“When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked man bears rule, the people groan.” —Proverbs 29:2
“Those who made and endorsed our Constitution knew man’s nature, and it is to their ideas, rather than to the temptations of utopia, that we must ask that our judges adhere.” —Robert Bork
Where Is Utopia? ’Tis Indeed Nowhere
Utopia comes from the Greek; the prefix “ou” (οὐ) means “not” and is the first part of the word—not to be confused with “eu” (eὐ), which means “good.” The second part of the word is from “topos” (τόπος), which is Greek for “place”; thus, Utopia is actually a reference to No Place. The confusion, among speakers of English, is that pronunciation of Utopia makes it sound like Eutopia, which would be a Good Place. But, simply put, the best translation of the word is Nowhere.
Freedom from Utopia
According to Tom Connolly, At TCUNation, “What the Founding Fathers knew was that they were starting a loose affiliation of territories, free of strong-handed leadership. They had faith in man and God, that people who agreed on the least amount of laws and government were then free to live their lives as God intended.” What Connolly means in his reference to God’s intent is the value of freedom found in the Judeo-Christian model for federalism in Exodus: 20-22, where Jethro teaches Moses how to govern the people: “Explain the regulations and instructions to them. Let them know the way they are supposed to go and the things they are supposed to do. But you should also look among all the people for capable persons who respect God. They should be trustworthy and not corrupt. Set these persons over the people as officers of groups of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. Let them sit as judges for the people at all times. They should bring every major dispute to you, but they should decide all of the minor cases themselves. This will be much easier for you, and they will share your load.”
This method of governance, in opposition to elitist Utopian prescriptions, establishes a civil society, wherein every person is free to solve problems according to his or her own devices. People make the rules for life and the solutions to problems among themselves, only appealing to a higher authority when they are unable to work things out at a lower level.
A Free Civil Society Celebrates Diversity & Inequality
Freedom for people to think and do for themselves means that individuals will naturally choose different purposes for their lives. Some careers will prove more enriching than others but might prove more time-intensive, while others will generate less material wealth although providing greater amounts of leisure time. However, as long as people get to choose their paths, there will be more happiness than if they are not free to choose, even if the natural outcome of freedom means there will be inequality in terms of how material wealth is distributed. Happy people are more productive as well as being mentally, physically, and spiritually healthier. They live in abundance and know less jealousy than those who pursue material wealth, rather than their own happiness.
Utopianism & the Redistribution of Wealth
Utopians who would redistribute wealth by government force believe that society should be engineered from the top down by an all-wise elite class known as an oligarchy, from the Greek “oligos” (ὀλίγος) which means few, and “arkho” (ἄρχω) which means “to rule or command.” Wikipedia says this: “These [elite] people might be distinguished by nobility, wealth, family ties, education or corporate, religious or military control. Such states are often controlled by a few prominent families who typically pass their influence from one generation to the next.” These people feel that people will be happier with equality than they are with freedom. But the truth of every socialist Utopia—whether it has been fascist, communist, or some other form of collectivism—has, without fail, caused more misery and harm than republican rule by the people, proving again and again the truth of Milton Friedman’s claim: “A society that puts equality before freedom will get neither. A society that puts freedom before equality will get a high degree of both.”
Utopian Death Spiral: the Case of Venezuela
Throughout history, socialist oligarchies always become tyrannical. Because people are not allowed to benefit from their jobs more than anyone else benefits, people generally quit the harder jobs—such as careers in medicine, physics, software-design, engineering, etc. To get these jobs done, the government must force people to do the work. The Soviet Union ultimately failed, due to its command-and-control economic system, and the same is now true of Venezuela, whose socialism has caused similar shortages of important consumer services and goods everywhere—from doctors’ offices to grocery stores. One can be forced to obey the government, but what cannot be compelled is one’s best efforts. While Soviet farmers did the minimum work required, often leaving their tractors parked in the fields at sundown (for the tractors were not their property), American farmers (who tended to park their tractors with more care) commonly had headlights installed on their tractors, enabling them to work into the night, increasing their productivity and the rewards that came with it.
