The Uses of History, 15 – Utopian Interlude

(Image credit – Wikipedia)

We humans live with the conviction that somehow, if we will it hard enough and direct our course with sufficient skill and resolution, we can some day create Utopia. We can conceive of almost endless versions of the Perfect World, the Perfect Society, of “Nowhere”, which is what the word “Utopia” actually means in Greek. Sir [Saint] Thomas More borrowed the word when he used it as the title of his version, the first on record, of the perfect society in the early 16th Century.

We persist in believing that it is within our native, inborn power and nature to conquer, once and for all, our demonic side, “the Dark Side” as the modern mythology of Star Wars puts it. When we finally do, we will arrive at an age where we will fully release the “better angels of our nature” so that, by a proper ordering of our minds and hearts, we become perennially benevolent to one another. Utopians believe that the incorrigible rebels and recalcitrant egoists, the potential disrupters of our coming perfect social and economic felicity, will then somehow be restrained and be so isolated in their pariahhood that they will be shamed into conformity to the liberty of total equality and complete freedom of opportunity for all.

Few Utopians of the left, who currently exercise a strong grip on the general development of the West’s culture and society, and a stranglehold on public Western discourse, will openly confess, at least at this moment, to this sort of paradigm. Nevertheless, with some variation, it is the directing vision of their ineluctable machinations to eliminate the old restraints and limit (from their perspective) the nefarious influences of the original ideas of liberal democracy. The old, now “outmoded” notion of democracy characterized by Abraham Lincoln as “government of the people, by the people, for the people” is tainted forever by its latent, if only half-acknowledged, debt to the even more original foundation of the West in Judeo-Christianity.

Part of the political, social, and economic crisis facing the West, and by extension the whole world, is the hard core of the old Judeo-Christian, liberal-democratic culture and social order still deeply embedded in the Western soul. The world outside of the formerly nominally Christian realms does not have the deep roots in Christendom that still torture Europe and its most completely assimilated ex-colonies, but they cannot help feeling and being buffeted by the shock-waves emanating from the disruptive issues washing into their lands through the world-wide web and global socio-economic order.

One of our delusions is that we have come to a place of almost total inclusiveness and openness to every notion of what freedom and rights should include. But fervent Utopians have never really been inclusive and broad-minded. The present crop of Utopian social-engineers à-la-WOKE-ultra-Progressive are as hypocritical in this respect as any of the older versions of the West that they love to condemn and moralize about as having been enslaved by religion, superstition, and blind prejudice.

The former society which is being purposefully and systematically dismantled had at least one superior characteristic in its notion of Utopia compared to the present manifestation: it declared that we humans are really and truly flawed and cannot create Utopia by our own efforts. Utopia really is “Nowhere” to be found, or humanly manufactured. Instead, we are dependent on the Creator to heal our innate brokenness, to redeem us from our sins and forgive us for our perpetual rebellion.

As to a perfect world, a perfect flawless human state, that can only happen through the unmerited goodness and mercy of the Creator Him-/Her/Self. However, humanity will enter perfect being, first following death in being joined to God through God’s own action of adopting us into the “God-family”. God has opened this family to all who will come to Him/Her through the incarnate Son of God. The second way to Utopia will come at a time chosen by the Creator, when He/She will renew and remake the broken creation into an everlasting one from which all evil, suffering, and distortion will be banished forever. It will not be of human construction.

This is the story now so despised and ridiculed by all Utopianists following Thomas More’s conception of such a society. Sir Thomas still put the Creator in his story. But the Enlightenment’s quest to rid Europe of its dependence on religious dogma and superstition required a more rigorously secular humanist response. For those who are interested in this Enlightenment saga of the quest for truth independent of the Creator, it has been recounted now many times. These are variations around the central theme of how the West liberated itself from its medieval tutelage by turning to Reason, Rationalism, Science, and “Natural Philosophy”, but the core narrative remains firmly in place after three hundred years or so.

Our purpose here is not to rehash old news, but to study what has ensued historically. We must note that humans are bred-in-the-bone, gene-driven believers. The laws of physics reflect the nature of reality, and they are not disconnected to the spiritual and psychological truths which are just as real. A physical vacuum is inevitably filled by whatever surrounds it most closely. In the realms of the spirit and mind, which are just as real, the law of the vacuum is just as true. In the spiritual realm, you cannot drive out one form of faith without it being filled by another. We humans are formed for faith as much as we are formed to think and feel. We will inevitably believe in, put our trust in, something or someone as truth-giving. We will construct our paradigm of reality around that essential, central core of “truth”. It is a fallacy to say we can remain undecided, if only because, if we trust in nothing or no one else, we will by default choose ourselves as the ultimate source of truth.

