Here We Are, So What About Utopia?

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Have you ever
heard someone politically involved say, "Yeah, this is it;
finally; this is the society I always wanted, the one I've been
working for; I can finally rest, I'm satisfied with this."

It should be
rather obvious that someone involved in politics should have a goal
and be satisfied when that goal is finally reached. If in power
for a very long time, wouldn't you say such a politician has had
a lot of opportunity to enact whatever laws he/she finds necessary
and change the state of the nation in whatever way preferable? Logically,
this should be true.

In Sweden the
social democratic party, really a socialist party, has been a hegemonic
power in Swedish politics for a century. In the parliamentary democracy
of Sweden they have sometimes had full power — over 50 % of the
seats in the parliament. (No, there is no declaration of rights
or constitution.) Still they are not satisfied and still they ask
people for their support. What is it that they could still have
to do that they have failed to do for a century in power? Or are
they so utterly incompetent that a century is not enough to bring
about the changes they felt necessary?

Maybe they
are. But I would say this is nothing special for the Swedish social
democrats. It is as applicable to the Democratic and Republican
parties in the US, or UK's New Labour and Germany's SDP and CDU.
Being eternally dissatisfied with one's accomplishments is something
inherent in politics. It is in the very nature of power never to
be satisfied with the results — there are always more things one
needs to do and more things to "improve."

The reason
could easily be said to be the dynamics of society. When one finally
has come as far as planned, society has changed and more politics
need to be done. This is a rather intuitive logic; surely one cannot
foresee exactly how things will be in the future, and therefore
one cannot ever get to utopia. We can only get close, at best.

But this conclusion
doesn't really fit when we take a closer look at it. If our society
was really that dynamic, then it would mean businessmen too would
never achieve their short or long term goals. But they do, and they
are sometimes even very satisfied with the result. Still businessmen
are not really in power — they are but actors in the marketplace
(however regulated). So it should actually be easier for politicians
to implement their utopia — they have the power to!

Power, I think,
is the most important piece of this puzzle. It is power that makes
politics eternally dissatisfying; power makes it impossible to create
the "good society." Why? It has to do with morality and
ethics — and morality and ethics have nothing to do with politics.

The reason
power is so dissatisfying really has nothing to do with the state
of the nation, or even with the utopia politicians with power are
trying to create. It has everything to do with the impossibility
of creating something good with means that are not. One cannot create
freedom using coercive means — it is impossible.

Of course,
a lot of politicians really don't want freedom — they want something
else. But they all have a vision of what society "should"
be like, they know — in one way or the other — what everything
should be like and in what kind of society their most beloved values
would be universally guiding. In that society, their utopia,
we would all prosper in the way they "know" is best.

Well, there
you go — that's the problem. What they are all wishing for is really
a society where people function the way they are supposed to function,
where people voluntarily choose to live by the values the politicians
hold dear. These people want a society structured in a certain way,
and they want people to peacefully and happily stay where they "fit"
in the social plan. Or they want a society in which people give
up everything that has to do with money, greed or profits — and
they wish for society to stay that way without having to establish
a caste of guardians controlling it.

What they really
want is a society of their dreams that is essentially voluntary
yet stable! But they are trying to establish this "voluntary"
society through pushing everybody in the "right" direction
and stealing their money. Are you really surprised they never manage
to create the society of their dreams?

Of course they
are never satisfied. What they really want is the society of their
dreams without having to rely on politics and the use of power —
yet they use politics and power in order to get there. It is pretty
obvious why we never hear politicians say they have established
utopia. It is mission impossible.

31, 2006

Per Bylund [send him mail]
works as a business consultant in Sweden, in preparation for PhD
studies. He is the founder of
Visit his website.

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