What kind of Utopia would you like to live in?

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alien
What kind of Utopia would you like to live in?

I don't know if this topic has already been done, but here it goes: describe the kind of world you would like to live in, regardless whether it has a chance to happen. The political system, the economic system, the health, education, entertainment, etc.

Be as wild as your imagination could carry you.

Put it another way: if you were a God and decided to go for "Intelligent Design", what kind of a world would you create?

Let's have some fun for a change, exercising our imagination instead of talking about depressinf stuff.

Caissa

No place

Pants-of-dog

Utopia, to me, is difficult to define because humanity is constantly changing and diversifying. So, any utopia that actually addresses our concerns would have to be constantly changing and diversifying as well.

siamdave

- I've done my best here - Green Island   http://www.rudemacedon.ca/greenisland.html

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Utopian thinking is great, and much needed on the left. But as Caissa points out, utopia is a pun: it means both "good place" and "no place." It's best to look at utopia not as a reality, but as a horizon. The not-yet-here.

Theodor Adorno, Ernst Bloch, and Fredric Jameson are some great Marxist Utopian scholars with a lot of fascinating writing on the subject.

Quote:
Theodor Adorno: My thesis about [the proximity of utopia] would be that all humans deep down, whether they admit this or not, know that it would be possible or it could be different. Not only could they live without hunger and probably without anxiety, but they could also live as free human beings. At the same time, the social apparatus has hardened itself against people, and thus, whatever appears before their eyes all over the world as attainable possibility, as the evident possibility of fulfillment, presents itself to them as radically impossible....there is nothing like a single, fixavle utopian content. When I talked about the "totality," I did not at all limit my thinking to the system of human relations, but I thought more about the fact that all categories can change themselves according to their own constituency. Thus I would say that what is essential about the concept of utopia is that it does not consist of a certain, single selected category that changes itself and from, which everything constitutes itself, for example, in that one assumes that the category of happiness alone is the key to utopia.

"Something's Missing: A Discussion between Ernst Bloch and Theodor Adorno on the Contradictions of Utopian Longing." (1964)

Quote:
What is important here is the imaginative gaze of the utopian function, loaded with hope; it is not corrected by a parochial perspective but solely by what is real in the anticipation itself. Therefore, that gaze is corrected by the only realism that is the only one because it grasps the tendency of reality. It grasps the objectively real potentiality toward which the tendency strives. The real realism is at home in those qualities that are utopian themselves; i.e., they contain future...Hence it is an anticipatory utopia, which is not at all identical with abstract utopian reverie, nor is it directed by the immaturity of a merely abstract utopian socialism. Concrete utopia designates precisely the power and truth of Marxism, which pushed the cloud in the dreams forward without extinguishing the fire of the drea,s but rather strengthened them through concreteness....Thus the utopian function knows about explosive powers since the utopian function itself is a condensed form of them: the utopian function is the unimparied reason of a militant optimism.

Ernst Bloch, "Art and Utopia." (1959)

Quote:
This does not exactly leave us back at our beginning, in which rival ideolgical stereotypes sought to pass this or that absolute political judgement on Utopia. For even if we can no longer adhere with an unmixed conscience to this unreliable form, we may now have recourse to that ingenious political slogan Sartre invented to find his way between a flawed communism and an even more unacceptable anti-communism. Perhaps something similar can be proposed to fellow-travelers of Utopia itself: indeed, for those only too wary of the motives of its critics, yet no less conscious of Utopia's structural ambihuities, those mindful of the very real political function of the idea and the program of Utopia in our time, the slogan of anti-anti-Utopianism might well offer the best working strategy.

Fredric Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future. (2005)

 

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

The Utopian Vision of the Future: Then and Now - A Marxist Critique by Bertell Ollman

Having referenced that article. it's noteworthy that those in the Bolivarian Movement Towards Socialism in Latin America make specific reference to the use of Utopian ideals in the outline of their programs, policies, etc. They are making their Utopia.

takeitslowly

Maybe  getting a job that does not consist of handing out flyers and telemarketing.

absentia

 

Siamdave, Green Island looks pretty cool, but we could make ON just as cool... and BC and MB and...

 

Canada, 1968. "Can we start again, please?"

alien

absentia wrote:

Canada, 1968. "Can we start again, please?"

Too late! Pierre Berton declared 1967 as "The Last Good Year"

Laughing

The best Utopian novel I have ever read is "Kazohinia" by Sandor Szathmary. It is unusual in the sense that the book shows both a Utopia and a Dystopia side by side and it is damn funny.

