Competition year: 2004
About David Skousen
Man as a Template for the Ideal Society
If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the
If there be beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the
If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation.
When there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.
Question: ”Which is better, vanilla or chocolate?”
Answer: ”Vanilla or chocolate.”
In the same way, there has never been total agreement on ”The Ideal
Society.” Yet this elusive dream lives on. As one who also dreams, I offer
this essay. My title is a word-play on phantasmagoria-fantastic images in
art or dreams. I will examine the most logical-and scientific-model
available, from which we may create a pattern for rebuilding society.
In 1516, Thomas More’s Utopia proposed a static society, planned in
every aspect, with diminished family ties and state-raised children. More’s
plan never proved viable, thereby living up to one meaning of its Greek name
Many before and since have tried their versions of ”peace, good will
toward men.” In the nineteenth century alone, at least 130 attempts were
made in the United States. (”Utopia: Dream into Nightmare,” Alexander
Winston, The Freeman, March 1972, p. 133) Today’s most notable
international experiment is Communism.
Nevertheless, the most astute and ingenious plan to date gave birth to
the republic of the United States of America. No other system has taken into
account man’s nature so well and allowed his spirit to shine so long, for so
many. Unfortunately, internal decay has dimmed its light. ”Republic,”
”democracy,” and ”capitalism” used to be watch-words for the world. Even
Russian communism dabbled with its own version of capitalism to survive. And
its economy improved, accordingly. (Under Lenin’s New Economic Program in
1921, starvation and poverty began to abate in just a few months.)
But today many are disillusioned with ”capitalism.” Misuse of this
powerful engine of progress by selfish men, often by strategy behind the
scenes, resulted in the greedy few garnering unearned wealth, by stealing
the little of the many. That was not capitalism-it was monopoly!
Nevertheless, being implicated in their schemes, capitalism got the blame.
Such is the price of not looking beyond appearance.
This presentation will not deal with capitalism or any other -ism, per
se. It is, instead, a general theory based on a model sculpted for the
What is the ideal society?
The highest but most difficult form of cogitation is abstract thought.
To ease the burden, I will use illustrations, sayings, or poems to adapt
some of these principles to common experience.
Listed below are ideals I presume everyone wants, along with their