Reinhold Niebuhr's Moral Man and Immoral Society is a masterpiece of anti-utopianism. The book, like much of his other work, is an extended polemic against naive and overly optimistic views of human nature and society.
While he doesn't hold to the idea of the "total depravity" of humanity, he takes the idea of sin very seriously. By sin, he doesn't mean disobeying this or that divine rule but rather the self-centeredness which causes people to do harm to others, the creation and even themselves. And if individual humans have sinful tendencies, groups are much more selfish and imperialistic.
He also argued that human motivations are inherently ambiguous and people often do the most harm when they think they are being the most righteous. Oppressors often quite sincerely believe that they are acting for the good of those they oppress--and some of the oppressed might do the same given the chance.
If that's the case, then while we might make this or that social improvement, society will always be an arena of struggle:
there is good reason to believe that the sentiments of benevolence and social goodwill will never be so pure and powerful, and the rational capacity to consider the rights and needs of others in fair competition with our own will never be so fully developed as to create the possibility for the anarchistic millennium...
While democracy represents a great advance over other forms of government, it still doesn't and can't eliminate the element of struggle:
Politics will, to the end of history, be an area where conscience and power meet, where the ethical and coercive factors of human life will interpenetrate and work out their tentative and uneasy compromises.
EASY STREET. Here's economist Dean Baker's latest rant on Wall Street.
ONE TO WATCH. WV Governor Joe Manchin has issued a call for a special session of the legislature to convene today. One item is health care related in the wake of national health care reform. The most contentious issues are those related to education.
CLIMATE. Here's some coverage of the new energy/climate bill that has just been introduced in the US Senate.
ONE SHOT DEAL. There's more scientific evidence that life on earth arose exactly once and that all living things have a single common ancestor.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED