Utopianism, he says, might ... have earned a bad name because of the prevalence of "blueprint utopianism" - attempts to specify particulars about the nature of a utopia's governance, family life or social arrangements. Such blueprints, he acknowledges, tend to betray "a certain authoritarianism."....Well, readers, how about you? Let me ask my question in the form of a poem:
Utopianism is not a particular set of beliefs about what society should be. It is a way of believing. Its belief in perfectibility and harmony is a form of absolutism. A utopia will not admit opposition to itself, because then it would be subject to alteration - and would no longer be a utopia.
So utopias, in fact or fiction, have never been able to deal with individuality or private life or dissent. They construct a world in which there can be no disruption. Real-world utopian communities have either disintegrated under the pressure or turned tyrannical in attempts to control it. Their fantasy is that all inhabitants will yield voluntarily, which is never the case. That is the link between utopianism and totalitarianism. It is also why democracy, which presumes disagreement and transformation, is not a utopian ideology.
But Nazism and Islamicism are - not because of their particular beliefs but because of how they envision bringing their perfect worlds into being. They are meant to be all-encompassing, governing all aspects of life. They allow no qualification, whether the goal is the supremacy of the Aryan race or the submission of all humanity to Islamic shariah....
Mr. Jacoby sees enough to seek a somewhat different path. His iconoclastic utopianism is more a form of yearning, an amorphous desire for better things, a desire to improve the human condition. It is utopianism with a human face. Unless, of course, it becomes serious about this utopia business.
Are you now or have you ever been