Utopia is never honourable

Paul Kelly has a very good piece in the Australian this morning. He makes some very good points.

Finkelstein’s arrogance is supreme …
His attitude towards the public is deeply patronising. …
Even as a professional observer, I find it impossible to read this document without being shocked at the corrosive decline in our political culture that it so unconsciously exhibits. …
This document is another threat to freedom in Australia. It testifies to the extent that elite opinion is fixated on legal controls of institutions and people whose ideas it dislikes.

All good.

But this line is wrong

His quest is honourable in its utopianism

Utopianism is never honourable – utopians always struggle to explain what happens to those who do not share their world view.

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60 Responses to Utopia is never honourable

  1. JJP

    Well, from Nozick’s view Finkelstein’s quest isn’t even utopian.

    “Utopia is a framework for utopias, a place where people are at liberty to join together voluntarily to pursue and attempt to realize their own vision of the good life in the ideal community but where no one can impose his own utopian vision upon others.”

  2. jtfsoon

    Rorchach is muy favourite Watchman.

  3. JamesK

    Other word descritors for leftists are statists or utopianists.

    Doesn’t make a diff what word is used the result is always the same: state as evil-doer which is always considerably worse than an individual evil-doer.

  4. papachango

    JJP that description sounds like a libertarian utopia – where if people truly want to practice socialism they are free to get together and form voluntary communes, provided they don’t force anyone to join or prevent them leaving.

    The only place it’s ever sort of worked that way has been the kibbutzim

  5. brc

    I don’t know why opinion writers at the Australian always squib on delivering the knockout punch when they are on the attack.

    There’s always a slight head-nod, or something like that. In my opinion, it takes all the oomph out of an opinion piece.

    Maybe that’s the lot of the professional journalist. I’ll never know, I would never castrate my opinions by being paid to write them.

  6. Adrien

    Utopianism is fine provided you don’t try and force it on other people.

  7. val majkus

    Here’s an interesting piece on the Fink report which I picked up from a commentator at Bolt’s blog
    http://www.australianclimatemadness.com/2012/03/legal-advice-sinks-bloggers-finkelsteinian-nightmare/

    it’s an examination of the constitutional power (if any) of the Aust Govt to regulate print radio and online media and individual bloggers

    Surprisingly, nowhere in the report’s 400-odd pages does it acknowledge the vast constitutional mountain the regime would have to climb in order to be lawful against bloggers, which is set out clearly in the above submission. Maybe someone should let His Lordship know.

  8. Peter Patton

    Surprisingly, nowhere in the report’s 400-odd pages does it acknowledge the vast constitutional mountain the regime would have to climb in order to be lawful against bloggers, which is set out clearly in the above submission. Maybe someone should let His Lordship know

    What does he think this tsunami of ‘independent’ reports and inquiries have been set up for, if not to give more power, jobs, and money to lawyers, legal academics, and their stenographers in the Education/Social Work/luvviesphere?

  9. C.L.

    Typical cowardly squishiness from Kelly. Because it’s Labor, he just can’t go too nuclear.

    He also writes:

    This document is another threat to freedom in Australia. It testifies to the extent that elite opinion is fixated on legal controls of institutions and people whose ideas it dislikes.

    No, Paul. Not “eite opinion.” Try leftist opinion.

  10. Rafe

    The heavy case against utopianism.

    And beware of national curiculums. Not to mention controls on the diversity of opinion.

    “There is no scope for tolerance between different Utopian religions so the Utopian must either convert or destroy his Utopianist competitors. On top of that it may be necessary to do more than merely destroying the opposition but also to stamp out the very memory of it. It was probably George Orwell who pointed out that for the totalitarians, control of the past is essential to the control of the future and so history has to be re-written…”

  11. The only place it’s ever sort of worked that way has been the kibbutzim

    I thought it’s been working fine in Britain and the colonies since Magna Carta?
    in spite of interference from various Puritan groups with millennialist tendancies.

