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Utopia Now: Why There’s Never Been a More Urgent Time to Dream of a Better World


#1

Utopia Now: Why There’s Never Been a More Urgent Time to Dream of a Better World

Laurie Penny

There are many cruel and routine lies we tell to children but perhaps the most indicative is this: if you tell anyone your wish, it won’t come true. Whether it’s your birthday or you’ve just seen a shooting star, you’re not supposed to articulate your desires, because if you do, they’ll blow out like candles on a cake. This parable was probably invented by parents trying to avoid the trauma of not being able to give their children what they want but we carry it with us to adulthood, when it is repeated to us by our leaders.


#2

According to Native American oral tradition, the human world reached high levels of advancement four prior times in the I believe that part of imagination is tapping into the collective soul memory.

The Wright Brothers had confidence that aircraft could fly although there was no precedent... within their age. But it could be that part of the tap-in to the collective consciousness produced evidence of that possibility... as lived in a former time.

Ms. Penny makes reference to "Herland," but may or may not know about Feminist research into very real societies that lived by these creeds. Riane Eisler is my personal favorite, but Merlin Stone and others also produced compelling data in support of this premise:

"Exactly a century ago, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s novel Herland envisioned a society of women in which production was past; and each time it was destroyed.

communal, motherhood was valued, relationships were equal and rape and violence were unknown."

And something else: It is not so much that persons are told not to dream bolder dreams or dare to share them; it's that those who CONTROL the major organs of media and publishing WANT the collective consciousness to be suffused with fear. Typically, fear draws out a fight or flight response. It lacks the capacity to envision other than survival.

Back in l990 Ted Turner sponsored a contest that invited writers to, in fact, envision that better future for mankind. I don't know how many entrants there were, but I was one of them. And I began that work on October 15, 1990... the day I moved into a townhouse that I'd purchased: a big deal for a freelance-writer single Mom.

I was at the computer from midnight till 4 a.m. every night until a 221 page manuscript--edited by a pro. in Key West--was turned in on December 21, 1990.

In this channeled work, people committed to the same interest, passion, or cause lived together on PODS. In that manner, all segments of life became equivalent "Manhattan Projects."

There were "Recyclatoriums" where goods could be gotten. In other words, not much need for the constant push to produce NEW when there's so much that already exists in the way of STUFF.

There was neither money, nor a class system since everyone--to the extent that they could--contributed their HOURS of service in whatever arenas they held proficiency, and everyone's hour--logged into a computer-based Time Bank--was equal.

Pods would donate collective hours of service when something was needed for their community.

There were Agricultural Pods that were working to regenerate lost ecological systems.

Leadership--based on a council--was voted in based on each candidate's level of consciousness. And I used a rather esoteric mechanism drawn from Ancient Egypt to demonstrate that level.

And so on.

My point is that there may be many people like myself who indeed envision--and HAVE envisioned--other than what war, brutal dog-eat-dog economic systems, and the patriarchal mindset that continues to rape Mother Earth produce and claim as unchanging reality.

The elites don't WANT those visions out there.

Consider, too, that thousands of visionaries and activists have been meeting for The World Social Forum; and its motto happens to be "Another World Is Possible."

The dreamers of a wonderful future ARE out there, Ms. Penny. You don't hear about them because one way that the old powers maintain their hegemonic controls is through limiting access to any possibilities other than those that fit in with THEIR program!


#3

There is some truth to the "You've come a long way, baby" premise:

"Anyone who doesn’t believe that a better world is possible if we dare to dream it should take a look at the recent history of women’s liberation. The way I see it, I owe the women who came before me not just to live as freely as possible, not just to demand that women of all classes and backgrounds are able to access the freedoms I enjoy, but to demand even more.

"For as long as I have been a feminist, I have been asked – usually by grumbling men – when, exactly, we will be satisfied; when women and girls will decide we have enough. The answer is contained in the question: because the instant that we do decide that we are satisfied, that there can never be a better world than this, is the instant that the future shuts down and change becomes impossible."

This view is so insulated to the experience of many females in Western nations. Nonetheless, that hardly changes the FACT that 20% of young females experience rape on U.S. college campuses, or that women like Anita Sarkeesian get serious death threats for talking about the amount of violence--aimed at females--in popular video games that cater to teenage males. It doesn't grant any witness to the major inroads being taken by the Christian Theocratic groups to close down birth control, along with women's reproductive care.... and of course, abortion.

