Tuesday, January 01, 2013

A Follow-Up About Utopianism (Apparently That Is a Word Now)

I wrote awhile back about my disdain for libertarianism - and isms in general - due to my studies of utopian literature my freshman college year.

Now here I see in Salon.com that contributor Michael Lind shares the same disdain for utopian thought, and how he sees the current Far Right as unhinged as the Far Left of the 60s-70s were:

In that environment, what attracted me in my college years to conservatism was its hostility to utopianism, to the attempt to remake society according to some abstract theory. This was a theme shared by the older generation of “vital center” liberals like Arthur Schlesinger and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, as well as conservatives like Bill Buckley. Their distrust of doctrinaires using power to achieve utopia on earth was inspired not just by thinkers like Edmund Burke but even more by the examples of Hitler’s genocidal racist utopia and the mass murders and famines that accompanied Stalin’s and Mao’s attempts to use terror to remake society. The vital-center liberals (some of whom became early neoconservatives) disagreed with those further to the right, the “paleoconservatives,” over whether Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society were examples of sensible reform to save the system, as the paleoliberals/ neoconservatives believed, or mild versions of collectivist utopian madness, the view of many traditional conservatives...
By the 1990s, the communist movement had collapsed as a global secular religion, even though a few relic communist tyrannies survived in China, Vietnam, North Korea and Cuba. The few remaining Marxist radicals in the Western world were mostly English professors hunting for classism and imperialism in the novels of Jane Austen. Nature abhors a vacuum, and as utopianism died out on the left, it found a new home to the right of center. The last generation in the U.S. has seen three forms of demented right-wing utopianism: religious, military and economic.
The religious utopianism was that of the Protestant religious right, which grew in influence in the 1980s and peaked in the 1990s... The religious right faded as a force by the early 21st century, largely because of the growing secularization of younger Americans. The next wave of utopianism was military. The older generation of neoconservatives had been New Deal liberals who had grown cautious and skeptical about the ability of public policy to remake American society. In contrast, the younger generation of neoconservatives — some of them literal heirs of the older generation, such as Irving Kristol’s son William Kristol — were wildly optimistic about the ability of the American military to remake foreign societies. Their utopian project of a “new American century” and a “global democratic revolution” exported by force of arms collided with reality in Iraq and Afghanistan in the first decade of the century... As the neoconservative utopia faded, it was followed in turn by the libertarian utopia... Ron Paul went from being a marginal figure to a folk hero for young people in search of gurus, and the works of mid-20th-century prophets of the free market like Ayn Rand and Friedrich von Hayek enjoyed a revival. The libertarian utopia peaked in 2010, around the same time as the Tea Party movement, which helped the Republicans to regain the House of Representatives. To judge by the elections of 2012, in which more Americans cast votes for Democrats for the gerrymandered House as well as in Senate and presidential elections, the public has turned against free market utopians like Paul Ryan...

It's rare for me to double-post in a day, but see Lind's article reminded me of what I wrote, and I enjoy the justification of a shared viewpoint.  ;-)

No comments: