Now, of course, actual communists had to rule communist societies that existed in the actual world, not in the world of Marx’s imagination. And so they could not avoid dealing with the reality of scarcity. (It should surprise no realist that, in fact, the way they dealt with it was that the rulers, and a handful of star athletes, chess players, mathematicians, and scientists, got all of the best stuff, and everyone else had to scrape by with the leftovers.) But given that the rule of the communists depended upon belief in Marx’s second reality, the fact of scarcity could never be admitted. Instead, the continual failure of the communist utopia to actually emerge had to be blamed on capitalists, Kulaks, intellectuals, reactionaries, and so on… and thus these people were imprisoned and slaughtered by the millions. And while these horrors were obvious for anyone willing to look, many, many people in communist countries went along with the charade, for to dissent was to risk being labeled a “reactionary” oneself, and to experience, at best, social ostracism, or very often “re-education” or even death. But what is worse is that many in the West did so as well, where the only penalty they faced was being ridiculed for being on “the wrong side of history.”
Today, of course, communism has mostly faded away, except in some few, scattered corners of academia. But a new ideology is rapidly gaining acceptance all around us: the ideology of the self-created individual. If we were to try to capture the essence of this ideology in a single slogan, it might be: “you can be whoever or whatever you can imagine yourself to be.”
It matters little, in evaluating this ideology, whether one is the most mystical of theists or the most hardheaded of materialists. Whether you think it was divine intention or the blind turning of the gears of evolution that made us what we are, one thing should be clear to anyone even loosely in touch with reality: we humans did not create ourselves. Furthermore, we cannot “be whoever we imagine we can.” Whether or not one believes in God, so long as one has some grip on reality, it is obvious that none of us can be God, either because we are simply a part of material reality, and not its source, or because there already is one God, and no room for a second. We also cannot be an oak tree or an earthworm.