The Last Hundred Days

“But it’s the transitional places that hold us all the longer and enclose us all the more.”

“A doppelgangbang: where largely identical people fuck each other interchangeably”

“When I decided that we were learning about politics not in order to reimagine the world but the opposite – to continue justifying why it was this way and could be no other – I changed to art history and spent my days touring galleries and reading catalogues.”

“Madness is not living in a fantasy world – she has lived in her fantasy world quite happily for years, perhaps we all have. Madness is the space between the fantasy world and the real one, where you find yourself cut off from both. there’s no way back from that.”

“Yet again I had that sense of her – the sense by which I remember her – as someone who could give  you everything and then leave you alone with it.”

“Investing in suspicion is like investing in anything: after a while you want to see a return.”

“Gypsies stood or sat soaking up the afternoon sun, eyes closed, their arms extended and palms open as if receiving a transfusion of empty hours from Time itself. The outdoor life was hardwired into them. As they went in through the tall arched doorways of their buildings they ducked instinctively even though they had several clear feet of space between the doorframe and their heads – all indoors, however spacious, was a confinement, a shrinking, an unnatural inward turn. They left their homes at 5am and returned after midnight. The day was their living room, their place of work, their habitat; and the homes they had been given merely places to store the body in the dark hours.”

“I have had freedom, but I have not lived in freedom. But I can wait because I know I will never be free unless I am free in my own country.”

“For the jealous, jealousy becomes the marker of passion, of authenticity of feeling; unrequited jealousy was just as bad as unrequited love.”

“He was building what he called a ‘skills bank’ where teachers, plumbers, engineers, medics and other essential workers would pool their time and talents. The teacher would teach for two hours and buy two hours of an electrician’s or a plumber’s time. He could use them or exchange them or keep them until needed. There would be no interest rates,  no economics based on cash or investment – just on time and work, from which the central administration would take a percentage to build up a welfare system for the sick, the workless or the old.”

“As a child I had been haunted by the way nothing disappears… until I saw that yes, there is one thing that disappears, it’s people. Their clothes, shoes, false teeth, suitcases and bags all rumble on in some form or other, landfilled, incinerated, compacted, shredded or scrapped. But people? They just go.”

“‘We played the long game. But it was never a game.’ He shook his head: ‘And there was never long enough.'”

“‘You think removing Ceausescu will make that socialist state work again?’

‘Again? It has not worked yet. But you are under the misprision that the liberal capitalist state works. For whom does it work? Not for your poor and your unemployed, your third-world workforce and their pillaged resources. For whom does cheap petrol work? Not for those who produce it. Cheap food? Cheap manufacturing? Nothing I have seen has changed my faith. Not Stalin, not Ceausescu, not… not this…’ He indicated the freshly painted EPIDEMIA on the wall of the Natural History Museum. ‘Do you think that you who live in capitalist countries would believe in the right to a job, a decent wage, free health and education if socialism had not shown you the way? The welfare state? The National Health Service? Socialism showed you that what your employers and bosses sometimes gave you out of paternalism or pangs of social conscience was in fact life’s necessities, the minimum. You only think of them as rights because of socialism. Until socialism they were merely privileges or random acts of charity or luck. And that is before I talk of social mobility! Without socialism, without Lenin, and Trotsky and Victor Serge such things would be unimaginable. Capitalism owes its better self to us.'”

“An unremarkable man, hurrying through an underlit lobby, whose profile reminded me, for reasons I could not grasp, of someone I had been looking for. Already his image was clouding over: what colour was his coat? Had he worn a hat? A briefcase or a bag? What colour hair? Eyes? By the time we got home to my wrecked flat, there was nothing left of him but the aura of something missed.”

— The Last Hundred Days / Patrick McGuinness.


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