"The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Surrender to Utopia

The typical U.S. anti-socialism meme resembles this recent post in Common Dreams: "Socialism goes against human nature. Humans are greedy creatures, just look at a toddler crying if it doesn't get the toy someone else has. In adults, the greed becomes more sophisticated and predatory. So I hate to agree with the scums on the Right, socialism IS utopia." - Common Dreams, "Is Obama a Socialist?" comment on Sept.27, 2009

The reply, which I fully endorse, went as follows: "But other aspects of human nature include solidarity, sacrifice, cooperation, and compassion - aspects which our society does not usually reward. Should our society reward these aspects, and there is no reason why it can't, then we can have a society that reflects these more cooperative, if not humane, aspects of human nature rather than the self-centered and destructive aspects our society does reflect. Societal design isn't written in stone, it isn't delivered by the gods, it is a manifestation of social and political choices. Different choices will yield different outcomes. Socialism does not go against human nature, as you suggest, it merely appeals to different aspects of human nature than capitalism does. Socialism is not utopia, and the 'right' is wrong to say so, and you are wrong to believe it is so." - Common Dreams, "Is Obama a Socialist?" comment on Sept.27, 2009

But we must go farther. The choice of whether to reward greed and self-interest or cooperation and compassion is not a neutral one. Another part of human nature, as well documented in history as greed and war, is the human tendency to transcend its own nature, to constantly repudiate a static condition in which no moral or spiritual growth occurs. There is a logic to social and political choices that truly inspire humanity. Socialism may not in and of itself be a utopia, but utopia lives within all of us and drives to constantly create and destroy all would-be utopias.

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