"I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity." ~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
Living in a Fantasy World
In the West, the best-known story about a "perfect" world is that of the Garden of Eden. I find it interesting there is an angel with a flaming sword preventing us from returning to it. There is wisdom to our being barred--or actually, to our barring ourselves. The story may be just a myth, but myths that last millennia always have great truth in them; in this case, there is no perfect world, one without evil. We're barred from it by our flawed human nature.
The only place a perfect world exists is in fantasy, in our imaginations. That is important, so important I use that fact as one way to tell the difference between those who want to rule others and those who don't. The former are the ones who cause most of the trouble in the world. They always have.
Generally, those who want to rule others are leftist, and those who don't are true rightists. The true right barely exists today, except for some libertarians, paleo-libertarians, and paleo-conservatives. The idea that "neo-conservatives" are right-wing is a complete joke.
Perhaps Robert Heinlein said it best: "Political tags'such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth'are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort."
However, for the sake of simplicity, and because of the fact this is now what the labels mean, I will use the terms, "right" or "conservative" and "left" or "liberal."
A true rightist (or true "conservative") understands that for all the good in human nature, it is still corrupt, still fallen. Problems can be ameliorated, but never completely eradicated. Leftists, on the other hand, have a hard time understanding the fact that there is no perfection. Believing that human nature doesn't truly exist, or is perhaps infinitely plastic, they think people can become anything they want. It implies complete free will--a god-like power without limitations--to make ourselves into anything we wish.
In reality, we don't have complete free will. If we did, we could make ourselves into anything that we want, no matter how horrible--serial rapist, serial murderer--and be happy with it. We don't even have complete free behavior. If we did, we could fly like birds, or swim underwater like fish.
As the late Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn commented, leftists don't merely misunderstand human nature, they "don't understand it at all." In my opinion, it's because they are lost in their fantasy worlds of perfection, one they believe attainable through what they think are their god-like abilities. The word "hubris" accurately describes such a viewpoint, a viewpoint which always involves the belief that humanity can--and should--be shoveled around like gravel.
Such hubris afflicted one of the founders of leftism, Charles Fourier, who wrote hundreds of detailed pages about his "perfect" society, one in which people slept a few hours a night, worked a few hours a day, and spent the rest of their time in play. Another man such afflicted was Karl Marx, whose fantasies were put into far more wretched effect than Fourier's.
Both suffered from what Russell Kirk called the source of all evil--"the monstrous ego." In dwelling in the fantasies created by their monstrous egos--another name for hubris--they tried to remove evil and bring perfection to the world, and instead bought catastrophe. In trying to bring harmony, they instead bought butchery.
The left-right split even exists among libertarians, one shown by the terms "left-libertarian" and "right-libertarian." The example I use is that the right-wing ones understand the tribal nature of man (look no farther than Theo van Gogh, shot six times, then left with a cut throat and two knives in his chest, courtesy of an Islamic jihadist), while the left-wing ones ignore such things and pretend the free market would make all the murderous fanatics in the world get along, even while stuffed together like sardines on the same land.
Always, the left lives in a fantasy world; the true right does not. This applies even to libertarians. Sad to say, the left cannot tell the difference between reality and fantasy; they think fantasy (especially the fantasies in their heads) is reality.
Inherent in human nature, and therefore all societies, is the fact there is an unbridgeable chasm between the fantasy world of Perfection and the real world of Imperfection. The attempt by humans to move this fantasy world of Perfection into the real world of Imperfection doesn't create a Heaven on earth; it always creates a Hell. It is the archetype of the horror story: chaos intruding into the natural order, evil attacking good. This is what happens when people conflate fantasy and reality.
The fantasy of a perfect society should stay only in our minds. Like the Three Stooges, who are humorous in fantasy but would be a horror in reality, a "perfect" society is a Heaven as a fantasy in our minds but would turn into a Hell in reality. Every attempt in history has borne out this truth.
I think this is why there exists the saying, "The Best is the enemy of the Good." An attempt at the "best" always involves claiming "we" are the "best"; thus, those "others" are the cause of our problems and therefore must be eradicated. But since human nature is imperfect, how can anybody, or any society, claim perfection? They can't.
The attempt at this Heaven on earth always requires that one group considers itself of God, and its opponents of the Devil. As such, those labeled as of the Devil must be changed, or failing that, annihilated. Such a black-or-white view of things always leads to genocide. "We are good; you are bad and the cause of our problems. So we will destroy you."
