...instead of optimism we have a kind of European baby-boomer guilt - the feeling that we are the last privileged generation. And it is definitely a European thing - you do not find the same gloom in rising parts of the world or in the US. And if Europeans in general tend towards pessimism as a reflection of their reduced weight in the world, perhaps European intellectuals are even more pessimistic as a reflection of their reduced weight in their own societies too.
But perhaps we should draw some optimism from the pessimism of the British and European thinking classes. After all, 100 years ago the main emotion in politics was hope - and then look what happened. The despairing tone of some of these responses may be a sign that we are on the threshold of a period of unprecedented peace and prosperity.