The Elusive Quest for Utopia and Why It Hurts People

So many people are in search of “Utopia”, even if they don’t always know it.

You don’t have to be religious. And you don’t have to be political, either. Utopianism is associated with both of those areas, but it’s ultimately a component of human psychology. It’s not an inevitable component, but it’s too often there. I’ve learned this by studying history and watching the world, but also from being a therapist.

I define utopianism as the false belief that something external can, will or at least should save you. Utopians in politics look, of course, to the government. Nazis had their hopes set on Hitler and the eradication of Jews, along with capitalism, from society. Communists had their hopes on government run by anti-capitalists/anti-materialists who would somehow bring salvation to the masses on earth. And we know about religious utopias of afterlife and saviors, coming in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and colors.

Today’s watered-down utopian statists in Hollywood and academia, thinking they’re something new and different, are simply a more hypocritical version of the Nazi (National Socialist) and Communist versions of utopia we have seen before. The latest anti-capitalism protests in Hamburg, Germany, reveal the same old stale, relentlessly futile utopian mentality. Interesting how utopians, whether of the secular or the spiritual variety, always seek to outlaw private property and wealth production, isn’t it? It’s like they’re rebelling against life on earth, in reality, as a matter of principle. In the process, they reveal their own psychological damage, particularly when they have a need to impose such damage on the entire population.

The common theme uniting utopianism? A false dependence on other people to achieve the goals and values of your own life. Because no matter how you define or envision utopia, you cannot actualize it without other people — almost always other people who are coerced into your vision. It’s true in the political movements that look to government or authority figures, two things that ultimately refer to other people. And even the supernaturalists who look to life outside of existence, or in some other imagined dimension, are still dependent on the writings, ideas or activities of other people to make it all so. Even the most fundamentalist of all, the Muslims, are not satisfied with waiting for the afterlife, as their relentless efforts to wreak havoc in the lives of those trying to find fulfillment in this life make abundantly clear.

You can eschew religious and political movements in favor of a more narcissistic, subjectively individualized approach to utopianism, and a lot of people do. The world is populated with people who want what they cannot have, and instead of rationally striving toward it they pine for it in bitterness, resentment or ultimately despair. I don’t blame this on the nature of existence, like they do, but on their psychological mindset of utopianism, the false belief that Something or Someone Else should Somehow take care of all this for them.

Disappointed utopianism is the ultimate excuse for taking psychological refuge in one’s unfocused bitterness or anger. If you peel away the layers of the most common psychological disorders — depression in particular — you’ll find evidence of utopianism. Like any other emotional mindset, it can be subconscious and unintentional as much as deliberate. In such a case, the challenge is to free yourself from the error and begin a life of actively striving toward what’s possible and ideal. You cannot do so without liberty and reason, two things most utopian movements aim to minimize or crush.

The whole point of psychology, therapy or any other kind of spirituality — rationality defined — is encouraging you to demand your liberty and to cherish your reasoning. Those are the two things that make any movement toward self-esteem and self-actualization possible. Nothing less will do! There is no simple answer or one-size-fits-all approach that will spell it all out for you. The best solution? Make a commitment to living your life, in reality, for your own sake and for the people and values most important to you personally. It has to be an ongoing commitment that you make for yourself, most of all. Without that, you’ll suffer the disillusionment that makes so many ripe for utopianism.

Fact: There is nothing bigger than yourself. There’s nothing more important — to yourself — than your own life and existence. Nor should there be. Your life is, and should be, the most important thing to you. When and if you ever grasp this startling fact, you’re way beyond utopianism and the rest of the world will be a heck of a lot better off, too.

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