One of the central commitments of conservatism is an opposition to utopianism.
I love reading—and writing—about utopianism. That’s because I’m both fascinated by—and usually disgusted with—gnostic heresies, totalitarian movements, and illiberal ideologies. So please bear with me—or skip ahead—as I indulge in some rank eggheadery.
With regard to my obsessions, I’m in good company, though a very a minor, even trivial, player among the ranks of anti-utopian conservatives. Anti-utopian thought doesn’t begin with Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France. Jesus’ admonition to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s is a remarkably pithy and profound anti-utopian statement. Augustine’s distinction between the City of God and the City of Man is a hugely important touchstone as well. Also, there are powerful strains of anti-utopianism in Judaism. The first utopia, after all, was the Garden of Eden, and humans got kicked out of it for being dopes. (I’m paraphrasing).