Nikki Fink10/22/126th hour MY VISION OF A UTOPIAN SOCIETY

The western idea of utopia originates in the ancient world, where legends of an earthly paradise lost to history (e.g. Eden in the Old Testament, the mythical Golden Age of Greek mythology), combined with the human desire to create, or recreate, an ideal society, helped form the utopian idea. The Greek philosopher Plato (427?-347 BC) postulated a human utopian society in his Republic, where he imagined the ideal Greek city-state, with communal living among the ruling class, perhaps based on the model of the ancient Greek city-state of Sparta. Certainly, the English statesman Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) had Plato's Republic in mind when he wrote the book in 1516. Describing a perfect political and social system on an imaginary island, the term "Utopia" has since entered the English language meaning any place, State, or situation of ideal perfection. Both the desire for an Edenic Utopia and an attempt to start over in "unspoiled" America merged in the minds of several religious and secular European groups and societies.

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If your utopia was less than global, what would be the characteristics of its population?

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If anything, to find Utopia, we really need to change our political systems. It's not the technology we lack, nor the resources, only political will.

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The Protestant Reformation, which originated with the teachings of Martin Luther (1483-1546) and John Calvin (1509-1564), changed western European societal attitudes about the nature of religion and work. One of Luther's beliefs broke with the medieval conception of labor, which involved a hierarchy of professions, by stressing that all work was of equal spiritual dignity. Calvin's doctrines stressed predestination, which stated that a person could not know for certain if they were among God's Elect or the damned. Outwardly a person's life and deeds, including hard work and success in worldly endeavors, was a sign of possible inclusion as one of the Elect. These theological ideals about work were stressed in the various American religious utopian societies. The , for example, believed in productive labor as a religious calling, and the Inspirationists saw labor as productive and good, part of God's plan of contributing to the community.

What form of social and political organization would your utopia have?

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Yup, indeed, the utopias I know are all galaxy spanning future societies where mankind is threatened by something external, usually an alien species. Dystopias are typically fights between humans, or humans and their own mistakes—global war, rogue AIs, etc. It’s true that typically dystopias seem to present more opportunity for conflict and character growth, and I generally enjoy them (though I never seek them out on purpose), but I just can’t shake the feeling it’s an illusion based on the fact that our futuristic fiction is dominated by dystopias in numbers, and thus most people are unfamiliar with the true potential of utopian fiction. There can’t be just positives in a balanced society… that means the author didn’t dig deep enough into the human psyche.

How would your utopia deal with the residues of present society, such as nuclear and toxic waste?

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Why do we love to dive into such extremes, even if for only a day or two (okay, a week or two, if the book is door-stopper)? Is it the escapism? The vision of a future come true between the pages? The possibilities to explore the consequences of our ways without actually being affected by them? Or maybe it’s just the fascination with society models that differ from ours, despite the common foundation. Whatever it is, utopian and dystopian fiction exert their very own kind of fascination from a psychological point of view, and therefor attract very different audiences.

Evolution on the Theme Montag in the beginning of the book thinks that the society he is living in is a Utopia.

My own view of a utopian society is fairly simple, ..

The road to hell is often paved with good intentions, and for me the most convincing form of distopian vision is where most of it’s subjects think they’re actually in a utopia. Brave New World is the obvious example of what amounts to an exclusive utopia for an elite (though 1984 remains my favourite). I must stop now, as I could talk all day about this!

Cities should also be made much more pedestrian friendly, with parts of them becoming automobile-free zones.

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A good description of how such a democratic, egalitarian system would function is found in Michael Albert�s book, One of the essential features in our utopia would be equality between the sexes.