Anyone who has ever expressed a political belief based on freedom more than 5 times, has most likely heard the phrase "You're just a utopian." or "You're such an idealist" It's a frequent dismissal used in debate. Often, it is meant to be an ad hominem meant to end the debate with a baseless insult, or perhaps a slightly related insult.
But what does that phrase mean, exactly? How often do we really think about what Utopia means to us?
Utopia - U·to·pi·a [yoo-toh-pee-uh] Noun
1. an imaginary island described in Sir Thomas More's Utopia (1516) as enjoying perfection in law, politics, etc.
2. an ideal place or state.
3. any visionary system of political or social perfection.
For a moment, let's all act like we're children, first learning about these concepts. Being Utopian can seem very noble. What inspired person wouldn't want to work toward an ideal, visionary, socially perfect system? Ok back to adult time. It has become an insult because we, as adults, refuse to believe such a place is un-attainable.
We believe this, because we as a race, have seen the complete spectrum of political ideas. This is the reason our Founding Fathers in America penned "More Perfect Union" in the Constitution preamble instead of "Perfect Union." After months of debate on our form of governing, they debated over every aspect of a governed society and tried to make perfection, but instead understood that the closest we can come to perfection, is only close to perfection, because it has the freedom of imperfections.
I first encountered the word "Utopia" from an episode of Star Trek. See:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justice_(Star_Trek:_The_Next_Generation)
(Spoilers) In the episode, the crew first arrives on a planet that seems to have NO conflict, violence, pollution, etc. Although after one of the crew steps in a "No Walking" area, and is sentenced to death, the crew is told that utopia is only attainable with draconian and violently strict laws.
Perhaps this episode of Star Trek has influenced me, I may be biased. But I frequently think of this when I hear world views that some may reference as "Utopian."
For instance. There is a documentary film out called "Zeitgeist: Moving Forward" It appears to offer freedom in many areas....however, if you examine the "Path" that they offer to get there...it seems to be advocating some force out there controlling the use of weapons and resources.
For me, that IS the insult. To believe that the path to Freedom is through control. Not only control, but control by forces that we believe to be influenced by oppressive factors.
I recently seen a quote online that sparked this rant. "Call for disarmament and those who support killing will call you a radical. Call for a resource based economy, and those who believe in infinite consumption of resources will call you Utopian."
I bring this up because it is related to my views above, but more closely it is Absolutist.
The problem with talking politics with ANYONE is that everyone is a goddamned absolutist.
Some say "You have to Ban weapons to stop killing." O RLY? How about we just stop using them to kill? It's a myth. You ban weapons, there will still be killing. You have to ban every sharp object on the goddamned planet, and even then people will be finding ways to commit violent acts.
The Zeitgeist people believe that all violence is resource related. So get violent people with guns....or even worse...technology programmed by those people....to redistribute how ALL resources are gathered and used?? Yeah I trust them to give me my share....after all that's the way it's working now, AMIRITE? /sarcasm
On the other end of the political spectrum.......actually....fuck that....on the SAME GODDAMN SPOT on the political spectrum are ANARCHISTS.
I am a Constitutional libertarian. I am all the time hearing the insults from the anarchists. "Diet-statist" "You just think that a smaller boot on your neck is okay" .....you get the point.
It is the belief that complete absence of a government is the ticket to Utopia.
Another Absolutist belief.
Lets examine these two political beliefs further. I have made some observations on beliefs that they are based on and examined them against logical fallacies. While I believe these two beliefs make a large number of logical points, and they have the problems of society narrowed down better than most political beliefs out there. But their absolutism is based on the belief that Humans are most logical beings. Which is the biggest logical fallacy I've ever known. Humans are based on emotion, as much as logic and incentive.
The Venus Project/Zeitgeist Movement is based on the belief that control transformation of resources to eliminate resource scarcity will end the need for violence in society. This is a logical fallacy because while scarcity is indeed a contributing cause for violence, the Zeitgeisters refuse to accept that Emotional motivators are a bigger factor. I heard an interview with Peter Joseph, founder and creator of the Zeitgeist films and movement, where he said "I don't believe in inherently born Evil or Sin." This is a problem to me.
