the past is another country (again)

From Bill McKibben’s introduction to the 2010 reissue of E. F. Schumacher’s Small Is Beautiful: Economics As If People Mattered:

“[One of Jimmy Carter’s] first acts in office was to get rid of twenty limousines, and then don a cardigan for a fireside chat where he discussed the ‘permanent energy shortage’ the nation faced. Toward the end of his presidency, he gave one of his most famous speeches, diagnosing a ‘crisis of confidence’ in the country and attacking materialism as the cause: ‘In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption,’ he warned. ‘Human identity is no longer defined by what one does but by what one owns.’ And, at least at first, people agreed—his sagging poll numbers jumped. Indeed, there was a mainstream audience for this kind of thinking: That year the sociologist Amitai Etzioni reported to Carter that 30 percent of Americans were ‘pro-growth,’ 31 percent were ‘anti-growth,’ and 39 percent were ‘highly uncertain.’ Read those numbers again—a plurality of Americans were ‘anti-growth.’”

McKibben is marveling at “anti,” but I’m frankly just as nonplussed and a little wistful about such a high register of admittance to “highly uncertain.”