Utopianism: There is no Panacea for all of Life’s Imperfections

Political debate today seems to be centered around discussions of utopianism.

The ideals or principles of a utopian; idealistic and impractical social theory.

Just about any issue of the day turns into a complete debate about political or economic systems. The debates usually run along the lines of “that is a theory straight from political system X, it won’t solve problem Y, but political system Z can fix this problem.” The rebuttal runs along the lines of “we all know political system Z has been a complete failure, and has been rejected by every thinking person.”

The part consistently left out in the utopia debate is all political systems have trade offs. Each person in the debate has done their own cost-benefit analysis of political systems and has chosen one. There are a host of factors that play into the deciding which political or economic system a person believes will work best.

It’s a delusion that there is a political or economic panacea for all of life’s imperfections. Unfortunately, the popular belief  “if you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything” is not true. You have to believe a goal is possible in order to achieve a goal; but the reverse is not true–believing something is possible doesn’t make it possible.

Pardon the sarcasm to further the point–if I put my mind to it, I will wipe out poverty this morning, end all all wars this afternoon and if I still have enough energy left, I’ll fix stupid before going to bed. If you put your mind to it you can accomplish solvable problems, but believing every problem can be solved in your lifetime is a bit grandiose.

Putting utopianism arguments aside, I’m in favor of limited government and as much freedom as possible, but I don’t believe it will solve all of life’s problems. It’s not reasonable to expect freedom will solve all problems. However, the cost-benefit analysis I’ve done is tells me the perils of living as free as possible scare me less than any alternative. Someone else put it much better:

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it. – Thomas Jefferson

I know its not perfect, but I’d rather try my hand at my own flawed micro-utopia rather than trusting others to create a utopia for me.

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