This essay will touch on the subject which philosophers in practically all times, and all civilizations have mentioned and mulled over: Utopias.
From Plato’s “Republic” to Marx’s “Das Kapital” man has tried to find the ideal state. Plato wrestled with the idea of Justice, and creating a state based on this concept. The Calabrian, Campanella in his “City of the Sun” found it in a communism, or communal community of sorts. Sir Thomas More in his “Utopia” found it in correcting the ills of society through moderation and emphasizing the “mean”, as do many Chinese philosophers. Bacon’s “New Atlantis” found it in the wonders of the advancements, which inductive thought (science) could achieve. Rousseau’s “Social Contract” found it in the rights which society, and the individual man or woman work out together. Finally Marx created an economic theory and based his society on this. All of these were in essence “ideals”, never really implemented, and if at least partially implemented, were found not to work (for example, Communism was a dismal failure). Caesar tried to actually implement his own ideal; but even being the most practical of men, he failed. Why? Why can’t humans find a way to live equitably together, through mutual cooperation; why can’t they learn to see that the separations, which they artificially create for themselves in so many varied ways, are the only real barriers to a real paradise right here on earth, right now?
The only real ideal that humanity should have is simply this: “Love your neighbor as your self”. Humanity’s known this maxim since time immemorial; since the first tribe discovered that the only way they could indeed stay together was through cooperation! And actually that’s all it really is – cooperation. Why is cooperation really that hard to achieve?
Well, what do we have to have in order to create cooperation? Firstly, cooperation is between people. Secondly, it’s between people who trust each other. “There be the rub”, as Shakespeare would say!
Trust is indeed a problem; we see the consequences of its loss all around us, everywhere we turn, in this, so called, “enlightened” society of ours. You see, when we say we trust someone, we expect that they in turn trust us, and visa versa; each person in this relationship expects something in return… namely,… you got it, … trust! But that old maxim that we spouted above, “Love your neighbor as yourself”, doesn’t say that you should love him because he loves you, or that you should expect anything at all in return! It just says “Love him or her” period! Of course “loving”, him or her, assumes giving, him or her, your trust and cooperation.
Love, today has become a thing where someone automatically expects a return of the same. Love has become, in our society, a type of contract between people; in fact even religions have presented it in this way. But the highest form of love is not about that at all. The highest form of love (and that is the very form that is meant in that maxim I mentioned above) is totally free of the concept of return or “getting something back”. It’s not a contract at all; it’s a gift. In essence, it’s the gift of faith. And that’s what real cooperation is, the gift of faith from one individual to another – period. One person says to another: I will work with you because I have faith in you; I trust you.
You see its that same old thing called the “survival instinct ” that always seems to get in the way. We are mortal, we have raised ourselves up from the depths of this earth, and like the other creatures from which we have evolved, we are steeped in the “me” of our existence. Locked in the perceptual apparatus of humanity: time, space and causality; we are constantly buffeted, and abused by that unknown and unknowable factor, called fate. From our first, rude and terrible birth into this world, we are trying to survive. It is that fear of “fate”, that is constantly dogging us; with only the instinct of survival promising us a reprieve. Our trust in it, has indeed thrown us out of paradise; and our constant temptation by it has kept us from ever experiencing paradise again. It beguiled Eve in the Garden of Eden, and consequently gained our first parents the boot. It is the original sin we must forever live with, and is indeed a part of us. It is the gift of mortality – or as some call it – the Devil, the master beguiler and deceiver. And its demons are the cupidity, resentment, and material prosperities that cause all the separations in this world; that keep the world forever at odds with itself; that keep people from trusting one another.
But there is hope for us. We humans have also inherited within us, a second instinct of sorts, a way by which we can offset that Devil, known as the survival instinct, and the self centered cupidity it engenders within us. That other agency is what I have called the Good. It has enabled man to form into the tribes and clans that allow him to structure a society whose motto is “e pluribus unum”, “from many one”. If left to itself, it gives trust unhesitatingly; it is the origin of the above maxim itself. But why do we seem to have lost it? Why have none of all the Utopias humans have dreamed of ever worked? Why have our religions themselves failed to provide the unity that they all promise; in fact, religions today, only seem to cause more disunity!