This view doesn't take in the significant role played by The Catholic Church in suppressing women throughout the 3rd world by denying them the right to family planning... via birth control.

It doesn't take in the Honor Crimes throughout the Arab world, or that the Taliban holds women hostage. It doesn't take in the Virginity tests executed by the Egyptian Army once they took over that nation after its "Arab Spring" turned to dead winter.

It doesn't take in the worldwide sex trafficking of young girls AND boys, or the brutal rites of groups like Boko Haram.

Or how about all the young factory worker girls who end up dead along the U.S-Mexican border?

In short, women's progress may have made major inroads in the West, but it's hardly the case for a good portion of the world's females.

So anyone--typically a pompous right wing male--who shows the kind of condescending impatience that demands to know: What do you women want now?... should be given an education in the TRUE state of women, worldwide.


#4

Well, SR, you and I rarely agree on anything...but your story was very cool. It takes a lot of talent and discipline to turn out a 221 page manuscript in such a short time.

I agree with you that, while a lot has been accomplished for women in a historically short period of time, a lot more needs to be done. In too many parts of the world women are still treated like chattel, or beasts of burden. The West also has a lot of room for improvement.

We may not agree, and yeah...I'm a middle aged white guy( with a little Shawnee thrown in) you like so much, but I have a wonderful college aged daughter myself. I want her to have all the opportunities available to any man.

My daughter is a real firecracker,very kind but stands up for herself. A few months ago a bouncer at a bar that she had a beef with told her "get out of here you little "four letter word starting with a "c" " . She knocked him to the ground and it took three other bouncers to get her off of him, all 5" and 103 lbs of her. I was both appalled and proud of her..Ha..She's probably your kind of girl.


#5

Beautiful. We live in a world of duality where both halves are needed to make a whole. Ironically, in erasing the circular feminine spiritual process and leaving only the linear masculine process, men have denied themselves access to their better selves. Some of these practices just barely survive in Eastern and Native cultures which celebrate an imminent and inclusive divinity.


#6

"I believe that part of imagination is tapping into the collective soul memory."

I believe that "collective soul memory" is an imaginary construct.

"The Wright Brothers had confidence that aircraft could fly although there was no precedent... within their age."

"Man will not fly for 50 years." --Wilbur Wright, 1901

And while there was no precedent for using a motor to drive propeller propulsion to lift a heavier-than-air craft, there was ample precedent for motors, propellers, and un-powered heavier-than-air flight. The Wright brothers won the race to combine known technologies to achieve powered flight, but other teams were pursuing the same combination because it was obvious. All that was lacking was sufficient refinement to reach the needed lift-to-weight ratio. A similar situation exists today with regard to molten salt thorium reactors. All the ingredients exist and all the theory is in place, it only remains to combine and refine.

"But it could be that part of the tap-in to the collective consciousness produced evidence of that possibility... as lived in a former time."

Not a former time on this planet. But of course, if "soul" memories can leap across time and space from one organism to another, presumably they could also leap from one planet to another and one species to another. But it isn't obvious why such memories would be constrained by the directionality of time as it applies to physical processes. Why would they also not also be able to make the leap from what would appear to us as the future?

"motherhood was valued"

Seems to me that humans have an excess of motherhood problem, and it would be better for all if there were less of it.

"It is not so much that persons are told not to dream bolder dreams or dare to share them; it's that those who CONTROL the major organs of media and publishing WANT the collective consciousness to be suffused with fear."

What they want is profit. In media, fear sells and it can be produced very cheaply.

"Back in l990 Ted Turner sponsored a contest that invited writers to, in fact, envision that better future for mankind."

His approach to the media business was unusual, but it ultimately lost because it takes more work and it isn't rewarded as much as the fear-based media business.

"In this channeled work, people committed to the same interest, passion, or cause lived together on PODS....There were "Recyclatoriums"...There was neither money, nor a class system since everyone--to the extent that they could--contributed their HOURS of service in whatever arenas they held proficiency, and everyone's hour--logged into a computer-based Time Bank--was equal. ...Leadership...was voted in based on each candidate's level of consciousness. And I used a rather esoteric mechanism drawn from Ancient Egypt to demonstrate that level."

And let me guess, your level of consciousness scored highly on the esoteric test for consciousness you devised. Shades of Plato.

And would an hour of service from a leader with a high level of consciousness be valued the same as an hour of service from a rag-picker in a recyclatorium? Not likely. So the credits of the time bank would be proportioned to the value of the service provided, and presto, you are back to having the functional equivalent of currency and class.

