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Subject: A Review of The Coercive Utopians by Rael Jean Isaac and Erich Isaac
(Thur., March 31, 2011)
(approx. 4295 words, 8 pp.)
Understanding Radicalism as "Coercive Utopianism"
The Wisconsin Watershed as our follow-up turning point of history?
Obama and the Democrats are doubling down on destroying the nation?
The Isaacs called the Reagan Revolution a great "repudiation" of the Left,
but was it really? And we can ask, "Was 2010, really?"
"Thy (Logos) Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven..."
This is a review of the book The Coercive Utopians by Rael Jean Isaac and Erich Isaac, and though it was written in 1983 just after the so-called "Reagan landslide," such that it was, this book still has tremendous relevance for us today in 2011 because we are playing out the same issues in a similar manner after our 2010 conservative landslide victory.
Reagan’s Victory was not really a "repudiation" of the Left but ours in 2010 may be
In 1983 the Isaacs saw the election of Ronald Reagan to be a "repudiation" of decades of prior Leftist Liberalism and Radicalism, much as many saw the elections of 2010 in the House of Representatives to be.
However, in reality, looking back over the past almost 30 years, the election of Reagan did not mean the nation had reached a definitive turning point going back to traditional or Conservative values, and rejecting Liberal and Radical ones, but the Reagan Revolution was probably a forerunner or at least foreshadowing of a larger philosophical Conservative political Revolution that would take place for the entire nation, perhaps forever, in 2010.
The point here is the larger picture of 1980 as well as 2010...
The point of this review is, therefore, to see this book, The Coercive Utopians, in terms of the Reagan victory as well as the 2010 victories, and both in terms of a larger historical, philosophical, political context. This may sound overly ambitious for a mere book review, but in reality everyone who investigates this stuff tends to come away with a very similar analysis, whether it is the Isaacs back in 1983, this writer today, or even our current President, Barack Obama, in The Audacity of Hope.
Why? Because everyone has understood since the 1930s, at least, that there are Liberals and Radicals, and there are Conservatives, and the story of history, politics, law, and even religion in our time tends to be the interaction between these 3 groups. (This analysis leaves out Libertarians, philosophically speaking, but in reality, they are not a major player practically speaking.)
These 3 groups tend to see things in the same way...
For my personal purposes I divide the 3 groups into
1.) the Radicals (generally atheists) for whom the American founding was no good politically and religiously in the 18th century and is no good in our time,
2.) the Liberals for whom the American founding and Bible Christianity were good for the 18th century but not good for our time, and both must "live" to mean something new, and, finally,
3.) the traditionalists or Conservatives for whom the American founding politically and legally speaking and Bible Christianity, religiously speaking, were fine for the 18th century, and both are still good now, and both are still Rational and true.
I do this because you cannot tell the players without a program, as the expression goes, and it is the exact same analysis Barack Obama and numerous others have, and it fits almost exactly, with some variations, with what the Isaacs are doing in The Coercive Utopians back in 1983.
Elite Liberal Christians have united with Radical atheists...
What the Isaacs argue correctly, just as a sociological fact, is the Liberal church has united with the often Marxist political Radical to impose a Radical Leftist agenda on nations generally around the world and on traditional value folks in particular. Again this is the same as Obama’s analysis, and even the previous Polish Pope had this same analysis. And the Isaacs assert the political Radicals and religious Liberals often implement this "coercive" imposition of their values with "deception" and stealth. Indeed, the subtitle to the book The Coercive Utopians is "Social Deception by America’s Power Players."
This aspect of the book more reflects a parallel theme of the 3 common major political and religious groups, namely, there is, in fact a relatively small but very powerful Liberal to Radical elite that controls most of the major institutions of this society as so-called "power players" as much as a "ruling elite" (as we say today), but basically it is the same idea as a sociological fact, for better or worse, you might say. Politically speaking these people tend to be ideologically committed Liberal to Radical Democrat leaders along with Liberal Republicans (or so-called Rino Republicans, we would say today).
