In defense of idealism


  Very nice piece in defense of idealism (; thanks to Ron Getty for bringing it to our attention). In the main, I applaud your effort, which stands out from most political commentary I read as being the work of striking the root rather than hacking at the branches. I disagree, however, with your contention that an idealist should not seek to eliminate all injustice:

"(Idealism) is not a quixotic quest for some mythical bliss. An idealist does not seek to eradicate all injustice or to create a society free of crime."

  Why should we not seek to eradicate all injustice? Has any human being who has lived more than a few years succeeded in never doing any wrong, in never committing any injustice? Quite possibly not. So it seems fair to call a human being who always does what's right as mythical as a perfectly just society with no crime. Does this mean that trying to always do what's good and right is delusional, a goal to which only a fanciful dreamer and not a realistic person should pay any attention? If so, which evil should we accept in ourselves as inevitable? I don't think that any evil should be accepted. If we can see that something is evil, shouldn't we ultimately seek to change it?

  On a lesser note, I would also quibble with your statement that "Perhaps never before have we been more in need of people willing to advocate high ideals and noble principles," although I certainly appreciate the spirit in which it was made.

  Columbus, for example, could be said to be more in need of an affordable three-hour transatlantic flight than we are today. We can presently get there in perhaps seven or eight hours, or pay a lot more and get there in three, whereas his only alternative was an extremely dangerous and unpleasant voyage of many weeks. Humanity in general existed in a much more deplorable condition 500 years ago than it does now, hence the need for improvement was indubitably greater then. And as you argued so well, what is an idealist committed to principle, ultimately, but one who seeks to improve the status quo? People willing to advocate high ideals and noble principles are as necessary as ever to improvement, but less improvement is needed now than in the past, since so much has already taken place.

  On the other hand, we could perhaps truthfully say "Never before has there existed a clearer vision of how much is possible for humanity. Where are the principled idealists willing to lead us forward up the hill, now that the way ahead is so plainly visible to those who dare to look?"

Yours in liberty,
        <<< starchild >>>