Socialist Utopia: The Impossible Dream
Mythology has it that the Russian Minister Grigory Potyomkin, in an effort to fool the Empress Catherine II during her tour of the Crimea in 1878, constructed fake settlements upon the banks of the Dnieper River. The story went that Catherine floated past the hollow shells of buildings, similar to a movie lot, and was impressed by the value of her newly conquered territory. True story or not, the concept of the Potemkin Villages was to present a façade that hid the real story that there was nothing behind the shiny exterior.
Such is the problem of the progressives, radical environmentalists, leftists, Democrats, socialists, communists, Marxists, and the occasional Code Pink lady. At a superficial level the concept of a communist utopia sounds marvelous. Imagine the needs of all members of society being met once and for all. Visualize a world in which there are no more dirty coal-fired power plants belching carbon that has not been property credited through the Chicago Carbon Exchange. Swoon over the lovely sight of a mountain village lighted at night by politically correct light bulbs with nary an evil incandescent energy-inefficient Thomas Edison inspired glowing vacuum-packed boondoggle to be found. Envision a benevolent central government that takes your best interests to heart as it plans your life from abortion to euthanasia. Okay, strike that one….Drool over that same benevolent central government providing for your every need, paying your mortgage from Obama’s stash, educating your children in righteousness, and providing you with free health care. Life is good. The heavens are awash with progressive light and peace. The very stars of the Milky Way shout for joy as each sunrise reveals the omniscient Barry Soetero presiding over the tranquil land formerly known as The United States of America.
Truth, however, isn’t quite what either Potyomkin or Obama had in mind. Just like the Potemkin Villages, Obama’s vision of a paternalistic socialist paradise is nothing more than a hollow shell of an outmoded political philosophy. Everywhere socialism has been tried it has failed. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics caved in as it rotted from the inside out. China is going strong – but only because it is adopting capitalistic principles to power its economy. Cuba is laying off hundreds of thousands of its citizens from government jobs because it has discovered, half a century too late, that it can’t afford a society in which citizens pretend to work and their masters pretend to pay them. After decades of investing in socialistic societies, European countries are desperately trying to reverse the damage – though it may be too late. North Korea refuses to change its communistic ways and is paying the price. It can’t even feed its own people. Great Britain has discovered that its nationalized health care plan is a ponzi scheme. The former country of Rhodesia, whose national anthem was Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, has undergone the socialist transformation into the Republic of Zimbabwe thanks to Robert Mugabe – and the joy is long gone. And in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez just suffered a parliamentary defeat as opposition forces scored an impressive victory in recent elections. The lesson to be learned is that when people discover the truth about socialism/communism that they reject it. That is proving to be true here at home. After two years of enduring Obama’s “fundamental transformation of America,” the voters have woken up. Democrats, aka communists, socialists, environmentalists, hopey-changers, or progressives, etc., are on the run. Congressional seats even recently thought safe for the purveyors of hopey-change, are moving to the conservative side of the aisle. For further information, call Russ Feingold. He’ll tell you all about it.
A primary problem socialists face is their choosing the Goods of Second Intent over the more perfect Goods of First Intent. Throughout recorded history utopians (such as Obama) have attempted to envision and institute perfect societies – utopias sought after by persuading souls through the rhetorical lens of the rhetoric of the Goods of First and Second Intent.
Aristotle is known as the author of the rhetorical theory of the Goods of First and Second Intent. Rhetorical theorists such as Plato took an axiological approach to rhetoric, which we shall learn constitutes these Goods, but Aristotle, in Metaphysics, Book XII, gave us the name by which this theory is now known and also fully described what constitutes each of these Goods.
“That a final cause may exist among unchangeable entities is shown by the distinction of its meanings. For the final cause is (a) some being for whose good an action is done, and (b) something at which the action aims; and of these the latter exists among unchangeable entities though the former does not. The final cause, then, produces motion as being loved, but all other things move by being moved. Now if something is moved it is capable of being otherwise than as it is. Therefore if its actuality is the primary form of spatial motion, then in so far as it is subject to change, in this respect it is capable of being otherwise, -in place, even if not in substance .But since there is something which moves while itself unmoved, existing actually, this can in no way be otherwise than as it is. For motion in space is the first of the kinds of change, and motion in a circle the first kind of spatial motion; and this the first mover produces. The first mover, then, exists of necessity; and in so far as it exists by necessity, its mode of being is good, and it is in this sense a first principle. For the necessary has all these senses – that which is necessary perforce because it is contrary to the natural impulse, that without which the good is impossible, and that which cannot be otherwise but can exist only in a single way.”
