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Ultimately, what interests me about the utopian ideal is its view of human nature…..the belief that we are capable, if not of perfection, at least of significant improvement in ourselves and our dealings with others, through re-engineering of our social structure. This belief runs counter to the classic Western (i.e., traditional Christian) philosophy that our fallen nature makes us forever flawed.

A lot of ideas get tangled up in this issue once it gets placed into a specific time and location, but I do think the utopian idea comes down to this basic premise–that given the right set of circumstances, human nature can improve. Now what is that right set of circumstances? That’s where utopians differ. On the socialistic end of the spectrum, the right set of circumstances is some sort of overarching social force (government, church, rulebook of some kind). On the anarchistic/libertarian end, the right set of circumstances is everybody being left alone by those social forces. Either way, there’s an image of the human as a near-angel, someone who could become a higher order of being if only…..if only……

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