The Coercive Utopian and the Liberal Utopian
From The Western Democratic Tradition by LJM Cooray

There is a significant difference between the coercive utopian and the freedom oriented utopian. Freedom oriented utopians are committed to change through education and the market place of actions and ideas. They are willing to have their ideas tested in the arena of public debate, though those who control the media and lay down the agenda are not very favourably disposed to giving them the opportunity to join in public debate.

There is an important distinction between the regulationist coercive utopian and the freedom-oriented utopian. The coercive utopian wishes to impose his views and philosophies on others, using the police power of the state. The freedom-oriented utopian is asking government to stand back and let the free actions of individuals and institutions interact in the context of public debate. He does not wish to use the police power of the state except to maintain law and order based on standards.

The coercive utopians emphasise the importance of institutions. It is not proposed to enter into the individuals versus institutions debate. But human beings at the very least are as important as institutions. Institutions are important. The human spirit cannot survive and develop in an atmosphere of repression and tyranny. Democratic institutions are among man's greatest inventions. In the western democratic order, progress must be based primarily on individual effort and improvement with minimal guidance from government.

The coercive utopian and the liberal utopian both rely on ideology. Yet only the freedom oriented liberal is frequently accused by the media of being ideological. The same epithets are not used in describing socialists, progressivists, reformists or even Marxists. There is a difference. The liberal is articulating an ideology of non-action. The socialist is advocating an ideology which includes using the police power of the state to effect change.