Friday, June 29, 2007


Utopias are just not what they used to be:

What all the earthly paradises promised by social re-engineering projects have in common is not that they are free from unpleasantness and want; Stalin offered a vision of barracks life, cafeteria food and compulsory day-care and people were willing to kill for it; modern environmentalists present one of five-minute showers, subsistance living and rationed toilet paper and they are willing to descend on your home in order to achieve it. They are bleak, unpleasant paradises. The attraction of these earthly utopias is not pleasance but freedom from doubt. Entry into a place where all the answers are supplied and there are no more dilemmas. What is required of that Brave New World above all is the final banishment of Hamlet's soliloquy. The attraction of Communism, a world ruled by the Greens or lashed under the chains of Sharia Law is they leave no room for doubt. They offer a place where every aspect of life will be regulated, our carbon footprints measured at intervals, our piety audited periodically and we shall be rid at last of our greatest burden -- freedom and uncertainty.

For that reason people like the "environmentalists" that Tim Blair describes derive satisifaction from forcing people into line. It is the Global Warming line in this instance, but any line would have done. Any port which will shelter them against the storm of doubt. The very same people who were yesterday's Communists are today's environmentalists and tomorrow's Muslim converts. It's really all the same religion to them.

Pleasantville, a movie from the late 90's, tells the story of the perfect utopian town of the imagination, where everyone is happy and everything is so...pleasant and conformingly normal. Anyone who gets out of lockstep with the pleasant program is suspect and extremely threatening to the one-dimensional black and white characters.

But the "happiness" and the uptopia of Pleasantville is not nearly as fulfilling for those who live there as those who desire perfection might imagine. Rather than being the nostalgic utopia of the protagonist's fantasies, Pleasantville is actually a dystopia where the inhabitants' freedom of choice and expression is severely limited, thus stunting their personal growth and development and keeping the entire society stagnant and boring.

But it is a wonderful place for those whose main desire in life is to exert control over others.

As Wretchard notes in his excellent analysis, it is all about minding other people's business.

Satan infamously commented in one of his many literary appearances that it is far far better to reign in hell, than to serve in heaven....

And all pathways that begin with a fantasy utopia, will pass through dystopia; and then proceed directly to hell.

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