Time for Utopia

Posted on 30 May 2018

Cover of Galaxy magazine April 1955

We have been watching far too many distopian fictions. Distopias are meant to be warnings. If things go on as they are, they caution, the consequences will be dire. This is what stories like 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale are all about. They are meant to spur people on to make change.

We as a culture have been consuming so many distopian stories, I am afraid we see these futures as inevitable and even heroic. People watch movies such as Mad Max, already feel helpless that nothing can be done to stop the collapse of our civilisation through human division and environmental damage, identify with the hero, then cast themselves as a romantic lone survivor.

I’ve had people try to recruit me for their survivalist dreams. The most recent fellow wanted me to move to King Island where we were going to preserve knowledge and be the stable providers of necessary commodities, thereby ensuring that we “the good people” would take over the future. He had no plan to help save our planet now. He had no interest in joining forces with people who were creating solutions for a better world we could all share.

I’ve heard it said that people find it easier to imagine a dead world than a world without capitalism. This is a deeply entrenched position. This is a “my way or no way” stance. When some of these people want to seem progressive, while still clinging to our society’s worst sins, they will talk about how change has to be deliberate and slow. What the message really is: “Over my dead body”. “My world, my way, while I still have breath. I don’t care about what happens to anyone after I’m planted six feet in the earth.”

People want a future they can understand. They want a future where they feel they can be in control. Largely this means, left or right, they want a world mostly like it is today with a few tweaks that are favorable to themselves. The political difference is the size of “themselves”. Are we talking a small upper caste or a broader more middle class collective? Neither are thinking deeply, broadly, or far enough.

As things are going, the future will be profoundly alien to those of us alive today. If we start imagining utopia now, we may be able to get to that place with less suffering. If we do not, we face either tremendous suffering and/or total extinction. Human beings have not been powerful because we stand apart, we have been powerful because we have worked together for better or for worse. Let’s start choosing better more often. Let’s embrace the mystery of the future and allow it to be utopian.

In peace and kindness,


PS: Stay tuned. I am planning on writing something about a potential utopian future.

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