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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity






"The founders of a new colony, whatever Utopia of human virtue and happiness they might originally project, have invariably recognized it among their earliest practical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a cemetery, and another portion as the site of a prison." Nathaniel Hawthorne


Editor's 1-Minute Essay: Utopia




the cultish mindset: demanding to be enslaved, terrified of freedom, protesting against self-determination, clamoring for more autocracy and authoritarianism

Mark R. Levin, Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America: “There are also those who delusively if not enthusiastically surrender their liberty for the mastermind’s false promises of human and societal perfectibility. He hooks them with financial bribes in the form of ‘entitlements.’ And he makes incredible claims about indefectible health, safety, educational, and environmental policies, the success of which is to be measured not in the here and now but in the distant future. For these reasons and more, some become fanatics for the cause. They take to the streets and, ironically, demand their own demise as they protest against their own self-determination and for ever more autocracy and authoritarianism. When they vote, they vote to enchain not only their fellow citizens but, unwittingly, themselves. Paradoxically, as the utopia metastasizes and the society ossifies, elections become less relevant. More and more decisions are made by the masterminds and their experts, who substitute their self-serving and dogmatic judgments — which are proclaimed righteous and compassionate — for the individual’s self-interests and best interests.”

Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man Under Socialism: “A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realisation of Utopias.”

Christopher Hitchens, Love, Poverty, and War: “The search for Nirvana, like the search for Utopia or the end of history or the classless society, is ultimately a futile and dangerous one. It involves, if it does not necessitate, the sleep of reason. There is no escape from anxiety and struggle.”

Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting: “Totalitarianism is not only hell, but all the dream of paradise-- the age-old dream of a world where everybody would live in harmony, united by a single common will and faith, without secrets from one another. Andre Breton, too, dreamed of this paradise when he talked about the glass house in which he longed to live. If totalitarianism did not exploit these archetypes, which are deep inside us all and rooted deep in all religions, it could never attract so many people, especially during the early phases of its existence. Once the dream of paradise starts to turn into reality, however, here and there people begin to crop up who stand in its way, and so the rulers of paradise must build a little gulag on the side of Eden. In the course of time this gulag grows ever bigger and more perfect, while the adjoining paradise gets even smaller and poorer.”

George Orwell, 1984: “In the past the need for a hierarchal form of society has been the doctrine specifically of the High. It had been preached by kings and aristocrats and the priests, lawyers and the like who were parasitical upon them, and it had generally been softened by promises of an imaginary world beyond the grave.”

Richard M. Rorty: “My sense of the holy is bound up with the hope that someday my remote descendants will live in a global civilization in which love is pretty much the only law.”

Bertrand De Jouvenel: “There is a tyranny in the womb of every Utopia.”

Albert Einstein, The World as I See It: “Not until the creation and maintenance of decent conditions of life for all people are recognized and accepted as a common obligation of all people and all countries - not until then shall we, with a certain degree of justification, be able to speak of humankind as civilized.”

G.K. Chesterton, Heretics: “[A] permanent possibility of selfishness arises from the mere fact of having a self, and not from any accidents of education or ill-treatment. And the weakness of all Utopias is this, that they take the greatest difficulty of man and assume it to be overcome, and then give an elaborate account of the overcoming of the smaller ones. They first assume that no man will want more than his share...”

T.S. Eliot, The Rock: “They constantly try to escape From the darkness outside and within By dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good...”

Oliver Markus Malloy, Bad Choices Make Good Stories: Finding Happiness in Los Angeles: “I dream of a world where chickens can cross the road without having their motives questioned.”

Mandy Ashcraft: “The utopian candy shell melted away to a hard center of bizarre reality.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago: “The reason why camps proved economically profitable had been foreseen as far back as Thomas More, the great-grandfather of socialism, in his Utopia. The labor of the zeks was needed for degrading and particularly heavy work, which no one, under socialism, would wish to perform. For work in remote and primitive localities where it would not be possible to construct housing, schools, hospitals, and stores for many years to come. For work with pick and spade—in the flowering of the twentieth century. For the erection of the great construction projects of socialism, when the economic means for them did not yet exist.”

Pervez Hoodbhoy: “Reform is not instantaneous, but proceeds by degrees. In contrast, the dogmatist dreams of reforming all of society in one holistic sweep and believes that he has in his possession a unique, unalterable blueprint. This quest for a utopia leads to authoritarianism, intolerance and violence because, once the end goal has been defined, no one is allowed to criticize or change it.”

