Friday, April 11, 2008

Against Utopia

The world can become paradise; we are so close; all we need to do is...

Does it matter what comes next? It could be "eradicate religion" (Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris); it could be "convert everyone to Islam" (your local imam); it could be "abolish private property and share everything equally" (your local communist); it could be "hasten the return of Jesus Christ" (your local rapturista); it could be a million things, but which one doesn't matter, because the truth is that Utopia - insofar as that concept can have any meaning whatsoever - will be unachievable as long as there are humans around to imagine it.

Pessimistic? No - realistic. Think about it: human beings are not even capable of "putting an end to conflict" within themselves. We love our boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse but yearn for someone else. We want the cheeseburger but also the fish and chips. We like Obama's speeches but are worried about his lack of experience. We wish to discipline our teenagers but don't want to drive them away from us. We want freedom to do what we want, but also want to evade responsibility for some of our actions. We want a million different things, and their opposites, just within ourselves. So on what grounds could anyone seriously imagine that all potential conflict between two human beings, let alone two hundred million, or two billion, could ever be eliminated?

All attempts thus far at creating a true heaven on earth - where all people are of "one heart and one mind", where the lion shall lie down with the lamb, etc. - have failed. And not only have they failed, but often they have led instead to the creation of hell on earth. The grandest experiment in paradaisacal living in world history, for example, ended with somewhere between sixty and one hundred MILLION human beings being slaughtered in service to its guiding (Marxist) ideals, with millions more being imprisoned, harrassed, and tortured. Ah, but of course - humanity could become perfect, but humanity just keeps getting in the way. So, humanity must be eliminated. Funny how it always works out this way.

I submit that there is no intellectual excuse anymore for Utopian thinking. That self-styled critical thinkers like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins could seriously entertain Utopian fantasies ("we can achieve heaven on earth as soon as we banish religious belief!") in their recent anti-theism books ("The End of Faith" and "The God Delusion") is embarrassing. It is especially embarrassing in view of the example just mentioned, since communism, if nothing else, constituted an atheist fundamentalism. Dawkins, for some reason which he cannot explain, thinks that the tens of millions murders committed under communism weren't committed in the name of atheism; but atheism being absolutely central to Marxist ideology, this simply cannot be true. To commit a murder in the name of communism is to commit a murder in the name of atheism, as inexorably as to commit a murder in the name of Catholicism is to commit a murder in the name of theism. There is no way around this. The man who wrote a book entitled "The God Delusion", himself turns out to be just as deluded as those he criticizes.

More on this later.


Su said...

Ah yes, the problem with "one size fits all" philosophies has to be rooted in the misconception that we are an animal based on "equality". Human beings are practically slaves to creating societies, cultures and sub-cultures that operate as hierarchies. Any social system that forms an hierarchy automatically assumes inequality.

I just wonder when we'll finally realize that we are NOT the "noble creatures" that most philosophies seem determined to perpetuate. Funny thing is, just because everyone believes something doesn't necessarily mean it's true.

erlybird said...

It is among the saddest of ironies. I will side with Sam, Richard and Christopher every single time when it comes to the realization that humans are following a "delusion" when they succumb to faith in God...the hope of divine intervention, an afterlife, a universe created just for them or whatever the f**k. But the truth is that we human beings are collectively too intellectually weak and too greedy and too awful and too afraid of death to exist without some sort of imaginary retribution/reward from some god-judge hanging over our heads. Without the "delusion" there would be chaos even more chaotic then we experience now. Like the sufferer of an Obsessive Compulsive to spend hours each day making sure everything is turned off and locked properly billions of people everywhere say their prayers and perform their rituals and if they ever stopped all hell would break loose.

I respect Harris, Dawkins and Hutchins for their rudeness in pointing out in naked terms that "the emperor has no clothes" but I am willing to put up with the "in the event of rapture" bumper stickers and the smug little "fish" for a while so that my kids can grow up in a world where there is at least a semblance of calm. I am not hoping for a world full of atheists like myself because I am scared shitless of two billion theists turned non-theists overnight. I can live with the embarrassment of this collective belief for the moment in return for knowing that there is a dike of irrationality holding back a flood despair. I say this while at the same time shunning irrational belief myself. I say this while teaching my kids to embrace what they do NOT know as a challenge and not a threat. I say this knowing that we live in a world where undeniably unjust wars and undeniably hideous injustices exist in many, many places and that to live where my kids are not forced daily to look upon it is a privilege and not a right. I would love to think of humanity as having evolved past the need for this sort of artificial, drug-like, sedated state. I just don't have the optimism to actually wish for it.