If people or societies think themselves perfect, their problems must be projected elsewhere, and those onto whom they are projected must be destroyed. This is known as scapegoating, a process M. Scott Peck clearly understood to be "the genesis of human evil."
We can always--and should always--make things better and better; we cannot make them "perfect." Imperfect human nature stands in the way of perfection; it always requires the "imperfect" be destroyed, to leave only the "perfect." Human nature always stands in the way, and it always will.
Much of today's world is based on fantasy, i.e., the refusal to face the facts of human nature. Instead, we are absolutely determined to believe we have the god-like ability to reshape the world and human nature to our idea of perfection. It is an impossible task. During the 20th Century, those attempts to create perfection--Heaven on earth--and eradicate evil cost the lives of up to 200 million people. That's what I mean when I say the attempt to bring a perfect, idealistic Heaven to earth instead always creates a Hell. It always requires labeling someone as evil and murdering them.
The best and easiest way to create a Hell on earth is to ignore human nature, ignore reality, and instead believe we can impose our idealistic fantasies of perfection, of a world without evil, on reality. It's a belief in magic: chant the magic spells, and reality changes. It explains why leftists believe eradicating certain words, and certain thoughts (what Orwell called "thought-crime") will change human nature and make a better world. What these attempts will do is make a worse one.
This desire for perfection, to live in a fantasy world without evil, is an inherent human characteristic, and not a bad one, as long as we understand its limitations. If we didn't have this desire to make things better, then things wouldn't get better.
I suppose it is because I have, since I was perhaps 11, been such an avid reader of fantasy, horror and science fiction that I understand--I hope--the difference between reality and fantasy. It may sound a paradox that delving so heavily into fantasies can make you understand reality better, but I don't believe it is.
One of my friends wrote this to me about fantasy: "Eleanor Cameron, author of the wonderful book The Green and Burning Tree: On the Writing and Enjoyment of Children's Books, can help me explain. She understands that fantasy can give readers visions of different worlds--visions that awaken in them the feeling that they were made for more than just this world."
Clearly, she understands--as I hope I do--the difference between fantasy and reality. Fantasy over there; reality over here. Perfection in fantasy, but not in reality. The left believes in the fantasy of perfection; the right knows perfection is fantasy, but can still enjoy the dream of it.
I mentioned I believe much of today's world is based on fantasy. As such, I think the modern world is overwhelmingly "leftist." It wants a perfect world, because leftists believe "they were made for more than just this world." They believe the current world itself was "made for more than just this world." They want a return to the Garden of Eden, utterly ignoring that flaming sword. They want to go backward: the belief that Perfection can exist in this world is going backward; the belief that societies can get better, and be good, but not perfect, is going forward.
Rightists are the same way in wanting a perfect world, but they understand it cannot be done. They content themselves with working towards a better world, and in trying to make their lives better. They understand the comment about raging about the speck in someone else's eye while ignoring the log in their own.
Unfortunately, a leftist cannot tell the difference between fantasy and reality. They ignore the log in their own eyes while ranting about the speck in someone else's. In their minds, it's always somebody else's fault, and that someone else is going to pay for it but good.
One of the most dangerous examples today are the neo-conservatives, who in my view are leftists who live in a very dangerous fantasy world, one they believe they can impose on reality, no matter how many millions of pieces on the chessboard get knocked off or destroyed. They can't tell the difference between fantasy and reality; they think the fantasies in their heads are reality. They think they can return the world to the Garden of Eden, again ignoring that flaming sword.
Just as bad as the neo-conservatives are the Evangelicals, who want the perfect world--the Utopia--in which Jesus comes back and ends the world. This is why they are allied with the neo-conservatives. Is this attempt to bring Heaven on earth--through war and slaughter--not a left-wing fantasy? Has not religion always considered the attempt to bring Heaven to earth one of the greatest blasphemies?
Using history as a guide, I believe it is possible to predict the future, not specifically, but in a general way. There will be no "draining of the swamp" in the Middle East , contrary to the left-wing delusions of David Frum and Richard Perle. There will no "end to evil." George Bush, who could live in Nineveh , doesn't know his right hand from his left. We are now involved in wars which will probably go on for ten years, and which will accomplish nothing except to make us the focus of the hate of those we attack.
Such are the end results of a world based on fantasy, one that cannot tell the real from the unreal, one that ignores human nature and sees it as Play-Doh to be shaped as the one pleases. It is what happens when people take the fantasies of Heaven on earth that exist in their heads, and try to impose them by coercion and violence on reality. It is a very old problem, and one that probably will always be with us.