You can download (or read) the whole book at:

http://mek.oszk.hu/01400/01456/html/index.htm

 

Bec.De.Corbin Bec.De.Corbin's picture

An eternal Pennsic works for me... Smile

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

The one the Lady In The Radiator sang about...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qrl3n2ZtK2E

trippie

How about a socio-economic system that is not class organized? Maybe, you know, like Socialism. We can start there and see what happens.

 

Or maybe like the aboriginies of Australia, were there is no progress so that life will stay as close to the original time of creation as possible?

nikkobaud

Mine. Definitely not yours. Which is to say, utopia is a vision, not a place (as the name suggests), something not concretely realisable, but something akin to hope, something that can sustain, even inspire. More of a forever distant destination, it is the journey that is taken to it and the fellow travellers one meets that matter most. I think it implies respect for the journeys of others, even if they have different visions.

Pants-of-dog

I would not want to live in a utopia.

I enjoy the diversity of my human experience far too much.

I do not think that diversity would exist if we had solved all our problems.

alien

Pants-of-dog wrote:

I enjoy the diversity of my human experience far too much.

Watching the wall-to-wall horror stories on the 6-o'clock news is part of your diversity.

Enjoy!

Pants-of-dog

alien wrote:

Pants-of-dog wrote:

I enjoy the diversity of my human experience far too much.

Watching the wall-to-wall horror stories on the 6-o'clock news is part of your diversity.

Enjoy!

It would make more sense to address what I actually said, would it not?

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

What makes you think utopia is homogeneous?

Pants-of-dog

Catchfire wrote:

What makes you think utopia is homogeneous?

The fact that I have never encountered a description of utopia that was not somewhat or entirely so.

Looking at alien's post #13, (and I am not choosing alien's utopia for any reason other than it is very accessible to everyone in this thread) we see a list of 13 factors that would be present in that utopia.

The trouble with that one is that my very good friend who is an absent-minded artist would have no apparent place in that "utopia", because she allows irrational things to inspire her way of interacting with the world. While her style of thinking gets us lost on the freeways of Vancouver Island, it also makes her capable of exploring creative fields of thought that I can only glimpse when I look at her works.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

pants-of-dog wrote:
The fact that I have never encountered a description of utopia that was not somewhat or entirely so.

Well, then you didn't read my post earlier in the thread, or, apparently, anything by Ursula LeGuinn. Irrationality, diversity, pleasure, creativity: to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, if these things aren't in Utopia, I don't want it on my map.

Pants-of-dog

Catchfire wrote:

pants-of-dog wrote:
The fact that I have never encountered a description of utopia that was not somewhat or entirely so.

Well, then you didn't read my post earlier in the thread, or, apparently, anything by Ursula LeGuinn. Irrationality, diversity, pleasure, creativity: to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, if these things aren't in Utopia, I don't want it on my map.

It is spelt LeGuin, and I assume you are alluding to The Dispossesed.

A society where people where not "allowed" to own private property on have locks on their doors. Ostensibly, they coul dhave, but social conditioning would have rendered the inidividual a pariah. I would not want to be considered an outcast simply because I really like using my Estwing 20 oz. hammer and not having people walk in on me when masturbating.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

There is a difference, of course, between a Utopian program and Utopian desire. It's the latter which is more useful, more critical to building a better world, and the former which becomes visible to us as a series of elegant failures. To view a Utopian program as the culmination or totality of Utopianism in general, is a very short-sighted and defeatist state of mind (the kind, perhaps, which also thinks pointing out spelling errors makes their point stronger, or others' weaker--of course, it's actually, "Le Guin," but only in a perfect world...).

Pants-of-dog

Catchfire wrote:

There is a difference, of course, between a Utopian program and Utopian desire. It's the latter which is more useful, more critical to building a better world, and the former which becomes visible to us as a series of elegant failures. To view a Utopian program as the culmination or totality of Utopianism in general, is a very short-sighted and defeatist state of mind.

 

I am not even sure that a utopian desire is useful. To me, it presupposes that we have some sort of agreement on what we want, or that we should be moving towards a specific goal. The desire for a utopia seems like a desire for simplicity, for an end to our worries and conflicts, for an end to those things that force us to become more than we are.

I do not want to stop growing and changing.

