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The Utopia that Never Was
About three years ago, before this Covid swill was poured down our throats, my wife pointed out an article in the Toronto Star about a proposal to have cars fitted with bumper cameras, or some other surveillance devices intended to cut down on illegal parking, hit and run offenses, and various other “bad” things that if recorded on video would make all of our lives better. Surely anything that would lessen the crime rate was a good thing.
“Can you believe this bullshit!” I blurted out, as my defiant shrew ire flared up.
“I think it’s a good idea,” piped in my wife.
Imagine the familiar cartoon of a man clenching his teeth with the black cloud over his head—maybe with some thunderbolts cracking out of it.
So why would this bother me so much? That seemed obvious, the old “what if this gets in the wrong hands” mantra went through my head—really? “It just isn’t right!” I silently exclaimed. First of all, it was rather fishy that these things would just come with a new car and you wouldn’t have a choice. Then of course it is quite obvious it is an infringement on privacy—there are many ways that such a thing could be “used against you.”
Oddly, that wasn’t what bothered me the most. I actually thought more about the poor criminal whose privacy would be violated rather than mine. I thought about how a world without crime would be a bore, and that it just wasn’t fair to wipe all crime out of the culture making it squeaky clean—what would we do without crime novels to read?
Am I crazy?
Dostoevsky had a word to say about utopian cultures back in 1864 (like a crimeless one). He thought a perfect world would be a disaster. In his novel Notes from Underground he says:
Now I ask you: what can be expected of man as a being endowed with such strange qualities? Shower him with all earthly blessings, drown him in happiness completely, over his head, so that only bubbles pop up on the surface of happiness, as on water; give him such economic satisfaction that he no longer has anything left to do at all except sleep, eat gingerbread, and worry about the non cessation of world history––and it is here, just here, that he, this man, out of sheer ingratitude, out of sheer lampoonery, will do something nasty.
Here is a bit of commentary from a website discussing Dostoevsky’s work:
Notes From Underground (1864) is a blistering assault on utopianism, socialism, and Marxism based on Dostoevsky’s view of human nature. Even if a utopian society was attainable, says Dostoevsky, we would not be satisfied by endless food, comfort and pleasure. If you satisfied every human desire, we would throw it all away just for something interesting to happen, just to give ourselves a challenge to overcome and prove that we are human beings and not lap dogs. According to Dostoevsky, we would rather wallow in misery and self-pity than be handed everything on a silver-platter! It is our unique proclivity for destructive decisions that make us human, and we wouldn’t give that up for anything—even heaven on earth.
This resonates with me. And I wonder now if I was channeling ol’ Fyodor that day in the kitchen talking to my wife.
It does make sense. I remember a while back I was watching an old Twilight Zone episode about a bad-guy criminal who gets killed, and he thinks he has more than likely gone to hell. But rather than devils dancing around and fire lapping at his feet, some nice dude in a white Panama suit greets him. “What would you like, my friend,” the guy says…and the episode continues with this poor schmuck getting every single desire he could imagine met. He wins every poker hand, and drinks bottle after bottle of booze without getting sick, has beautiful women climbing all over him. “I’m in heaven!” he exclaims—until he gets bored. He then begs the white-suit guy to tell him where he actually is, “This ain’t heaven is it! Tell me!” he screams. My 67-year-old memory doesn’t serve me all that well, and I can’t remember details about the show, but I think the Panama guy says, “What do you think?”—Imagine, if you will.
I remember this episode had quite an impact on me, and I decided right then and there never to pursue a life of crime.
Now, let me be clear, I am not a fan of crime. Of course there is crime, and then there is crime. What I am thinking here is a bit more metaphoric. And I do actually believe we could live in a relatively crime-less society and do pretty well (as I write that sentence, I hear my wise voice in my head saying, “Who are you kidding?”—think of the movie Demolition Man. If you don’t know it, watch it). But I have to admit, that sort of society doesn’t seem natural. Life, to be natural and fulfilling and meaningful has to have the dark side somewhere integrated in the experience. There must be shadow, crime, disease, discomfort, losing, disappointment, sorrow, stupidity, depression—need I go on? Yin/Yang stuff, “you can’t know happiness unless you’ve experienced sadness”—you get the picture. As cliché as this sounds, it is sadly true.
Utopias are always actually dystopias in disguise. If you read a novel that claims to be a utopian novel, you quickly see that the society described is not all that benign. Many novels are described as dystopian literature but are presented as utopias, consider Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451. You just can’t create a perfect society. Not only is it creepy to think about, but it simply would not work.
From an article on the Internet:
In order to find or create a utopia, you must also discover or create a dystopia. When there is a perfect place, an equally opposite place hides from within it. From the outside, utopia and dystopia can be clearly defined; a dystopia is a terrible place ruled by unrelenting dictators forcing slavery and their ideas upon the population while a utopia is a perfect, ideal place to live in for any man or woman.
Interestingly enough we currently live in a “Utopia wanna be.” We have people believing that if we follow the agenda, which has put us through unwarranted draconian demands, we might be able to avoid disease and death. These people generally feel at war with nature, and at peace with a distant (at this point in time) belief they could live forever if the proper science creates devices, artificial organs and tissue, brain implants and the like to transcend our sloppy and inferior flesh and blood bodies. These people also believe we can erase crime from the culture with more militaristic police, more devices for surveillance, digital IDs, digital currency, and more control over all people so the ones who have “nothing to hide” can be separated from the ones who have committed crimes against the system (which, of course, could be anything the system deems criminal—case in point, Canada’s Trucker Convoy in the summer of ’22).
Again, not everyone on that side of the fence (sheep) think this way (some are not even sheep). Some are just frightened out of their wits, some are just blind, some are just totally unwilling to look anywhere beyond their noses, and yes, some are just stupid. But I do have to say I believe most people over there (sheep) believe that they can get through life easier if they do what the authorities say to avoid disease, death, suffering, (nature, dirt, germs, insects (unless they eat them)), hot summers and just plain, uncomfortable, living.
The “agenda” psychologically manipulates people to believe that their lives can indeed be perfect, that they can indeed avoid disease, even death, that “Zero Covid” is indeed possible, and that the state will indeed create a perfect world for them by never putting them in a position where they have to think for themselves and take responsibility for their own lives.
Needless to say, this simply will not work and will ultimately end in disaster. If we survive this ordeal we will look back and see that this was the utopia that never was—and God willing, never will be.