The Great Utopian Delusion
by Paul Cleveland
Individual freedom and liberty are fundamental principles upon which a good society is based. Regrettably, those principles have been under attack for over one hundred years around the globe. The notion that paradise on earth can be achieved by coercive means has led to the spread of tyranny and despotism. Dr. Clarence B. Carson originally explained this truth in his 1978 book, The World in the Grip of an Idea.
Proponents of the idea often argue that freedom promotes the worst kind of human behavior and, therefore, must be rejected if moral human action is to prevail. They argue that liberty in general and free enterprise in particular promote jealousy, envy, and greed. In their opinion, life on this planet would be better served if we substituted government control over individual human action. The assumption is that such a collectivization of life would promote the highest level of virtuous living amongst us. But, this assessment is simply wrong. In a 1996 article reflecting on his book, Carson observed:
The notion that government is responsible for the material and intellectual well-‐being of populaces has great appeal, especially when it is accompanied by actual payments and subsidies from government. Many people become dependent upon government handouts, and even those who are not particularly dependent may lose confidence in their ability to provide for themselves. These feelings, attitudes, and practices are residues from the better part of a century of socialism in its several varieties. They have produced vastly overgrown governments and the politicalization of life. Governments and politicians are the problem, not the solution.
Sturdy individuals, stable families, vital communities, limited government, and faith in a transcendent God who provides for us through the natural order and the bounties of nature—these alone can break the grip of the idea.
— Clarence B. Carson, “The World in the Grip of an Idea Revisited,” The Freeman, May, 1996.