 

Fidel

Private property laws benefit the rich mainly. What you end up with are vast inequalities and a significantly large part of the work force allocated to doing guard labour, like it is in America today. They own the largest incarcerated population in the world and large percentage of them behind bars for dumb crimes: possession of marijuana, bouncing cheques, and very many other non-violent crimes. No thanks.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

pants-of-dog wrote:
I am not even sure that a utopian desire is useful. To me, it presupposes that we have some sort of agreement on what we want, or that we should be moving towards a specific goal. The desire for a utopia seems like a desire for simplicity, for an end to our worries and conflicts, for an end to those things that force us to become more than we are.

I do not want to stop growing and changing.

It seems to me that you are operating under a very fixed, very restrictive idea of Utopia. I'd encourage you to revisit my post #4 in this thread and open up your definition of Utopia. As a horizon rather than an endpoint, Utopia is precisely about growth and change--or "becoming" in philosophical parlance. It is, to quote Jean-Luc Nancy, "singular plural" at once individual, unique, localized; and social, historical, universal.

There is a tendency to view Utopia (as Adorno mentions above) as some abstract impossibility, easily dismissable: "Oh, that's just utopian thinking." When, in fact, that is exactly what the capitalist (or call it hegemonic) ideology imposes on us to ensure its  own continuity and perpetuity. We should engage (Bloch argues) in concrete Utopia, rooted in historical realities, "militant optimism," and, above all, hope. Educated hope, in fact.

Indeed, this is the point you may have missed about Le Guin: there is no "utopia" as such in The Dispossessed; but it is nonetheless utopian. It is the truck and exchange between the worlds presented to us in the novel where we are to find our utopian horizon. It is in these interstices we will find a world toward which to strive--not some fixed schema offered to us by quick-fix midnight paid programming.

alien

My Favorite Utopia is populated with people who have the following qualities:

    1. Logical
    2. Don’t let emotion muddle their thinking
    3. Are aware of the importance of Basic Principles
    4. Know and apply the Scientific Method for problem-solving
    5. Think things through from initial concept to final consequences
    6. Don’t get distracted by irrelevancies
    7. Focus on the topic and don’t get off on a tangent
    8. Have clear moral principles I agree with (life-oriented)
    9. Don’t indulge in hypocrisy
    10. Have an attention-span of more than 5 minutes
    11. Have Imagination
    12. Have a sense of Humour
    13. Don’t bore the hell out of me

      I know this Utopia will never exist but it is nice to fantasize isn’t it?

      Here is en excerpt from Kazohinia about a hypothetical Utopian:

      "I searched my mind for an example of entertainment to which he could not object even from the point of view of the kazo. Finally I mentioned chess as a harmless pastime of the soul from which nobody could suffer any harm. I drew a chessboard, and sketched chess pieces on small slips of paper and then I expounded the rules of the game, which, I may say, was an onerous task. I had never had such a thickheaded pupil. When I had explained for the fifth time, he repeated his question for the sixth time: "But what is the aim?"

      "To remove the king of the enemy," I said and began to explain again.

      Shrugging his shoulders he eventually agreed to a game. I made a move with a pawn and beckoned to him to move, at which he took my king, placed it beside the chessboard, and looked questioningly at me.

      "And now what is the sense in that?" he asked inanely.

      I put the figure back with considerable annoyance.

      "It's not that simple!"

      "You can see it is!"

      "But you must observe the rules! If you play like that then of course there is no sense in it. If you play according to the rules, you will see that there is sense in it."

      With great difficulty we played a game right through to the end. Of course, I beat him.

      "And now what?" he asked.

      "Now I am the winner."

      "What does that mean?"

      "I have taken the game."

      He thought for a long time. Clearly he still did not understand.

      "And what does that actually mean?" He eventually came out with it.

      "That I have won."

      "You explain one word with another, which for you seems to be necessary because none of them has anything to do with reality. You have coined both of them without either of them having any content."

      He was unable to understand - as he put it - why we were doing nothing so lengthily and painstakingly, to which there would have been no point even if I had removed his king at the very start, and he drew the conclusion that the whole of our life and public life probably consisted of making complications out of nothing, and that our actions were directed by imaginary idols.
      ……………………………..

      He pondered.

      "Did your soul have its fill when we played chess?"

      "Yes, because I won the game. You see, you have no such pleasures."

      "And how do you manage to arrange that both parties win the game?"

      In spite of my low spirits a smile flitted across my face.

      "How can you imagine that? It is a game for us to play against each other and not for each other. One of the parties must lose."

      "And is the losing party happy too?"

      "No. He is unhappy. But he, in turn, may be the winner on another occasion."

      "Then why do you make one of the parties unhappy?"

      To tell the truth his question somewhat surprised me and I had to gather my wits together to make him understand the situation.

