Fact Versus Fiction: Why Striving for Utopias Is Useless

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I find utopias fascinating. Since the dawn of time, a dream of a perfect society inspired the minds of humans. From a wish to return to paradise, to finding mythical idyllic islands of prosperity has motivated people to overcome the apparent bleakness of their lives.

With the triumph of a market economy, however, people learned to work with what they have in order to increase their wealth and well-being.

It is not only religious texts that promise utopias. Marxism as a whole is predicated upon the false notion that there can be no scarcity, that everyone can equally share in infinite resources.

Regardless o whether it’s viable, the promise itself makes it obvious why still a lot of people support this truly horrible ideology. Politically, it is much better to promise free money than opportunities to get rich.

Classical liberals, libertarians, and free marketeers often fall into the trap of flirting with utopias. They promise everyone will be rich, happy, and healthy. They create visions of their own islands of bliss, in the form of seastading, or promise lands, such as Liberland.

The sad thing is that under a democratic, market-economy-based system, in which more people will be able to get rich, wealth will grow at a similar pace as health statistics. Of course, not everyone will be on the top, but even the poor will get richer. However, it is not through the strife for utopias that capitalism leads to this.

Take the  stiff-upper-lip stoicism of the Brits. One of the most famous descriptions of this attitude may be found in a poem of classical-liberal poet, Rudyard Kipling, titled If:

If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;

If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same.

Classical liberalism builds on what is, and not what should be. It takes current resources and enables increasing their amount through investments and opportunities. It motivates people to not only dream and think, but to act as well, to accept current realities, work on them, and thus improve upon them.

This is what sets free markets apart. A free-market approach doesn’t chase dreams, while forgetting to live with what we already have. Entrepreneurs of market economies can also dream big, but they set out to realize these viable dreams.

The whole mechanism of the market rewards smart actions, and so it’s no wonder that self-serving feel-good activism, which many liberals are also guilty of, will not see adequate results.

This is why liberty-minded people should not strive for utopias, but instead encourage people to see how much better the world became through the ideas of free markets, rule of law, and democracy. If we continue on this path, we have a good chance of living in the best world that can ever be.

Mate Hajba
Free Market Foundation