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3.1.2 WHO’S UTOPIA?

on Tue, 06/11/2013 - 14:21

THROUGHOUT the history of civilization, few national leaders or politicians have attempted to articulate a comprehensive plan to improve the lives of all people under their jurisdiction. Although individuals such as Plato, Edward Bellamy, H. G. Wells, Karl Marx, and Howard Scott made some attempts to present a new civilization available to all, the established social order considered these individuals impractical dreamers with utopian designs that ran contrary to the innate elements of human nature. Arrayed against these social pioneers was a formidable status quo composed of vested interests that were comfortable with the way things were, and a populace at large that, out of years of indoctrination and conditioning, wanted no radical change. These became the millions of non-appointed guardians of the status quo. The outlook and philosophy of the leaders were consistent with their positions of differential advantage.

In 1898, Edward Bellamy wrote the book Looking Backward. He conceived of an ideal egalitarian social system with many advanced ideas for its time. This bestseller generated a great deal of interest, and many people inquired as to how this type of cooperative utopian society could be developed. But Bellamy answered that he was just a writer and did not know how to create such a society.

The proposals he presented, similar to those of Plato’s Republic, the writings of Karl Marx, H. G. Wells in his book The Shape of Things to Come, and many others all represent attempts to find workable solutions to the many problems that earlier civilizations were unable to resolve. There is little doubt that at the time of Bellamy’s book these social conditions were abominable, which made a utopian ideal extremely appealing. What appeared to be lacking in most of these concepts, however, has been an overall plan, and the necessary methods for a transitional system to enable the idea to become a reality. Most of the early visions of a better world did not allow for changes in either technology or human values, tending to arrest innovative efforts. Additionally, all have lacked a comprehensive set of blueprints, models, and a methodology for implementation. Finally, they lacked competent and determined individuals who could actually bring about such a transition.

The answers do not lie in debate or philosophical discussion of values, but rather in methodology. Thus, what is needed is an operational definition of a better world. That operational definition in our age would be to constantly maximize existing and future benevolent technologies with the sole purpose of enhancing all human life and protecting the environment. It would by definition eliminate all human suffering.

Today we have developed the necessary technology to surpass the fondest of hopes and visions that any social innovator could have dreamed of in the past. The fact that previous attempts at social change have failed is no justification for us to ever stop trying. It is merely the current leadership structure that has failed all the people of the world. The real danger lies in apathy and complacence. The only limitations to the future of humankind are those that we impose upon ourselves. It is now possible to relieve humanity of many of its unresolved problems through the humane application of technology that is already available. Our goal, if we are to accept the challenge, is to identify the impediments of reaching utopia, and remove the guilty parties from power.

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