      "The thing is," I commenced, "that happiness means obtaining a certain energy for the soul, and like every energy, this, too, comes from a difference in levels, from the results which I have achieved and not others."

      Pants-of-dog

      Catchfire wrote:

      It seems to me that you are operating under a very fixed, very restrictive idea of Utopia. I'd encourage you to revisit my post #4 in this thread and open up your definition of Utopia. As a horizon rather than an endpoint, Utopia is precisely about growth and change--or "becoming" in philosophical parlance. It is, to quote Jean-Luc Nancy, "singular plural" at once individual, unique, localized; and social, historical, universal.

      There is a tendency to view Utopia (as Adorno mentions above) as some abstract impossibility, easily dismissable: "Oh, that's just utopian thinking." When, in fact, that is exactly what the capitalist (or call it hegemonic) ideology imposes on us to ensure its  own continuity and perpetuity. We should engage (Bloch argues) in concrete Utopia, rooted in historical realities, "militant optimism," and, above all, hope. Educated hope, in fact.

      Indeed, this is the point you may have missed about Le Guin: there is no "utopia" as such in The Dispossessed; but it is nonetheless utopian. It is the truck and exchange between the worlds presented to us in the novel where we are to find our utopian horizon. It is in these interstices we will find a world toward which to strive--not some fixed schema offered to us by quick-fix midnight paid programming.

       

      In a utopia, would it possible to commit transgressions against others? if the answer is yes, then is it really utopia?

      If it is no, then there must be some way of making such trangressions impossible. This necessarily restricts human freedom, which is in itself a transgression, which is impossible in our utopia.

      So, if we define utopia as an endpoint, it is an abstract impossibility.

      But let us look at your idea of utopia as horizon, or educated hope. I am not sure what you mean by that.

      Just looking at the phrase "educated hope", I am not sure if it is necessary. For example, I have no idea what exactly all the problems are that trans-sexuals face in our society. It would be fair to say that I am uneducated in their plight. Nor am I hopeful that any great changes will be made. However, I will still support any and all efforts of trans-sexual people to have their rights and equality recognised. Furthermore, my lack of education in this area also precludes me from deluding myself that I know better how to help trans-sexuals than they themselves do.

      Catchfire Catchfire's picture

      Educated hope, or docta spes, is a term Ernst Bloch employed in order to take us from some abstract utopia (like the one your syllogism attempts to construct) to a concrete utopia.

      Since Thomas More wrote Utopia,  a luminous island rising out of the sea, the idea of utopia has undergone a trasnformation in the cultural imagination from a space to a time. It's much easier to understand it as a horizon if we go along with this shift--if you don't you will find it very difficult to get out of the closed, static idea of utopia-as-island. If it's an island, I'm not there, and it suffers from all the critique you have given. But if it is a horizon, it becomes possibility, or, perhaps, potentiality--a much more attractive concept. That is, it is not prescriptive--which seems to be the philosophical hurdle you can't get over. In fact, may Utopian thinkers hold that it is impossible to describe Utopia in a positive manner at all. Rather, it should be seen through determined negation: these are all the ways in which it is not. As I have been saying--and I think you agree--any time someone says "This is the only way," it will be a false utopia. That's what Jameson means above when he says we should adopt an "anti-anti-utopian" strategy--precisely what Le Guin enacts.

      So what we have here, with respect to a horizon, or docta spes, is that Utopia is above all a process of becoming: it is unknowable and incalcuable, but necessary nonetheless.

      Fidel

      Pants-of-dog wrote:
      I would not want to be considered an outcast simply because I really like using my Estwing 20 oz. hammer and not having people walk in on me when masturbating.

      Sounds like extremely selfish and unsocial behaviour to me. Lots of people prefer to share. And you know what they say about big hammers and small nails.

      Pants-of-dog

      Catchfire wrote:

      Educated hope, or docta spes, is a term Ernst Bloch employed in order to take us from some abstract utopia (like the one your syllogism attempts to construct) to a concrete utopia.

      ....But if it is a horizon, it becomes possibility, or, perhaps, potentiality--a much more attractive concept. That is, it is not prescriptive.... In fact, many Utopian thinkers hold that it is impossible to describe Utopia in a positive manner at all. Rather, it should be seen through determined negation: these are all the ways in which it is not. As I have been saying--and I think you agree--any time someone says "This is the only way," it will be a false utopia. That's what Jameson means above when he says we should adopt an "anti-anti-utopian" strategy--precisely what Le Guin enacts.

