Today, despite the extreme unevenness of development, a sort of vast world-wide leveling process is taking place.  The myths and the ideologies are falling; they are nothing more than shells concealing – very badly – facts, results, needs.  Backward social structures are collapsing, giving way to demands that the social average be raised to the average level achieved in the developed countries.  From one side of the world to the other quesitons are being asked about production and productivity, power of consumption, distribution of the gross national product, diversification of investments (and the ‘socialist’ countries realize that one day or another they will be obliged to do voluntarily and realize consciously what the capitalist countries have done involuntarily and blindly: invest in the production of consumer goods).   So everywhere we see that advanced automated machines ,power stations and atomic energy, tractors and combine harvesters are being perceived as a hope and a solution.  But the ‘man-machine’ relation is only one aspect of the question.  Men and women everywhere are aspiring to build their everyday lives on a solid basis, to escape from insecurity and poverty.  These are mass problems, problems of social aspirations and social needs.  The face of the world is changing; everywhere the everyday nature of life asserts itself; conscious now of its own weakness and its own value.  Life is appearing in all its nakedness.  The result for this period of transition is an appalling outburst of platitude which is in singular contrast to the other characteristics of this self-same period: inordinate ambitions, failures on a par with those ambitions, tragedies, threats, an ocean of blood and mire – and with brutal stupidity and platitude thrown in for good measure.

Should we attempt to escape from platitude through the past, the tragic and the mythical, the surreal or the transcendental?  Or through the marvellous, in other words through the trumpery of lost illusions and miracles?…the new marvels which are being born at the heart of mediocrity.  They are simple, human marvels.  Let us name one of them without further ado: trust.

-Henri Lefebvre


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