In Homer's 7th-century epic, The Odyssey, the protagonist, and his crew are sailing home when they are forced to skirt the island of the Sirens due to the half-bird, half-woman creatures whose beautiful songs could overwhelm even the most strong-willed of men. To save his crew, Odysseus places wax in the ears of his entire crew, except himself, straps himself to the mast, and orders them to hold him down no matter what he says or does. Because of his foresight, the crew is saved from imminent disaster.

 

A modern parallel to the allure of the Sirens is the rise of utopianism, the belief in an ultimate humanist triumph wherein the evils of the world are solved by the genius of mankind. Utopianism isn’t strictly modern…it has always existed. Yet over the last century, it has come in with a force unrivaled in human experience, and it permeates our American culture today. So, it is worth exploring what utopianism is and why it is so tempting to the masses. If we understand the danger, as Odysseus understood his, we too can prepare to help others to withstand the Sirene song and the ultimate fate of drowning among the salt-capped waves.

 

First, utopianism must always begin with a scapegoat…a scapegoat to explain why it has never succeeded in the past. Then, finding that scapegoat, it argues that if we eliminate the arbitrarily selected sin from every aspect of society, we will find ourselves in a Heaven on Earth. In other words, utopianism is the almost universal tendency to pick one sin out of an infinite many and declare that to be the ultimate sin that has led to all human despair. For Freud, this sin was the subjugation of the sexual nature by the evil shame of society. Freedom is found, he said, in letting loose these desires, and rather than penalizing them, celebrating their every expression. We see this in the LGBTQ movement, which took Freud’s teachings as the divine canon of modern liberalism. For Marx, “class struggle” between the rich elites and the proletariat masses was the epitome of all suffering. The elimination of class and the leveling of all economic fields would institute a golden age like that of the first age between man and the mythical gods of Greece. The deceased millions and the destruction of millions of square miles of resources, all fed to the parasite of communism, is the only honest monument to Marx’s achievement. The lists go on and on and on. For Hamas: insurgents; the Jews cause all the problems. For race-baiters, the boogeyman of “white supremacy” is the cause of all inequity (or iniquity, as they see it). The tendency to blame this group of people, that process of thinking, or this suppression of virtue, as the scapegoat for all forms of evil is too universal to give a full account of. Sometimes it is a partial truth. It is never the whole truth. Yet, utopianism is uniquely convenient and affords two temptations, which–like the Siren’s cry of old–are almost too tempting to avoid.

 

First, utopianism allows you to look past all the suffering caused by your own theory; all the stench of death and rubble, and the smoldering heap of corpses. Because, if we only look long and hard enough, we’ll find that we have arrived. Indeed, in the middle of Managua, the capital of Nicaragua, the streets are lined with giant, metallic, golden trees that are illuminated by thousands of lights. The rulers hope that this golden copse will detract from the odor of burning trash in the air, the unemployment, the rampant machete violence, and the utter sluggishness of the ‘economy’... as if there is one. Like the nine-lived metaphorical cat, the argument of attempting utopianism is that it is worth drowning in a tub if you only reach a foot closer to the goldfish you pursue. Don’t mind the results. They are mere ‘temporary setbacks’ which are all worth it in the end; all justified by the glory that will soon result. Revolution has nine lives after all.

 

Second, utopianism allows you to dabble in every other sin on the charcuterie board, so long as you don’t touch, eat, or associate with that one sin that has caused all human evil. By this simplistic view, you can do any evil you want so long as you don’t do that one evil that you have artificially inflated to the level of supreme. Murder, drunkenness, sexual immorality, and theft are all justified to stop that one evil being perpetrated. No doubt, Marx was correct when analyzing that the robbing of wages by the rich was wrong. The Bible says as much. But by making all profit a sin (even if gained morally), and capitalism into the ultimate sin, all others transgressions were justified. No one cared to ask whether it was worth all the other horrors of the communist empire to usher in a one-class society. To the communists, the ends justify the means because no end is as bad as that which has caused the fall of man! 

To propose otherwise would be mere idealistic garbage, which no true utopian can accept. Except that, it is nearly impossible to forgo realizing that ideals are exactly the root of utopianism! After all, utopianism can be functionally defined as misplaced idealism earned at any and all costs. It is no wonder that the saints of each movement are some of the worst sinners. We are willing to gloss over a multitude of evils, because “at least they didn’t commit the worst sin,” the evilest evil. No matter that Lenin was a killer, that Floyd was a chronic addict and career criminal, that Marx was a dirty, adulterating, deceptive elite who suckered off of the wealth of others, all of these sins are forgiven for the cause. The pattern goes on and on.

You see, utopianism is the excuse the devil uses to make each person their own god with a Napoleon Complex large enough to justify any means necessary to achieve the throne of Heaven. Don’t believe the lies when they come. They are a false gospel. We can try our best through the ballot box, our careers, our personal accomplishments, and the unified voice of the masses to climb that great long staircase to Heaven, but we will never reach the gates and be accepted. We are all sinners. We are all poor. We are all dirty. So Christ promised to descend to our level, he died the worst death, and as a result. He opened up the one way to truly reach paradise: saving grace. Now all striving has ceased. The open arms of God cannot be earned. Yet, they are a free gift, if only we promise to end all our other pointless idolatry and receive Him as Lord. In other words, the only good utopianism is not political … it is Christian. In fact, it is Christ, who alone we should strive to emulate, not in the vain hope of rising to his level, but in the strong assurance that he will raise us to His.

 

Written by Kai LeBret
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