Tal said...

Great comments, Su and Erlybird. I'm impressed!

Hey - do you get more people to read a blog? You guys are great - maybe we could get more on here, presuming it's worthwhile...What do bloggers do?

Tal said...

Oops - I meant to say, *how* do you get more people to read a blog?

erlybird said...

I don't know, Tal. If I did I could just sell some adverts and write all day about the vagaries and joys of human existence and the frustration of middle-aged athletic training and not have to go to work each day.

I am going to write about this little story...but I will share it with you first...

I was sitting in a hot tub listening to some guy complain about the possibility of the government requiring every child to have a "chip" embedded in the head so as to better keep track of citizens. I couldn't help myself. I piped up, completely out of turn and said, "Gosh...that sounds like something from Revelations...I guess The Bible IS true!" No less than three people in that hot tub immediately agreed with me...and here I was JOKING! Yikes. If I had cited 1000 examples of how the world would be better off without such mindless religious belief I would've probably been drowned instead.

So much for Utopia.

erlybird said...

Here's one idea for you, though.

Become a rock star..write a hit record...sell three million copies...print the URL to the blog you want people to read in big block letters on the CD cover.

Oh, wait...after that...find the niche cause of your choice...go to Africa and wade in among masses and do some photo ops and utter some sound bites. Make sure the URL to the blog is scrolling across the bottom of the screen when the report on CNN is airing.

That might work. ;-)

Su said...

I feel bad, because the truth is I don't really know how to attract readers as I've let my blog sit dormant for over a year. In fact, I don't remember the URL, my username, or password.

Now, if we're to take a page from other sites and other bloggers, these strategies often seem to work:

The MySpace and Facebook Strategy:

--Post pictures of yourself half nude, drunk and/or smoking weed.

--Include several pictures of the "Dawgs" you hang out with, one of which must have "Diddy" or "Snoop" as part of their affectatious name.

--Pretend you don't know anything about the English language, especially if you were born and raised in an English speaking country and are of Anglo Saxon ancestry.

The Rockstar/Blogger Strategy:

--Prove to everyone that you have a brain in your head and MAY have a sense of humour that manages to temper your enormous ego.

--You must almost screw everything up by dating Jessica Simpson and unhinging your ego in order to get your "sold out" freak on.

--Finally, you realize that some people are so unnaturally devoted to you that they'll eat sh*t on a shingle if you write about how tasty it is.

The Political/Editorial Blogger Strategy:

--You could join a reputable blog group that works almost as a blogger's newspaper. I know they exist down here and in New Zealand.

As for my personal opinion, unless your blog meter is running on the low side, I'd wager that more people read than comment.

Thanks for creating an interesting read,

Grégoire said...

Hey Comrade Bachman...

The world can become paradise; we are so close; all we need to do is..."abolish private property and share everything equally" (your local communist)

Actually, we'll still have plenty of problems to eradicate when this happens (and it will! any day now! really!)

Great article. It appealed to my inner cynic.

Anonymous said...

I accidentally discovered some of your blogs when I googled for your songs, and have been following them since. You and those who comment on your blogs make an interesting read. I am one of those people who enjoy reading more than commenting --- not that I am not opinionated. But I am commenting this time because I thought my idea of getting more people to read your blogs may work. And it is really simple.

Create a Tal Bachman website for public access (with no password like what My Space or Facebook requires), list your songs (and perhaps some lyrics and video clips as well) with your blogging URL listed between them. I found your blogging topics relatively wide-ranged. There maybe more people out there like to read your postings than you have reached so far.

I also wished to say that although communism is atheism, it is actually just another religion. Don’t they all enforce followers to believe or worship something, God or Marxism or Mao’s Thought?

Anonymous said...

I apologize for commenting on something that is so old. Nevertheless I just read your blog for the first time and although I find myself at odds with most of your religious comments, having recently read both The End of Faith and The God Delusion, I could not agree with you more. --Sorry for the run on sentence.-- Atheism is just another religion, thank you for acknowledging that. :)