Beware the Utopian Scheme

For me, perhaps the most dismissive thing I can say about a mode of thinking is to characterize it as a utopian scheme. To my thinking, its nothing short of an intellectual slap in the face. The sad fact that this is the primary mode of academic thinking in America today is a topic for another occasion. While I always know such a scheme when I see one, I thought it would be interesting to try and create a definition. Its probably a utopian scheme when:

  • The costs of implementation are immediate and concrete and the benefits are futuristic and speculative.
  • The scheme has never been implemented and found to work in a limited setting, or did so with unsustainable subsidization. Such schemes are almost always unleashed untested on the grandest scale possible due to the intellectual beauty of the theory in the minds of its naive and credulous adherents.
  • Whenever the scheme appears to be failing, the advocates can claim that its failure is due to incomplete or imperfect implementation, or perhaps a short-sighted impatience on the part of its critics.

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