James Burnham, The Machiavellians: “Since the beginning of systematic thought – that is, for about 2500 years in western culture – there has been constant discussion of the problem of "the good community," "the ideal society," "the best form of government." Tens of thousands of persons have given time and intelligence to argument over these questions, and have devised nearly as many answer. After all this while, men have no reached any generally accepted conclusions, and there is no indication that we have advanced in these matters a single step beyond the reasoning of the ancient Greek and Romans. This fact, and the contrast it presents to the advances made in solving the problems of the physical sciences, are enough to show, that the attempted answers to these questions are not scientifically credible theories...”

Huysmans Joris-Karl Huysmans: “I marvel at the placidity of the Utopian who imagines that man is perfectible. There is no denying that the human creature is born selfish, abusive, vile. Just look around you and see. Society cynical and ferocious, the humble heckled and pillaged by the rich traffickers in necessities. Everywhere the triumph of the mediocre and unscrupulous, everywhere the apotheosis of crooked politics and finance. And you think you can make any progress against a stream like that? No, man has never changed. His soul was corrupt in the days of Genesis and is not less rotten at present. Only the form of his sins varies. Progress is the hypocrisy which refines the vices.”

A.E. Samaan: “If your political theory requires humanity to "evolve", then you do not have a theory.... you have a dream.”

Aldous Huxley: “Every discovery in pure science is potentially subversive; even science must sometimes be treated as a possible enemy.”

A.E. Samaan: “People, imperfect and corruptible are society's building blocks. Political theories evading this reality are a catastrophe in waiting.”

Charlotte Perkins Gilman: “The human mind was no better than in its earliest period of savagery, only better informed.”

Jonathan Martin, Prototype: “It's why a song such as John Lennon's 'Imagine' continues to resonate—it's lovely to daydream about a world no longer plagued by the threat of famine, violence, war, or death. As long as these visions exist as a distant utopian fantasy, a counterbalance to a good zombie yarn, they don't threaten us—but neither do they really inspire us.”

Wernher von Braun: “In future, utopia will need to hurry to keep up with reality.”

Ron Brackin: “America indeed has become a progressive nation, if we understand "progressive" to mean progressing away from God, his incomparable blessings, and the moral foundation that made America great, and advancing toward a mythical utopia where mankind is in control of mankind (think "Lord of the Flies").”

Daniel Clausen, The Ghosts of Nagasaki: “You gotta beware of the utopian train of thought, mate. That's usually the first step towards fascism.”

A.E. Samaan: “Communism is what happens when Socialists realize that they want complete control over every aspect of human life… The desire to engineer humanity is a sign of a mind warped by megalomania and lust for power.”

Moxie Will: “The promise to save or create a ‘perfect’ humanity is almost always only and excuse for the urge to rule it.”

François Lelord: “Be very wary of people who declare that they're going to create heaven on earth, they almost invariably create hell.”

Rose Lovejoy: “Every dystopia is masked by a utopia.”

Norman O. Brown, Life Against Death: “Utopian speculations ... must come back into fashion. They are a way of affirming faith in the possibility of solving problems that seem at the moment insoluble. Today even the survival of humanity is a utopian hope.”

Grant Morrison: “Idealists and reformers all become executioners in their turn. The road to utopia ends with the steps of the scaffold, the endless moment of the guillotine.”

Rebecca Solnit, A Paradise Built in Hell: “It's tempting to ask why if you fed your neighbors during the time of the earthquake and fire, you didn't do so before or after.”

Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn: “She said all a body would have to do there [Heaven] was to go around all day long with a harp and sing, forever and ever.”

Brian Aldiss: “The fatal error of much science fiction has been to subscribe to an optimism based on the idea that revolution, or a new gimmick, or a bunch of strong men, or an invasion of aliens, or the conquest of other planets, or the annihilation of half the world--in short, pretty nearly anything but the facing up to the integral and irredeemable nature of mankind--can bring about utopian situations. It is the old error of the externalization of evil.”



Editor's last word:

Many have pondered the systemic weakness of any sought-for utopia – the darkness of the human heart. However, what is not realized is that this well-known depravity is but part of the human condition, the “false self.”

Granted, reconstitution concerning such is not common in our world. However, once we learn to operate on a higher level, finding ourselves led by the “better angels of our nature,” as Lincoln used the term, then an ideal society becomes possible.

See the writings on Summerland, the answer to humankind’s ancient quest for perfect community.