‘Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for. And no religion too. Imagine all the people. Living life in peace
Imagine no possessions. I wonder if you can. No need for greed or hunger. A brotherhood of man. Imagine all the people. Sharing all the world.
You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will be as one.‘
Excerpt from ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon.
In all of human history, indeed of Earth’s history, this reality John Lennon imagined has never existed. And today it shows no signs that it ever will. This hasn’t stopped ideological groups in different times and places of believing it or some other earthly paradise of their imagining was possible. These ‘paradises’ have of course varied widely in nature depending on the ideology, however believers have shared some key traits in common regardless of how different their paradises appeared on the surface. These commonalities include:
1- The belief that the system or society they’re a part of is unjust, oppressive, and corrupt.
2- The conviction that only they have the answers to all their society’s real or perceived problems.
3- The attitude that you either support and believe in their cause or movement, or else you’re an ignorant sheep or an enemy to be destroyed.
4- The compulsion to upend the system immediately and completely – no time to waste, no turning back.
When viewed through this lens or pattern we see it’s a case of pick your ideological flavour – and those who do usually pick the one that best reflects their inner world, which may be dominated by feelings of fear, angst, anger, envy, insecurity, overwhelm, self-hatred, paranoia, and more. So the pursuit of paradise is often less about their desire to bring about a better world, and more about finding an external outlet to express or deal with their inner problems.
Why it matters for the non-ideological majority is they will either end up a) restricting, b) tolerating, or c) falling victim to the extremists’ pursuit of paradise, and in the case of C, the results for the majority are always devastating. In the past century alone we’ve witnessed the mass suffering, injustice, and death brought about in places like Soviet Russia, Communist China, Nazi Germany, Totalitarian North Korea, Agrarian Cambodia, Socialist Venezuela, and the list goes on.
The majority of these ‘paradises’ of course have been offshoots of Communism, and this is relevant to today as the wealthiest, most powerful and influential nation in the West could in the future be added to this list as ‘Woke America’ – a uniquely American version of the Communist paradise. So in the interests of better understanding this recurring quest for a perfect world, we will here explore:
1- Why people believe in and pursue earthly paradises.
2- How these paradises contradict human nature and universal laws, and
3- Why it usually ends badly either for the majority or the extremists.
1- Why People Believe In And Pursue Earthly Paradises
Short answer: because it makes them feel important.
In their paradise, even if is far from being a reality, it’s a place where they can feel important: where they’re right, or chosen, or enlightened, or unique, or noble, or all of these – and this trumps their feelings from their present society of being unimportant, overlooked, and disrespected.
Being a winner in life after all to a large extent depends on your ability to play the game, the rules of which are set by your society. As such the game has varied across time and geography so that winning it in America in 2021 is different to winning it in China in 1921 or in Rome in 121. What is consistent however is that there are, whether through choice or otherwise, winners and losers (and those in between).
The slaves who built the pyramids in Egypt for example were losers and they were kept in check through force. Where as the tech titans of Silicon Valley today are winners, and their rise was made possible by living in a free nation (which ironically they now wish to make unfree).
But why do some of the losers (and I don’t mean this term in an insulting way, rather as a measure of their participation or success in the game) turn to an idealistic and extremist belief in an earthly paradise? There are alternatives after all: some just bite their tongue at their lot and accept it. Others have religion – they believe in their own paradises beyond this world (accepting that this world can never be perfect). Others lower their expectations or never have high ones to begin with – and maybe they are happy with what they’ve got. And others turn to vice: drugs (legal or illegal), alcohol, crime, violence, gambling, and abuse as a means of dealing with their own feelings of unimportance.
The reason some turn to ideologies like Communism or Wokeism however is probably a mix of nature and nurture. You could have someone who is combative in nature, who was raised by a strict, overbearing religious parent, and they choose to rebel against that and go to the opposite extreme. Or you could have someone who was spoiled by weak parents and who has no discernible skills or talents apart from blaming others and demanding they get everything they ask for, so when society doesn’t bend to their will, they decide society needs to change. These are some of possibly hundreds of different origin stories. But there is one common driver amongst all who turn to these ideologies: ego.
To believe that your entire society or nation should be upended, every tradition or institution abolished or drastically changed, and that everyone should live under the rule of you and your fellow ideologues (without having any say in the matter) is the highest form of ego and narcissism possible in a human. To think that everyone else is wrong, history is wrong, and that you exclusively possess all the answers – and are the embodiment of truth – uniquely qualifies you to be a Communist, Wokeist, or any other extremist with visions of earthly paradise.
Of course it’s important to distinguish between these true believers and those whom Communist Leader Vladimir Lenin referred to as Useful Idiots. Those like middle class ‘educated’ liberals today who are happy with how the system works for them but won’t miss the opportunity to feed their ego and sense of importance by advertising their support for the current in-vogue cause. They don’t truly want a revolution but their self-centred support ends up giving true believers the cover and credibility they need to advance their ends.
