Sunday, December 30, 2012

Utopia: Left, Right, and Otherwise

Rough draft.
Are political differences more about values or practicalities? I'm going to try to argue that our ideas about utopia (values) don't differ that much, that it is ideas about what will work that divide us politically. Maybe in the process I will talk myself out of this idea, or clarify what I really think.

In utopia, everyone contributes to society and gains from society, without regard to economic status, ethnicity, religion, gender, * etc. Children learn about the world**. Art, science, and commerce thrive appropriately, in a way that is not destructive or wasteful***. People get appropriate help when they make mistakes****. The question is, how can we achieve this?

The left believes that we can achieve this only by increasing taxes, regulations, legislation, and other forms of government control and subsidy. The government should fund art and science, control commerce, use rewards where possible and punishments where necessary to guide imperfect people toward the good. We will achieve this only after we eliminate income inequality and the role of hierarchy and greed in society. Democratically controlled government provides us the means to achieve our ends.

The right believes we must achieve these goals by going to church, teaching our children, by wrestling with these issues ourselves, each of us. Government at best serves as a last resort blunt instrument for dealing with situations where the other institutions of society have failed. They tolerate more income inequality and hierarchy, less lifestyle difference. For them, ironically, the state is less vital, but we owe it great obedience and respect.

How would a libertarian utopia differ from a right wing utopia? Right wing more eager to use the blunt instrument.

What is the next step toward utopia?

What are the most important issues? Low hanging fruit?

hot buttons:

* gay marriage
** school prayer, sex ed, evolution
*** environment
**** death penalty.

home runs:
cell phones
civil rights
women's movement
gay rights

strike outs:
wart on drugs
war on terror

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