The American Vision: A Biblical Worldview Ministry

“Raising Arizona” and Socialist Dreamers

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In the movie Raising Arizona (1987), H.I. (Nicholas Cage), an ex-convict, and Edwina “Ed” (Holly Hunter), an ex-police officer, are a down-and-out married couple who desperately want a child. Unable to have a child of their own, they decide to take one from the Arizonas who just had quintuplets. According to the paper, it’s “more than they can handle.” H.I. reasons that since the Arizonas have so many and they don’t have any, taking one of five should not be an ethical problem. Their baby-snatching socialism is the beginning of their nightmare.

If H.I.’s approach to possessions sounds familiar, you are on the beam. Isn’t this how socialists argue about taxation? The rich have so much, so why not take a portion of their “excess” capital and distribute it to the have-nots. In the end, everybody will be better off. The promise of a better society for everyone is the pledge of the social utopians. Like all promised utopias, like the troubles experienced by H.I. and Edwina after their baby snatching episode,  the benefits are hard to come by. But this hasn’t stopped the social utopians in Congress from taxing and spending in the name of “social justice” and a “better society.”

Utopian dreamers often painted their visions of the future with socialistic and communistic colors. Sir Thomas More (1478–1535), author of Utopia, called for the abolition of private property where all things were held in common. It should not surprise us, therefore, that Utopia became a textbook of Socialist propaganda and statist millennial expectations.[1] In similar fashion, Bellamy’s Looking Backward, “called for an equal annual income of $4,000 per person.”[2] Of course, such a way of living will have to be forced on those who embrace the utopian dream, hardly what one thinks of when the word utopia is used as a description of an ideal society. Why should a person work hard if he will be guaranteed a certain income? What reason can the entrepreneur have for being enterprising when all he can earn is $4,000? If this is what utopia is all about, then we don’t have to go very far to observe it. When Vladimir Bukovsky read these socialist utopia novels, he “discovered, to his amazement, that all of them had actually been realized—in the Soviet Union.”[3] Today, few would want to go “back to the U.S.S.R.” under the iron boot of Communism.

All such dreams of utopia dismiss the realities of sin and the abuses inherent in centralized political government. Sin, although this is rarely what they call it, is the reason why most believers in utopia often end up as dystopians (pessimists). But if the utopians forget about sin, the dystopians forget about redeeming grace. Consider the views of H. G. Wells, best known for his science fiction novels The Time Machine and War of the Worlds.

Wells began his writing career on a high note of optimism. His Outline of History (1920) “was a song of evolutionary idealism, faith in progress, and complete optimism. By 1933, when he published The Shape of Things to Come, he could see no better way to overcome the stubbornness and selfishness between people and nations than a desperate action by intellectual idealists to seize control of the world by force and establish their vision with a universal compulsory educational program. Finally, shortly before his death, he wrote an aptly-titled book, The Mind at the End of Its Tether (1945) in which he concluded that ‘there is no way out, or around, or through the impasse. It is the end.’“[4] So much for socialism’s utopian dreams. Don’t think a better managed socialism will turn out any better. It didn’t for H.I. and Ed, and it won’t for us if the madness of social engineering continues.

Endnotes:

[1] R. W. Chambers, Thomas More (Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 1958), 125.
[2] Rousas J. Rushdoony, The One and the Many: Studies in the Philosophy of Order and Ultimacy (Fairfax, VA: Thoburn Press, 1978), 271.
[3] Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction: Christian Faith and Its Confrontation with American Society (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, [1983] 1993), 192.
[4] Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, 2.

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