Towards A Good Samaritan World

Monday, December 06, 2004

THE "UTOPIAN" CANARD

There's one point from the Borders-Logan debate (now ended) I still want to quibble with. Logan describes the case for war in Iraq as "a misleading case for pre-emptive war or a utopian case for preventive war." The "utopian" charge is a canard. The Bush administration hopes for a transition to democratic capitalism in Iraq. Not utopia. Democratic capitalism is not utopia. I live in a capitalist democracy. I'm fairly happy with it. But it's not utopia. There are also sorts of problems, like biased journalists and long commutes and crime and student loans and the fear of getting fired, politicians always pushing big-spending programs and being unprincipled, voters who are paranoid or chauvinist supporting bad policies, and so on.

If Winston Smith woke up in contemporary America he might find it utopian, for a little while, just as Iraq the Model described the fall of Saddam as a "beautiful dream." But that's just a passing infatuation, like someone led out of the dark into the light and being momentarily blinded. For Americans, democratic capitalism is just the daily grind. How do you account for people calling it "utopia" when it is offered as a prospect for Iraq?

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