"My point is that there may be many people like myself who indeed envision--and HAVE envisioned--other than what war, brutal dog-eat-dog economic systems, and the patriarchal mindset that continues to rape Mother Earth produce and claim as unchanging reality."

There are many people who have envisioned many different kinds of utopias. I don't dwell on utopias, but I do envision better worlds--none of which resemble yours.

"The elites don't WANT those visions out there."

The elites don't care what visions are out there. But the only visions they will strive to make actual are their own.

"thousands of visionaries and activists have been meeting for The World Social Forum; and its motto happens to be "Another World Is Possible."

An unlimited number of other worlds are possible. Thus, the number of possible visions for other worlds is also unlimited. But out of the melee of unlimited competing visions, only one future will become actual.


#7

Why would it have to work that way?

There are individuals who feel over-entitled, such that even if they were getting their needs met by picking up rubbish at the side of the road they'd complain if a physician got more or nicer, but such individuals are generally recognised as unhealthy.


#8

I fully agree.

In the past I have explained that this Truth is written into our DNA since half of its chromosomal combination comes from the Mother and half from the father.

It's written into the electrical balance between negatively charged electrons and positively charged protons: in other words, the Yin-Yang counterbalance constitutes the very language that life and living systems are written in.

It's reflected in the dance between sun and moon, the tune--"Night and Day" as played by Cole Porter.

Amy Goodman recently had 2 women playwrights on her show. They explained how rare it was for a woman to win a Tony Award. Another woman explained that less than 20% of Hollywood directors are women. When media gets into the make-war act, it parades an endless array of generals to make the case.

So much of culture is still set in the masculine voice and depicts ITS frame. A linear side of the Divine force.

There is a good deal to this idea and I am doing my best to explain it in a new book based on Consciousness.

The two brain hemispheres also depict the twin sides of perception... but western cultures under patriarchal domination only legitimize what comes from the Left side... that is, what can be measured through all of the tangible tools that men are so fond of.


#9

I wonder if out of sheer interest you sat down and sought to discredit or devalue every point that I made?

In short, what motivates that kind of response? I would estimate it would have taken, at minimum, 20 minutes to lay out a point for point attempt at full-scale discrediting.

THAT is aggression in action.

YOU want to be right at my expense. And since the masculine narratives so popular to patriarchy have been so long-established and LOTS of males have trouble facing their own fear and hatred of their own feminine aspects--it's easy to win support for views of the type you espouse.

Of course, you would never recognize it as adherence to a patriarchal narrative that exists to the degree that it can delegitimize the voices that reflect an alternative to its insistence on speaking exclusively for reality and its founding constructs.

Since the Time Bank was MY idea, it's amazing how you show your domination need in deciding that hours will not be equal. YOU decided that. YOU insisted on that. YOU posted to reinforce the existing paradigm based on domination by patriarchs... which is to say white men.

And then the comment about enough "motherhood."

Wow. where do such wounded souls come from? And it's pathetic that I have to try to get my points across to such rabid misogynists.

And as for "Bligh," I am accustomed to you and your tag team pals either applauding something I say (when not lifting it to pass off as your own), while always adding the "warning label" that you never agree with me, or somehow returning to the false idea that I hate men. As if exposing what domination by males, an insistence on only half the human narrative, experience, and perceptual locus is as simple as "hating men."

That is not it at all.


#10

You show a total void when it comes to understanding history, robot-man.

Why is it that during the McCarthy period, writers and playwrights were shadowed and their work monitored for any seeming note sympathetic to what those rabid dogs took for communism or Soviet sympathies?

Why did Pinochet aim at writers and have his goons cut the fingers off a popular musician?

Why did the Nazis burn books, and why did that heinous sheriff in Arizona ban books that shared a truer understanding of South West history?

Propaganda is a war that uses words to control what people believe, and that includes their vision of The Possible.

Posters who ONLY push the profit motive are like the magician who pretends to hide the pea while his pals round up the crowd.

Profit is part of the calculus... but there is FAR more to it. Maybe your robot programming disallows your circuits to follow any lines of argument outside of what's been programmed into the operational instructions.


#11

Truer words, especially the first 8, have hardly ever been spoken.


#12

You don't have to have hope to dream of a better world

Just a keen instinct for survival


#13

Utopia?

http://www.thezeitgeistmovement.com


#14

Except that's not how time banks work.


#15

"Why would it have to work that way?"