Regardless, for better or worse, a very small percentage of the entire population is actually running the colleges and universities, law schools and courts, Hollywood and entertainment, the legislatures and political parties, the media or publishing, the major corporations or Wall Street, the churches or religious groups, etc., and this is true be this small percentage Liberal or Conservative, but for the Isaacs there is a great deal of deception and hidden, destructive, irrational agenda by the Left in places of great power and influence. Is this true? Yes, and the book gives case after case after case of this taking place, until one is worn out reading them all, primarily in American political and church politics.
The Left violates both morality and practicality
The Isaacs cover the well-documented Liberal clergy and Liberal churches teaming up with and even financing third world Marxist revolutions as well as a domestic Leftist agendas in law, education, government, etc. And, again, the book gives case after case of Radical Leftist politics and deception, where the Isaacs see this all happening, but more than this, the Isaacs see this all happening in terms of what they call "coercive utopianism," a term which they say they borrow from a fellow social political analyst, and it is a good term, and a good way to think about much of the misguided, destructive, impractical, and often hidden Leftist agenda today.
And, of course, to be "coercively utopian" means that one is violating both questions of morality (in being coercive) and practicality (in being utopian) which the traditionalists or Conservative always asks as central. These are also the two major questions of the Reagan Revolution and our own Revolution today. And these two questions go back to antiquity as the two central question of philosophy in terms of true Wisdom or Rationality in Solomon, Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero, no less.
The irrational, totalitarian Left as "coercive utopians"
The main problem I would have with the term "coercive utopians" is that it tends to blur the distinction between Liberals and Radicals. The Liberal is in fact genuinely misguided and deceived, but usually in good faith (in my opinion, anyway), while the Radical is not simply misguided or deceived. The Radical is generally not in good faith and is truly committed outright to a truly Radical, totalitarian or coercive agenda as the very point of his or her activism and deception of the people.
The Liberal is really trying to do "good," usually in the name of compassion or love or whatever, but he has no clue what true "good" really is, classically or Biblically defined, while the Radical could care less about "good," only caring about imposing his Radical agenda, usually in the name of so-called social or economic justice or attempting to make an idyllic, irrational back-to-nature, workers’ state utopia, the Isaacs argue explicitly.
By contrast to an ideological utopian environmentalism, some things some things are a matter of rational discussion and not ideology, the Isaacs say correctly. I must say it has never been completely clear to me that the benefits of nuclear power always outweigh the potential risks, but that is ultimately a legitimate rational debate, and not simply an ideological position, one way or another.
Still, in this writer’s mind...
Still, in this writer’s mind, the Liberal is really more the "utopian," while the Radical is more the "coercive" totalitarian, but regardless both the Liberal and Radical are ideologues who have lost their ability and generally even desire to think Rationally, but rather only ideologically in terms of their unworkable and undesirable Liberal or Radical ideologies. For example after a Supreme Court ruling years ago, I heard a Liberal commentator say of the ruling that it could not possibly be correct because it was not "tolerant," of all things, as if that is the sole purpose of the legal or judicial system, which it is of course for the non-Rational Liberal. In fact, love and forgiveness for the repentant is more the purpose of the church than the law! In philosophy this is known as a "category mistake," but regardless, the Liberal with his whole agenda tends more to so-called "soft tyranny" than to "hard tyranny," but the Liberal is often used by the Radical seeking his hard tyranny.
The Radical Obama, for example, used the foolish Liberals to take over the Democrat Party and implement his clearly Radical and outright destructive and un-Constitutional agenda. Obama and Jeremiah Wright are no Jimmy Carter (in this writer’s opinion). But the Liberal misguided Carter, in effect, has teamed up with the Radical Wright to take over the country with a very destructive, unworkable, irrational "Coercive Utopianism." This is not pretty, but here we are, more than 25 years after the Isaacs are writing their book, and we have the same song, second or third verse.
Having said all of this the point the Isaacs are going to develop is the Radical (with, in effect, the accompanying useful-idiot Liberal) is attempting to set up an irrational, undesirable, unworkable, destructive "coercive utopia," of sorts, which in reality is a dysfunctional, dishonest totalitarian hell on earth. Given the Isaacs’ analysis, Radicalism is a power hungry, irrational, deceptive, politically correct insanity, of sorts. Those are my words but that is basically what the Isaacs are getting at and that is really about the nicest thing you can say about the Left, but they implement their agenda in terms idealistic sounding phrases of reform and progress and hope and change and so forth.