      So what we have here, with respect to a horizon, or docta spes, is that Utopia is above all a process of becoming: it is unknowable and incalcuable, but necessary nonetheless.

      It still seems vague to me.

      Pants-of-dog

      Fidel wrote:

      Sounds like extremely selfish and unsocial behaviour to me. ...

      Well, I am a spambot.

      Catchfire Catchfire's picture

      pants-of-dog wrote:
      It still seems vague to me.

      What's vague? "It"? I've only responded directly to your examples. This is a dismissal typical of hegemonic ideology which denies alternate modes of being and sociality: akin to Thatcher's "There is no alternative to capitalism." You've got to let go of the fixed, frozen conception you have of what constitues Utopia--it's simply no longer valid. It's not a program, it's not prescriptive, it's a horizon, it's futurity, and it's rooted in history.

      An example:

      Andy Warhol wrote:
      What's great about this country is America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you can know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

      In this famous quote by Warhol it would be easy to dismiss this pop artist as naively celebrating consumerism and alienated production, gullibly suckered by capitalist pipe dreams. But what Warhol detects, here and elsewhere, is something more in the act of sharing a coke with someone--that utopia exists in the quotidian. Warhol opens up a potentiality, a utopian horizon in a moment capitalist ideology would prefer to dehistoricize, close up and lock down: there is nothing outside the here and now. Warhol submits the possibility that a coke bottle might in fact represent a mode of being or feeling that is not quite here yet but nonetheless an opening. Of course, we must admit the possibility that this hope is naive, that it probably will be disappointed. But nevertheless, this move by Warhol is indispensible to the Utopian act of world transformation.

      It's not unlike the wonderful poem by Frank O'Hara "Having a Coke with You," in which a simple, disposable and quotidian act, so part and parcel of the capitalist system, opens up the possibility of sharing same-sex love. For me, these moments are the true Utopias: concrete beads of time which promise the possibility of something more, the promise that things could be different. And those different modes of being could be anything, are anything: full employment, the freedom to fully engage one's sexuality, freedom from poverty, war, strife, sustainable living, etc.

      Pants-of-dog

      Catchfire wrote:

      What's vague? "It"? I've only responded directly to your examples. This is a dismissal typical of hegemonic ideology which denies alternate modes of being and sociality: akin to Thatcher's "There is no alternative to capitalism." You've got to let go of the fixed, frozen conception you have of what constitues Utopia--it's simply no longer valid. It's not a program, it's not prescriptive, it's a horizon, it's futurity, and it's rooted in history.

      An example:

      Andy Warhol wrote:
      What's great about this country is America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you can know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.

      In this famous quote by Warhol it would be easy to dismiss this pop artist as naively celebrating consumerism and alienated production, gullibly suckered by capitalist pipe dreams. But what Warhol detects, here and elsewhere, is something more in the act of sharing a coke with someone--that utopia exists in the quotidian. Warhol opens up a potentiality, a utopian horizon in a moment capitalist ideology would prefer to dehistoricize, close up and lock down: there is nothing outside the here and now. Warhol submits the possibility that a coke bottle might in fact represent a mode of being or feeling that is not quite here yet but nonetheless an opening. Of course, we must admit the possibility that this hope is naive, that it probably will be disappointed. But nevertheless, this move by Warhol is indispensible to the Utopian act of world transformation.

      It's not unlike the wonderful poem by Frank O'Hara "Having a Coke with You," in which a simple, disposable and quotidian act, so part and parcel of the capitalist system, opens up the possibility of sharing same-sex love. For me, these moments are the true Utopias: concrete beads of time which promise the possibility of something more, the promise that things could be different. And those different modes of being could be anything, are anything: full employment, the freedom to fully engage one's sexuality, freedom from poverty, war, strife, sustainable living, etc.

      To me it seems that this definition of utopia is simply an awareness of the possibility of good in the here and now. Would you agree with that definition?

      Catchfire Catchfire's picture

      I'd lose the "awareness" and change "here and now" to "then and there" (to quote José Muñoz). Utopia is always about the margins and the future. Muñoz would also prefer the term "potentiality," which seems to me a more future-oriented, more pregnant term. The potentiality of good in the then and there. Not bad.

      alien

      More relevant excerpts from Kazohinia

      "I told him about Plato's state, Saint Thomas Aquinas's principles of the divine universality of the outcome of labour, the common work of the Cathari and the Hussites, Fourier's phalansteries, Thomas More's Utopia, Proudhon's people's bank, Louis Blanc's national workshops, Robert Owen's social manufacturing plants, the communal states of the Dominicans and Jesuits in South America, and finally I came to scientific socialism and the latest theories, to the plans of Marx, Lenin, Bakunin, Bernstein, Kropotkin, Kautsky and Plekhanov, and to technocracy and the democratic socialism of the Fabian Society, Wells and the Webbs. I spoke of the work theory of mercantilism and physiocracy, of the liberalism of Adam Smith, and of the trade unions; nor did I fail to mention the ideas that had not materialized, such as Georgism, syndicalism and anarchism.

