Home > Uncategorized > Beyond Utopia: An Essay

Beyond Utopia: An Essay

Here’s something I wanted to share for a while. I watched this documentary recently called “Zeitgeist: Moving Forward”. You can find it here and it’s free. It talks about how all our attempts at politics have failed or are failing. It proposes a new “Resource Based Economy” with the Venus Project. I ended up agreeing that the world needs to change completely… a complete overhaul of what we believe to be a democratic economic and political system.

So here’s an interesting essay by the founder of the Venus Project, Jaques Fresco. Be sure to check out the documentary if you’re interested.

THE FUTURE AND BEYOND

By Jacque Fresco

BEYOND UTOPIA

With the advent of future developments in science and technology, we will assign more and more decision making to machines. At present this is evident in military systems in which electronic sensors maintain the ideal flight characteristics in advanced aircraft. The capacities of computers today exceed five hundred trillion bits of information per second. The complexity of today’s civilization is far too complex for human systems to manage without the assistance of electronic computers. Computers of today are relatively primitive compared to those that will evolve in the future. Eventually the management of social systems will call for require electronic sensors interconnected with all phases of the social sequences thus eliminating the need for politics.

Today modern industrial plants have built in automatic inventory systems, which order materials such as bearings and other mechanical replacements well in advance.

We believe it is now possible to achieve a society where people would be able to live longer, healthier, and more meaningful productive lives. In such a society, the measure of success would be based upon the fulfillment of one’s individual pursuits rather than the acquisition of wealth, property, and power. Although many of the concepts presented here may appear as unattainable goals, all of the ideas are based upon known scientific principles. It is not my purpose to write an article that would be acceptable to people this is not the concern of science.

The social direction being proposed here has no parallel in history with any other previous political ideology or economic strategy. Establishing the parameters of this new civilization will require transcending many of the traditions, values, and methods of the past. The future will evolve its own new paradigms, appropriate to each successive phase of human and technological development.

Throughout the history of civilization few national leaders or politicians have ever proposed a comprehensive plan to improve the lives of all people under their jurisdiction. Although such individuals as Plato, Edward Bellamy, H.G. Wells, Karl Marx, and Howard Scott all made some attempts to present a new civilization, the established social order considered them impractical dreamers with Utopian designs that ran contrary to the innate elements of human nature. Arrayed against these social pioneers was a formidable status quo composed of vested interests that were comfortable with the way things were, and a populace at large that, out of years of indoctrination and conditioning, wanted no radical changes. These were the millions of unappointed guardians of the status quo. The outlook and philosophy of the leaders were consistent with their positions of differential advantage.

In 1898, Edward Bellamy wrote the book Looking Backward. He conceived of an ideal egalitarian social system with many advanced ideas for its time. This bestseller generated a great deal of interest, and many people inquired as to how this type of cooperative Utopian society could be brought about. But Bellamy replied that he was just a writer and did not know how to create such a society.

The proposals he presented, and those of Plato’s Republic, the writings of Karl Marx, H. G. Wells in his book The Shape of Things to Come, and many others all represent attempts to find workable solutions to the many problems that earlier civilizations were unable to resolve. There is little doubt that at the time of Bellamy’s books the social conditions were abominable, which made the Utopian ideal extremely appealing. What appears to be lacking in most of these concepts, however, has been an overall plan and the necessary methods for a transitional system to enable the idea to become a reality. Most of the early visions of a better world did not allow for changes in either technology or human values, tending to arrest innovative efforts. Additionally, all have lacked a comprehensive set of blueprints, models, and a methodology for implementation. Finally, they lacked competent individuals to bring about such a transition.

The answers do not lie in debate or philosophical discussion of values, but rather in methodology. Thus what is needed is an operational definition of a better world, which is as follows: To constantly maximize existing and future technologies with the sole purpose of enhancing all human life and protecting the environment.

Today we have developed the necessary technology to surpass the fondest hopes and dreams of any social innovators of the past. The fact that previous attempts at social change have failed is no justification for us to stop trying. The real danger lies in complacence. The only limitations to the future of humankind are those that we impose upon ourselves. It is now possible to relieve humanity of many of its unresolved problems through the humane application of technology.

Many years ago an attempt was made in the U. S. to understand a social and economic system different from our own. A film called "The March of Time" had this to say about Soviet Communism: "We believe that the American free-enterprise system will function better than the collective system. However, we wish you the best of luck on your new and unusual social experiment." The failure of communism to provide for human needs and to enrich the lives of its citizens is not unlike our own failures. Both failure and success are inherent in the on-going experiment that is social evolution. In all established social systems it is necessary to devise different approaches to improve the workings of the system.

