I recall an address some years back by a Philippine military or police spokesperson to discourage youth from joining the New People’s Army where he advised them to stop dreaming of a perfect world. I find that sound advice that I hope many people will listen to. As I have written, many ideologies and philosophies were thought up since ancient times through the Industrial Age to try and create a “better world” or Utopia. In the end, they create more conflict and lead to more suffering and unnecessarily death, which is well-demonstrated with the case of Marxism.
Activist Charlie Kirk said that the most dangerous person ever is not the tyrant, but the ideologue. These kinds of people believe they know the perfect way by which all humanity must live by. But when the rest of humanity doesn’t agree, they get angry and decide, if you don’t want to join us, perish. To borrow from Hans Morgenthau, ideologues are likely the types who think, “let (my) justice be done, even if the world must perish.” I described their kind as those who want to “save the world” but they actually destroy it. If you think religions are bad, these are worse.
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Some people will point out, there are really dumb people, like those who go out during Covid without masks, those who don’t get vaccinated, those who play stupid games to win stupid prizes. These are in the way of our comfort and peace of mind, so ideologies that are for the killing and controlling of these people are justified. Ideologues get mad at the world’s imperfection, they lash out and kill people. But the problems do not disappear. In fact, it only makes the problems of the world bigger.
Way I see it, G.W.F. Hegel, Karl Marx and the Neo-Marxists, and even Jean Jacques Rousseau, thought their “great ideas” can solve the world’s problems. Everyone just needs to follow their awesome ideas to create the perfect world. If you let people run their own lives, they’re bound to mess things up! Nobody’s perfect, as the saying goes, so these “nobodies” need to be controlled by them! But “nobody’s perfect” is itself the reason no one should take complete control of other people, even for supposedly noble purposes.
Then they get so pissed with people not listening to then, in addition how difficult life is. So they thought, the only solution is to bitch about it. Ah heck with it, let’s destroy the world and maybe we’ll wake up one day and find it a Utopia. Things will respawn like in a video game. That’s not how the world works, but the Neo-Marxists and Wokes persist in thinking it does.
As I said in an earlier article, Marxism and similar Utopian ideas appeals to the inner savage, the sinful nature or the nature that makes us think “ah, screw it” and do wrong to others if they contradict. As it is a massive lashing out against reality, Marxism, not religion, is the real “sigh of the oppressed” and “opium of the people,” albeit a misguided and murderous sigh.
I also wrote that one of the reasons for destructive ideologies was misinterpretation of the Bible, namely that part about the Garden of Eden. Eden was thought of as a primitive Utopia where Adam and Eve were irrational savages, giving some ideologues like Rousseau the wrong idea about how a perfect world should be. Other faulty interpretations of this Bible passage include the idea that humanity was supposed to have immortality and be superbeings in the garden, or that Eden was supposed to have free food all the way and no death and pain would exist. And so Rousseau’s and Marx’s means to restore this version of Eden required the murder of millions.
Let’s do a little thought experiment. What if some form of Perfect World actually happens? Let’s say, a world where humans are somewhat immortal and don’t die of disease or other “normal” circumstances. But let’s put in a caveat, such as, they can still be killed. For me, Michael Moorcock’s Dancers at the End of Time novel series provides a good insight into how that will go.
In that story, humans at the end of time have power rings that give them godlike powers. They can fly, resurrect others and travel in time. But they are also so decadent and morally base that they engage in games like depressing another through trickery and, when the victim commits suicide or dies some way, the victimizer will resurrect them to do it again. So they kill each other, resurrect their victim, then repeat. In other words, given Utopian conditions, humans can still abuse and torture each other. I think Moorcock is spot on with his representation of human behavior and it shows why it’s best that humans don’t have superpowers (a point likely also made in the comics The Boys and Marshal Law).