Aristotle perceived that these goods were divided into Goods of First Intent and Goods of Second Intent. The former was deemed by Aristotle to be the ultimate good and should be pursued by souls as the souls’ primary object of affection. Aristotle identified the Goods of Second Intent as that which possessed goodness but that these secondary goods were only useful in that they provided a pathway to the Goods of First Intent.
The Goods of First Intent and Second Intent are things which possess goodness and are sought for by the soul with varying degrees of intentness, or spoudaious. But how is a soul to determine which objects of its attention constitute Goods of First Intent as opposed to the Goods of Second Intent? Aristotle maintains that there are two choices, and only two choices, between Goods: “that which is good in itself and is to be chosen for its own sake,” constitutes a Good of First Intent (to kalon kai to di’ hauto haireton, and to…hou beneka…[kai] tinos, “that which is good for the sake of getting something else.”
The Goods of First or Second Intent may be material or immaterial. The Goods of First or Second Intent can encompass such immaterial things as righteous desires of the heart, kind words, uplifting thoughts, and peaceful emotions. An example of immaterial Goods is that truth is desirable for its own sake. Nibley explains this concept by saying that the Goods of Second Intent can include things which are good, true, and beautiful as can also be said of the Goods of Second Intent. For example, Nibley says, “a well-made knife is a beautiful object in itself and therefore of First Intent.” Then we recall “Socrates in Xenophon gives us an extreme case when he tells us that a dung basket can be as beautiful as a golden shield is ugly.”
“What makes a dung basket beautiful? Its functional perfection. This is a paradox: it is beautiful because if fulfills its secondary function, and its beauty gives it primary value. What, on the other hand would make an ornate golden bowl ugly? To be sure, its meaningless embellishments and especially its lack of proportion – its lack of a particular proportion. Measurements have been made of thousands of Greek vessels in museums and were found to present in the overwhelming majority of cases the famous “golden proportion” or “golden section.: That is an exact measure, an exact number – 2.618 to one. It’s an unreal number, not a round number; it goes on forever, but that is the number. In 99 percent of cases, you say that a vase is beautiful because it follows that proportion” (Xenophon)
What is intriguing is that the eye, and through it the soul, finds a vase of 2.618 to 1 proportion to be pleasing but yet the soul does not recognize the proportion – it just feels drawn toward the object. It is vital to note that the proportion provides a scale of goodness. Because of the divine proportion the concept of Goodness is no longer relative in nature. It can be measured. It can be fabricated. It has become a known entity.
Plato maintained that the human soul has a memory which is recalled through a process he called anamnesis. The soul is drawn to the Goods of First Intent in various ways. The soul, through the process of anamnesis, finds itself drawn to Aristotle’s Goods of First Intent. Plato, through his character Socrates, explains his doctrine of anamnesis. Basing his argument on his belief that the soul is immortal, Socrates explains that knowledge is contained within the soul from eternity but that during birth, the trauma of that experience erases all memory of this knowledge, Then, later in life as a soul perceives itself to be learning it is not really learning at all. In fact, it is nothing but a remembrance of that which is already known. Socrates then informs Meno that he does not regard himself to be a teacher. Rather, he views himself more as a midwife that assists in the birth of knowledge within the soul of his students.
Souls make judgment calls in determining whether to pursue the Goods of First Intent or the Goods Of Second Intent. Therefore it is important for the soul to be able to classify Goods when they are encountered. A test by which Goods can be classified is achieved through the soul’s appetite for more of the same – the soul cannot get enough of the Goods of First Intent. Yet, despite the importance of getting it right, the soul frequently makes errors in judgment. Souls have a tendency to misprioritize the Goods and to focus on Goods of Second Intent instead of the Ultimate Goods, the Goods of First Intent. This is the trap into which the political left – the socialists and communists have fallen.