When you began to read this essay, you probably thought, well here is another Utopia that will fix everything, and never get off the ground. Well, I’ve given you the real answer, but not a Utopia that implements it. Instead I’m giving you a challenge:
All Utopias give humanity the promise of a prosperous way of life for all in the ideal state it creates. It means, in affect, that there are no losers; all participants win. They win by participating in a state where they and their families have the promise of security; a state that promises security for all.
Whatever way the Utopia finally is implemented, it must instill trust and cooperation between all members of the state. This can indeed only be done by first establishing a certain minimum level of security for all. It can’t be done in a society that hands out financial security with the spin of a roulette wheel, so that the ultra rich can be assured of prosperity. It can’t be done in a society that fawns over its young and abandons its old and infirm. It can’t be done in a society whose major credo is profit and self-aggrandizement at any cost. It can’t be done in a society where people live on what they don’t yet have; where people live on the brink of ruin, where the slightest mishap can spell total devastation and beggary. This isn’t the kind of security I mean. How can the trust needed for cooperation ever come about in a society where every citizen is pitted against every other in competition to survive? What we are living today is the very antithesis to what society means – cooperation.
To build the Utopia that will give all, the equitable society that everyone wants, we will all have to make some commitments, some sacrifices, and even eat some crow. We will have to say that the unity of man is more important than by what name I call God; more important than what my neighbor’s sexual preferences may be; more important than whether I make another hundred million in profits; more important than if I make any profit at all. It will mean that, at a very minimum, we will see to it that every one of us is employed at what we do best; everyone has a roof, of his own, over his head; everyone has a pension to live on if he or she is old, and be cared for till he or she dies; everyone has a good education; everyone has enough food and energy to live on; everyone has free medical care; everyone has free legal representation -- a minimum security for all.
It will also mean responsibility. 1 Reproductive responsibility, to limit the size of families to a limited and reasonable number of children; to learn to live with less so all can live with more; to understand that freedom is not license; to understand that opportunity is not opportunism; to understand that any human life is more important than all the riches in the world. It will mean that the rich will have to start being held accountable for their wealth. They will have to use it to do what I have said above, or live the same lives that they have caused so many others to live. The economy will have to turn from the production of toys for the rich, to the production of necessities for all, and the responsible distribution of energy at reasonable rates.
Today, in our world things are rapidly approaching a bursting point; the greed and avarice that has surfaced all over this world of ours, is beginning to devour itself, just as a perpetual motion machine will eventually run out of energy. The very countries that have been abused so long are rapidly becoming capable of becoming abusers themselves. They will have weapons 2 that will enable them to extract the retribution they have long waited to unleash. We cannot wait much longer to find a way to avoid the Armageddon that is coming. It is the responsibility of the religions of the world to unite in spiritual unity, to drop the dogmatism and petty differences that have separated and divided the world for so long. To unite themselves into a front that will force the governments of the world to stop all the wars; and to begin to aid each other in turning the world into a place where all national governments will form societies that will guarantee all their people a life of peace, and the minimum prosperity and security 3 I have outlined above. It will finally mean that people will have to become more important than profit, and that government will make this the overriding rule of every state on earth. 4
For further comments on this essay see: ERRATA, Further Comments Section
1 Responsibility also means that nations have to provide for their own, and that citizens have to support and cooperate with their own groups to build their own national governments. We have to realize that while there are national governments, and ethnic cultural groups, there will be the above mutual responsibilities between citizens and government. We can’t possibly have paradise tomorrow! The erasure of national boundaries is a goal that will take a long time to bring about. This means that people and the governments they form must find solutions to their own problems. Immigration is failure – period. People of the same nationalities must come to grips with their own government – giving up, and immigrating to where prosperity is better is only a form of parasitism that shows the failure of a people to cooperate amongst its own kind. If people leave their fellows to live in relative misery, while they seek their own prosperity elsewhere, how will anything ever improve in the place they left! This is a form of selfish, greedy behavior. People must stay together and fix what’s broken in their own country – not give up and go elsewhere. On the other hand, cooperation and aid between nations should increase so that every nation can provide the subsistence levels needed to take care of its own at the level I have outlined above. [Further comment on Immigration: Of course there will always be some immigration this is inevitable, families need to be united, (e.g. love between strangers from different countries is inevitable and can't and shouldn't be stopped) but the immigration I'm against is immigration purely for gain.]
