Philosophical Multicore

Sometimes controversial, sometimes fallacious, sometimes thought-provoking, and always fun.

Utopia Theory

Posted by Michael Dickens on May 19, 2008

This is an essay that I wrote for school. I want to get some response to it because it’s fascinating.

* * * * *

Developing a utopia is one of the most difficult accomplishments to achieve in reality. If it has ever happened, no one knows about it because it was not maintainable. It is possible that prehistoric goddess-worshiping societies were utopian, but they were non-maintainable because they were wiped out by other warlike societies. Complete peacefulness only works if the entire world is being peaceful, and a single breach of this agreement breaks down the entire structure of society. Therefore, either a utopian society must have defenses, or it must have a way to prevent anyone from ever starting a war. This is the anathema of peace. Even if there is only one chance in 1,000,000 that someone would want to start a war for their own benefit (and because it would be easy), seven thousand people would try this. For this to be successful, people must have no desire whatsoever to take advantage of the lack of defenses. I know of no way to do this, and it would take an army (no pun intended) of philosophers and societal theorists* do discover that answer. The best way I know of to do this is to educate people to believe that and implant it into their heads.

Societies in the past have revolved around certain things. The founding fathers of the United States attempted to create a society in which people were free to make their own decisions and follow their own paths, be it in terms of religion, opinions, or who should be leading the government. Socialism began because people dreamed of a society when all people were equal, and there was not a small pocket of people who controlled all the wealth. These values are similar throughout all attempts at utopia. In some stories, such as 1984 or The Giver, they create a society that is completely perfect…almost. People have limited freedom, which is the sole reason it is a dystopia and not a utopia. Even if a person is completely happy and has all their needs met, if they are not free, it is no utopia. People also cannot have everything magically given to them. People get pleasure out of accomplishment. The proper balance must be reached so that people have their basic needs, but still get the thrill of accomplishment.
 Today there are two basic types of society: capitalism and socialism. Socialism ensures that all people are equal, and that there are no impoverished and no obscenely rich, but requires an impartial government that truly wants to ensure fairness. Also, socialism obstructs economic growth and restricts people to their current positions. Capitalism is a powerful form of society, allowing individuals to go far, but this system encourages poverty. So that people can make more money and therefore climb higher in the pyramid of society, they advertise overmuch, even forcing advertisements down the consumer’s throat. Today’s society in America is packed with excess advertising. Out of every 30 minute television show, 10 minutes are advertisement. Not only that, but the shows are filled with product placement. Money ruling people’s lives like this would never be possible in a socialist society, but socialism causes other troubles. I believe that the best way to manage this is to create an essentially capitalist society, but limit the possible venues of advertising. If advertising is limited, the advertisers will be willing to pay more for it. Also, customized but ignorable advertising is useful. For instance, ads by Google. The advertisements are based on what you search, so they will be on related topics: they will probably be something you were already looking for, instead of something you supposedly needed but didn’t know you needed. This advertising is also easily ignorable if you don’t want to look at it.

In 1984, society is maintained by inducing fear and pain on those who are against it, and eventually bringing them over to the side of the Party. A true utopia would have not persuade people through fear and pain, but through love. Unfortunately, as is mentioned in 1984, love is harder to maintain. Whether a society is based on love or fear changes the reasons for rebellion. If a society is based on fear, people will rebel because they want freedom, and to be treated well. If a society is based on love, people will rebel because it’s an easy way to get power, and the society will then become fear-based. A fear-based society undergoing a revolution has a good chance of becoming fear-based, only with different leaders.

The key here lies in education. People should be taught well, in a way that they will support the continuation of a love-based society. People must learn this in a way that isn’t brainwashing, but is still powerful. If, from a very young age, children are taught to recognize that other people are human beings who also have feelings, and they are able to completely empathize with others, they will understand that a fear-driven society will make other fellow human beings unhappy. Even if one or a few people do not get this into their understanding, others will not support them in rebellion.


 Developing a utopia is very difficult to actually achieve. It is perhaps impossible, and can only be asymptotically approached. It this is true, which it very well may be, a utopia in reality would be a society that continues moving towards perfection, and never quite reaching it. This is why I believe it must be capitalist; capitalism encourages growth and invention. People would be free to make their own choices, and encouraged by their peers to make the right choices. When a community continues moving forward towards the unreachable point of infinite happiness, a utopia has been ascertained.

*yes, I made up that job title
REFERENCES: (I may not have used all these directly, but I have knowlege about them and was subliminally influenced by them.)
Star Trek
1984
Brave New World
Lord of the Flies
The Giver
OTHER RESOURCES:
wikipedia.org
http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080227213855AADerJK
http://home.vicnet.net.au/~dmcm/socialism

Please write a response and your thoughts on Utopia Theory.

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18 Responses to “Utopia Theory”

  1. Kelly Dickens said

    This is a thoughtful and stimulating essay. But why limit your discussion to a comparison of Socialism and Capitalism? I note, for instance, no discussion of Anarchy as an alternative. And what about consensual forms of decision-making? (Perhaps you addressed this in mentioning the demise of goddess-worshipping cultures.)

    This is a good jumping-off point.

  2. Bill said

    Excellent essay. There may be hope for humans yet. Then again, I sometimes fear we are inherently warlike; driven by ambition, greed and selfishness. Out natural state seems to be a combination of cooperation and competition — socialism and capitalism.