It wouldn't have to. But I think it highly probable that's how it would work so long as it is humans deciding how it would work.

"There are individuals who feel over-entitled, such that even if they were getting their needs met by picking up rubbish at the side of the road they'd complain if a physician got more or nicer, but such individuals are generally recognised as unhealthy."

Well, yes. What you appear to be saying is that we'd consider it a bit unhinged to think that an hour of work from a rubbish collector should be valued the same as an hour from a physician. And we think that is irrational because we innately recognize that some forms of work or service are much more valuable or important than others. That's why I think it highly unlikely that all hours would be credited equally in any human-devised and administered society.


#16

"I wonder if out of sheer interest you sat down and sought to discredit or devalue every point that I made?"

I disagreed with most of what you said, but that would have been the case no matter who had said it.

"In short, what motivates that kind of response?"

Pretty much the usual motives for expressing a dissenting view.

"THAT is aggression in action."

Disagreement is not a form of aggression.

"YOU want to be right at my expense."

I find it preferable to be right, or at least rational, but the fact of my disagreeing with you doesn't cost you anything. And the fact of our disagreement underscores my point that there are many different notions of utopia, and some of them conflict with others.

"And since the masculine narratives so popular to patriarchy have been so long-established and LOTS of males have trouble facing their own fear and hatred of their own feminine aspects--it's easy to win support for views of the type you espouse."

I adopt positions which make sense to me. If others agree, maybe it's simply because they feel the same way. And in order to feel fear or hatred towards aspects of myself I deem feminine, I would first have to have aspects of myself which I deem feminine.

"Of course, you would never recognize it as adherence to a patriarchal narrative"

I don't currently recognize it as such, but I would not say never. I'm always open to reasonable changes.

"that exists to the degree that it can delegitimize the voices that reflect an alternative to its insistence on speaking exclusively for reality and its founding constructs."

I view reason and science as the most successful approaches we have yet devised to explore and model the nature of reality, but I don't see reason and science as being inherently masculine or patriarchal.

"Since the Time Bank was MY idea, it's amazing how you show your domination need in deciding that hours will not be equal."

I thought it unlikely they would be regarded as equal based on what I've seen of human nature and history. We're not going to value an hour of work from a bicycle mechanic the same as an hour from a neurosurgeon because we don't see the two kinds of work as being equally demanding and equally important. And it doesn't matter who proposed the idea of a time bank, because you also proposed a leadership class, and they are the ones who would administer it and decide how it operates. And given what leaders have done pretty much everywhere in every age, does anyone think these leaders won't set it up to place a higher value on their own contributions?

"YOU decided that. YOU insisted on that."

I expressed my view regarding its likelihood. I still think it unlikely that all hours would be regarded as equal--not because I'm insisting on it but because I haven't seen a reason to change my mind.

"YOU posted to reinforce the existing paradigm based on domination by patriarchs... which is to say white men."

I'm saying what I expect would happen in any human society, irrespective of ancestry, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, etc.

"And then the comment about enough "motherhood.""

My view is that humans have an overpopulation problem and that we need to curtail our reproductive rates. "Valuing motherhood" sounds to me like a recipe for promoting and encouraging motherhood, which I would view as an unhelpful result at this time. I would have had a similar response if someone had called for "valuing fatherhood".

"Wow. where do such wounded souls come from?"

Disagreeing with you is neither a pathology nor an indicator of a pathology.

"And it's pathetic that I have to try to get my points across to such rabid misogynists."

I strongly suspect that in your utopia, people like you would be revered as having attained advanced levels of consciousness. It would be a society administered by Astrologers, mystics, spiritual energy workers, ufologists, clairvoyants and prophets, and I suspect you imagine it would be powered by some of the energy schemes you occasionally refer to. To me, that sounds like a formula for lunacy, fraud, corruption and a rapid devolution into a new Dark Ages--and I don't see anything misogynistic about feeling that way, nor about making the obvious point that people are going to have divergent and conflicting utopias.

"I am accustomed to you and your tag team pals either applauding something I say (when not lifting it to pass off as your own), while always adding the "warning label" that you never agree with me,"

I often disagree with your views, but not always. I think I've even upvoted a few of your comments when you've managed to be reasonable and not offensive for an entire post. My position is not contingent on yours, and I don't orient my views by reference to yours, but neither will I steer around it. I accumulate good ideas and arguments wherever I find them. If by some fluke the source ever happens to be you, I won't plagiarize your words or represent the idea as being original with me, but I'll absolutely raid, adopt and make use of the underlying concept as I see fit. That's how I am with everyone.