Anyone in America has seen stories of lovers scorned committing acts of violence. 1. This IS a scarcity issue, scarcity of love. Not an issue "Control" or "Technology" is likely to fix without altering human free will. Which is NOT the answer. 2. This scarcity issue would not create a necessity for violence issue if not for the Emotional component.
This is an unusual point of view for me for other reasons. If the ability to eliminate Scarcity is possible, and it would not effect those who control things now, and there is no such thing as "Evil" motives, Why doesn't this already happen without some control mechanism?
Your Logic is based on absolutism, Your absolutism is based on ideals that humans will act in a logically non-flawed manner, Your logic is flawed.
Pure Anarchy is based on the belief that Controlling mechanisms allowed and encouraged by laws, enforced by force, limit the freedom to do as you wish, and that the majority of humans just want to be left alone and will respect the rights of others, and the right to defend one's self will work out the rest of any rights violations.
Just as Zeitgeisters believe Scarcity is the most absurd thing about society, Anarchists believe Government Supported Violence and the threat thereof has become the problem. They believe that the concept of a "Social contract" (belief that by existing in a community, makes you somewhat responsible for that community, including obeying the agreed upon rules of the community) is limiting to freedom.
This is a logic problem for me, because many of the people who espouse this belief, tends to overuse the words "Force" "Violence" and "Abuse"
Well if the intended government is supposed to be comprised of, and ran by, human beings....ones who live in those same communities....would they not be capable of similar "Force, Violence, and Abuse" if they did not have their "titles of nobility" given to them as supposed credible members of the community servicing bodies? The concept of a government is simply the "Justice" side of "Liberty and Justice" While the two concepts are opposing, they are NOT mutually exclusive, as long as you are NOT dealing in absolute terms.
As such, It's "We the people" who allowed these violent criminals to take over and re-write our laws. I partly blame these people who have given up on "the State" and their voting and oversight duties. Unless everyone on earth becomes an introverted hermit and never deals with another human being, there will be conflicts even without a "State". Again, sometimes based on resources, property, and the tangible....sometimes driven by emotions, insanity, and the illogical. As such, the effected persons will need a conflict resolution mechanism. A "Justice" system if you will.
Such a mechanism has no effectiveness unless its' rulings have some kind of incentive. (Government's Carrot and Stick that Anarchists hate so much). The Absolutist point of view of Anarchists that there is no difference between ABUSE of force and a justified community USE of force against one individual: to take down violent killers, to decide that you don't have a "right" to rape your children. A justice system is to allow the community to agree by which criteria an individual can act as a consenting, compassionate, logical, individual. As opposed to assuming self-sovereignty of someone who lacks the ability to consent and is abused, or lacks the ability of logic and is an abuser.
If there is no community "Justice" or "Conflict resolution" system, then conflicts would be solved by the "Bigger Gun" syndrome. (Whoever has the most violent force will force their interests, often through having deadlier weapons, more weapons, more people to use force, or more violent people)
If the problem with Government is "Force, Violence, and Abuse" And I am having such a difficult time imagining a "Utopia" where conflict is NOT resolved with some kind of Force, then I lay that logical challenge to Anarchists. Find a way where there will not be a "Controlling Violent Force" resolving the conflicts please.
But that is the problem I see with these "Utopian" forms of society that people promote. It's always the "End Game" they are promoting, and rarely have a rational backbone or strategy of bringing about such of an end game. Which only furthers the view that such beliefs are "imaginary" and "improbable", and why "Utopian" will continue to be an insult.
Zeitgeisters and Anarchists cannot simply wave a magic wand and have people stop being violent criminals. They cannot simply wave a magic wand and stop rapists from raping and murderers from killing. Absolutist beliefs that absence of Scarcity and absence of community sponsored force will cure the ills of all of society will do nothing but empower those who want more control. It's part of the parlor trick known as distraction. While one group is focused on Ending controlling governance, and another group is focused on giving them ultimate control in hopes that they will end scarcity and suffering, the "real Utopians" are working to enforce the true solution. The one promised by the Founding Fathers. I am not saying that they had the best intentions, or the "perfect solution," but it was the "more perfect solution."
