature And The History Of Its Growth
Bertrand De Jouvenel
The Soul of Man under Socialism - Oscar Wilde Important: Wilde was not a philosopher but a writer and no one should be taking his "proposals" here too seriously.

I agree with other reviewers that his remarks on the excesses of capitalism are fair and his anarcho-libertarian/socialist dreams can even be alluring for certain people. But I also agree with another reviewer here that it's perplexing to decipher just how much of his essay is actually tongue-in-cheek and how much is serious proposal. Even Wilde once said, "I am so clever that sometimes I don't understand a single word of what I am saying."

Wilde was an excellent observer of man's behavior but he formed his own philosophy based upon a strange (to me) Christian antinomianism of ironic contradictions, situational ethics, personal interpretation, and the setting up of straw men based upon obviously limited understandings. And his unique view of Christ as "individual" and "artist" really make no sense to me as the reason that people follow or listen to Christ in the first place is not because he was man but because he was God, no?

Regardless, I think it works better in his later De Profundis as he matured through physical/emotional/mental trial because he is only coming to terms with his own individual sufferings there rather than making the decision to come to terms with and try to solve mankind's here. Utopia is fool's gold and oppressor is only followed by oppressor. The nature of man on his own (and of politics and nearly everything else) is to excess, good intentions be damned.

I won't add direct quotes from the piece here to make the points, other reviewers have done a fine enough job of assembling them already. But throughout the entire essay, it is unmistakably pure Wilde in personality and wit and it is still enjoyable to read, hence the three stars. He was a literary genius and the fearless criticism of society that he unleashed in his short life shines strongly in the prose here. He is right in pointing out things that are wrong in the world but that fact doesn't lead to him being correct about what is right.