Society is Broken

When we talk of a broken society we seem to imply, at least if we take the term too literally, that there was ever a whole society that was not broken or fractured: that is to say, a society whose every member felt completely at harmony with it. This is utopianism projected on to the past. Such a society has never existed, of course; and it is the whole point of Dr Johnson’s famous fable, Rasselas, that dissatisfaction is the permanent condition of mankind, that there is no perfect sublunary form of existence for humanity this side of paradise, if only because we are each of us prey to conflicting and contradictory desires that cannot all be satisfied at the same time or indeed in a single lifetime.

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