You may have noticed the change at the top of this page. Up to now I had been using the most-quoted lines from William Carlos William's 1962 poem Asphodel, That Greeny Flower: "It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet men die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there."
Sweet, but hardly startling. My new slogan is meant to suggest a less familiar line of thought. It is of course an inversion of Karl Marx' 11th "Thesis on Feuerbach": "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it."
In 1845 (Marx was only 27), when feudal structures of domination were still blocking the capitalist transformation of society, that thesis was forceful and persuasive. Today, with capitalism freed to do its worst, we know that it is only too easy for corporate executives, religious fanatics, and other revolutionaries under banners red or black to "change the world" uncomprehendingly, by (for examples) polluting our water, heating our globe, creating famine, blowing up marketplaces and even skyscrapers and so on -- whether in pursuit of profit, comfort, glory, spiritual salvation or power. Today, the most useful thing any of us can do is to try to understand these developments so as to predict consequences of alternative actions, so that we can steer our course. This has been the effort of sociologists such as Ulrich Beck, Alain Touraine, Pierre Bourdieu, and Alvin Gouldner (to mention only those cited lately in this blog).
Anyway, it beats staring at a greeny flower.