I have a fantasy where I live in a world where there is no such thing as money or property. No differences of status separate human being from human being. Nations have no more power to define people’s identity than voluntary clubs do today. Religion is a purely private, aesthetic affair, like liking a particular kind of music. In my fantasy I get up,wash my face, leave the house, walk down the street and meet people. I get to know a new person every day and we learn about each other and become friends. It doesn’t matter who anybody else thinks we are and who we should be.
I use the word “fantasy” because I think it stems from my emotional needs. They are not particular to me alone and are shared by a certain strain in progressive and anarchist politics.
Those who are politically conservative have a fantasy as well, and I do when I am in a conservative mood. It is expressed by Lao Tzu in the Tao Teh Ching, when he says the people once had empty heads and full stomachs, and heard the chickens crowing in the village down the road but never in their lives visited it. In my conservative fantasy I am happy, and part of an organic whole, like a leaf on a tree in a healthy forest.
The progressive fantasy places the good place in the future and the conservative fantasy places it in the past.
It is pretty easy to make fun of both political fantasies, because it is always easy to make fun of a fantasy. When a person is vulnerable enough to say what he or she really needs, it is always an option to mock him or her.
In an intimate relationship we trust our partner with our fantasies. We don’t force them to comply with them, but we let them know what they are without fear of ridicule.
It would be nice if we could do that in our political lives too.