“Utopia” is Greek for “nowhere”: a made-up word for a make-believe place. The search for nowhere inevitably deprecates any and every “somewhere.” Socialism, which is based on incorrigible optimism about human nature, is a species of utopianism. It experiences the friction of reality as an intolerable brake on its expectations. “Utopians,” the philosopher Leszek Kolakowski observed in “The Death of Utopia Reconsidered,” “once they attempt to convert their visions into practical proposals, come up with the most malignant project ever devised: they want to institutionalize fraternity, which is the surest way to totalitarian despotism.”
Obamania may be a harmless enthusiasm that will spend itself naturally in the coming weeks. Then again, its “spread-the-wealth-around,” egalitarian tendencies may presage something far graver. It’s just possible that Obama actually believes what he says about redistributing wealth and sitting down for cozy chats with dictators, etc. In that case, the country is in for a very rude awakening.
11 November 2008
Utopia; Found On No Map