2 Super-Simple Factors to Seriously Enable Utopia Today
Yup--it's one of those topics everyone hates. "It's impossible!" they say. But hear me out--I'll make this quick.
Let me Clearify
Utopia implies a perfect society, and in that sense, it's impossible. So let me be clear in my definition: I'm merely speculating on a society in which suffering cannot be a direct product of the society itself. In other words, one where everyone has an equal chance to achieve peace and happiness, and are not limited by societal factors like laws, economics, etc. The only things people should suffer from are scraped knees and broken hearts, not an inability to feed their family or other materialistic things like that.
What Causes Material Suffering?
It's simple, really. We live in a zero-sum game in terms of resources. For those unfamiliar with this term, it basically means that there is a limited amount, and whenever some have more, others must therefore have less. Further, we live in a society which enables, and in fact encourages, people to have more than others. I'm talking of course about what the world considers to be the 'ideal' economic system--capitalism. In reality, while capitalism is a beautifully pure concept, it is a miserable failure when it comes to implementation--much like communism. While it doesn't inherently imply any bad outcomes, when implemented in a culture which values competition, it will favor the single man over than many--and worst of all, favor the non-human entity known as the corporation, which can literally mean resources are distributed toward a concept, instead of benefiting anybody. This is obviously pretty damn silly--and it's what's causing so much inequality today. Because in an open market, even with limits from the government, growth is exponential--meaning those with more resources are more able to gain resources--and, as it's grown to be today, because wealth can transfer over generations, people are born with huge advantages over others. In other words, not all men are born equal--in this society, some just happen to be born with billion dollar head starts. Then, as the population grows, this just mean poverty exponentially grows, much much faster than wealth does--and since it's a zero-sum game, they end up a lot poorer and those on top end up with a much greater relative amount of money.
So How Should We Distribute Resources Then?
Simple. Just distribute them evenly.
But Wouldn't That Mean That Everyone Only Gets a Little?
No, not necessarily. This would only be true if there was a small relative amount of resources to go around, compared to the size of the population. This brings us to the first simple factor.
The First Simple Factor
Ready for it? It's so damn simple, it'll blow your mind: POPULATION. No one ever considers this. They think that resources cannot be distributed evenly because the amount of resources to go around wouldn't be enough. That does make sense. However, they are limiting their scope by the amount of resources to distribute, and completely disregarding the other factor that is equally important in defining the amount of abundance there would be per person--population. They assume, for some reason, that this factor cannot be meddled with, when in fact, this is the factor that should be changed! Again, we live in a zero-sum system of resources, restricting us to a limited amount--but the amount of humans alive to consume them? Think about it--while the amount of precious resources on earth is diminishing, there is still enough for tons of people, and I mean tons. Millions. Billions, even--and that's just enough humans to keep around. If there was such a modest amount of people alive, everyone could get an equal share of everything there is on earth. There would be no need to fight for more, or suffer from not having enough, because there would literally, simply, be abundance for everyone everywhere of anything they would ever possibly need--and with advances in sustainable material and resource sciences, there would be enough to sustain a society for eternity--or, y;know, until the sun explodes. So, if we were able to control this factor--that of population--we could very easily control the amount of abundance for each human life, and therefore, the amount of suffering. It's not like we're a bunch of monkeys. This can, and should, be easily controlled not just by restrictive scary government systems--but by culture and values. This brings me to the next simple factor.
The Second Simple Factor
Man, this one's totally super simple. Like the first one, it's often overlooked, too! Ready for it? Here we go: VALUES. People seriously don't give this enough credit--but the simple truth is, this little word defines most every aspect of how a society and culture will function, and how the humans that make it up will live. In fact, utopia could exist today if this factor alone was utilized correctly--because of the expansive meaning this word applies to the human experience. With the right set of values, humans can be happy doing almost anything! So, considering the values that govern human minds around the world today, it's no surprise so many of us are suffering! First of all, at the very core of us, embedded deep in our collective subconscious, is the value of competition. We're trained to believe that to achieve happiness, we have to fight for it. We have to get ahead. Not only does this imply an economical advantage over fellow humans, but it also implies a social hierarchy among them. That some people will, and should, have more than others--and that some will just be better and more powerful for no meaningful reason. Obviously, then, we're going to have conflict! Because this is how nature has birthed humanity to act in order to survive, and because the course of humanity has pretty much been just a messy offshoot since then. Because we haven't made serious philosophical, sociological, and technological breakthroughs to enable a totally new and superior society until recently, and we've been so well conditioned to think that this kind of society wouldn't even be possible. So, I'm here to tell you today that it is, and this is how. If people only thought differently about life and had different values, just imagine the kind of society we could have! Imagine if, from birth, every single human was never taught the concept of ownership, hate, war, poverty, starvation, competition, or even selfishness. Instead, imagine if every single human was taught to value compassion for all living things, platonic love for one another, respect for nature and the planet, and care for such concepts as sustainability, logic, truth, and justice. It sounds crazy, but it's no more crazy than what children are born to believe around the world today if you look at it from an objective standpoint. Not only is it possible, but it would literally create a nearly perfect and peaceful society today if implemented--and if one of those core values included the importance of maintaining a responsible population number, instead of the current view that imposing one-child laws like in China are 'fascist' because humans just have to have babies, it's a right of theirs to raise children that look like them--then, what do you know? All of a sudden, there's enough resources to go around and everyone can be happy and experience true abundance.
But If Everyone Gets What They Want, What Will Encourage Them to Excel?
