Perhaps the first person to write about Utopia was Plato. Plato (427-347 BCE) never used the word utopia, but in his book The Door of Justice, also known as “The Republic of Plato”, he discusses Socrates and his disciples talking about justice. In this conversation, “Socrates” tells his disciples:
Justice, or equilibrium, can be achieved in an individual when he or she lives in a balanced or justice-oriented society.
Plato then, like Socrates, discusses the society of justice and explains its conditions. The idea that “a healthy human being is realized in a healthy society” is the basis of “socialism”: the effort to reform social institutions takes precedence over the effort to achieve the ideal human being.
Centuries later, in 1514, Sir Thomas Moore wrote a book called Utopia, using the word for the first time, which is a combination of “eu” meaning “good” and “topia” meaning “place”. Translators have used equations such as “utopia”, “nowhere” and “utopia” for the word “utopia”. In Sir Thomas Moore, Utopia is the name of an imaginary island in the Atlantic Ocean where “healthy societies” exist and justice, prosperity and love prevail.
Throughout history, the idea of the utopia has led charismatic leaders to mobilize the masses for revolution and war, and to carry out killings and repression. Examples of these historical events were the assassination of Maximilian Robespierre in 1793 (after the French Revolution), the Nazi and Fascist rule in Germany and Italy, and finally “Stalinism” in the Soviet Union after the 1917 revolution. These historical events have led many thinkers to warn that “the promise of utopia is the beginning of the dystopia.” Every government of repression and terror mobilizes the masses with the promise of the utopia, and the utopia is justified for crimes that would otherwise be unjustifiable.
Unlike socialism, which prioritizes justice, “liberalism” prioritizes freedom, and liberals believe that the most important human virtue is freedom, and that for no reason (even building an utopia) should the privacy of individual liberties be violated.
“Karl Popper (one of the leading theorists of liberalism) says:
If I am chosen to choose between justice and freedom, I will choose freedom because in some unjust free society I have the freedom to defend justice, but in a society that has taken my freedom in the name of justice, if justice is not done, I do not have the freedom to protest!
In the twentieth century, after the establishment of Stalinism in the Soviet Union, many writers and filmmakers created works depicting a “ruined city” (dystopia), a ruined city deprived of justice, construction, and freedom of choice.
George Orwell was the initiator of this trend in the novels “Animal Farm” and “1984”. After him, Aldos Huxley wrote The New Bold World and Christopher Frank wrote the novel Mira, and Truffaut made the film Fahrenheit 451.
Although these works contained truth, the camp of capitalism used them extensively during the Cold War for the purpose of “communism phobia.”
The “Red Fear” was at its height in the 1950s, and the US government suppressed it by suppressing any tendency toward socialism. In 1947, President Truman ordered an investigation into personal life of three million government employees in terms of their inclination towards communism!
The Anti-Communism Committee was particularly sensitive to academics and filmmakers, and for example, ten screenwriters and directors who refused to be interrogated by the Committee were imprisoned!
Republicans accused the Democrats of socialism in order to win over the Democrats in most presidential elections, and incited votes by inciting “red fear.”
In 1950, Wisconsin Republican Sen. Joseph McCarthy launched the Anti-Communist Jihad.
In addition to re-launching the “purge” in universities, cinemas, and government agencies, McCarthy also targeted “anti-American literature,” and the “McCarthyism” movement of 3,000 books, which McCarthy’s colleagues considered pro-Communist, was collected from libraries!
In the “Truman Doctrine” and “McCarthyism”, the American way of life became a “utopia”, and any criticism of this way of life was considered to pave the way for a “dystopia”!
The “Red Panic” made it possible to arrest 140 leaders of the American Communist Party, made it possible to interrogate and purge the staff of universities and ministries, and the interception of citizens’ telephone conversations by the security systems became commonplace! Fear of dystopia itself paved the way for another dystopia!
But apart from liberalism in the political arena, a powerful current of liberalism also entered the field of psychology; It views the attempt to change society and the struggle against injustice as a ” Dan Quixoteism” and seeks to discredit any social struggle.
It mocks any attempt to confront the institutions of power by labeling the anarchist movement an “Oedipus complex” for having problems with the father and stabilizing libido at the Oedipal stage.
In The Physician and the Soul, Victor Frankl (Austrian psychiatrist) describes the story of one of his patients, a US State Department diplomat who underwent psychoanalysis for many years because he opposed US imperialist foreign policy and wanted to resign, but psychoanalysis He believes that his opposition to American foreign policy stems from Oedipus’s entanglement, and that instead of resigning, he should explore his relationship with his father as a child!
The liberal psychologist devalues all sacrifices and sacrifices for social ideals under the label of “masochism”, ridicules all opposition to the institutions of power as “anarchism”, and presents any kind of intolerance to the institutions of power.
From the point of view of liberal psychology, any social effort to move towards “utopia” is in vain, and “utopia” is achieved only within the individual, and the “heroic journey” must lead us to reach peace with the world as it is, instead of fighting the status quo.
In the field of literature, too, the petty-bourgeois intellectual moved in the same direction. Instead of social action, the protagonist sinks into himself and succeeds in creating a small paradise inside a big hell. In this field of literature, the protagonist goes from “professional guerrilla” to “Sufi” and, unlike Plato, like “Chinese Lao Tzu”, concludes that if one is balanced, one sees that the world is balanced. This is how the petty-bourgeois intellectual eventually takes refuge in the mystical quasi-religious discourse, and the cafes full of cigarette butts and “Budabar” music and, to a lesser extent, the “Pink Floyd” and “Marijuana” hangouts do not become “social monasteries” for him.
Returning to Nowhere is a dialogue between Emmanuel Artery and Simone Lamarte translated by Ali Kabiri.
Unlike the intellectual current in Latin America, which has largely retained its socialist character, the intellectual current in Iran progressed rapidly to extreme liberalization after the coup d’état of August 28, 1943. Certainly one of the most important historical reasons was the strategic mistakes of the Tudeh Party, which instead of defending socialism committed itself to defending the interests of its great neighbor, but perhaps one of the deeper reasons for this is the Iranian cultural tendency to Sufism and mysticism. “social action” is replaced by isolation!
Dr. Mohammad Reza Sargolzaei – Psychiatrist
Translated By: Negar Kolkar
- The collective subconscious of the petty bourgeoisie
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