30 August 2011


"Some religious attempts at utopia are authoritarian, led by a charismatic leader, by elders, by rigid rules that create outcasts, but the secular utopias have mostly been committed to liberty, democracy, and shared power. The widespread disdain for revolution and utopia takes as its object lesson the Soviet-style attempts at coercive utopias, in which the original ideals of leveling and sharing go deeply awry ... Many fail to notice that it is not the ideals, the ends, but the coercive and authoritarian means that poison paradise." (A Paradise Built In Hell, Rebecca Solnit, 2009; page 19) 
The threats to utopia come not only from the resistance of the established power elites, they come also from the betrayal of legitimate utopia by the dystopia that comes from authoritarian utopia – the even lesser tempered hubris of the absolutist revolutionary or revolutionary cabal whose certainty crushes the human spirit it pretends to ennoble. 
In the Chumash God's immediate presence serves as the higher authority that keeps any leader or group from usurping the legitimate autonomy of the people. God is the divine Other with revolutionary intent Who hopes to devise a people that can support a paradise. 
"A certain kind of twentieth century utopian idealism has died, the kind that believed we could and should erase everything and start over: new language, new society, new ways of organizing power, work, even family, home, and more. ... But we have also learned that you can reinvent the government but not human nature in one fell stroke, and the process of reinventing human nature is a much more subtle, personal, incremental process." (A Paradise Built In Hell, Rebecca Solnit, 2009; page 20) 
Utopias are a more intense version of the prevailing order: either more intensely authoritarian or more intensely anti-authoritarian; either a ruling elite that is stronger and more controlling or one that is either weaker or altogether absent

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