  3. Linda said

    “Developing a utopia”–I’d be interested in reading your definition of this right up front because then my thinking is aligned with yours from the beginning of your essay. What would a utopian society look like, according to MJD?
    “The best way I know of to do this is to educate people to believe that and implant it into their heads”–I’d like to know more about your ideas of how to do this. What would such an education look like? This statement also implies that utopian is the “right” way to live, so I’d like to hear your arguments about whether you think that’s the case.
    “Even if a person is completely happy and has all their needs met, if they are not free, it is no utopia. “–This is a great thought, Michael
    I like your discussion of capitalism and socialism and think you make some good points there.
    “A true utopia would have not persuade people through fear and pain, but through love”–What do you think this would look like? How does one persuade others through love on a societal scale?
    “A fear-based society undergoing a revolution has a good chance of becoming fear-based, only with different leaders.” This is right on. The complex and incredibly challenging part in any system change is how to make the change in a way that fundamentally alters the system, not just changes it to be the same, but different. You have to use a completely different model or approach to creating something new.
    Michael, good job on this essay. I liked reading it. ~mom

  4. mtgap said

    Utopia is kind of vague. I would say it is a society that allows people to be happy and free and have their needs met. Dictionary.com calls it:
    any visionary system of political or social perfection.

    “This is a thoughtful and stimulating essay. But why limit your discussion to a comparison of Socialism and Capitalism? I note, for instance, no discussion of Anarchy as an alternative. And what about consensual forms of decision-making? (Perhaps you addressed this in mentioning the demise of goddess-worshipping cultures.)”

    I included Capitalism and Socialism because they are the 2 most modern forms of society, most relevant to our lives. I may add others in the future.

    I put this up here so I could hear other people’s thoughts on utopias. Maybe you think there’s something I didn’t cover. Well what do YOU think about that thing?

  5. Paul Robalino said

    this is a really good essay Michael. you are really smart. how did you get so smart? well this was a cool speech i wrote this comment after it ended.

  6. Paul Robalino said

    i think utopia is impossible because we wouldnt get anywhere if we were all stupid and you will always have more reach to other aspects of creativity within yourself.

  7. Luke said

    I think it is interesting how you think advertising is such a large problem in America. “limit the possible venues of advertising.” I would like you to expand on this.

  8. Morgan said

    ”a utopia in reality would be a society that continues moving towards perfection, and never quite reaching it”

    Even though this may be true, Who would want to live in a society that has no chance of perfection i.e. no hope and without hope would we still be humans?

  9. Morgan said

    Also “If advertising is limited, the advertisers will be willing to pay more for it. Also, customized but ignorable advertising is useful. For instance, ads by Google. The advertisements are based on what you search, so they will be on related topics: they will probably be something you were already looking for, instead of something you supposedly needed but didn’t know you needed. This advertising is also easily ignorable if you don’t want to look at it.”

    I think all that would do is be a compromise and not a solution.

    And “The key here lies in education. People should be taught well, in a way that they will support the continuation of a love-based society. People must learn this in a way that isn’t brainwashing, but is still powerful. If, from a very young age, children are taught to recognize that other people are human beings who also have feelings, and they are able to completely empathize with others, they will understand that a fear-driven society will make other fellow human beings unhappy. Even if one or a few people do not get this into their understanding, others will not support them in rebellion.”

    In the last sentance of the quote I think it could be said in response “a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link” And nearly perfect society were few people are imperfect is NEARLY a Utopia but not. As to what could we do to prevent people to believe what they want to because if we force them to believe in peace isn’t that a contradiction of the meaning of freedom and peace.

  10. Luke said

    “Even if one or a few people do not get this into their understanding, others will not support them in rebellion.” Other educated people might not support them in rebellion, but it seems like “uneducated” individuals would ban together somehow and slowly reverse the progress of the utopia. This is in a sense a “1984” scenario which has no obvious solution (in my mind) except for a sort of “Room 101”. A “Room 101” is not something a love based society would use. What are you going to give rebels? the best thing in the world! (you would have to of read 1984 to understand). I don’t think problems like this could be averted without some counterproductive measures. Nothing in a utopia should be counterproductive to creating perfection, so you inherently can’t make a utopia in this way or perhaps in any way.

    Your thoughts please?

    Also, for anyone who hasn’t read 1984, “Room 101” is the torture room where the re-education of rebels takes place.

  11. Luke said

    You could also you mind control pills like in “The Giver”. Again this would not be love based, love is trust, so what would the point of a utopia (or in this case dystopia) be in the first place? Maybe I’m just running in philosophic circles, but it’s my opinion for now.

  12. Luke said

    By the way, this is a really interesting subject.

  13. Morgan said

    One of the basic reasons that Utopia could never be reached is that Utopia is perfection and there is no perfection in nature but how does one define perfection by the fact that life exists in itself is so incredible that maybe we are already in Utopia.

  14. mtgap said

    I don’t think that the inability to reach perfection is hopelessness. We currently cannot reach perfection, but it’s not hopeless. Things don’t have to be perfect.

  15. Luke said

    That is true

  16. mtgap said

    Morgan: That is true, perfection is impossible. Even if people never have any negative emotions, that has a huge downside. People will never know the bad side of life. Being happy all the time could actually lead to serious depression. IMO, depression is bad all the time. A little anger, grief, or sadness can be healthy, but depression is never good. It’s hardly an emotion, it’s a state of not wanting to be alive.

  17. mtgap said

    People define their reality through misery and suffering. Even when we designed your perfect world, your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up. It was a disaster; entire crops were lost.
    -Agent Smith (paraphrased)

  18. mtgap said

    I think part of the problem is that if you try to create a utopia, you always have to give something up. For instance, you could make everyone happy but that would require ignorance, which stops it from being a utopia.

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