In the case of Greek utopias this memory – Plato’s anamnesis – hearkens to the soul the faint recollection of the Golden Age. This memory was kept alive in Greek culture through the religious ceremony of the panegyris of the Olympic Games. Greek artists, poets, rhetorical theorists and philosophers all responded to the panegyris by creating works that recalled their Golden Age utopia when men and Gods comingled in a perfect societal order. As Greek utopian society decayed through successive ages of silver, bronze, and iron, the Greeks resorted to gold to stimulate the senses to a remembrance of their glorious past which grew dimmer with each passing century. As the Golden Age receded ever further into the past, the Greeks sought to revive that ideal society and create new utopias to replace their lost society of perfection.
The socialists, believing in Utopia, make the mistake that the way to attain Utopia is to implement what they perceive to be Goods of First Intent, but in reality are the Goods of Second Intent. You see, the Goods of First Intent constitute things of eternal worth – things like Love and Loyalty. Instead of these eternal Goods, the socialists substitute lesser Goods such as universal healthcare, cap-and-trade, and Net Neutrality. The socialists are of the opinion that the two worlds (the world of First Intent and the world of Second Intent) are images of each other and depend on each other. Since they can see the world of the Goods of Second Intent, they attempt to visualize the image of the world of the Goods of First Intent. Unfortunately for the socialists, their preoccupation with the Goods of Second Intent makes it impossible for them to successfully seek the Goods of First Intent. It’s either one or the other.
The late great scholar Hugh Nibley agrees, saying the “Goods of the second intent will always win out with the public, bringing with them sickness and debility. Let up hope it does not prove fatal this time, as it did in Athens, and at many other times in the past.”
Pursuing utopia is a common pursuit with the socialist/communist element of our society. The scholar Richard Lederer says it the best. “In his lifetime everyone should have at least one chance to fashion a utopia – “try and and this might be” – or a dystopia – “don’t try and this might very well be.” Obama and the rest of the socialists appear intent on creating a dysfunction utopia – a dystopia because they seek to tear down the traditional values in our society. Axiological rhetoric – values-based rhetoric, was common among the Greeks as was the pursuit of utopian societies, Together, the two quests created a culture of seeking after the perfect socio-politico-legal system via the rhetoric of the Goods of First Intent. This system of seeking utopia via the Goods of First Intent, or an axiological system of rhetoric has been well documented by Ralph E. Eubanks, Richard M. Weaver, Chaim Perelman,
and others. It is vital to understand that Greek society lost its vision of utopia when it abandoned the intellectual pursuit of the perfect society that focused on the Goods of First Intent. Instead, the Greeks eventually turned their attention to the more easily obtained Goods of Second Intent. This loss of proper focus resulted in utopias being supplanted by dystopias. The Golden Age of the Greeks was forever lost. The Greeks discovered that utopia is achieved only after considerable effort is expended in pursuit of that ideal. For example, Plato’s Vision of Heaven required effort. He had to mount the chariot and guide his horses on the upward path. The point is that souls are continually exposed to both base and noble rhetoric. These persuasive forces exert influence upon the soul. However, the soul retains the ability to comprehend the rhetorical arguments and respond in a manner of its own choosing. This is why Weaver reaches the use of “God terms.” Plato’s vision of Heaven was an expression of utopian desire.
Note that the Democrats consistently fail to uphold traditional values – i.e., a values-based society. The ACLU is continually going to court to preserve the rights of moral perverts, the illegal, and the irresponsible. The Democratic Party advocates state-paid abortions. The Democratic Party advocates for same-sex marriage. The Democratic Party seeks to legalize illegal drug use. The Democratic Party seeks to legalize illegal immigrants. The Democratic Party seeks to allow gays to openly serve in the military. The Democratic Party seeks to limit free speech during elections. The Democratic Party seeks to provide enhanced rights and privileges to some groups (unions) at the expense of other groups of citizens – thereby negating the Constitution’s promise of equal justice to all. Given a new issue, the Democratic position on it can safely be determined before they ever announce their position. This is possible because the Democrats consistently align themselves with the illegal, the immoral, and the irresponsible. Their position is a given – they are wandering in the wilderness having lost their way to the Goods of First Intent.
