About AJ DiCintio
A.J. DiCintio is a Featured Writer for The New Media Journal. He first exercised his polemical skills arguing with friends on
the street corners of the working class neighborhood where he grew up.
Retired from teaching, he now applies those skills, somewhat honed and
polished by experience, to social/political affairs.
I thought it an entirely good thing for the nation to catch glimpses of
President Obama pulling weeds in the White House Vegetable Garden —
until I realized such images might cause some folks to place him in the
tradition of nineteenth century American radicals, the deep-dreaming
agrarians who were devotees of what Marx called "utopian socialism.”
So, in the interest of telling the truth about the profound distance
between the place where the often gentle, too frequently ridiculous,
always thoroughly human utopians fall on the political scale and the one
occupied by Barack Obama, a little history is in order.
In 1825, Englishman Robert Owen, a wealthy proponent of socialism and
"cooperative living” and thus a forebear of every limousine liberal,
purchased 20,000 acres in Indiana to establish a community of utopian
new harmony — which degenerated into a dystopia of miserable discordance
after only two years, owing to the old cacophony that foolish idealism
The only other important observation to be made about Owen and the
professors, writers, businessmen, and ordinary folks who populated New
Harmony is this:
Although they correctly reasoned that the flower of socialism could
never take root amid the chicken. . . . of places such as Harvard,
Massachusetts, they committed the monstrous stupidity of believing it
would flourish like prairie grass among the horse. . . . of an Indiana
In 1841 John Humphrey Noyes founded this community, absolutely certain
his philosophy of Perfectionism would lead to la dolce utopia in New
Central to Perfectionism was Noyes’ idea of "complex marriage,” a
revolutionary concept in which every male is married to every female.
(O! What nectar flows from the beautiful blossom that is the left’s
Regarding concerns that the promiscuity likely to result from complex
marriage would create a population explosion whose problems might tax
even the utopian genius, Noyes counseled not to worry; for, like every
good liberal who pulls "evolving standards of decency that mark the
progress of a maturing society” out of thin air, he decreed that
Oneidans be ruled by the standards of "stipiculture,” a practice by
which only "morally perfect” adults procreate children.
(The long lines of persons claiming to possess documentation proving
their moral perfection must have caused quite a bureaucratic tangle for
Oneida. But, as every liberal is happy to inform us, back breaking
bureaucracies and soul fatiguing queues are a small price to pay for
Despite its nonsense about perfectionism and stipiculture, Oneida did
accomplish something remarkable: It survived more than a decade. (As you
will soon see, after a mere six months, the denizens of Fruitlands ran
wildly down the streets of Harvard town shouting, "To hell with the
communal, transcendental, vegan life, let us eat meat!”)
After that modest achievement, the Oneida community held together only
because its members eschewed living solely off the land to engage in the
(formerly wicked) activity of bourgeois manufacturing and (at prices
determined by the once evil market) selling their (now eminently moral)
excess production to others.
Thus, in Oneida, did perfectionism, complex marriage, and stipiculture
surrender to Reality; did foolish idealism bow to Common Sense; did
collectivism acquiesce to Freedom and Individual Initiative; and did
True Love conquer all.
Some notable members of America’s literati joined in this experimental
community organized by George Ripley in 1841 at West Roxbury,
Massachusetts. However, naming them is infinitely less important than
reporting this fact:
The Brook Farm Institute of Agriculture and Education failed in six
years precisely because it attracted intellectuals of the time —
including Harvard professors who, unlike their modern counterparts, knew
the proper place for shoveling manure.
Amos Bronson Alcott, father of Louisa May Alcott, was bursting with
great hopes for success when, in1843, he founded Fruitlands.
Unfortunately, the community’s utopian fruit never matured, in part
because a love-of-power seed sprouted in Amos’ agriculturalist brain,
causing him to decree that residents refrain from using animal products
of any kind.
Of course, it wasn’t just a restrictive diet and the prohibition against
using quills as pens that prompted Emerson to observe, "They look well
in July. We shall see them in December.” It was the entirety of Alcott’s
vision that made Ralph Waldo correct in his prediction of a winter of
Sure enough, any locals moved to check up on the health of the agrarian
socialists had to get to Fruitlands by December of ’43 because a month
later the community fell apart.
Alas, the truth about Fruitlands and other utopian experiments (just as
it became the truth about communism and other forms of socialism) is
that those who believed staunchly in the evils wrought by oversupply
could not produce enough food to keep themselves alive.
With images fresh in our minds of American Pollyannas brought to ruin by
an arrogance that drove them to believe, "Thinking makes it so,” we are
now able to tackle the question of where on the political scale to place
those whom Karl Marx mocked as feckless primitives — but nevertheless
praised for the role they played in laying a foundation for a world in
which family, private property, and free enterprise are "abolished.”
What we find is that there is no reasonable answer other than this: We
must place the utopians close to anarchists because those apolitical
dreamers believed in moral suasion as the only proper means by which to
enforce the "laws” of their communal societies.
Finally, the implications of that judgment allow us to dismiss nonsense
about the president as kin to America’s idealistic agrarians and
conclude as follows regarding his political ideology:
Politician Barack Obama loves centralized authority to the extent that
he would astonishingly increase the power and reach of the level of
government most remote from the people, burden present and future
generations with a suffocating incubus of debt, and subjugate citizens
to the autocratic thumb of liberal activist judges.
Thus, by a stunning distance, he stoops closer to the dictatorial end of
the political scale not just in contrast to utopians or presidents who
went before him but to the vast majority of Americans, past and present.
fact, and not images of a polished intellect expediently positioned
between arugula and chard, ought to occupy the minds of the American