We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
The engine driving the utopian dream is indeed, fueled by nostalgia, and at the wheel are the wordsmith intellectuals. From philosophers like Rousseau, to Hegel, Marx, Lacan, Derrida, and Herbert Marcuse, intellectuals continue to yearn for a world of perfection—as defined, naturally, by wordsmith themselves. In the sphere of imaginative writing, novels and plays, from H.G. Wells to Norman Mailer, from Arthur Miller to Harold Pinter, these spinners of fantasies cater to the universal human longing for utopia, a prelapsarian time of bliss. They share contempt for the world of capitalist democracy, and scorn for the workers who make it run. Men of letters are of course the preeminent arbiters of the good and true in their own, self-created ideal world.
Read the whole thing at Horsefeathers. The saints are what really bother me the most.
I pulled this from the essay. This describes every person I know (including me) who grasps for reasons not to advance in life. A good alibi will always arise in the conditions created by lack of shame and (self) judgement.
As I have stated before on the subject of rabid atheism (illogical and hateful atheism): don't go kicking out the legs from under society.
"As Eric Hoffer once said, “There are many who find a good alibi far more attractive than an achievement. For an achievement does not settle anything permanently. We still have to prove our worth anew each day: we have to prove that we are as good today as we were yesterday. But when we have a valid alibi for not achieving anything we are fixed, so to speak, for life.”
Not really. I think when people as a whole pull away from religion that tends to allow for the kind of thinking Utopianism springs from, but not absolutely. It is the shifting sands of what society tolerates. The more socialist a country is the more the people grasp at the Utopian vision to replace G_d's kingdom.
The numbers are on the side of linking the two, socialism and utopianism, however, at least as far as literature goes.
I was reading that and the quote just jumped out at me: this is a succinct way of stating what bugs me about people who give up on life. That's an easy thing to do in the land of plenty, being like spoiled children lifelong, and it has always troubled me: Why not grasp your chance to be your best? The world is at your feet. (at least in USA)
Being (a more and more reluctant) atheist I perhaps am a bit of a Utopian myself. I wish for all people live as I was taught by my Christian upbringing: do unto others, and expect the most from others, don't steal, don't lie, don't murder, etc. and in the process be the best you that you can be, you only have so much time to make a difference to those around you.
Loved the essay, thanks! BUT, Bird Dog, please expand upon your comment about the saints. Were you referring to this in the article "the English Rule of the Saints, was a military despotism enlivened by witchcraft trials."? Although it is a fascinating comparison, and I will probably follow hundreds of links tonight exploring it, it seems to grossly oversimplify the history of the saints. Not all Puritans were military despots and witch-hunters. Not all of them were vicious Protestant reincarnations of Inquisitors. To study Oliver Cromwell alone makes that clear. Remember, he was on the point of emigrating to America shortly before the Civil War...He might have been one of our New England ancestors had things been different....
I was indoctrinated thru years of British schooling that he was a villain on a par with Beast Raban in the scifi classic Dune. But he was far more complicated and interesting than that...
I'm descended from Puritans, Huguenots, Red Indians, failed Scottish revolutionaries, and successful Scottish imperialist adventurers, Southern US planters, New Englad whalers and pepper traders, and assorted scholarly and literary types in recent 200 years, and I find the Puritan ancestors by far the most interesting. The redskins were uncivilized barbarians. The Scots cared only for lost causes, whisky and/or money. The Southerners were civilized dilettantes with a taste for cheating on their wives with gorgeous coffee colored babes and too much affinity for the demon rum, and all crazy. The Huguenots -- mean-spirited French petty bourgeoisie, stingy and into beggaring their neighbors. The New Englander traders and academics were pretty cool, but I have been so ceaselessly reminded of my own deficiencies by comparison with them that I am sick of them(the preferred New England childrearing technique is to destroy child's self-image in hopes that he will get mad, sail to China to prove you wrong, make his fortune and endow a church or start a museum. If a female that she become a bluestocking, marry rapacious capitalist and bear many children and DO GOOD WORKS but only get praised at her funeral where she will be compared to the virtuous housewife in Proverbs).
But the Puritans were afire for God, and passionate people. None of my ancestors prosecuted anyone as a witch (now my husband's, they were another story....and the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!) Anyone who could raise 12 living children in the semi-wilderness has got to have some pretty powerful stuff going for them....
Is your antipathy to the Puritans for the British Roundheads alone, or for all of them? Or is it just directed at their punitive policies, intolerance of other faiths, and rigid Sabbatarianism (and they weren't too fond of bear-baiting, dog and cock-fighting, round the clock drunkenness either, so I guess you think they were kill-joys too)? I am appalled by many of their cruelties, but you've posted before on some of their virtues (couldn't find an old piece of yours in the blog about them that I liked).
I am curious what you meant. I was kind of a Royalist enthusiast in carefree youth, now more of a somber Puritan matron in middle age....I am not trying to start an argument, just interested in others' views on this, as there are things to love and hate about both ends of the spectrum.
Time to go and read a real book on paper with pages (instead of ebooks, articles on line, or audiobooks)....Maybe that one on the Puritan family...
Incidentally, printed out the marvellous quote about the alibi and posted it on the fridge for the edification of the young...and to kick us old fogeys somewhere....
Thanks for the response Phil. I may be reducing your comment beyond what you were saying... but...
Isn't religion itself a 'kind' of utopianism. That if we just follow the 'good' life here, the reward of Utopian bliss awaits in the beyond.
Now, I fully acknowledge that religion, with some digressions along the way, has been the heart and soul of Western Civilization. I think because Jesus taught personal responsibility, and the concomitant freedom of choice, before anything else. A great simplification on my part of two thousand years of history.
I then contrast that with Islam. Perhaps the ultimate Utopianism. Need I say more.
I too live by the "Golden Rule', which far predicated, from my research, any organized religion.