Archive for January, 2011

Utopia as Dangerous Fallacy

Utopianism is an interesting concept. It is strange in that when it is pursued as a way of life, its proper execution consists of understanding that it will never reach completion. It is unsuitable for the undisciplined mind because it is an ultimately disappointing philosophy if one pursues it believing they will attain perfection. The perfect is impossible to attain, but the striving towards that unreachable perfection is what is meant to be desirable. The undisciplined mind, however, sees the utopian ideal as achievable, and easily done so; they believe that utopia is achievable by the rote repetition of ritual and dogma. Such practices actually hinder people in this pursuit.

The idea is that you see a goal and you see your current position, but you have no pre-set way of reaching that goal. it is up to you to climb over the rocks and hurdles to get to your goal.

The misuse of Utopian thinking is prevalent amongst political vanguardists and religious messianics. To them, utopia is possible only by following THEM. And perfection, while not easily attained, IS attainable by following their creeds or their books– at least in their mind. The problem is that the vanguardists and messianics are either consciously or unconsciously seeking validation for their existence by preaching Utopianism to their flock. The vanguardist is depressed, and derives validation and morale from the adulation of their followers. The follower of the vanguardist is equally depressed, but suffers the additional hardship of being confused and lacking direction. Following the vanguardist leader as a means to allay one’s own depression ultimately results in a quick and dirty fix, and one that doesn’t last. And isn’t the concept of vanguardism in and of itself anti-anarchist? Since when should anyone who seriously considers themselves to be an anti-authoritarian cede their free will to someone or an organization who merely promises to “make it all better?”

Of course, there’s plenty of examples of this on the left: Zendik farm has a long history of this cult-like behavior, as does the Revolutionary Communist Party, ANSWER, Progressive Labor Party and the Nation of Islam. I’m not denigrating their performance in accomplishing political actions (when they choose to act) but the bulk of their activity exists to perpetuate their groups’ existence and build internal morale, not actually change society for the better.

The cocaine of Utopian Vanguardism may get you high, but once it wears off, the low is lower than you’ve ever felt.