Our Recurring Dreams of Utopia, by David Carlin

Founder’s Quote
July 22, 2022
The Wages of Sin is Disease, by Austin Ruse
July 22, 2022

*Image: Jean-Jacques Rousseau by Allan Ramsay, 1766 [Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland]

By David Carlin, The Catholic Thing, July 22, 2022

David Carlin is a retired professor of sociology and philosophy at the Community College of Rhode Island, and the author of The Decline and Fall of the Catholic Church in America and, most recently, Three Sexual Revolutions: Catholic, Protestant, Atheist.


It was in the 18th century that the idea emerged that we humans can create something like a heaven on earth – an ideal society, a utopia. The great St. Thomas More wrote a Utopia, but that book demonstrates the unintended consequences – not to say human disasters – such schemes inevitably produce.

The development of this utopian dream was greatly assisted by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, probably the most influential thinker in the Western world since Saint Augustine.  Rousseau was an anti-Augustine, a fact he may have had in mind when he gave his autobiography the same title that Augustine had given his: Confessions.  If Augustine can be taken as a classic spokesman for the teachings of Jesus Christ, we might say that Rousseau was – if not the anti-Christ – at least an anti-Christ.  …