Weaver, like Plato, Eubanks and Perelman, understood the symbiotic relationship between utopia and the Goods of First Intent. That is why they all taught that rhetoric must be values-based. By the same token they all understood the sophistry had degenerated into pursuit of the Goods of Second Intent. There was nothing wrong with seeking the Goods of Second Intent, Rather, the mistake was made when the Greeks became satisfied with the lesser of the Goods. This caused the ancient vision of the Golden Age of utopia to fade away, only to be replaced with a dystopian societal system. That is why we now see Obama attempting to create his utopia through the nationalization of everything – the notion that government control over all of our lives is the pathway to the perfect society. We have already been taught the way to the true utopia, however, by Jesus Christ. Christ, understanding utopia far beyond the comprehension of Obama and his ilk, simply taught correct principles and then allowed us to govern ourselves. Unlike the Obama administration, Christ does not seek to impose his will. Christ allows us to voluntarily choose to do what is right. It is our choice. Obama decides that he alone knows what is right and what is wrong, legislates his point of view, and declares illegal, any nonconforming behavior.
Aristotle maintained that the highest level of activity a soul can engage in is to think. The French philosopher Rene Descartes echoed Aristotle’s evaluation of thinking. Writing in his Principles of Philosophy, Descartes summed up the meaning of existence when he said those immoral words “I think. Therefore I am.” Obama replies, “This time, you’ve got me.”
Descartes recognized that thinking is the ultimate good – a Good of First Intent. The shadow of The Thinker’s world (one world is the shadow or the image of the other world) has been depicted by Auguste Rodin. Rodin’s classic sculpture of The Thinker is Rodin’s representation of Dante sitting atop the Gates of Hell, pondering the hellish fate of those beneath him. The lesson is obvious. The Thinker is above the crowd, which consumed itself in pursuit of the lesser goods during mortality. He has ascended to Plato’s Heaven. He sees that now even the Goods of Second Intent are not longer an option for the damned. The Thinker sits alone, a solitary figure pursuing utopia via the Goods of First Intent. The masses were distracted by the Goods of Second Intent and a relentless pursuit of materialism.
Kath observes that happiness of the soul is attained not by materialism (Goods of Second Intent) but through an inner peace acquired through a life well led.
“Like Socrates, Democritus has an “inner” conception of happiness, located in the psyche rather than in possessions or in the esteem shown to you by others. And as for Socrates, this inner peace and comfort rests for Democritus too upon the consciousness of a life lived according to arête or moral excellence.”
Moral excellence isn’t exactly a liberal strong point. Just take a stroll through San Francisco’s Tenderloin District at 3 a.m. for an object lesson on this point. Mardi Gras is another excellent example of this point. The Democrats have long ago voluntarily relinquished the moral high ground. You see, recognizing morals, by extension, means recognizing the creator of morality – God – which means that there is an authority greater than the state. And that thought makes liberals quake in their boots. Liberals are of the opinion that they can legislate non-morality – that by making the perverse legal that they can change the very laws of nature. They are wrong, of course. But that’s the liberal way. They’re always wrong.
It appears that the pursuit of utopia via the Goods of First Intent is a stabilizing force within a culture. Ancient Greek culture is celebrated even today for its stability and the wealth of wisdom generated throughout the centuries of its existence. The Greek philosophers and rhetoricians concerned themselves with the Goods of First Intent and gave stability to their culture through their intellectual pursuit of utopia. The Greek culture remained stable when it concerned itself with a pursuit of utopia via the Goods of First Intent. When it replaced the concept of utopia with a concept of a false utopia Greek society became the equivalent of the famous Potemkin Villages – which were rigged only long enough to pass a superficial inspection.
The American people may not understand ancient Greek rhetoric but they accurately sense that the Democrats seek to destroy our society. The midterm elections are going to be a socialist bloodbath. Fortunately, the majority of Americans are still righteous, God-fearing people. Americans now recognize liberal sophistry for what it is and they reject it. The only places liberal candidates will win on November 2nd are those places in the country where morality is absent, where respect for the rule of law is mocked, and where foolhardy actions are praised for their liberation from religion and a values-based society. We all know where those places are. Fortunately, the vast fly-over country retains its morality, respect for law and rejection of perversions. Socialism will be rejected on November 2nd. Communism will be roundly defeated. Democrats will suffer an historic defeat. And America will be reclaimed by the patriots among us. Americans realize that Obama is done with Potemkin Villages. Now Obama would lead us down the path to the Gulags.
God Bless America.