Imagining Utopia: Dateline August 14

Hello friends, after a four year hiatus Dispatches from Utopia is back. I hope you will take the time to check out this new post*. If you don’t want to receive them in the future simply unsubscribe  – no offense will be taken, honestly. If, on the other hand you like the posts please share them with your contacts.

Jack Moscou

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Utopia as:

1. an imaginary and indefinitely remote place
2. often capitalized :  a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social conditions
3. an impractical scheme for social improvement
If, as the Chinese proverb says, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step then The Writers Collective considers the posts on Dispatches from Utopia to be the first step in the journey to the yet-to-be born country of Utopia USA.
“The Writers Collective” is about changing the world for the better. Our ideal world would be Utopian.  As to exactly how  to get there we don’t pretend to know.What we do know is that we are not satisfied withthe world we find ourselves in and are committed to working to improve it.
Imagining Utopia is easy— realizing it is difficult. If history has taught us anything it is that one of the reasons Utopian movements  crash and burn is the difficulty of  struggling simultaneously for small incremental changes and the total change in society that would often be necessary to bring those changes  about. This  tension is compounded when you have a society where there are literally hundreds of aggrieved groups being asked to join together and to some extent subordinate their own claim to immediate redress in favor of some Utopian solution that will solve everybody’s problem at the same time.

Struggling for what is achievable while never losing sight of the need for a total social change is a long, slow, and often dispiriting  process.

In this post, I will limit myself to trying to get the conversation going — and the journey started —by imagining Utopia USA knowing full well that the devil is in the details.  In subsequent posts I will join in  with  my colleagues from The Writers Collective as we  weigh in with our thoughts.

In the Utopia I envision:

  • Everybody will be honest, truthful, caring, considerate, respectful, co-operative, loving, thoughtful and you can throw in every word you can think of that brings to mind a society that is truly a “civil” society.
  • A land of abundance with plenty for all.
  • A world without war, racism, sexism, discrimination of any kind towards any other human being — and I guess maybe we should include animals — and we will respect and take care of our planet.
  • Technology will be devoted to the common good and not for the generation of profits. Robotics will be able to provide all the food, shelter, clothing, health care, transportation and anything else we may need.
  • Utopia USA will be — thanks to robotics —for the first time in human history a leisure society

It is certainly possible that once we arrive at Utopia USA we may find as Pogo said, “we have met the enemy and he is us” or as we have been warned by the bible, ‘the devil finds mischief in idle hands.’

But I would like to think that Freud’s concept that “love and creative work” are the wellsprings of the human existence will prove true and our leisure society will be devoted to a lifetime of learning, to the pursuit of the arts, to travel, to truly becoming a global village, and to a new and heightened sense of self-awareness of what it means to be truly human.

Jack Moscou is a member of The Writers Collective. Imagining Utopia is a revised and abridged excerpt from his book Why Not Utopia? a political platform is search of a party.

* The next post, August 29th, will discuss how in a Utopian society work could be organized to create a land of plenty with time to smell the roses and truly enjoy life.

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1 thought on “Imagining Utopia: Dateline August 14”

  1. Utopia has been imagined in many forms, from the biblical Garden of Eden, to Sir Thomas Moore in 1516, to Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged. There have been many attempts at Utopia in human history: Marxism, Nazism, Jonestown, and hippie communes to name a few. In some ways the United States began as a utopian attempt in Jamestown in 1607. Utopia is generally seen as a social environment, starting out as a designed community with rules and customs that are meant to result in a life of harmony and happiness for its members. Utopias sound great in principle: the members are all equal. Everyone is the same, on equal footing; nobody is better than anybody else, and we share everything. Why can’t we do that?
    At present, there are no known successes, and the explanations for their failures range from humans’ animal nature to poor design to economic and political realities. Ernest Becker and the Terror Management Theorists offer another explanation: human psychology. They contend that the universal human need to cope with the inevitability of death creates an obstacle to any plan for a perfect society. They maintain that we need to feel individually special in the context of a larger framework. The larger framework might be a revolution or religious cosmic specialness – and secular and religious movements often provide that for a time. But inevitably we can’t all be equal and harmonious because, according to Dr. Jeff Greenberg, co-developer of Terror Management Theory, humans need greaters, people to look up to, to identify with, that help us to transcend death anxiety, and we need lessers or inferiors, people to look down on, who help us feel more deserving of immortality. Greaters can be leaders, heroes, saints, and celebrities. Lessers can be members of a lower class, servants, slaves, and untouchables. Inequality is baked into our human interactions, and is the inevitable undoing of utopian societies. Authorities, resentments, and divisions of labor sooner or later create fissures that break apart the most well planned systems.

    Why, then, do we in the Writers Collective use Utopia as an imagined goal? Utopia is shorthand for a better world. We believe and hope that humankind will eventually grow to understand itself, to understand the role that death denial plays in human affairs, and will work toward the goal of Utopia. It will not be in our lifetimes, but planting the seeds for change is a worthwhile endeavor just the same.

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