Utopia is a very clever word. I didn’t do much Greek after discovering they use another alphabet (I find ours boring enough thank you). More’s work is generally thought satirical, partly as Utopia carries the double meaning of ‘good place’ and ‘no place’. So it’s not very clever to dismiss someone as a ‘Utopian Idealist’ – they may already be taking the piss. The book itself recommended using mercenaries to fight wars and to put troops in harm’s way, thus thinning out hostile-minded bastards in the neighbouring communities you hired them in. Baldrick could not have come up with better!
In most of the West, we have no real politics. We are allowed a few apparently democratic rituals by the rich, but in the main people are not allowed much of a share of power or wealth. The broad propaganda is it’s best to leave this alone because the rich know what they are doing and provide a ‘bigger cake’ to divide than we’d have if we smucks ran things on more equal lines. Put simply, we’d be living on boiled grass without our elite. In most animal communities I can think of, apart from elephants, killing the leaders is something quickly recovered from. They are, sadly, merely replicated, rather than replaced by successful soviets. In clown fish, one of the females will change sex and grow and in some hornbills the next in line will start bonking Mommy when Daddy pops off. Imagine yourself looking down the sights of a sniper’s rifle with a bankster in the crosshairs. Could you keep from squeezing if hesheorit went into the ritual of being so special and needing every penny of that several millions in bonus?
The banksters aren’t super-skilled. We could man the banks with members of the Royal family and they’d do as well – and I mean either those from the Buck House or television soap. If the quality of bankers was the issue I’d have been cloning the bastards in the lab for years. The problem is that anyone with accumulated wealth can threaten to run away with it and invest it somewhere else.
You may think people have worked hard for what they have – and this is true in some cases, though most of us who have ‘a few bob’ from this have our situation under threat. Our governments are quantitatively easing what we have out from under. The rich are into gold and the kind of moves most of us can’t make to protect themselves from inflation (which cripples us and enriches them). They ain’t working hard to do this. They can sit back and let the rigged game benefit them.
The current Utopian question is whether we can find a way, a politics, not reliant on the rich and the type of money flows that currently prevent high taxes on the rich and redeployment of wealth in investments in our countries and a further redistribution of wealth through wages and publicly owned capital. Before discussing this we need to dispel the idea that this would be about big, centralist government and create an understanding this is what we seek to escape. The current ‘big government’ is something we never vote for and needs to be identified in full for what it is. In respect of his we have been let down by academic ‘thinkers’, many of whom have been tossing about with postmodernism or apologies for the current massive unfairness for 40 years. My guess is the new ideas have to come from environmental systems thinking and changes in employment relations in getting what work needs doing done. Where this argument leads I’m not sure. More important is not to get bogged down in the old factional positions by our own soaked-up ideologies or those working for the rich who wish to keep things as they are.
The problematic is not one of capitalism versus communism but is one of understanding how we organise, the perils of bureaucracy and the structuring of freedom, including local and global ‘policing’. There would be no point in a real, peaceful, unarmed Utopia if we left guns in the hands of a distant Taliban. The very terms of the needed public dialogue are shaky. If we say freedom, do we mean freedom to breed the world to abject poverty? What do we mean by ‘growth’ – houses full of cheap textiles and plastic toys fit for landfill that’s run out? What can we allow as accumulated wealth – wads of money increasingly parasitic on ever less well paid sweated labour?
The needed debate is beyond the vast majority of people – as far away as any between relativity and horava gravity is to most. This leads me to think the shift has to come through new technology. Most people are far too thick to build a wing, but most can fly in a plane and drink cold lager in the sunny destination.
And I will no break from this vital task for a cold, long beer in a place where Utopia is always within arm’s reach! I would add that the thinking needed needs to shun perfectionism.