Solway hints at the principle in the first paragraph, with Boethius' observation that "comparisons can be drawn between finite things, but not between finite and infinite."
Precisely. This is one of those things we cannot not know, at least if we understand the nature and limits of thought. Thus, the principle "is perennially valid, whether with respect to philosophical and theological speculation, mathematical equations involving infinities, or ideological aspects of political thought" (Solway).
So, the inevitable failure of socialism has something to do with the dialectic between finite and infinite; we might also say absolute and relative, one and many, Creator and creation (this latter providing a hint as to the anti-religious religious appeal of socialism, more on which below).
Socialism's "adventures in social perfectibility flow from the refusal to ground a vision of the future in historical and political reality." True, but I would go beyond this, and situate the refusal in metaphysical reality, i.e., the reality than which there can be no realer (on this side of the veil).
"In order to achieve the possible, it is necessary to acknowledge the real, that is, the limits set by the actual parameters of historical existence and the constraints of human nature" (emphases mine). To you this may sound obvious, but it is actually a revolutionary idea, with socialism embodying an atavistic, counter-revolutionary regression to what amounts to Primordial Error -- indeed, all the way down and back to Genesis 3 All Over Again.
You will forgive me if this post takes a while to settle in. The principles we're discussing have so many implications that it's difficult to render them in linear form. Rather, each one is a vertical depth charge with delayed explosions. Also, it's not as if I've thought this through ahead of time. No, this is being worked out as I write and you read. Otherwise it wouldn't be fun.
Humans think. It's what we do. Many if not most experts believe human thinking must resemble "animal thinking," but that's just stupid. No animal -- obviously -- can conceive of the absolute or infinite, and human thinking is rooted in this conception, whether explicitly or (more likely) implicitly.
I first realized this in, oh, around the turn of the millennium, before I even read Schuon (who later confirmed the principle for me in metaphysical granite). Thanks to amazon, I stumbled upon an apparently obscure philosopher named Errol Harris. For example, in his book Revelation through Reason, he writes that "The divine totality is, like its analogue the biological organism, implicit in every one of its parts and phases.... Because of this implicit presence in every finite being, every finite being proclaims the existence of God."
In short, finitude proclaims infinitude. But the converse is also true (and ontologically prior): infinitude proclaims finitude, via none other than the Logos. Creation, you might say, is the proclamation of finitude (by infinitude).
Now, what happens if we remove one of these terms, or collapse one into the other? Well, socialism for one. It is rooted in a complete cosmic inversion whereby the Infinite is denied up front but sneaks back in via its utopian pretensions which could only manifest in a non-finite world, AKA heaven. This really goes back to Voegelin's gag about immanentizing the eschaton. Just stop doing it, okay?
For Voegelin, the "gnostic personality" "seeks to end history in some everlasting realm here on earth in an attempt to perfect man. Whether the gnostic achieves that goal is of no consequence." Rather, "it is the effort and the intention alone to achieve a worthy outcome that is of importance to the gnostic."
Thus, what looks like classic self-defeating behavior on the part of the socialist is actually the whole point -- identical in form to the jihadist who has no realistic hope of destroying western civilization (we're quite capable of achieving that on our own, thank you) but who is nevertheless nourished by the dream of doing so. It is theological hope turned upside down and inside out, thus rendered pathological.
For Voegelin, the immamentization of transcendent hope is a cognitive fallacy: "any attempt to create a utopian heaven on earth through the instrument of some politician and/or political means is an effort in futility." Its very impossibly evokes the totalitarian regime, since total power is required in order to make the impossible possible. Which is of course impossible nonetheless, but they never stop trying.
Back to Solway:
One cannot validly compare the imperfect social and political structures of the past and present with a utopian construction that has never come to pass and which exists only in myth, dream and mere desire.... To strive, for example, to build an ideal society in which “equality of results” or “outcomes” -- what is called “social justice” -- is guaranteed can only produce a levelled-down caricature of human struggle and accomplishment.
Now, all of this reverts back to our original subject, i.e., the Prerogatives of the Human State. For the left, these prerogatives are never enough. Rather, presumptuous progressives prefer the prerogatives of the divine state, which is to say, they wish to be as gods.
Unlike animals, humans can know the Absolute. They just can't be the Absolute. It's like what we frequently hear of the left: all they have to do is not be crazy, and they can't manage that. Likewise, all they have to do is not pretend to be God. But then they wouldn't be socialists.
“The Kingdom of God” is not the Christian name for a futuristic paradise.
Even if he managed to make his most audacious utopias a reality, man would continue to yearn for otherworldly destinies.
An “ideal society” would be the graveyard of human greatness.
In every utopian sleeps a police sergeant (Dávila).