    Utopianism is fine provided you don’t try and force it on other people.

    Or force other people to pay for it…

    Only the trade union party believe cutting tax funding of their propaganda arms is ‘undemocratic’…

  12. Max Scream

    A regulatory device that works to replace one that doesn’t – the Australian Press Council – does not fit any definition of utopia.

    Utopia is not even a political concept, but either a literary one or a secularised version of the concept of hope.

  13. JC

    What Maxwell Smart is saying is:

    FX daily strategy can be used as fuel when the mustard is hard at work cleaning the toilet block while the icepack goes over the hill causing lots of bewilderment.

  14. duncan

    Max.

    As Malcolm Turnbull points out; radio, which is already regulated by the ACMA, is the one most criticised for bias and inaccuracy. News print, on the other hand, is not regulated.

    According to the data, less regulation should be applied.

  15. ella

    Rafe

    The Hungarian philosopher Aurel Kolnai had a lot to say on the utopian mind. He is mentioned in Roger Scruton’s book: The Uses Of Pessimism And The Danger
    False Hope.

    The Utopian mind – “a mind shaped by a particular moral and metaphysical need, which leads to the acceptance of absurdities not in spite of their absurdity, but because of it. According to Kolnai, the utopian mind is the central mystery of our time. It underlies the mass politics of Nazism and communism; it has infected the study of culture and society; and its dreams are continually recycled as ‘solutions’ to problems that they themselves create.”

  16. JamesK

    According to Kolnai, the utopian mind is the central mystery of our time. It underlies the mass politics of Nazism and communism; it has infected the study of culture and society; and its dreams are continually recycled as ‘solutions’ to problems that they themselves create.

    Yes but does it explain liar-stevefb , his denial of reality and the incessant piling on of one lie atop the other?

  17. Max Scream

    So is not the manifest destiny of the US as a beacon of freedom not a utopian idea that dissipates as soon as you look at the killings, torture and Gulags constructed in its name?

  18. ella

    The truth is, screamer, that the USA is a better place than your theory permits.

  19. papachango

    I thought it’s been working fine in Britain and the colonies since Magna Carta?
    in spite of interference from various Puritan groups with millennialist tendancies.

    Not sure what you’re on about here, but I was talking about Marx’s utopia, of pure, entirely voluntary communism. His theory was that first you had to violently overthrow a free-market or feudalist system, set up a dictatorship of the proletariat for oh, say fifty years or so, then everyone would see how wonderous communism actually was. They you could dismantle the State, and have a glorious anarcho-communist utopia.

    We all know how that worked in practice – the dictatorship never went away pretty much because the feudal system it overthrew. Not to mention mass murder, enslavement of entire peoples etc. It beggars beleif that anyone would defend the theory such a system that has failed so specatularly every time it’s been put into practice.

    But I can think of just one example where some people managed to get the utopian stateless voluntary communism working on a small scale, for a few decades anyway. Without a violent revolution or dictatorship, they went straight to the voluntary communism bit.

    These are the Israeli kibbutzum (western hippie communes don’t count as they don’t have a coherent political philosophy). It’s therefore highly ironic that the hard left detest the only people on the planet that ever got their crap political theorry to work wihout mass killings.

  20. Biota

    So is not the manifest destiny of the US as a beacon of freedom not a utopian idea that dissipates as soon as you look at the killings, torture and Gulags constructed in its name?

    When I was a kid, I used to refer to this as ‘big person’s talk’. Lots of words strung together and totally unintelligible.

    I wait for JC’s interpretation!

  21. Max Scream

    JC never interprets anything. He merely trots out his stock cliches.

    Seriously, who can doubt that America constructs itself as a utopian project.

    You may like its utopia and I may not, but it’s there.

  22. JC

    I wait for JC’s interpretation!

    you mean the two I missed above, right? This:

    So is not the manifest destiny of the US as a beacon of freedom not a utopian idea that dissipates as soon as you look at the killings, torture and Gulags constructed in its name?

    and this:

    JC never interprets anything. He merely trots out his stock cliches.