Venezuela today is heading down the same road as the old Soviet Union. The Wall Street Journal, on May 5, 2017, ran a story in which they stated, “Once Latin America’s richest country, Venezuela can no longer feed its people, hobbled by the [socialist-redistributionist] nationalization of farms as well as price and currency controls.” Foreign Policy reports this: “When it comes to buying food on his government-mandated day of the week, William, a 44-year-old farmer, doesn’t mess around. At sunset each Tuesday, William, a father of two, joins a line of dozens of people outside the Unicasa supermarket in central La Victoria, 34 miles west of Caracas. William and a friend spend the night taking turns sleeping on the street, with one of them standing watch at all times to guard against robbers, line-cutters, and rats.” And, according to Zero Hedge, “[a] new study conducted by three universities in Venezuela sheds new light on just how dire the food shortages are in Maduro’s failed Socialist utopia . . . [because] 75% of Venezuelans lost ‘an average of at least 19 pounds’ in 2016 due to food shortages.”
The lesson history offers is that guaranteeing equal outcomes to everybody—instead of guaranteeing the right to the “pursuit of happiness” as the American Declaration of Independence does—means that many unhappy people will end up being assigned work, not of their choosing, that they will either avoid doing or will perform at the lowest level they can get away with.
This is why the historically high levels of taxation under America’s Utopian President Obama ended up making America less and less wealthy, as time marched on, and more and more dependent on the agricultural and technical production of other countries. As America produced less, it slid closer and closer to the kind of collapse Venezuela is now undergoing.
The election of President Donald Trump—who believes in free enterprise, hard work, and the freedom of workers to keep more of their earnings—is now beginning to reverse the economic stagnation that is the hallmark of socialist redistributionism. The eventual slide into total economic collapse has thus been avoided. By encouraging the work ethic over the entitlement ethic once again, Trump is bringing freedom and happiness back to Americans who believe in the exceptionalism that is possible only when work is encouraged and rewarded, rather than discouraged and punished. In states like California, where many receive more money not to work than they earn by working, productivity has suffered to the point where an eventual economic collapse has become almost inevitable. California seems to have forgotten this simple rule: the more you tax work, the less work you get; the more you reward work, the more work you get. California may have reached a tipping point.
According to the San Diego Union Tribune, “34% of the nation’s welfare recipients live in California but only . . . 12% . . . of the U.S. population resides here.” The increasing burden to California taxpayers to support non-workers in the state is driving more and more people out, as a result of the skyrocketing cost of living in California. And complaining about the failed government policies surrounding all of this is not politically-correct and can lose a person his or her job in California; also, violence is often the result of expressing an “incorrect” opinion in public. Utopianism has run amok, and exceptionalism has made itself scarce, in the once-Golden State. Socialism can only spend what capitalism has earned, and once a welfare state no longer has access to a sufficient supply of other people’s money, it will inevitably collapse.
Why Utopias Target the Jews & the Christians
A study of Utopian socialist governments of the 19th, 20th, and early 21st centuries reveals that they all hold in common the eventual persecution of Jewish and Christian religious communities. The reason for this is because Jews and Christians who rely on God are far less likely to rely on government. In general, they also prefer to help each other, as a way of doing God’s work, rather than prevailing upon government to do so. In a Judeo-Christian world, there is good and evil, right and wrong. People are in control of their consequences by behaving in a way that reaps more rewards or more punishments. This means that all behaviors are not created equal; some actions are better (thus more rewarding) than others.
But without God, there is no sin and no actual right or wrong. Cultural relativism means that all actions are, more or less, equal. Therefore, nobody can do any better than anybody else. So, everyone deserves the same, regardless of conduct. After all, there is no good or evil in a relativistic world, which means that Utopianism can declare that all may benefit equally, regardless of behavior—or, in other words, regardless of effort. Lazy people are just as good as industrious people. To say anything else would be politically-incorrect.
In places where government cares for people—housing projects, for example—people stop caring about themselves or each other, leading to dilapidated homes and violent crime. Benjamin Franklin once said, “I am for doing good to the poor, but . . . I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed . . . that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.” What Dr. Franklin knew was that with freedom comes responsibility. Without responsibility, freedom must give way to dependency. And this natural consequence of Utopianism is what the Founders endeavored to save America from, by blessing Americans with more abundance than any other nation on earth by means of freeing people to pursue whatever makes them happy, while being rewarded for doing it. May America always remain a beacon of freedom—a Shining City on a Hill—where one may yet have engage in the responsible pursuit of happiness.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com