U is for Utopia
Utopia’s fun, it’s the perfect society
No work, no evil, no fear or anxiety,
Nothing but playing and eating ice cream!
Doesn’t it sound like a beautiful dream?
That is because, like a dream, it’s not real.
It’s just a fancy, an empty ideal.
If someone says they have a perfect vision,
Odds are they just want to sow more division.
We can aspire to be truly grand,
But we must be real about what we demand.
Humans aren’t perfect: the proof that can back this
Is what all utopias look like in practice.
“The ABC’s of Morality” by Lauren Southern and George Alexopoulos
Given the current societal pressures, be it getting people vaccinated against Covid or preventing negative consequences of climate change, there is an astounding willingness to go the “the ends justify the means” route.
There is this view that if we just get people to do X, everything will be alright. With some topics (e.g. climate change) it’s preventing the apocalypse, with others (e.g., socialism), it’s reaching utopia where everything is fair. Who cares if we have to limit freedoms? Or pressure people, make them unemployable, or just unable to do their job — it’s for a good cause.
Only, how would utopia look like in practice? This kind of mentality assumes that with reaching utopia, suddenly all mankind ascends and these pressures will not be necessary anymore. Because everyone has seen the light, hell, has reached the light.
But humans are humans and will be humans — so for how long will that utopia last? A second? A minute? What is when the first dissenting view appears? What then? Humans crave variety, and we can’t help it. Genetically there will be differences, people will develop in different directions. That’s all adaptive to survive for millennia in a changing environment, and to cover all areas of the Earth. But for living in a utopia — and unchanging perfect world — that’s simply not compatible.
So, there is no way the ends justify the means, because the ends will continue to require these means. And how could it be utopia if people have to be coerced, or even killed? So while trying to reach heaven, instead of ever reaching it, mankind will endlessly march through hell.
So, yeah, perhaps we should make sure that mankind’s journey is a worthwhile one, because we will never reach utopia, but we might see some interesting things along the way.
P.S.: Selecting the quotation at the beginning was an almost equal race between the winner, and the following two:
‘But Albrecht could have exposed you!’
‘Exposed what? He is not King, but I will be very surprised if one of his family is not King again, in the fullness of time. What goes around comes around, as the Igors say.’ The King leaned forward. ‘You have been labouring under a misapprehension; I reckon. You think that because Albrecht dislikes Ankh-Morpork and has … oldfashioned ideas, he is a bad dwarf. But I have known him for two hundred years. He is honest and honourable … more so than me, that I’m sure of. Five hundred years ago he would have made a fine king. Today, perhaps not. Perhaps … hah … the axe of my ancestors needs a different handle. But now I am King and he accepts that with all his heart because if he did not, he’d think he wasn’t a dwarf, see? Of course he will now oppose me at every turn. Being Low King was never an easy job. But, to use one of your metaphors, we are all floating in the same boat. We may certainly try to push one another over the side, but only a maniac like Dee would make a hole in the bottom.’
‘Corporal Littlebottom thought there’d be a war-‘ said Vimes weakly.
‘Well, there are always hotheads. But while we argue about who steers the boat, we don’t deny that it’s an important voyage.’
«The Fifth Elephant» by Terry Pratchett
«We are facing an enemy that is consumed and committed to our total destruction. An enemy that demands to be fought, and we will fight. But I say to you our greatest challenge is not the might of a Klingon fleet. The greatest challenge lying before us is to do what must be done without undoing the dream of the Federation. For myself, I have but one fear: Destroying the dream of the Federation. Compared to such a loss I do not fear the Klingon Empire.»
Admiral Ramirez’ first address to the Federation, STARDATE 2243.2, in “Prelude to Axanar”
In the end, the quote from the Southern and Alexopoulos book won, mostly because I gave me a reason to link to the posting again.