2 [Added December 16, 2007] The weapons I mention here need not be Atomic Bombs or any conventional weapons at all; we, ourselves, through the overwhelming greed that has overtaken this country, have given them financial weapons to use to destroy us. The people we have alienated and pilloried with our stupid useless wars, control the life-blood of our economy – oil. The pseudo-economy that greed has created in this country, that relies on foreign production for practically three quarters of its products, which are mainly entertainment and assorted electronic junk; the remaining services and educational jobs all rely on the ability of the middle class and poor being able to afford these items. If the price of oil suddenly doubled or trebled the entire economy would collapse. With no one now able to afford the largely luxury items for sale, businesses would collapse, huge unemployment would develop, which would cause a vicious cycle of more businesses collapsing and further unemployment. The large segment of our population already out on financial limbs because of “at the brink” credit dispositions would cause a tidal wave of foreclosures, that would devastate the housing and building markets. Hospitals would close because no one would now have insurance to go to the doctors. Insurance companies would fold, from this and the housing collapse. It wouldn’t take long before the poor in the cities and illegal aliens started rioting and looting the remaining businesses. A citizenry already divided wouldn’t have to look far for reasons to start slaughtering each other, when survival is at stake.
Sound impossible? Think again, we are already on the brink; remember the panic after 9/11, and that was relatively minor.
All of this is meant to wake you up to the importance of unity and cooperation, and equity – fairness – in dealing with our own people. Greed eventually buries the greedy, as the above scenario shows. But this doesn’t have to be, if we work together to create equity for all. The economy is meant to serve the interests of the society it serves, not the interests of the greedy capitalists and their multi-national corporations that have no loyalty to any nation but themselves. We have let our society become vulnerable by creating a vacuous economy that is tailored to the greedy profiteering of the rich. Therefore we have delivered ourselves into the hands of those that want to hurt us. If we lived in a cooperative world we wouldn’t have to worry, but we don’t as yet. If we go down we’ll take others with us. All nations must become self-sufficient and help the others to do the same. Thus the concept of minimum security for individuals will become minimum security for nations, and perhaps one day global cooperation will finally eliminate nations.
3 This concept of minimum prosperity and security, I believe can eliminate much of the hesitancy of man to cooperate with his fellows by ensuring that failure does not entail destruction. It does not replace the Good, but is a help in somewhat eliminating the fear, which often accompanies man’s taking the first step in trust toward others. No implementation details are given, but the substantial excess of wealth that exists in the wealthy today makes it a certainty that the world can indeed accomplish this without any significant problems (especially since the elimination of all military expenditures and wars would also decrease significantly the outlays for this nefarious expense which eats up many economies today). Perhaps a concept such as the equalization of profit would fit the economists better, whereby all profits made in a society can be equalized over the whole of that society’s membership. Of course this would be only a start, as the long term goal would be global equalization of profit; thus turning the slavery of Globalization into the reality of global benefaction.
4 [Added: December 2, 2007] On my further reading I find that the basic ideas that I espouse in this essay, were already espoused by Albert Einstein in an essay called “Why Socialism?” (1949), in a book called “Out of my later years” by Albert. Einstein, Philosophical Library, New York; 1950. Although he arrived at similar conclusions by different means, and a different, already established, system, his overall conclusions are the same:
“Man is at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being.”
He goes on to point out the responsibilities of both, and the contradiction between cooperation and competition. And comes finally to the conclusion:
“This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole education system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.”
Like Caesar, Einstein has also become another paradox and casualty of human society. A man of genius, whose life work and thoughts, firmly directed in the direction of human benefaction, instead have been perverted by the proponents of greed to become the author of the horrible weapons of mass destruction, which have plagued the earth in our time.
Originally Published:November 15, 2007
Revised:July 4, 2014