UNDER HEAVEN XII

“This is indeed the best kind of disorder, but the worse kind of order.” (Ziporyn; p 120) Thus does the author of the Tianxia sum up Mozi’s political vision.

Whatever the best kind of order might be, it is merely utopian. “Utopia” means “no-place”. And that’s the sum of it.

This being the case, we might conclude that Mozi’s best kind of disorder is the best we can do, given that whatever we do will be some form of disorder. But no, even if we dismiss the utopian idea that there can be perfect order, we can still practically approximate it. There are better political daos than Mozi’s.

Eu-topias (“good places”) are most always situated in a fabled past, which is why they are really always just utopias. The present is generally regarded as unusually chaotic: “But the world is presently in great chaos.” (p 119) Things were better in the good old days. The future is thus often seen as an opportunity to return to the past. The idea of “progress”, a new and greater betterment, has largely taken over our modern vision of the future, however. When it isn’t dis-topian (a “bad place”).

When eu-topias are able to guide us even when understood as utopias, whether past or futuristic, they can be most useful. This parallels all the various imaginative visions of sagacity and enlightenment; taken as actually realizable, they are more likely to shackle than to free us. Taken as merely imaginative, they can guide without becoming burdensome.

Let’s conclude with a bit of Zhuangzian equalization. There is always some order in disorder, and some disorder in order. Furthermore, to order one thing is to disorder something else, and vice versa. Is there then really any order or disorder? There isn’t—and there is.

Where there isn’t, what is there? Just things being what and as they are—which is to say, just being happenings reflective of the Great Happening which we affirm as eu-topia. All is Well in the Great Mess. Yes. Thankfulness arises.

Where there is, we have work to do.

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