      For his life he could not understand how it was possible to imagine so many things concerning such a simple thing as life."

      Catchfire Catchfire's picture

      Those are some fun passages, alien, thanks. They remind me of Mark Twain's Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court or Edward Bulwer-Lytton's The Coming Race. The Socratic dystopian tack.

      alien

      There is a lot more -- it is the most incisive and mercilessly logical analysis of the Human Condition I have ever read.

      And it is unique by being both a Utopia and a Dystopia side by side.

      And it is very funny!

      Here is another exchange I like:

      "You lay siege to the walls drawn on a map just as if it were not you yourselves who had drawn them. You heal wounds inflicted by yourselves in order to be able to wound again, and you struggle against an economic crisis as if it was not you yourselves who stopped the machines."

      "...Only the words and the names of the theories can be varied,...not life itself, which is predetermined by our organism. And anyone who attributes independent life to the words, is sick and a somnambulist."

      "But from these words economic systems are born," I retorted.

      "Is it not all the same in which system you are ill?"

      When I read this, I finally understood: sane people would make any system work (be it Capitalism, Communism, Socialism, etc.), insane people will screw up whatever system they dream up. The problem is not with the system, it is with the people. We will never have a Utopia until and unless we become Utopian-quality people with those attributes I listed earlier.

      It is not 'us' against 'them' -- it is all of us against ourselves.

      Sobering thought indeed.

      trippie

      That story about the chess game is wrong. The point of chess is that it is a game about  life. You play a game of life in a short amount of time....

      Everything in chess is about deciding what you  will give up to gain something... That my friend is life.

      When you play chess, you experience life in the present. That's why you play.

      Playing chess helps develope your dicision making abilities. You very quickly realize what your decisions bring.

      Do I give up a pown to get a knight or do I try to move it to the other side and turn it into a Queen? do I think three steps ahead or five? How good are my prediction skills?

       

      Na, that guy had it all wrong about the chess argument.

      trippie

      Alien:

      Sorry bro, but sane people can not make any system work.. How about a system of slavory?

      Capitalism can never work no matter how sane humanity may be. It's a ttheoretical nightmare, that's why it has never brought what its proponants say it will.

      trippie

      Andy FN Warhol, we're quotoing Andy Fn Warhol?

      Andy forgot to mention that the bum couldn't afford to by the coca cola because he was to depressed living his life in a disinfranchized exploited class of poor people. That he was to bussy begging for pennies so that he could feed his alcohol addiction that he got when he was trying to self medicat his missory away. And that he couldn't afford the medical coverage and his lythium perscription went unfilled.

       

      And hell, he's so confused, he thinks a coke is what his buddy is addicted to.

      alien

      trippie wrote:

      That story about the chess game is wrong.

      Sorry, trippie, you missed the point.

      trippie wrote:

      sane people can not make any system work

      ...you missed this one too.

      I suggest you read the whole book. I am sure if you read it in full context, you will understand what he is talking about. As I said earlier: it is very funny and quite easy to read.

      http://mek.oszk.hu/01400/01456/html/index.htm

      Caissa

      I think Catchfire is suggesting that utopia is a journey rather than a destination.

      alien

      Here is another quote from the Dystopia part. It should be eerily familiar to us. 

      "I spoke about how many more flats there would be if everyone were ordered to build houses rather than have so many living in one room with so many others, some even spending the night under the stars.

      Instead of replying, Zemoeki took me by the arm and led me to the house which I had seen on the day of my arrival, with one half of it built and the other pulled down. Now the only novelty in it was that they were rebuilding the demolished part and in the meantime pulling down the part that had been built.

      "Do you see," Zemoeki said, "how wisely the k o n a sees to it its members should have a flat?" I had already been itching to know the secret of this strange house and taking this opportunity I asked why they pulled the other half down. He gave the same reply, however, as the mason had earlier.

       "So as not to cause homelessness."