"or somehow returning to the false idea that I hate men. As if exposing what domination by males, an insistence on only half the human narrative, experience, and perceptual locus is as simple as "hating men."

I can think of instances where flinging the misogynist label is similarly simplistic. And irrelevant.


#17

"Propaganda is a war that uses words to control what people believe, and that includes their vision of The Possible."

Okay, yes. Elites care about actions and effects, so particularly where elites are vulnerable and insecure, or pursuing a brittle ideology, they care about people's utopian visions where they think such visions could lead to serious organization and action which could have an impact on their own objectives.

But in our reality, my impression is that the elites don't see that they have anything to worry about from the various utopias people dream of.

"Profit is part of the calculus... but there is FAR more to it."

My sense is that elites want the freedom and capacity to do whatever they please to the greatest extent possible, and to a lesser degree, they also seem to crave being admired and envied. Wealth accumulation is a metric for potential on both counts. Basically, it's a way to keep score.

"Maybe your robot programming disallows your circuits to follow any lines of argument outside of what's been programmed into the operational instructions."

I have meat circuitry and adaptive programming, but basically, yes. There are undoubtedly many arguments which lie outside my processing capabilities, as well as many arguments which I would register as invalid. My programming can be modified and extended, but it will always have limitations and filters. Any action I could take which is not consistent with my programming would, by definition, be a glitch.


#18

I think there may be a disconnect in how we see the implications of that.

Today the inequality is intentionally magnified because the psychopaths controlling things want to make sure we see them as superior beings, so they do it by an exaggerated classism. They see to it that the people under Capitalism's pyramid, the ones who aren't even shown in those famous illustrations, get so little for their work that they can't afford anything more than the barest subsistence, if even that, while, e.g., the psychopath in the White House has a ridiculously-large surfeit of everything.

But in a world where psychopaths are boxed up, and people with pathologies related to greed and class are seen as unfortunate rather than admirable, the visible distinctions would subside to their natural, minimal level. Those who didn't get enough in the genetic lottery to make them even averagely able wouldn't be penalised for their misfortune. Their willingness to contribute what they can to the common wealth would get them a dignified life functionally indistinguishable from anyone else's.

So down at the level where it counts, how much would the hourly rate at the recyclatorium differ from the rate at the brain surgeon's office? Not much. We could do that because today's scarcities are contrived, not natural. We discard food, we let dwellings stand empty, we crush unsold cars. Everything is designed to impose and maintain class distinctions for the benefit of the psychopathic "nobility". Box those creatures up, and 99% or so of the craziness they now impose would slowly evaporate.


#19

I have to wonder if our species will have have the honesty or critical self scrutiny to examine why we have been to secure the 'dream' that is perpetually outside the predominant values of our current cultural construct. A closer examination of human nature might be a good starting place!

"Ever as the dream sustains a flicker of hope, it has never been more self-evident that mankind is unable to achieve the dream by any means or measure of its own understanding, founded upon its own conception of value, morality, knowledge, truth and logic." So where has reason lost the plot, that we can only dream the dream but remain without the means to realize, even progress towards it with any confidence?


#20

As a Socialist, I am proud to be part of a movement where we work for as well as dream of a radically different and better world, one where our social system is changed "beyond recognition".

Among our founding principles is that our movement is one where the members work together
"without distinction of race or sex" . As a woman I have never been discriminated against and not felt disadvantaged in this movement. My partner, the father of my daughters, came to the West from India - : he was discriminated against at work but not in the movement.

I was disappointed that so much discussion on this topic has been on the limited subject of the feminist arguments. There's been too little of the really imaginative, thinking outside the box..

Can I suggest you google the John Lennon song "Imagine" and consider the ideas expressed in this brilliant mini-manifesto... a world where the people can be free, where there are no wars, no religions, no rich or poor!

Possibly one based on the principle of social cooperation - working together for the common good, one without a ruling class or leaders, an elite group bossing the rest around, one which worked on the Socialist principle of "from each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs".

John Lennon's song crops up again and again as a choice at people's funerals. And it can often be heard being played - e..g. on a hot day, as I walked along I heard it it being played on the car radio by a waiting parent outside a local school..It is a truly popular anthem, and suggests there are many people out there for whom a Utopia of this sort is dreamt of and thought of as truly desirable, and hopefully feasible.

Blue skies, all!.