So these are the origins of paradise: you throw into the cauldron the feeling that society doesn’t recognise how important and unique you are, mix in the highest dose of ego and narcissism possible in a human, and maybe pepper it with anger, envy, and an innate dislike of humanity and you get people who want to impose their reality on all of us. If we oppose them, we are worthy of social, economic, and ultimately physical destruction. Such is the importance they place on their views and feelings.
Now let’s look at how the paradises these extremists pursue contradict human nature and universal laws.
2- How Earthly Paradises Contradict Human Nature And Universal Laws
Whilst belief in paradise arises from human nature, the irony is that the paradise itself runs contrary to it. The biggest flaw in the system is always humans themselves – imperfect and ignorant as we are. This is not meant to put us down, for humans have achieved great and impressive feats across the millennia. Rather it suggests that we should be open eyed about the limitations of our nature. If you’re a Christian after all, then you accept that we’re all sinners, and if you’re an atheist, you know we’re all apes.
So when the extremist designs their perfect paradise they often ignore the most important element of all: sinners or apes will be running it and living in it – and this undermines the entire premise of the paradise, and is why the reality often becomes the opposite of what was promised. Add to this that we all have different beliefs, values, and perspectives, that we’re inherently self-interested, and that we live on a planet with limited resources that we must all compete for, and imposing your paradise on others can only be done in one way: through force.
As for universal laws, well, again, if you’re Christian then you know that suffering, injustice, and inequality are a part of humankind’s existence. Paradise came to an end when Eve ate of the forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden. And if you’re an atheist, then you know that life arose on Earth through a cold evolutionary process which by its nature creates the byproducts of suffering, injustice, and inequality.
In addition, there are roughly 200 countries on Earth all competing to get theirs, and that there’s a long history of conflict between these countries and within them (the borders and names of which continually change through time). And as for the future, whether it’s Armageddon preceding the return of Jesus or simply the Sun engulfing the Earth when it reaches the end of its life, our entire physical history will one day be annihilated – along with any dreams some had of an earthly paradise.
Of course the clear and present danger is that extremists will get to us long before any of that, and if history and current trends are an indication, there is a high likelihood of this happening this century. This brings us to our final point.
3- Why It Usually Ends Badly Either For The Majority Or The Extremists
History has an interesting tendency of repeating itself or rhyming, and because of this those of us who have studied it know that the pursuit of paradise usually ends as a descent into hell. This is because when the extremist gains power and realises that their paradise isn’t coming to life as they had imagined, they resort to ever more hardcore measures to bring it about – which never works because the premise is flawed to begin with. The more you push up against human nature and universal laws, the greater the cost, and usually the majority pay it. It takes force and coercion after all to impose an unnatural ideology on people – and when this has happened through history it has inevitably meant suffering, impoverishment, and death.
If we revisit some of the paradises of the last 100 years, in Soviet Russia tens of millions died as a result of executions, famine, forced labour, deportations, and more. The rest of the population became equal, yes, but it was equal poverty and misery under a police state.
In Communist China the story was the same, tens of millions dead as a result of executions, famine, and forced labour – in a state that turned children against their parents and neighbour against neighbour.
In Nazi Germany millions were executed and tens of millions died in the ideological war started by the Nazis.
In Totalitarian North Korea millions have died due to starvation, execution, and war. Citizens there live in the closest real world equivalent to George Orwell’s 1984.
In Agrarian Cambodia millions died due to mass executions, forced labour camps, and starvation. Almost a quarter of the entire population were wiped out.
In Socialist Venezuela 90% percent of citizens live below the poverty line. This is in a country with the largest oil reserves in the world (beating prosperous Saudi Arabia who are at number 2) and the 8th largest gas reserves in the world. The inflation rate is thousands of percent each year, the murder rate is one of the highest in the world, and the freedom of the press ranks between Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo – two very poor and corrupt African nations. This is not to mention the tens of thousands of dissidents executed by the government.
But it can also go the other way. When extremists who have not yet gained or consolidated power, push people too far, they run the risk of being exterminated themselves. What happens is their intolerance, nastiness, and threats of violence wear down the majority so much that a strong man leader comes along who has no problem with giving them a dose of their own medicine.
In Indonesia for example, General and later President Suharto led anti-Communist purges in which almost half a million were killed. In Spain, under Francisco Franco, hundreds of thousands of Communists and leftists were killed. In Chile, Augusto Pinochet oversaw the imprisonment, torture, or deaths of tens of thousands of Socialists, Communists, and Leftists.
So regardless of whether the ideologues win or lose, it is not a peaceful ending.
So what does this mean for us today? Well, firstly, we need to stop seeing the current seekers of paradise as confused hippies or miseducated fools. Wokeists are not that. They are an insidious 21st century Western evolution of the Eastern Communists of yesteryear. They may believe they are fighting for a paradise on earth, but if they attain power you should be in no doubt that the results will be the same as they have been throughout history.
The challenge we face is that those on the mythical quest for a perfect world are willing to push harder and further than the average man or woman on the street. And so I’m reminded of the words of Winston Churchill:
“One man with conviction will overwhelm a hundred who have only opinions.”
History backs this up, and so the time will soon come for those of us on the side of civilisation and reason to turn our opinions into convictions.
Written by Arcadius Strauss.
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