One of the most enduring concepts through the centuries has been the search for utopia. Few ideas ignite mankind’s passion and intellect in the same way as the grand search for the ideal master plan for civil society. Interestingly, if one were to ask different people what utopia would be, there would often be areas of agreement.
In essence, many people view utopia as a kind of society where strife would be at a minimum, human needs would be met, and there would be a productive place and sense of meaning for each individual. However, although this sounds both ideal and possible on one level, it’s in the implementation of utopian plans that problems can arise.
Some social theorists have complained that attempts to implement utopian theories lead to high levels of anxiety due to the fact utopian ideals are often difficult to achieve. Therefore, the inability to achieve these ideals can lead to a constant state of unfulfilled longing and frustration for many. In addition, since some utopian theories place the needs of the group over the individual, there have been instances of persecution of individuals justified in the name of a utopian ideal. The famous injustices created over the years in Communist societies are a strong example of cruelties often committed in the search for social perfection.
Although creation of an absolutely perfect utopia has proven difficult to achieve, it has to be noted that a glance at history reveals that aspects of utopian theory have been implemented over the years. To many, a kind of pragmatic utopia that rings eternal is the type of society characterized by both Representative Democracy and regulated marketplaces and capitalism.
Although pure capitalism is difficult to achieve and can lead to strong social imbalances, a regulated market economy that provides rules that act as a check on power, has proven durable for centuries. Likewise, Representative Democracy of the type America helped usher in over 200 years ago, has become both popular and efficient worldwide.
Although America’s not been perfect, its form of government has endured precisely because it recognizes the simple fact that mankind’s not really capable of the kind of perfection some other forms of utopia advocate. In recognizing the basic imperfection of man, and setting up checks on both individuals and institutions gathering too much power, democracies such as ours provide a safety valve that keeps society in balance.
And yes…America, as well as other democracies have at times treated certain groups unfairly. A quick glance at American history shows the injustices suffered by Native Americans, as well as the slavery and Jim Crow laws that adversely affected the lives of African-Americans. However, if there was ever a society capable of acknowledging and rectifying historical wrongs, it’s the type of Representative Democracy that America has. Those who advocate moving away from both democracy and regulated marketplaces in America due to past injustices, risk getting rid of one of the most durable and pragmatically utopian societies in human history.