Science is replete with examples of experiments that have failed, as well as those that have been successful. In the development of the airplane, for example, there were thousands of failures before the first workable model was produced. In the field of medicine, Dr. Erlich attempted over 600 different approaches to controlling syphilis before one was finally proven successful. All of the technology we use today, such as computers, cellular phones, the Internet, aircraft, and automobiles, are in a constant state of improvement and modification. Yet our social system and values remain largely static. An inscription on one of our government buildings reads as follows: "Where there is no vision, the people perish." Attaining visions requires change. The major reason for resisting change is that it tends to threaten the established interests. Actually, the fear of social change is somewhat unfounded when we consider that the entire history of civilization has been, in a sense, an experiment. Even the American free-enterprise system, during its earliest stages, faced a multitude of problems much more severe than they are today. These included long work hours, exploitation of child labor, inadequate ventilation in industrial plants, lack of rights for women and minorities, hazardous conditions in mines, and racial prejudice. Despite its many problems, it was the greatest social experiment in history in terms of diversity of lifestyles and individual freedoms, innovations in architecture and technology, and overall progress in general. It is imperative that we continue the process of social experimentation in order to transcend our present limitations and enhance the lives of everyone.

The future does not depend on our present-day beliefs or social customs, but will continue to evolve a set of values unique to its own time. There are no "Utopias." The very notion of "Utopia" is static. However, the survival of any social system ultimately depends upon its ability to allow for appropriate change to improve society as a whole. The paths that we choose will ultimately determine whether or not there is intelligent life on earth.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. March 31, 2011 at 15:14

    VERY worthy of reply and comment! Not now. Gotta go to gym.

    • March 31, 2011 at 15:17

      Will be waiting for your comment!!

  2. April 1, 2011 at 17:57

    This deserves discussion. And more study. But… Rique… it screams of previous attempts at socialism. A different twist, to be sure, but similar, never-the-less. The problems with which we all identify are reduced or eliminated, … if you will only read what I have to say and do what I tell you to do. Years of study and research have provided ME with The Way. Even if the ideas are good – which they are… I agree with a lot of the solutions… – the overwhelming issue of WHO will conduct the transfer is the rub. Further, not everyone agrees, or will agree. There will be dissension and there must be a method for accommodation of opposing views.

    Goto go to lunch with my sweetie. Love it. talk to you later

    • riqz
      April 1, 2011 at 22:50

      It’s all true what you say but socialism was not as resource based and not as efficient. It does take some of it’s ideas though. What i think should be definetly done is to start again from scratch and learn from our mistakes but nobody thinks like that. People will only start realizing this when it’s too late to change

  3. April 2, 2011 at 00:04

    I am eternally hungry for that single idea which solves the very dilemma about which you speak. The political process in either of our countries is so corrupted by money and media influence/power that what is good-for-all is practically always backhanded in favor of what someone in power wants. So now comes the idea of Resourced Based solutions but the problem remains. A human, or group of humans, must make decisions, never-the-less. Power and influence problem, once again. New opportunity for corruption. I can’t see how it can be avoided.

    • riqz
      April 2, 2011 at 00:11

      I agree with you. I just hope someday things become better so that we can live in an eden and not in hell.

  4. April 5, 2011 at 14:12

    “With the advent of future developments in science and technology, we will assign more and more decision making to machines.”

    Yes, Artificial Intelligence has proven essential and freed us from endless mind-numbing, ‘on-off’ decisions. It is laughable, however, to assert machines could ‘think’ subjectively and apply moral processes to decisions which would be acceptable to all.

    “Eventually the management of social systems will call for require electronic sensors interconnected with all phases of the social sequences thus eliminating the need for politics.”

    It’s really good that he made this sentence so incredible opaque because it makes very little sense.

    “The answers do not lie in debate or philosophical discussion of values, but rather in methodology. Thus what is needed is an operational definition of a better world, which is as follows: To constantly maximize existing and future technologies with the sole purpose of enhancing all human life and protecting the environment.”

    And here, Ricardo is the problem. We have an individual, with the sweep of his arm, dismissing “debate and philosophical discussion of values” and replacing them with his definition for a better world which, I’m sorry, is so fucking vague it means virtually nothing. How, for example, do we assure that existing and future technologies are constantly maximized? Doesn’t that sound daunting? And, once that is done, how the hell do we determine which maximized technology actually enhances all human life and protects the environment? And then, how do those technologies get funded, promoted and distributed?

    This is an example, I think, of someone impatient with our society’s progress (as are you and I) and solves the problem by placing himself at the head of the table, ending debate, and applying his solutions. As noble as he may be, his method is not new.

  5. April 5, 2011 at 14:19

    Please review this link. Louise and I visited the Earth Ship community in Taos, New Mexico last autumn. Here’s another noble sole who’s applied his life’s resources to solving our problems. The technology is amazing and exciting… but I don’t want this lunatic running the world… and he believes he should.

    http://www.earthship.org/
    https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Earthship

  6. April 11, 2011 at 14:04

    Did you ever visit the “earthship.org” link? What’ya think?

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