      I timidly remarked that the best help against homelessness would be the existence of flats. I don't know what was so ridiculous about this, but Zemoeki laughed very heartily, called me a poor bivak and declared that I seemed not to be aware of the elements of the science of housing economy either, which even to the most uneducated Behin is a well-known thing.

      I tried to remain calm and asked him politely to enlighten me on the Behins' science of housing economy. We set down on a bench and Zemoeki began to talk. 

      He related that once, in olden times, the Behins had built houses, setting out from the erroneous belief that with this they would relieve the housing shortage. Material justice, however, demanded that from among the homeless only those should receive a flat who had participated in the building.

      Accordingly the builders were given a fancy printed certificate by virtue of which they had the right to stay for a month. 

      At the beginning, of course, they were given the certificate in vain, because only some of the builders could receive a flat, but as the building progressed, more and more people had a roof over their head. So for the time being, everything seemed to be in order.

      However, when the building programme had been carried out, the dwellers, one after the other, had to be turned out into the yard as they did not build any more and so did not receive new certificates for the months to come. So the scholars came to know that building resulted in homelessness. 

      I tried to contradict this by saying that if the houses were ready why did they continue to demand monthly certificates from the builders and why did they not let them stay for ever.

      Zemoeki replied that it would have been unjust, and that it was lamik to demand a flat for a man who did not work any more. However, he admitted that the problem was extremely grave and to solve it the kona had employed many scholars with good salaries, who racked their brain about it day and night. They also propounded the scientific law of housing economy as follows. 

      "Flat displaces man."

      The solution, however, was still not found for a long time, as the problem was double-edged: while building was in progress there were certificates but no flats, when they were finished there were flats but no certificates. In the beginning they tried to overcome the difficulty by building still more flats, and while these were being built the builders could remain in their old places. This way, however, more and more flats remained unoccupied with which they could do nothing. 

      Everybody had already surmised that flat-building work was useful for the public only if it did not give rise to flats. So they realized that people were to be given employment so that they could reside in them. The flats, however, were to be pulled down immediately in order to avoid catastrophic homelessness. 

      "But then it is not actually building," I said. 

      "Of course not! ... This is the kona's wise provision for its members. The kona puts mattock in the hands of its members lest they should remain homeless.

      N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

      Hugo Chávez Frías (circa 1995) wrote:
      The concept of participatory democracy will be changed into a form in which democracy based on popular sovereignty constitutes itself as the protagonist of power. It is precisely at such borders that we must draw the limits of advance of Bolivarian democracy. Then we shall be very near to the territory of utopia.

      quoted in The Structural Crisis of Capitalism, p. 129, Istvan Meszaros.

      Catchfire Catchfire's picture

      Quote:
      For Marx, the question of freedom should not be located primarily in the political sphere proper, as with the criteria the global financial institutions apply when they want to pronounce a judgement on a country—does it have free elections? Are the judges independent? Is the press free from hidden pressures? Are human rights respected? The key to actual freedom resides rather in the ‘apolitical’ network of social relations, from the market to the family, where the change needed for effective improvement is not political reform, but a transformation in the social relations of production. We do not vote about who owns what, or about worker–management relations in a factory; all this is left to processes outside the sphere of the political. It is illusory to expect that one can effectively change things by ‘extending’ democracy into this sphere, say, by organizing ‘democratic’ banks under people’s control. Radical changes in this domain lie outside the sphere of legal rights. Such democratic procedures can, of course, have a positive role to play. But they remain part of the state apparatus of the bourgeoisie, whose purpose is to guarantee the undisturbed functioning of capitalist reproduction. In this precise sense, Badiou was right in his claim that the name of the ultimate enemy today is not capitalism, empire or exploitation, but democracy. It is the acceptance of ‘democratic mechanisms’ as the ultimate frame that prevents a radical transformation of capitalist relations.

      [...]

      In such a constellation, the very idea of a radical social transformation may appear as an impossible dream—yet the term ‘impossible’ should make us stop and think. Today, possible and impossible are distributed in a strange way, both simultaneously exploding into excess. On the one hand, in the domains of personal freedoms and scientific technology, we are told that ‘nothing is impossible’: we can enjoy sex in all its perverse versions, entire archives of music, films and tv series are available to download, space travel is available to everyone (at a price). There is the prospect of enhancing our physical and psychic abilities, of manipulating our basic properties through interventions into the genome; even the tech-gnostic dream of achieving immortality by transforming our identity into software that can be downloaded into one or another set of hardware.

