Jack London, rugged individualist who answered the call of the wild

“I would rather be ashes than dust.  I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than that it should be stifled by dry-rot.

“‘I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.  The proper function of man is to LIVE, not to exist.  I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.  I shall use my time.” 

— Jack London, a few weeks before he died at the age of 40 in 1916

This quote appears at the end of Their Life’s Work by Gary Pomerantz.

Legend has it that London was a socialist.  Well, lots of writers were socialists then but that didn’t stop them from writing well and having a much different outlook than today’s socialists.  Those socialists, including Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas, actually did care about the suffering of others although they were wrong in how they thought suffering could be alleviated.  George Orwell [Eric Blair] was a socialist but he loved liberty and probably wouldn’t be socialist if he were alive today.  Joseph Schumpeter was a socialist who managed to be a brilliant economist in spite of it.  He is the father of the “creative destruction” theory of economic innovation and was the first to recognize how economic growth was related to the protestant work ethic.

They don’t make socialists like those gentlemen anymore.