Some will retort, but humans when they gain powers won’t be like Moorcock’s characters. They will change their nature and become naturally selfless and all (what Marx and Engels predicted). I doubt. Reality has shown that while we almost have godly power through some scientific advances, i.e. the power to destroy the world with the atomic bomb or ability to split atoms through a Hadron Collider, human nature remains the same. Advancement in power and technology does not mean advancement in wisdom. This comes from something else, mostly values from religion (updated with post-Enlightenment ideas and recent scholarship) and common sense.
Keeping A Grip on Reality
The world is indeed limited by the laws of reality and it is basically untameable. Perhaps this is the greatest frustration of all. It is difficult to eradicate or even just alleviate world hunger because of the complexities of growing food and hunger being a recurring need. We are subject to disease; I doubt we can eradicate it. We wish we could enjoy sex or do things like plug a fork into an electric socket without consequence, but the consequences are the rule. People have been looking for the fountain of life, trying to be immortal on Earth, which some scientists are likely tinkering with in genetics; but I doubt they’ll crack the code because it may have self-protection against tampering. And so on.
Life isn’t fair, so people seek mystical escapes. Admittedly even in Christian circles, some believe hope for magic powers on this earth. I believe this comes from an aspect of humanity that gives rise to cognitive dissonance (as well as more misinterpretations of Scripture). Humans wish they could better cope with life’s difficulties in a magic way. We wish we could be in two places at once, we wish we could have many arms, we wish we could make things we need magically appear or those we hate magically disappear. Or, we wish we could change other people’s nature and make them serve our needs.
But, sad as it may seem, that will never come true. We can only work within the reality we are in. Life is full of compromises that we have to live with. But this should not make us mad that we lash out against others.
One of the great lessons in life is that we are entitled to nothing, including the pleasures of life, freedom from all pain, or even the perfect world. But we should not see this as unjust.
Dropping entitlement does not mean giving up hope on making things better. It is accepting that, since we can’t control reality, we should not be vehemently insistent and demanding of what we want, as these tendencies are among the very things that lead humans to hurt others. For example, when you don’t get what you want, like your ideas for a perfect world being implemented by others, you assume that other people are getting in your way and you want to put them away somehow. When it gets to the extreme, you would reach the point where you might want to kill these obstructions.
One of the greatest forms of gaslighting is saying that these “obstructions,” because they are obstructing perfect world ideas that could save people, are murderers. But really, is that connection provable? Isn’t that a slippery slope being applied as an excuse to murder people (and therefore the killers of “obstructions” become the actual murderers)? How can you prove that perfect world ideas will save lives? Is the perfect world really guaranteed by such ideas?
Dropping entitlement will make you not want to kill “obstructions.” It is one of the major milestones in maturity; in my own life, it led me to become less selfish, more understanding and more charitable towards people. One line of the Prayer for Serenity coins the attitude: “accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
I daresay that ideologies like Marxism are the product of an entitled attitude. James Lindsay of New Discourses said that Marx often depended on dole-outs by his Communist Manifesto partner Friedrich Engels. When Engels’ wife died, Marx’s consolation letter had only two sentences of actual consolation, while the rest was to the tune of “despite your sadness, keep the checks rolling, buddy.” This is also surmised to be Marx’s frustration with the world, wherein, “these rich guys won’t give me money, so let them all die.” This was expected to lead to the repossession of bourgeosie property, so Marx’s ideas can be seen a modus where he can take others’ property for himself.
Some may say, life can’t be worth living if we live in an imperfect world. This is wrong and is loser mentality. Humanity does have power over their own lives. A key element is understanding that doing good and “fixing things” are not a one time action that will lead to everything being perfect after. It is all continuous action that we must maintain throughout our lifetimes. While we may never have the perfect world, we can still work towards something like it.
Though life is difficult, it should be no reason for us to do wrong to our neighbor. We can help each other not just in the spirit of love of neighbor, but also by the Common Sense that Thomas Paine wrote about. We help each other not because of a social contract or state duties, but because we act upon the common sense to help each other uphold our inalienable rights.
Some people would retort, there are problems with capitalism and classical liberalism too! But the problems are not rooted in capitalism itself. They are rooted in human nature. Ideologies are created from imperfect understanding of humanity and nature. I daresay they are the products of human nature as well. We can’t change other people’s nature, we can only change our own.
