Who seeks Utopia?

Supporters of voluntary exchange and civil society as a means to achieve individual ends are often criticized as being 'utopian.' Thomas Sowell [via DCthornton] sees a different origin for utopian ideas:

The most casual glance at countries around the world makes it painfully and inescapably clear that most are much worse off than the United States -- not just in economic terms, but even more blatantly in terms of elementary freedoms and ordinary decency.

No society of human beings has ever been Utopia. But virtually everything that has been criticized in the United States has been worse elsewhere. By sheer repetition, slavery has been depicted as something peculiar to this country or to Western civilization, when in fact slavery has existed on every inhabited continent, as far back as history has been recorded.

It was the West that stamped out slavery around the world -- over the opposition of non-Western societies. But this too has been passed over in utter silence, while history has been stood on its head by those trying to score ideological points or extort money from gullible and prosperous people in the West. [...]

The key to the denigrators is that they do not compare the United States to other countries but to the Utopia in their imagination. Those who do this seem not to understand that it was the attempt to create political heaven in the 20th century that lead to the unprecedented hell of totalitarianism.

Who really are the Utopians?

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I do a great deal of my work

I do a great deal of my work in third world countries such as Pakistan and Yemen, and from my travels my experience has been that the civil society in these countries is grossly under developed. And that the repressive societies (governments) must be slowly introduced to civic institutions (such as a free market, a court system composed of a representative sample of the population--juries--, and representative democracies.. The religious theocracies in these countries have set back the development of the civil societies in these places by CENTURIES. These places need schools, and the time and resources to learn (impossible for most of the population of these subsistence economies) new ideas, civic responsibility, and how church and state can coexist seperately but together. Until this happens, the majority of the population of these areas will be vitual slaves to the governments of these areas and the wealthy who control upwards of 95 percent of all resources.

You're absolutely right, and

You're absolutely right, and I think it goes hand in hand with Jonathan's earlier post about Iraq, in that Iraq needs liberty, not democracy, at the moment.

Without the 'social capital' built up to sustain democratic and liberal institutions, democracy will simply dissolve into mob rule (and ultimately dictatorship of some kind or another).

Paul, Yes, you are correct -

Paul,
Yes, you are correct - these third world countries need to develop civil institutions that serve as the center of human interaction. I believe that this development needs to be bottom-up, not top-down.