“In the twentieth century war will be dead, the scaffold will be dead, hatred will be dead, frontier boundaries will be dead, dogmas will be dead; man will live.”

The quote, which I found in the Wicked Pedo, is of Victor Hugo, one of the most valiant, and brilliantly obtuse, believers in the progress of man with machines, and author of the book entitled Les Misérables, which has a happy ending. He was a man who made the transition from conservative monarchist to republican revolutionary in just one lifetime; truly, a hero of our times.

It is the twenty-first century now, and I notice that war, the scaffold, hatred, frontier boundaries, and dogmas have come back into style; and man is still with us, too (for all his sex changes). I myself have proposed to send at least one libertine to the scaffold, this morning. In Paris, they cull them every twenty years.

Hugo was motivated by “a vision,” of infinite progress through nature, though it be red in tooth and claw. The very murderous and flesh-eating tendencies could be put under supervision, by man. All he would need is unrestricted tyrannical power, and the usual helpmates — arrogance, and stupidity.

Compare, exempli gratia, “the vision” of Dante, John of Patmos, or that Jew, Moses, who wrote down the Book of Genesis. Each attributed superb results to God, and not to man; while supplying an end and a beginning to his story. Whereas, Hugo starts precariously, in the middle.

A world which, by two midcenturies ago, was enchanted by machinery and progress, and impatient to wave sad history goodbye. It was optimistic to a fault: it was ready for Marx, Darwin, Hugo. Perhaps it was even ready for Freud. Truly, we could go anywhere, by railway and steamship; we would no longer have to walk, like apes.