Another of the great mistakes of Marxism is the assumption that individual will is the obstruction to a perfect world. Because individual wills often can’t get on the same program, they have to be suppressed or even destroyed. But individual will is a vital component of what makes us human. If individual will is erased and people made into drones, humanity is lost. Marxism and its derivatives are hypocritical; they claim to humanize man more, but they actually dehumanize.
Religion is also important because it helps us cope with our suffering without lashing out irrationally. That’s why Marx hated religion. But not lashing out is still the better decision to make.
The afterlife was probably thought of because Utopia cannot be achieved in the physical world; there is hope of finding it in the other world. Or, if it is to be realized in physical world, only the deity can bring it about. If humans try to bring it about, they will fail. That indeed has happened in history.
Keep “Great Ideas” Capped
When people have a great idea about the world that they feel that they should force everyone else to be on board with them, we should use true critical thinking on them. Are they sure their idea is really great? Will it not result in unintended consequences? Will it infringe on the inalienable rights of people? What will you do if no one likes your idea, will you curse them and think of them as stupid people? If a person thinks that he needs to force others to follow him to make his “great idea” work, you can be more certain that his idea is actually bad.
The belief that humanity can perfect the world is one of the greatest manifestations of its hubris. Humans are capable of thinking up grandiose ideas that involve the whole world, but when they try to put things into action, the law of unintended consequences tends to take over. And yet they don’t back down or reconsider their plan, but try the same thing over and over again hoping it will succeed the next time (Which Marxists and communists keep doing).
Something to think about: when people think of an idea on how to achieve the perfect world, they are actually saying that they themselves are perfect. Because, if you have an idea on creating a perfect world that is supposed to work, the logic is that you yourself are perfect, right? Perfection cannot come from imperfection. So humans who claim that they can create a perfect are equating themselves with God. And when they think of themselves as perfect or God, it often leads to thinking that they have the right over the lives of other people. No mystery as to where that will next lead.
As long as that desire for a perfect world remains, the tendency for violence and the urge to challenge reality will remain. That desire sets us up for failure. So perhaps we should heed that military officer’s advice on acceptance of the impossibility of Utopia. After all, the word Utopia means “no place,” its use by Thomas More signifying that it is impossible to achieve.
I say we should watch out for those people who believe they have the way to make the world perfect. Some praise ideologues as heroes, based on the definition that heroes try to save the world. I disagree. For me, true heroes are the ones who stop those who want to change the world.
My libertarian and “leave people alone” ideas are criticized by others who say, you can’t leave people alone because you have to take control of stupid people. On the contrary, what if stupid people were the ones in control? Yes, they are capable of taking power. Also, if you really want to avoid stupid people, leaving them alone might itself be the best solution.
There’s this trope where one tells another “you sound like my mom” as a way of saying “don’t interfere in my life” (‘huwag kang makialam’ in Tagalog). This refers to moms, often old-school Filipino moms or parents in general, who I described before as authoritarian. They would try to dictate what you should eat, what music you should listen to, what clothes you should wear, what your opinion should be, etc. They do this of course because they think they know what’s best for their children. The problem with ideologues is that they want to be like this, they want to be your mom. But, as the saying above implies, only your mom can be your mom, and others can’t.
Some may say, I have trust issues if I refuse to listen to idealogues or let the “right leaders” control my life. I’ll turn that around: those who want to control others are the ones with trust issues, because they refuse to trust people to run their own lives, which is the normal.
Giving up the perfect world does not mean giving up on life or goodness. Not trying to reach perfection is not a surrender to evil. The imperfection of physical existence is not evil. It is simply what is. We should just accept our limits and know what we can do within them. Because if we try to defy those limits, we may do more harm than good.
I believe, as my cohorts here do, that what Filipinos embrace as their culture is what actually pulls the country down. And those who seem to be anti-dictators, who may also believe themselves to be “heroes,” are the real dictators.