Want to know why I believe that? Because it is the one solution that says "We the people." You have the power. Anarchists preach "Self Governance" but few believe that is possible within a structured system with the capabilities to remove freedoms from those who cannot use logic and consent to exercise those freedoms responsibly. Government is "Something Else," not "We the People." Zeitgeisters believe that we have to submit to spying on each other and use technology to control our own use of resources. Again, believing that governance is something other than the freedom of YOUR choice.
I am a Constitutionalist Libertarian and Utopian because The Constitution of the United States, The Bill of Rights, and our entire nation was built on the belief that you are responsible for your community. Don't like the laws? Become a lawmaker or get your own lawmakers elected. Don't like the courts? Volunteer for Jury duty. Don't like the enforcement of the Police forces? Become a cop.
Now, I submit to the arguments against that last paragraphs. It is indeed too late for any of those things to happen. Those institutions have become too controlled. Our current form of government is mostly a lost cause.
But why have they gotten so bad?
For the same argument I use against the absolutist reasons I try to debunk here.
"Abuse vs. Use vs. Neglect"
Think of Government as a Large Breed Dog.
Now I don't want to get into a big ass debate on Nature vs. Nurture, I will just say here that I believe both are factors, and that Aggression comes both from instinct that all living beings have to protect their perceived interests (unless psychological abuse has damaged that instinct) AND from Neglecting to properly love (emotionally and physically care for a living being in a healthy manner)
A Large dog, if loved, respected, trained, and understood, will generally be tame, especially to its owners and family.
A Large dog, left alone, neglected, abused, will usually be more protective and aggressive, and will not respect commands.
You don't neglect your big dog. It might bite someone. You don't abuse your big dog. It might one day snap and bite you. You don't encourage your dog to abuse someone else. It becomes trained to bite and may one day bite the innocent.
However, a big dog can offer protection. A big dog can be loyal. A big dog can be an extension of your identity and family. A big dog can follow your direction if you respect it, are responsible with it, responsible for it, and it respects you. If you train it properly and love it.
Same goes for Government. Train it properly, be responsible for it, be its master. Keep it on a leash. Don't let it run around humping and biting the whole neighborhood.
That is my "Utopia." Just follow the goddamn Constitution. Government should only use force or remove someone's freedoms when absolutely necessary and the slight threat of that should keep at least the logical people from abusing each other, and should only do so if the community agrees.
The one difference I have from a purely constitutional belief, is that I believe in "Neighborhood" governments (which is entirely possible under the constitution). I don't think Federal, State, or Local governments are small enough to deal with individual criminal and civil cases in a proper, uniquely individual manner.
The difference between this "Unlikely Utopian" belief and the others? They all three require a Critical Mass of people to all at once demand change in society....but the constitutional plan already has the infrastructure, rules, and philosophies in place. The difference between now and then will be the focus, personnel, and attitude. What changes is "We The People" get downright responsible. I find it unfortunate that the Founding Fathers weren't more vocal about their intention of the People to be the fourth branch of government with its oversight and removal checks and balances. You should be as responsible for your Government as you are for your dog or your children. But then again, Peter Joseph thinks society should care for each other's children, and Murray Rothbard didn't think you should be legally responsible for your children.
But still, I challenge those who support these two beliefs to come up with those steps to work toward their "Utopia" from our current place in society, or at least a plan starting from day 0 of the removal of our current system. And do so without just assuming that Harmful and Criminal behavior will just cease with the disbanding of our controlling mechanisms. Come up with a failsafe in case you are wrong. While I agree that dependence on our failed policies is one of the biggest problems, It is still one that requires solving. Come up with a logical way of spreading the word to our society about replacements for our Socialist force based welfare charity. Come up with a logical way to TRANSITION from a Corporatist society to one where your economic views can flourish, without millions of people dying. Come up with a way where we don't need the things you're trying to get rid of, while you're getting rid of them.
Maybe it's my view of Responsibility that is Absolutist and Utopian. Maybe I'm wrong.