      On the other hand, in the domain of socio-economic relations, our era perceives itself as the age of maturity in which humanity has abandoned the old millenarian utopian dreams and accepted the constraints of reality—read: capitalist socio-economic reality—with all its impossibilities. The commandment you cannot is its mot d’ordre: you cannot engage in large collective acts, which necessarily end in totalitarian terror; you cannot cling to the old welfare state, it makes you non-competitive and leads to economic crisis; you cannot isolate yourself from the global market, without falling prey to the spectre of North Korean juche. In its ideological version, ecology also adds its own list of impossibilities, so-called threshold values—no more than two degrees of global warming—based on ‘expert opinions’.

      [...]

      This is why Lacan’s formula for overcoming an ideological impossibility is not ‘everything is possible’, but ‘the impossible happens’. The Lacanian impossible-real is not an a priori limitation, which needs to be realistically taken into account, but the domain of action. An act is more than an intervention into the domain of the possible—an act changes the very coordinates of what is possible and thus retroactively creates its own conditions of possibility. This is why communism also concerns the real: to act as a communist means to intervene into the real of the basic antagonism which underlies today’s global capitalism.

      Slavoj Žižek - A Permanent Economic Emergency

      N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

      The recent lengthy piece by Marta Harnecker in Monthly Review, as well as Michael Lebowitz's "The Socialist Alternative: Real Human Development" makes specific reference to "doing the impossible" and, furthermore, outline how it has been carried out.

      Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

      If I did end up living on the path to a Utopia, I'd want it to be structured(and I don't mean this flippantly)something like the "holodeck" on "Star Trek: The Next Generation"-that is, I'd want it to be a reality that everyone could adjust to fit her or his own desires for the best possible world.

       

      Fotheringay-Phipps

      One in which the English made breakfast, the Chinese made lunch, and the French made supper.

      Catchfire Catchfire's picture

      If the Germans are making the beer, I'm in.

      Fidel

      "What kind of Utopia would you like to live in?"

      As far as I can tell, the utopian society exists in the future. And if we survive the next 100 years as a species, we might be able to achieve an advanced state of technological well being where material poverty and hunger by today's definition are eliminated by a more advanced society. As a socialist, I must see and think of the forest before individual trees, and beyond the materialist view of the world. We could have achieved this advanced state of affairs a long time ago had the past turned out differently, and if world revolutions had introduced socialism as an alternative earlier than, say, the adevent of Sputnik and post war era or perhaps the beginning of the industrial revolution. Humanity is behind the eight ball right now and must change our ways if we are to achieve utopian existence. Utopia is in the future. For now we have to do better than merely survive the near and long term. We have to start doing some serious central planning in order to even start down the long road to a technically advanced state of utopia.

       

      E.Tamaran

      "What kind of Utopia would you like to live in?"

       

      Planitia

      alien

      We have been talking about Utopias that we can't have.

      How about a semi-utopia that we could have, right here, right now. With something in it for everybody, left or right.

      Let's agree that we acknowledge both of our needs: freedom from, and compassion for, each other. Let us agree that the compassion part has priority, up to a very well defined point. This point is where the basic survival needs of every citizen in our country is assured. Beyond this point our priorities change and our need for freedom takes over. The concept I have in mind is not unheard of: it is a variety of 'Basic Income Alternative' a policy that has been and is currently studied by various western governments (including Ireland and Canada). In my version of this idea we have a two-tier economy, with the two tiers completely isolated from each other.

      The essence of this system could be the following: People decide that the most important goal is to make sure everybody's basic needs are met. The basic human needs can be easily calculated by using scientific data on age-dependent calorie requirements, climate-dependent clothing and housing requirement, population-dependent health- and education-requirement and the necessary energy and raw-material production, as well as the necessary infrastructure in transportation and communication. It could be easily planned based on physiological, climatic and demographic data.

      They create an economy to assure that. There is no money involved, every citizen has to participate with a minimum number of hours per day (required to produce the basic needs for everybody -- not more than 2-3 hours per day, based on current technology and no waste) and the produced goods are made available to everyone freely. This economy is completely self contained: it has its power generating stations, their mining, their industries, agriculture, transportation and  communication facilities, schools and hospitals. Everything they need to produce basic goods and services. Then they say: we have it  covered. Now, whoever wants more, can do it in their spare time, as long as 1./ they don't touch our economy in any way whatsoever (if they can't do it without us, it is their problem, we will not let anything compromise the 'prime directive'). 2./ They don't cause damage to the environment and don't harm anyone in the process (including other species) .

      Of course, there are millions of details to be worked out but the basic concept is clear and well defined, unlike in various forms of Socialism.

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