What is "utopian" for the Isaacs?
Without buying into every aspect of the analysis the Isaacs do, what is "utopian" or "utopianism" for the Isaacs? It ain’t pretty, but in their own words they say, "Most of the diverse groups we... describe are utopian because they assume that man is perfectible and the evils that exist are the product of a corrupt social system. They believe that an ideal [utopian] social order can be created in which man’s potentialities can flower freely [a fine thing no doubt but...] they are ‘coercive’ because in their zeal for attaining an ideal order they seek to impose their blueprints in ways that go beyond legitimate persuasion."
In fact, one could add, they become totalitarian political systems attempting to control every aspect of one’s life, and in fact the whole point of a free society is that freedom is the best way to be able to let one’s "potentialities flower." The greatest evil for the utopian is "American capitalism," the Isaacs say. In fact the Isaacs go on to say "the utopians also believe that the society in which they live is deeply flawed, indeed hateful." And some Leftists hold this view for religious compassion reasons and some for Marxist reasons, but regardless obviously this diverse "utopianism" of the Left is way beyond being merely "political" or merely "philosophical."
Radicalism and Liberalism and the various "utopian" aspects of them seem to be more total philosophical worldviews and even virtual "religious" systems, in themselves, and you will note not only does "utopian" mean impractical but each aspect of the various Leftist utopianisms the Isaacs outline are not Rational, by any common sense understanding of things, though no doubt the various utopianists think they have everything all figured out and it is all "good" and makes sense to them. But why?
What is so-called "politically correct," really?
What is politically correct, really? As I see it (not the Isaacs particularly) "politically correct" means "correct" in terms of a particular political ideology and usually faulty political ideology, and once one buys into that ideology one processes everything or thinks in terms of that ideology and no other way, whether Marxist, Freudian or Liberal (to name a few basic ideologies or worldview ways of thinking). And though one is rational within or to the ideology, the ideology itself may be blatantly false and irrational such as thinking the point of law and the legal system is to be tolerant or "loving" as former President Carter maintains.
Or, in The Audacity of Hope Barack Obama says the settling of the West in the United States was a "racist... exercise in raw power" over Mexicans and Indians, and further he thinks the rest of the world outside America sees it that way he does. But was the settling of the West simply or primarily a "racist... exercise in raw power"? As an empirical fact "no," but it was from a politically correct Black Liberation Theology perspective. That is the whole point of Black Liberation Theology (everything is supposedly a matter of racism or exploitation, etc.), but as an empirical fact, most of the settling of the West had nothing to do with brute force, though to one affected by some brute force it may seem to be the major reality of that westward movement by millions of people and families, etc.
Black Liberation Theology is simply wrong.
Black Liberation Theology is simply wrong. Class and racial exploitation are simply not the main storyline let alone sole storyline of American or world history. That an American President would think this way is very troubling to me, but what is even stranger in reflecting the nature of our times is that a man would tell people he thinks this way while running for President. This is just flat bizarre.
There are no doubt racial power plays in the story of America and the world, but that is not the main storyline and certainly not the total storyline... This is the classic mistake the Marxist always makes, as the very point of his theory. Namely, because there may be some so-called "class conflict" at times, that supposedly in the mind of Marx himself explains "everything." It simply does not, hence, Marxism is false.
Similarly, there may be racism and ethnic strife at times, but that does not explain the entire story of America or mankind on earth. That is utterly and totally and completely ridiculous, but it is the central position of the Black Liberation Theology professor or preacher when a "racism" is coupled with the so-called "class conflict" of Marxism. The whole point of America, by contrast, is that there is a higher moral law of God for the individual and the state that is working its way out through history and in the American founding and so forth.
