Utopianism is unhealthy, destructive and dangerous. Utopians claim to want a better world; they certainly want a world in which they and their ideas are in charge. Utopians deny or seek to do violence to timeless verities of human nature in favor of cockamamie theories; the New Soviet Man, the modern feminized American male, and radical non-judgmentalism are but three examples. Perhaps most dangerous of all, because Utopians think they are better people than everyone else, more caring and loving and sensitive, they have to project their hostile and aggressive impulses onto others; hence these passive-aggressive types see conservatives as evil, militaristic, and domineering.
The utopian fantasy continues to this day in the minds of the image makers of the mass media. (It is obviously no accident that Utopians would be drawn to a business whose very mission is the creation of unreal worlds.) In the declining fortunes of Hollywood, wars take place against cyborgs or psychopathic US military men, or anything other than our real enemy that we kill daily (see Michael Yon). That which is not about war is often propaganda of a similar sort (Cinderella just has to go to Princeton; the HS football captain has to renounce achievement stereotypes to get the girl; who, unchallenged, traipses through the crowded boy’s locker room; the relentless prosletyzing in the form of the ubiquitous sympathetic gay character, etc.) These men and women who make the images almost all hate George Bush, and as one of their own noted recently, many of them hate America.
Their hatred is not hard to understand, for theirs is a mighty psychological task, requiring huge amounts of denial. Naturally they would hate whoever threatens to pierce the bubble of the Utopian fantasy. In their infantile way, the image makers insist that their bubble is reality, though the evidence to the contrary is overwhelming. Their dogged insistence on the reality of their fantasy is not that surprising, since many of the image makers were Commies in the bad old days (see Ron Radosh’s work). The church of the USSR may be dead, but its communicants still haunt its bare, runied choirs.
One of the characteristics of the bubble is that you can’t really see it while you are inside. That is why we read so many stories of former Leftists who, often after decades of working the pebble in their shoe, find themselves on the outside looking in. Christopher Hitchens in in many ways still a man of the Left, but he exited the bubble quite a while ago; he initially opposed removing Saddam from Kuwait in 1990, but changed his mind. Here are some of his comments on Utopia from the Weekly Standard:
I once tried to calculate how long the post-Cold War liberal Utopia had actually lasted. Whether you chose to date its inception from the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, or the death of Nicolae Ceausescu in late December of the same year, or the release of Nelson Mandela from prison, or the referendum defeat suffered by Augusto Pinochet (or indeed from the publication of Francis Fukuyama’s book about the “end of history” and the unarguable triumph of market liberal pluralism), it was an epoch that in retrospect was over before it began.
By the middle of 1990, Saddam Hussein had abolished Kuwait and Slobodan Milosevic was attempting to erase the identity and the existence of Bosnia. It turned out that we had not by any means escaped the reach of atavistic, aggressive, expansionist, and totalitarian ideology. Proving the same point in another way, and within approximately the same period, the theocratic dictator of Iran had publicly claimed the right to offer money in his own name for the suborning of the murder of a novelist living in London, and the génocidaire faction in Rwanda had decided that it could probably get away with putting its long-fantasized plan of mass murder into operation…..
It was to be noticed in all cases that the aggressors, whether they were killing Muslims, or exalting Islam, or just killing their neighbors, shared a deep and abiding hatred of the United States.
Many of the American image makers hate the United States too. But in their narcissitic project they love a Utopian United States where their ideas and values are in charge. They are empowered in their strange and infantile beliefs by tremendous amounts of money, power and prestige — the usufructs of the mass media machine. And, strangest of all, they make common cause with far-away enemies who, were they up close and personal, would be happy to slit their throats.
Thus we experience today a phenomenon of surpassing oddness: our domestic Left has become apologists for Baathists and terrorists. So Hitchens takes the time in his piece to describe a few of the things that old FDR liberals, as well as the rest of us, should view as accomplishments:
(1) The overthrow of Talibanism and Baathism, and the exposure of many highly suggestive links between the two elements of this Hitler-Stalin pact. Abu Musab al Zarqawi, who moved from Afghanistan to Iraq before the coalition intervention, has even gone to the trouble of naming his organization al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.
(2) The subsequent capitulation of Qaddafi’s Libya in point of weapons of mass destruction–a capitulation that was offered not to Kofi Annan or the E.U. but to Blair and Bush.
(3) The consequent unmasking of the A.Q. Khan network for the illicit transfer of nuclear technology to Libya, Iran, and North Korea.
(4) The agreement by the United Nations that its own reform is necessary and overdue, and the unmasking of a quasi-criminal network within its elite.
(5) The craven admission by President Chirac and Chancellor Schröder, when confronted with irrefutable evidence of cheating and concealment, respecting solemn treaties, on the part of Iran, that not even this will alter their commitment to neutralism. (One had already suspected as much in the Iraqi case.)
(6) The ability to certify Iraq as actually disarmed, rather than accept the word of a psychopathic autocrat.
(7) The immense gains made by the largest stateless minority in the region–the Kurds–and the spread of this example to other states.
(8) The related encouragement of democratic and civil society movements in Egypt, Syria, and most notably Lebanon, which has regained a version of its autonomy.
(9) The violent and ignominious death of thousands of bin Ladenist infiltrators into Iraq and Afghanistan, and the real prospect of greatly enlarging this number.
(10) The training and hardening of many thousands of American servicemen and women in a battle against the forces of nihilism and absolutism, which training and hardening will surely be of great use in future combat.
There is much to be proud of. But it won’t be broadly reported, or celebrated in films or on TV. The current image makers are not going to change, or change only slowly, even though ratings decline for them in every category. Yet this is not all bad news: it is in fact a market opportunity even greater in size than the one Rush Limbaugh exploited 17 years ago to make his fortune. Jayson from Polipundit talks about part of the opportunity:
[J]ust imagine what the political landscape of this country would look like if we had a real media, as opposed to a partisan mouthpiece for the left-wing of the Democrat Party. If, for example, the Washington Times was the Associated Press, Reuters, and Knight Ridder. If U.S. News & World Report was Time and Newsweek. If Fox News (2 million viewers on cable) was CBS, NBC, and ABC (25 million viewers, on free networks). If over nine out of every 10 regional newspapers (e.g., L.A. Times, Boston Globe, WaPo, Seattle Times, Minneapolis “Strib,” Kansas City “Red” Star, Philly Inquirer, Miami Herald, Hartford Courant, Detroit Free Press) were conservative or simply moderate, as opposed to being quite liberal.
Imagine a movie called The Battle of Fallujah that without irony celebrated the United States military. Imagine the box office that would do. We’re not being Utopian — just optimistic.