Column on Utopian Attractions

Utopian Attractions

Tibor R. Machan

Former submarine officer and author of My Nuclear Family, Christopher J. Brownfield, gave an interview in The New York Times Magazine (6/12/2010). In one of his comments–indicating clearly why The Times would feature him–he described his submarine life and interviewer Deborah Solomon, who loves to throw softball questions at all those she interviews who agree with her basic outlook, says to him: "You make it sound liek a commune," to which Brownfield replied, "It’s weird, but it does have that collective feel. Everyone is in the same boat [no pun intended I assume]. There are lots of analogies to be drawn between the way we live on a sub and the way the world needs to live together."

Never mind that this ex-solidere once swore to protect the ideals laid out in the U. S. Constitution but here he is defending a distinctively Marxist communist political vision. Because, yes, by Marx’s account the best of all human societies, one we will only be able to establish when human nature will have changed and the New Man comes into being, is a literal worldwide commune. Everyone will be a cell in this huge commune–what Marx himself called an "organic whole (or body)"–and no one will have a private life, no private property for sure, and everyone will love everyone else equally! The public interest will trump all others and not even as a matter of free choice but by instinct, hard-wiring, via a built-in drive the new man will have had implanted in him by history’s deterministic revolutionary forces.

That is indeed what it appears this former soldier of the United States of America, home of the philosophy of humanistic individualism–where one supposedly is recognized as having a right to one’s life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, etc.–wants. And, of course, The Times is only too happy to give him a platform. (Am I saying The Times is peddling communism? I don’t think the publisher and editors there have much of a clue about communism but their sentiments do run in that direction, clearly, judging by how much their editorial writers and columnists insist on blaming every malady in the world, every failure, on human liberty, free markets, and freedom of choice!)

If you take a peak at this interview what you will see is a picture of a nice young man, seemingly just out of a fraternity, wearing the uniform of a yuppie, not an ex-submarine officer, of course. Yet the ideas flowing from this man are anything but what his appearance suggest he harbors in his mind and heart. No, he wants the world to be a commune!

Does he not realize that that would squash all the cherished diversity, plurality, individuality–all the spice–from the human species and render it akin to an ant colony, kind of like what one witnesses in North Korea when millions of subjects are ordered around to march in the same blue pajamas to communicate to the world their communist identity? It appears not; nor does Ms. Solomon have the presence of mind to bring it up to him and ask him how his professed global communal ideal squares with his former self-assumed duty to defend the constitution of the world’s most–though by no means sufficiently–individualist country?

I would really like to be the interviewer of such a fellow! I could tell him a thing or two about this wonderful commune that he envisions for us all to live in. I would be unwilling to restrain myself from mentioning of some of the more bizarre consequences of this ideal, such as having to celebrate every single human being’s birthday, wedding, graduation, and so forth, and having to attend billions of funerals all at the same time, which is what one does with the few close friends, intimates in normal, largely individualist societies and in those occasional communal associations that have a perfectly good place in them, provided they are not used to fantasize the communist ideal!

But I guess Mr. Brownfield never bothered to consider the implications of his dreamworld!

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