Missouri's 7th District, U.S. House of Representatives




Liberty Under God

Congress should
  • not be afraid of being "utopian"

The word "utopia" was coined for the title of a book:

n 1: a book by Sir Thomas More (1516) describing the perfect society on an imaginary island [syn: Utopia, New Latin Utopia] 2: an imaginary place considered to be perfect or ideal [syn: Utopia, Zion] 3: ideally perfect state; especially in its social and political and moral aspects [ant: dystopia]

Source: WordNet ® 1.6, © 1997 Princeton University

Some people believe as a matter of presupposition that such a place — with perfect laws and perfect people — can never exist. These people derive the English word "utopia" from the Greek words ou meaning "not," and topos, meaning "land" or "place." This would literally mean "no place," or "not a place that exists." These people derisively call those who are working for a better society "utopians" (usually preceded by "you," as in "You utopian!" or "You're just a utopian").

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

u·to·pi·a   (y-tp-) n.
  1. An impractical, idealistic scheme for social and political reform.
[New Latin topia, imaginary island in Utopia by Sir Thomas More  : Greek ou, not, no; see aiw- in Indo-European Roots + Greek topos, place.]

But if such a place can exist, the word "utopia" is better derived from the Greek eu meaning "good" + topos, place: a good place. A very good place.

The Bible holds out just such a utopia as a place that really will exist. We call it the Vine & Fig Tree society.

Many "Christian Reconstructionists" speak disdainfully of "utopia." Their writings usually precede the word "utopia" with "socialist." [Examples]  The founder of the Christian Reconstruction movement, however, has admitted a different way of looking at "utopia":

This is what John Adams, later second President of the U.S., wrote in his diary on February 22, 1756:

Suppose a nation in some distant region should take the Bible for their only law book, and every member should regulate his conduct by the precepts there exhibited! Every member would be obliged in conscience, to temperance, frugality, and industry, to justice, kindness, and charity towards his fellow men; and to piety, love and reverence towards Almighty God. What a Utopia, what a Paradise would this region be.

Like others of his day, Adams was a theonomist!

The Vine & Fig Tree society is a theonomic utopia. We humbly submit to God's Law. This is the only way to avoid The Arrogance and Failure of Humanistic Utopianism.

Peter Dale Scott quotes the late social critic Daniel Singer, who pointed out (1999) that "the combined wealth of the 225 richest people in the world nearly equals the annual income of the poorer half of the earth's population, that is to say more than 2.5 billion human beings." Complaining about "inequality" usually results in proposals to forcibly seize the wealth of the rich and redistribute it to the poor. The poor would promptly consume the goods and services produced by the rich, and the rich will be rich once again, and the poor will be back in poverty. But "social critics" (Marxists) like Singer are not wrong to envision a world where people are productive rather than starving. Undoubtedly many of the world's richest are the beneficiaries of "crony capitalism," which is a partnership between businessmen and communist governments, such as found in China, the "former" Soviet Union, and the United States.

Most voices in the mainstream media would classify a vision of the poorest 2.5 billion people someday living securely under their own "Vine & Fig Tree" as "utopian." So Singer says, Fine; and calls for a "realistic utopia":

Realistic, since it must be rooted in current conflicts and in the potentialities of existing society. Utopian, because that is how any attempt to look beyond the confines of [crony] capitalism is branded.

The idea is that social change must be rooted in a vision that comes outside the mainstream. Prof. Scott then distinguishes between "three different strategies for change in a world that is both socially deliquescent and politically immobilized." The First Level Strategy is traditional political action, such as the Tea Party or It results in getting a little sticker that says "I voted," but moves the world no closer to a "Vine & Fig Tree" "utopia." Third-Level Strategy is that of "red-flag Marxists or black-flag anarchists": Urban Guerillas and violent revolution to destroy existing political institutions.

Prof. Scott says

Visionary realism, or realistic utopianism, favors a second-level strategy of restoring the political process by first strengthening civil society. This will require visionary [utopian] cooperation with existing elements in society. Drawing on the experience of ... Solidarity, the initial emphasis will be less on reforming or breaking down old top-down institutions than on developing and strengthening alternative ones from the ground up.
n.32: Polish Solidarity is greatly admired today in America but much less understood. The intellectual Jonathan Schell offers an inspiring and appreciative discussion of Solidarity, in which there are [no] references . . . to either Lech Walesa or Pope John Paul.... Schell's intellectual bias underlies his statement -- extraordinary, if he has Solidarity in mind -- that "the Eastern Europeans demonstrated that revolution without violence did not have to depend on religious faith."

Chuck Colson has described in some detail the pivotal role of Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular in Solidarity's achievements in bringing down Soviet Communism in Poland. Prof. Scott then quotes Polish writer Adam Michnik and American Founder John Adams, who spoke of utopia above. It is well worth reading the four or five paragraphs beginning here. To the Adams quote, Scott/Schell adds this statement of Adams:

The revolution was in the mind of the people, and in the union of the colonies, both of which were accomplished before the hostilities commenced."

Some have said that the American Revolution was supported by only a third of Americans. This is a myth, refuted here.

Before the anti-utopian government could be dissolved, "utopia" had to animate the minds of the people, and this required institutions of family, church, school, and media to support "utopian" thinking.

Utopia and "Perfectionism"

Why is "utopia" so fiercely resisted by some?

For the same reason "perfectionism" is resisted.

What "perfectionism" is on an individual level, "utopia" is on a social level.

Jesus commanded His followers to "be perfect, as My Father in Heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). He denounces those who are content to remain "lukewarm." The Bible is clearly "utopian" on a social level (as witness Micah's "Vine & Fig Tree" vision) and "perfectionist" on an individual level.

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: {17} That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

Join "The Perfect Club."

Other Resources



Is Market Anarchism Utopian? » Center for a Stateless Society

A Freed Society Would Not Be Problem-Free » Center for a Stateless Society

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