    Seriously, who can doubt that America constructs itself as a utopian project.

    You may like its utopia and I may not, but it’s there.

    Okay here we go. What Maxwell Smart really means is:

    The Boeing 747 never arrived at its final point of arrival because the ham was left to smoke for too long and it became a plastic cup that was used as a wallet. Having said all that it’s always been an American utopian ideal to think pelligrino water can be drunk out of the sauce bottle with a three legged crocodile behind you.

  23. papachango

    JC where do you get this stuff from? It makes about as much sense as Maxwell Smart’s originals

  24. Biota

    DOH! papa, well that’s the point!

  25. JC

    JC where do you get this stuff from? It makes about as much sense as Maxwell Smart’s originals

    Dunno. It’s really worrying because its shit that comes into my head (like Maxwell Smart) if I let it roll and just stick it in sentences.

  26. papachango

    yes I got that… they’re funnier though. I just want to know where he got the words from… it reads like some spam emails I get.

  27. papachango

    JC if you said it to a beat you could probably make a motza as a Slam Poet…

  28. JC

    …it reads like some spam emails I get.

    Lol… yea that’s where I get “idea” from in the first place. max Smart’s crap reminds me of that sort of spamming.

    Some of that shit is hilarious.

  29. jtfsoon

    So is not the manifest destiny of the US as a beacon of freedom not a utopian idea that dissipates as soon as you look at the killings, torture and Gulags constructed in its name?

    The interstices of banality that underlie the settlement je ne sais quoi that is heraldic of the Promethean combines arched like a precipice on the magma-like conduits of petit-bougeoisdom (or is it Petainism writ large?) into the imagined Constitution, – Platonic in its rapture but Aristotelian in its praxis – would cause the most innate Hegelian to do cartwheels on the historical fluvia that bestrides the cyclops of Lady Justice, bedraggled and beclowned in American polity today.

  30. JC

    Good points Jase.

    It’s scary as it sounds like the highbrow intellectual you read at the lavataroy promto all the time.

    Did you copy and past Mar B perhaps? LOl

  31. JC

    je ne sais quoi

    I need to use more fucking frog in mine too and a little Latin just to spice things up.

  32. papachango

    Je pourrias t’aider avec ça, JC. Inter alia, I know a fair bit of frog.

  33. Biota

    et bili eres ego fortibus es inero

    And I know latin!

  34. ella

    Ok jtsfsoon, I’ll see you, and I’ll raise you one.

    “The rememoration of the ‘present’ as space is the possibility of the utopian imperative of no-(particular)-place, the metropolitan project that can
    supplement the post colonial attempt at the impossible cathexis of place-bound history as the lost time of the spectator.”

    From the post-modernist, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.

  35. Cory Olsen

    The USA is not a utopia

  36. Kelly of Kenmore

    Homo sapiens are gregarious but with anti-social tendencies.

    For this reason, their only hope is to be strongly regulated and controlled.

  37. Cory Olsen

    Gregarious and antisocial would seem an oxymoron of sorts.

    Surely societies are to some degree self regulating?ie; compare unspoken driving norms of oz to Taiwan. The formal regulation, laws or controls if you will are much the same, however the culture and the end driver behaviour is very different.

  38. JC

    You’re an anthropologist now kelly?

  39. JamesK

    Homo sapiens are gregarious but with anti-social tendencies.

    For this reason, their only hope is to be strongly regulated and controlled.

    As s/he is not a terribly sapien homo sapien Kelly loves being told what to do.

  40. JamesK

    Actually Cory sounds like a Kelly word cloud

  41. Cory Olsen

    A word cloud blown in from internet Google cloud.

  42. Kelly of Kenmore

    Nature, we’ve found, does rather more and nurture rather less to make us what we are than humanitarians had supposed.

  43. Kelly of Kenmore

    The obvious conclusion therefore is that religions are right in claiming that society and individuals in their majority are doomed to self-thwarting and destructiveness.

