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.
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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.)
Brave New World
Lord of the Flies
Please write a response and your thoughts on Utopia Theory.