Utopian Nightmares in HBO’s The Anarchists Episode 3

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Utopian Nightmares in HBO’s The Anarchists Episode 3

Utopia is that which is in contradiction with reality.

Albert Camus

Anarchapulco is growing and is now attracting fine speakers, such as conservative libertarian and former congressman Ron Paul, who have been criticized for spouting racism, conspiracy theories, and hailing anti-government militia movements in his various newsletters. The anarcho-capitalists have done a good job creating their own little bubble, and for a while everything was looking great. But as Bitcoin drops in value, reality starts to creep in. In the third episode, Currency, the dangers of Utopian ideals are becoming more apparent.

The danger of utopianism is that it is trying to realize an ideal. These ideals are seldom based on reality, but rather on some notion of the absolute good. This is a futile pursuit right from the start and the reason for this is that there is no such thing as the absolute good. For over 2000 years philosophers have been searching for it and all of them, I would argue, have returned empty-handed. The main problem is that in order for the absolute good to exist it must be good in itself rather than for something else. In philosophical lingo, this is called intrinsic value and can be contrasted with instrumental value, which is the value something has because of its utility. G. E. Moore set up a sort of test to see whether something has intrinsic value or not and it is quite simple: Imagine something that exists completely alone in the universe, if that thing can still be called good then it has intrinsic value. Most of all I think this test shows the complete absurdity of such a notion as intrinsic value. Values are always relational and there must exist, at the very least, two entities for value to emerge. X is valuable to Y. Furthermore, nothing but the universe as a whole, can exist in itself. Absolute autonomy is pure fiction. This can be illustrated by how the anarcho-capitalists view Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. They believe that cryptocurrency is a way to escape the current monetary system in America, and by extension the government and the State. The reality, however, is that the value of Bitcoin is entirely dependent on the monetary system already in place. If the goods in a society cannot be bought with Bitcoins then the only real value of them depends on how many dollars you can get out of them. Another characteristic of their version of utopia is that it is based on voluntary action and contracts between free individuals. It has its bases in the idea that we are all free, rational individuals capable of making rational choices. While this might be true to a certain extent, it is by no means applicable to everyone, every time. What happens to those who are mentally deficient or are suffering from mental illnesses? It is hard enough for sane people to not give into irrational impulses, just imagine what it would be like if you are suffering from paranoid delusions. The case of veteran Paul Propert may serve as an example. Propert was introduced in episode two and he is clearly suffering from mental problems and addiction. His behavior is becoming more erratic and he is moving around in the community like a child that no one wants to take care of. Propert is in dire need of help that none of them are either willing or capable of providing. But of course, there are no problems in a utopia because then it would not be a utopia. It is because of this it will always be out of reach, completely divorced from reality. A siren call that will drown you before you get there.   

Freddie Ross

Freddie Ross

Art Historian
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