    It follows too then that nothing much can be achieved on the political level other than the equivalent of palliation and deflecting, isolating, minimising and otherwise controlling individual and group excesses by strong regulation and oversight by coercive bodies.

  44. JC

    Kelly, are you a sociology major?

  45. Peter Patton

    Of course, you’ve all read Herr Luvvie Banish’s PhD thesis:

    The Phenomenology of Utopia: Reimagining the Political

    http://eprints.qut.edu.au/30134/1/Mark_Bahnisch_Thesis.pdf

  46. JC

    Oh yea, the old phenomenology one. Wow, it was an amazing read.

  47. Peter Patton

    For the one or two of you haven’t have time yet.

    ABSTRACT

    This thesis argues that the end of Soviet Marxism and a bipolar global political imaginary at the dissolution of the short Twentieth Century poses an obstacle for anti-systemic political action. Such a blockage of alternate political imaginaries can be discerned by reading the work of Francis Fukuyama and “Endism” as performative invocations of the closure of political alternatives, and thus as an ideological proclamation which enables and constrains forms of social action. It is contended that the search through dialectical thought for a competing universal to posit against “liberal democracy” is a fruitless one, because it reinscribes the terms of teleological theories of history which work to effect closure.

    Rather, constructing a phenomenological analytic of the political conjuncture, the thesis suggests that the figure of messianism without a Messiah is central to a deconstructive reframing of the possibilities of political action – a reframing attentive to the rhetorical tone of texts. The project of recovering the political is viewed through a phenomenological lens. An agonistic political distinction must be made so as to memorialise the remainders and ghosts of progress, and thus to gesture towards an indeconstructible justice which would serve as a horizon for the articulation of an empty universal.

    This project is furthered by a return to a certain phenomenology inspired by Cornelius Castoriadis, Claude Lefort, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Ernesto Laclau. The thesis provides a reading of Jacques Derrida and Walter Benjamin as thinkers of a minor universalism, a non-prescriptive utopia, and places their work in the context of new understandings of religion and the political as quasi-transcendentals which can be utilised to think through the aporias of political time in order to grasp shards of meaning. Derrida and Chantal Mouffe’s deconstructive critique and supplement to Carl Schmitt’s concept of the political is read as suggestive of a reframing of political thought which would leave the political question open and thus enable the articulation of social imaginary significations able to inscribe meaning in the field of political action. Thus, the thesis gestures towards a form of thought which enables rather than constrains action under the sign of justice.

    Quite!

  48. Irving J

    For this reason, their only hope is to be strongly regulated and controlled.

    ooooo a shibari lover. yes very strictly and thightly regulated and controlled. Every little indiscretion must be severally punished. ;)

  49. Peter Patton

    Tal

    But you knew all that already, didn’t you!? :)

  50. JC

    Honest question. What the fuck is he trying to tell the reader? It’s basically hogwash.

  51. JC

    It sounds like that dude at NYU taking the mickie out of academics.

    What’s his name again?

  52. wreckage

    It follows too then that nothing much can be achieved on the political level other than the equivalent of palliation and deflecting, isolating, minimising and otherwise controlling individual and group excesses by strong regulation and oversight by coercive bodies.

    Thankyou, herr* Gillard, Australia’s Most Conservative PM Ever!

    *Yes. I know. I just like saying it.

  53. wreckage

    Honest question. What the fuck is he trying to tell the reader? It’s basically hogwash.

    He’s saying “Utopian politics are very similar to religious movements, but I think that’s sometimes a good thing.”

    Of course, it’s a PhD Thesis, so he had to pad that out to maybe 20,000 words.

  54. Irving J

    strong regulation and oversight by coercive bodies

    with thigh high boots and whips!! perhaps a little swanstika thrown in for good measure ;)

  55. wreckage

    with thigh high boots and whips!!

    Gillard! Mental image! Home lobotomy with vodka and a carving knife!

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