However, for the vast majority of people of whatever ethnic origin, we quickly find ourselves a very fragile and fallible source of truth-knowing and truth-speaking. Narcissists and very arrogant people are actually pathetically deluded in this respect. The rest of us inevitably turn to some other source of paradigm-forming faith, which is really nothing more than choosing whom and what to put ultimate trust in.

As we enter 2023, we find that the formerly accepted, traditional paradigms about truth and its source(s) have been or are in the process of being driven out, more and more forcefully. We are being given a hodge-podge of a fantastic farrago in their stead, despite the blatant self-contradictions of this “mess of pottage” which attempts to include everything and claim the validity of just about anything you can image as some manifestation of universal truth. But such ephemeral clouds cannot really be defined except in the most nebulous language such as “all you need is love; love is all you need”, as per the Beatles early anthem to this wondrous revelation.

Just as a vacuum of the spirit cannot go long unfilled, neither can a vacuum in the human soul, which intuitively seeks Heaven, Paradise, Nirvana, Valhalla, Elysium, the Happy Hunting Grounds, or any other formulation we can come up with to indicate the unfilled hole-in-the-soul, as Blaise Pascal once termed it in his posthumous masterpiece, Pensées.

Many of the later Enlightenment philosophes in the 18th Century, followed by their numerous disciples in the Second Wave Enlightenment in the 19th Century, dogmatically chose to remove the Creator from the equation. They therefore created a spiritual and theological vacuum. As we have noted, a vacuum begs and demands to be filled. It always will be.

What moved in to take the place of the Creator and theology? As Nietzsche declared, “God is dead and we have killed Him”. He predicted that the vacuum created by His death would, had to be filled. He predicted, with deadly accuracy, that ideology would move into the place of theology. Into the place of the “dead” God would step the “Ubermensch”, the Superman, who would form the world in his own image by the exercise of his superior will to power.

Modern revolutions have borne out Nietzsche’s prophecy with a vengeance. The Age of Ideology has moved into the vacuum left by the erasure Judeo-Christianity. Ideology is the dramatic mask (as in ancient Greek theatre) of the will to power, the rationalization of the ubermensch drive to remake the world in the image of the paradigm of truth adopted by the enforcers of the ideology.

The fruits of this reformation are always presented as a promised Utopia – a paradise of sorts based on eliminating the sources of injustice and oppression and equalizing the distribution of resources and opportunity. The problem is always what to do with the dissenters, the incorrigibles who cannot or will not see the light and accept the new truth.

Since the First French Revolution (1789-99), the record is clear. The resisters of the New Order (the Nazi formulation of their promised Utopia) are systematically rooted out and eliminated. Every time we have witnessed one of these socio-political-economic tsunamis attempting to create the latest and greatest plan for Utopia, we have seen a hecatomb of mayhem and slaughter in its wake. The body counts belie every claim that humans can create the Promised Land; the ensuing multi-generational devastation denies every claim of every Utopian vision, whether Marxist, Maoist, Fascist, Nazi, Capitalist, whatever-ist.

But the answer of the next promisers of the coming socially engineered Utopia is to double-down and ignore (or obfuscate) history and soft-sell their own new soft Totalitarianism as per neo-Enlightenment wisdom.

Soft Totalitarianism is in the long run still taking us to the same destination. The chefs chortle, “Perhaps if we just turn up the heat more gradually and gently, the frog in the pot will be lulled to sleep and will not wake up (if ever) until our new world order is in place…”

Remember, Utopia = Nowhere, now and always. The Creator-God alone can fulfill the longing in your soul.

Published by VJM

Vincent is a retired High School teacher, Educational Consultant, and author in Ontario, Canada. He is an enthusiastic student of History, life, and human nature. He has loved writing since he was a kid. He has been happily married for almost 50 years and has 4 grown children and ten grandchildren. He and his wife ran a nationally successful Canadian Educational Supply business for home educators and private schools for fifteen years. Vincent has published Study Guides for Canadian Social Studies, a biography of a Canadian Father of Confederation, and short semi-fictional accounts of episodes in Canadian History. He has recently published his first novel, Book One in a Historical Fantasy series called "Dragoonen". The first book is "Awakening" and is available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. He is currently working on further books in this series and a number of other writing projects in both non-fiction and fiction. Vincent is a gifted teacher and communicator.

One thought on “The Uses of History, 15 – Utopian Interlude

  1. Thanks once again, Vince. It seems like there’s nothing new under the sun. I like your conclusion!



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