I'm glad you asked, rhetorical questioner! This can very easily be answered with the second factor. Actually, pretty much any question you throw at me can, since values, again, are so incredibly important in defining how a society will function. Simply put, if a society values the hard-working individual, people will work hard. You'd think you'd see that more in our society, right? Wrong--we don't always value the hard worker. More often, we value the person who can make the most money, or take advantage of the system. But what if a society existed in which a person's very worth was defined by how much effort they put into doing good? Or by how much they were able to improve society, and help their fellow man? What if there was nothing else--no value in wealth, fame, looks, or anything superficial? Then I guarantee you, we would have a society filled with people itching to do good and work hard for the benefit of their planet and for the perpetuation of peace throughout the universe. Values are how and why humans live, and if we have the right ones, we can and will have utopia.
So Who Will Work?
This was one of the downfalls to communism. People would get jobs they didn't want, and be unhappy for it. So who will work, and who will determine what they do? Well, the great thing about speculating on this topic in the 21st century is that we can dream big based on what's currently technologically available. That said, on the question of who will work, the simple answer is: ROBOTS! That's right kids, robots! And why the hell not? Almost every aspect of modern industry is automated these days, especially when it comes to the hard labor and repetitive jobs. These are, after all, the jobs that humans don't want--and therefore, the jobs that corporations don't want to pay extra for. So, in this future utopia, just imagine all the automated aspects of production--every aspect of mining/drilling for resources, processing them, and manufacturing them can and will be automated. But who will design these machines? Who will maintain them? And who will design the things they manufacture? Maybe eventually, more advanced android and artificial intelligences will be able to--but until then, why not humans? These are the jobs people actually want! There are, in fact, people today that would love to have one of these jobs. So why, with an even more effective and sustainable set of values in this future utopia, couldn't people love to have these jobs too? Love to design the most functional and fantastical machines that enable a peaceful society and increase the quality of life for everyone? They will be needed, and society would merely have to adjust its set of values to accommodate for this. If people care about and value those who design and maintain these machines (which they obviously will, as they'd be the backbone of their perfect society), then, since people love to be loved and would value these positions, they would love to fulfill them! Once again, the answer is the always applicable values.
And What of Delinquents?
Yes, it's true--delinquents will always exist. In other words, those who don't follow the norm will always be around. But so what? First of all, any significant delinquent groups that could ever have a chance of threatening a society would only ever form when there's a need for them. If society meets all the needs that every human has--if it provides adequate understanding and opportunity for everyone, no matter what their specific ailment may be--then they won't ever actually have the reason to rise against. As for those who just don't follow these common social values, that's just fine too. There will always be the lazy ones! And luckily, even though there are those who think this may be wrong--those people will be treated with just as much respect and compassion as any other human, for they have just as much inherent validity of and reason for life, and in a near perfect society, all are welcome to live and, as they wish, merely 'be'.
And What of Criminals?
First of all, it's important to state that a person who threatens their own life will never ever be a criminal. The ideas of libertarianism are highly important and totally applicable in a near-utopia. No person should be limited in what they can do to themselves--that is true freedom, without true freedom, there couldn't be a near-utopia. It's up to the value structures and relationships that people have to make sure individuals are kept safe--but there should never be an overarching governmental structure telling you what you can and can't do to your own life. However, when you start messing with the lives of others, the line gets a bit blurrier. Hopefully, there would never be robbery, rape, or murder--but unfortunately, because humans are ultimately governed by fragile brains that are always susceptible to sicknesses and disorders, we mustn't discount these possibilities. This is a touchy question, and the answer can be debatable, as this is getting into the deeper specifics of how a society like this would actually function. The way I see it, this person would never be forced to suffer for what they did for the simple reason of revenge, or what it's commonly called: 'justice'. If it's proven that punishments causing individuals to suffer would actually benefit them and society by helping them recover, then it would be possible. But, when a person commits a crime such as this, the primary form of action taken should be to help them. It sounds crazy, but it's what should be done. People don't commit crimes for no reason. They do it for social reasons, or for mental reasons--and with advancements in the understanding of these fields, there's no reason the person shouldn't be helped so they can prevent it from happening again, or removed from society if needed. However, it should be noted that about 99.99% of these crimes are committed for social reasons, or for socially-influenced mental reasons, which would no longer exist in this society. So this really would hardly be a problem.
And What of Super-Duper Limited Resources? Who Gets Those?
Now this is getting into more specific questions on a society again, which would have to be answered by creating more value systems and social structures to govern these decisions. The best answer I've come up with is that these materials would only be distributed to projects and ideas that are both feasible, and for the benefit of the whole, not the self. If there is only a small amount, a vote would be held as to which project would receive the 'grant'--and this voting could be carried out by a variety of possible social structures. It could be a council of elders, or it could be a world-wide poll among educated masses. But either way, when a level of resources are tight, not just anyone should get them--they should be restricted to those who really intend to do good with them, in the most thoughtful and efficient manner.
Alright, I'm done.
Going into this, I expected to only write a few paragraphs--but as you can see, I did have a lot to say. These ideas seem so incredibly far fetched; so revolutionary--yet, to me at least, they seem totally feasible. Obviously, they couldn't just be implemented in the middle of any currently existing society today. However, if given a sufficient amount of land as to provide a self-sustaining amount of resources--plotted with a reasonably measured amount of open-minded and peaceful individuals who would adopt and embrace these values--and given the funding to design and build the working machinery to sustain this society--I do believe it could feasibly exist today. Please, share your thoughts in the comments below. If you'd like to contact me, please do so at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for reading, I appreciate your open mind and valuable interest!