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Utopia

 


A utopia is an ideal place and who does not want to live in an ideal place? We create paradises and heavens in our myths and religious beliefs without ever giving serious consideration to the possibility of creating a utopia here with the only life we possibly have.

How can we create a utopia?

First of all, we should admit that people have different worldviews. Each individual has her own notions about what is right and wrong, good and bad, God and life, and so on. A utopia should accept that diversity not merely with an attitude of facile tolerance but with profound understanding.

Truth is nobody’s prerogative. There is no individual, state or religion that can claim the possession of absolute truths. What is truth for one person may be a joke for another. Hence a utopia should never aim at imposing on its citizens a single truth in the form of religion or culture or anything at all. Instead a utopia should give freedom to its citizens to explore truth in their own ways. A utopia should provide all the necessary infrastructure required for such explorations. Every citizen in a utopia should be empowered to make personal enquiries, pursuits and explorations which in turn should ideally add to the welfare of other citizens.

All reasonable people want to live in a society in which they can cooperate with their fellow citizens on mutually acceptable terms and conditions. We all want to grow into greater joy and prosperity. Reason tells us that it is better to grow together as a community rather than as individuals. Individualism will trigger rivalry, jealousy, and other vices making joy impossible. We should grow together. That is the only practical way of achieving prosperity with joy.

The state has a great role to play in a utopia even though the citizens are reasonable and responsible. The state should ensure that every citizen enjoys and freedom and equality. The state should ensure that the society is a fair system of cooperation. American political philosopher, John Rawls, regarded these three – freedom, equality and fairness – as the pillars of any utopia. He also argued, among a lot many other things, that the state should ensure that the citizens make effective use of their freedoms.

Now, is this practical? Well, you and I know that it is not impossible to practise these simple principles. But it doesn’t work, however? Why? The human nature is such. We are self-centred. Utopias can’t be built on swelling egos.

Hence we make certain compromises and live on in parodies of utopias. We proclaim that ours is the best civilisation, ours are the ideal gods, ours is the most sacred language, and so on. We pretend to be custodians of an ancient and divine heritage. We pretend to be whatever we are not but would like to be. We live in dystopia and claim it to be utopia.

There are noble people, however. All over the world. That is why the world is still going on without destroying itself. Liberal and reasonable people stand ready to pacify bullies and warmongers, defend core human rights, and to help struggling people to move on in spite of their governments and the henchmen of the governments. They live in their own utopias.

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Yesterday’s post in this series: Tatvamasi

 

Comments

  1. So true.
    Diversity must be respected.
    One man's paradise, is another's hell- just like "one man's meat is another man's poison".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At any rate homogeneity is so boring in human affairs.

      Delete
  2. Why do you want to create a Utopia in the first place? Can happiness ever be quantified or qualified? Utopia will always remain an unfulfillable fantasy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Who doesn't want Paradises? That they are unachievable is a different matter. As Browning said, Man's reach should exceed his grasp / Or what's a heaven for?

      Delete
  3. We all live in parodies of utopia a dystopia. And yet all civilizations and government live in utopia. Liked your thoughts
    Deepika Sharma

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unless most people become aware of their potential to create utopias, we'll be condemned to endure parodies if not dystopias.

      Delete
  4. Very insightful. Utopia is not possible, but society's may improve so much if more individual's prioritize equality and justice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's it. Utopia is impossible but utopian longings are needed so that a better world can be created.

      Delete
  5. Utopia may be unachievable but should be attempted at as it's a goal so worthy that we should aim for it despite likelihood of failure in achieving it. The definition of Utopia given by John Rawls (and yourself) is correct. And you are also correct in asserting that the world is still going on without destroying itself only because of the presence of the noble and reasonable people though Utopia (as they might be willing to create) is a distant dream.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for such articulate acknowledgement of this post.

      Delete
  6. Thank you for the clarity of thought that comes through your posts:
    "We pretend to be whatever we are not but would like to be." answers all the questions about why we are where we are in our collective histories today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our collective history is a huge palimpsest written over again and again!

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  7. You painted a picture we all long for but is too far away because of our own egos.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The ego is the problem. Not even gods could solve that.

      Delete

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