The faulty ideologue simply cannot think Rationally
The faulty thinking ideologue simply cannot think Rationally to the plain facts of any given situation, and this is true no matter how irrational one’s worldview or politics or other ideology may be. As another example outside of politics, everything is not a matter of sex or sexual repression in the first place in order to process everything in terms of it in the second place, as the Freudian holds. This is an ideological parallel to the idea everything is a matter of class conflict as the Marxist holds in order to process everything in terms of it, or everything is a matter of love or compassion and tolerance (or lack of it) as the Liberal holds, etc.
Freudianism, Marxism, and Liberalism are all faulty, irrational philosophical worldview systems in the first place, but once one buys into them, one process everything in terms of them with a certain perverse "rationality" in terms of the given ideology, and (back to the book) for the Isaacs the most faulty worldview system of the Left is some mythical back-to-nature simple, utopian life that can never be realized and cannot work, and is actually destructive to good living, but the utopian cannot see that. For the Isaacs the coercive utopian is in fact, in effect, a totalitarian, I would say when you finally analyze it all.
What is modern totalitarianism versus mere classical tyranny?
What is modern totalitarianism versus mere classical tyranny? This is where the term "coercive utopians" gets even better. Classically going back to Plato, Aristotle, and the ancient Greeks everyone understood what a tyrant was, namely, a person who exercises unrestrained or absolute unjust power, but in truth this is opposed to the modern totalitarian who wants to have "strict control of all aspects of one’s life" (as the dictionary says) and control over production and thought life, speech, etc.
And in fact the modern totalitarian is outlined perfectly in the book of the Revelation in the Bible by John as a beast or Leviathan state that controls or tries to control everything that one buys or sells or even thinks! This is a very modern phenomenon. And it is this beast that Christ and the saints will "slay" to set up the Kingdom of God for all the nations of the earth, etc.
Regardless, the Leftist seems to have some sort of psychological problem with wanting to control other people’s lives, and in the end in modern times it tends to be a totally secular state as "God," also outlined brilliantly in the book of Revelation. If you think about it ancient beast states always had their own false gods, but they did not set themselves up to be God, as such, which modern totalitarian Leviathan states often do. (Interesting fact?)
The 2010 elections and Wisconsin together as a watershed moment in all history
But what does this all have to do with the Reagan Revolution for the Isaacs and for us today and our current political problems and the 2010 elections? That is an easy question! Why? For the Isaacs though the Reagan Revolution was a decisive "repudiation" of Liberalism, it ultimately failed in that it slowed but did not stop and even reverse the growth of Liberalism and Radicalism, and that is true. But, looking back, Reagan’s election was probably more due to the failed policies of the Left in his day than a philosophical repudiation of Liberalism and Radicalism as such.
By contrast, the 2010 elections were, indeed, a backlash against or "repudiation" of the entire ideology of Liberalism and Radicalism of the 2008 Congress and the Democrat Party more generally. For us in 2011 we are seeing an open challenge outright to an undesirable, unworkable even destructive Leftist agenda of selfish special interest groups whether in Washington DC, Wisconsin, or elsewhere, and this is much more than a simple weariness or rejection or repudiation of what former President Carter called our state of "national malaise" (or national mayonnaise, or whatever it was).
Wisconsin asked the two basic questions in "right" and "sustainable"
Quite simply, America has moved into an open national transition back to the founding vision and principles that was not there consciously so in the so-called "Reagan Revolution" as popular as it may (or may not) have been. By contrast, both the 2010 House elections and the public worker thing in Wisconsin are probably a watershed moment in American and even possibly world history for the story of mankind on earth. Why?
Both were and are a conscious repudiation of Liberalism and Radicalism or what the Isaacs call destructive and irrational "coercive utopianism," and to be really cool about this the Wisconsin thing was explicitly done in terms of the 2 classic, central questions of Western civilization! Truly cool! Namely, Is something moral or just? And is it practical? (or variations on these questions)
What were the two questions in Wisconsin? Are outrageously high salaries, pensions and benefits compared to the private sector who is paying the bills "right" and are they "sustainable"? These are the two words the Governor there has used to describe the situation in a true Ciceronian manner of moral and practical, you will note. And the answer is "no" to both of these questions! Quite simply, the public union there and the Democrat Party were acting in an immoral, impractical and ultimately selfish manner in opposition to the good of the people and the state of Wisconsin. Not pretty, but true. Unsustainable is impractical and not right is immoral, not complicated?
The Left and Democrat Party self-destructed in Wisconsin?
Someone once said, "Nine out of ten deaths are (some form of) suicide." or as is more commonly said, "Give people enough rope, and they will hang themselves." Such is the sad state of the Left, Obama, and the Democrat Party after Wisconsin? They are simply self-destructing on national TV. In truth, the fat cat, unaccountable union bosses are an offense to the vast majority of most Americans, big time, and Obama has with Wisconsin hitched himself and the Democrat Party to them forever, and they will, presumably, all 3 go down in flames, forever, big time, in 2012?
Some blowhard multimillionaire union boss railing on about worker exploitation and abuse is good for how many Republican votes? Millions upon millions I would think, while the states are sinking in red ink and paying wages and benefits far above those in the private sector and at tax payer expense, no less, and even by un-employed tax payers at times.
The fact is in Wisconsin the Democrats were doing, themselves, the very thing they were accusing the Republicans of doing. This is common tactic by the Left? In this case it was upsetting the "democratic process" and "undermining the middle class"! But, in truth, public sector workers work for the people, not the people for the public sector workers!
The Left’s glory days are over?
For the Left, Wisconsin was bringing back the old glory days of a hundred years ago and people working in sweat shops and throwing off the shackles of oppression and all that business, but such rhetoric simply does not work in 2011, and even FDR realized that striking public sector unions was a terrible idea, and inherently against public interests and the good of the republic. Collective bargaining for public sector workers was tried and it didn’t work, practically speaking, and it proved not to be good for the commonwealth, morally speaking?
All of the protests and walkouts surrounding Wisconsin were a bit like the riots of the 1968 Democrat convention in Chicago ("with the whole world watching" where the same phrase was used) when a dysfunctional Democrat Party was at odds with itself and the American people. But this time it was not a dissident element within the Democrat Party protesting and walking out of the American system of government but the Democrat Party itself walking out of the American system of government, led by the President of the United States, himself, no less. Unprecedented in America? And world history?
The Democrat Senators in Wisconsin acted as striking labor negotiators and not as Senators. A legislator does not "negotiate" with the executive branch as to whether he or she is going to be seated in the legislature. This is utterly ridiculous. This is truly bush league, and it must be how Kenyan politics work? I don’t know, but it is really somewhat un-American to our very system of government. And I think so the American people will say en masse to the entire Democrat Party in 2012?
Call Liberalism and Radicalism dead? As well as "coercive utopianism"?
What does this all have to do with the Isaacs’ The Coercive Utopians? Reagan was in reality more a rejection of Jimmy Carter’s state of "national mayonnaise" than it was of Liberalism and Radicalism as such and of the entire impractical, unworkable utopian vision of the Democrat Party. By contrast, 2010 was a conscious rejection of the general Liberalism and Radicalism of Obama and the 2008 Congress, and now after Wisconsin, we will see a rejection or repudiation of the entire Democrat Party, itself, presumably. A true watershed?
But what is the positive political assertion and not simply the political repudiation? The positive political assertion is the two questions of the Reagan Revolution and the "Kingdom come on earth" for the political structure of the nations. Is something moral and is it practical? And these are specifically the two things the Left and "coercive utopians" are not, namely moral or right and practical. Sweet Jesus with "a rod of iron"! I can hardly believe it myself, but here we are, nonetheless! "Thy (Logos) Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." We’ve done it! We’ve flipping done it!
Call political Liberalism and Radicalism dead? As well as "coercive [immoral, impractical] utopianism"? We win? Just as the book of the Revelation can be summed up in the exact same two words, "We win" over the Leviathan beast state as "God"! Praise God in the highest! And who would have ever guessed it, just a few short weeks ago? But in fact irrational and impractical Liberalism and Radicalism had to play themselves out to their self-destructive ends, which they have now done, about 25 years after the Isaacs’ book, but it is still pretty good reading. The whole thing in 33 words... Being "utopian" is, by definition, not being practical or Rational, and being "coercive" is certainly not being moral or Rational to the Good of mankind on earth... Hence, Logos Christology wins the day!