Utopias part 1 – Sustainability

NaNoWriMo is coming up, and my idea for this year centers around a Utopia. It’s not something I’ve done before, but it’s something I’ve thought about a lot. I think the reason I haven’t done it before is because it feels like such an ambitious thing – how vain to put forward what one single mind believes would be a perfect world? How many people have come up with their own picture of a world where everyone would be happy and live in harmony, and been scoffed at because they hadn’t taken one this or that into consideration?

There are a few things a Utopia must be. First, it must be sustainable – what good it a utopia with an expiration date?

Which means sustainable on an ecological level. Which means two things – first, respecting the environment, in some way. Not necessarily revering it as untouchable, but on the other hand, biological diversity is unarguably important. Just think of what would happen to the world if common wheat suddenly stopped growing due to a disease. Lucky thing we can switch to other varieties.

The other thing sustainability means is population control. Whatever plenty there is, a population will grow until it exceeds the capacity of it’s environment, then the population with crash due to famine. It’s a fact. And in case anyone wants to argue that people aren’t animals, we can overcome that, well maybe we are, maybe we’re not – maybe we are in fact capable of defeating our instincts as individuals, but as a whole the above has been true over and over and over throughout history. One might also argue that the areas of the world where the population is growing are the areas of the world where there is not enough resources, however, if the people do not have enough food to fuel their population exansion, what is it that they are eating? Rocks? Sand? This is where the “global economy” comes in – economics of an area are no longer isolated, food is shipped in from other countries, in aid donations, which is only exacerbating the population problem, sustaining the population at an unsustainable level. But that’s another point I’ll have to save for another post.

There are many forms of population control – war being one, famine being another. Obviously those are not the sort of things one would expect to see in a utopia, however. The form existing in China, now, might be viable, but could people be happy with it? Can humans be happy with their reproduction restricted? Keeping in mind that the order of priority in an animals instincts is first survival, and second, reproduction, and all else after those two.

But then look at the countries where the population is declining. Studies show that population growth is inversely related to education of women. If you had an isolated society, where people in general were educated to a sufficient level, would that exert enough of a population controlling influence to keep the population at a sustainable level? Maybe. One major reason for first world people to not have children is lack of resources, which would not be an issue in a Utopia. The reasons for not having children, however, are diverse, from couples just wanting to enjoy their lives unsaddled with children, people having difficulty finding someone two settle down with, health being too poor to bear or look after children, concerns over hereditary diseases, or even not believing that one would make a good parent. In any case, such a society would likely not need to be as severely restrictive of reproduction as China.

Hmm, this is getting long – may need multiple posts. I will get back to this.

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10 responses to “Utopias part 1 – Sustainability

  1. Looking forward to your solutions…go get em Tigress. I have a crazy idea for you…and it is crazy believe me…have mating rights earned through a triathalon…a competition based on intelligence, physical skill, and a third component that is currently failing me…this is in short what most of the Apex species do…the winners have access to the female or male harem….LOL

    • Interesting thought. I think at least some of that is at work even in our own society – women tend to be drawn towards athletic men with money. I would say that third component would be some kind of combination of social attributes – charisma, altruism, and whatever other qualities make society run smoothly.

      But then, a utopia is supposed to be a perfect world for all people, right? If only certain people are allowed to follow their instinct to reproduce, would that be a perfect world for the people who don’t qualify for breeding rights under those rules?

      😛 This is what makes writing a utopia daunting.

  2. I think the idea of Utopia gets bogged down with the idea that everyone is equal…which is a very restricting concept…those with immense gifts should be given full support to reach their heights…but…those apart of Utopia need to have a certain level comfort and a means to reach happiness and fulfillment….for example…if I believed in a cultures goals with my heart…I would be happy doing the dishes, laundry, cleaning bathrooms…for those with higher level talents and capacities…as long as I had a sense of freedom and ability to engage in a life and activities that I enjoy. Like it or not…we aren’t all created equal…and an ideal system would tallor to each of our abilities and needs to improve us from where we start…but there must be a sense of team…a sense and belief that the ship is headed in the right direction for a better place

  3. And since you have the power to create this Utopia…might be a good idea to think of extremes and then adjust to what you think will hold that Utopia together…an extreme is what I postulated above…think of horse breeding…which does result in a superior product….is this going to hold a human culture together??? Probably not…is it desireable…probably not…but you could say…those that rank high on three components might earn the right to have say two kids instead of just one.

    Also…ideas of no war and nothing but peace…I imagine this requires thinking in the extreme on both sides of the equation. And…you could even consider multiple Utopias as to increase variation…and at certain periods…competing Utopias may have to go to war in a noble fashion…where one Utopia is forced to agree to the ideas and even culture of the victorious Utopia…just some thoughts…my two cents:)

    • Now you’re talking about molding humans to fit the world 😛 Which, hey, it’s sci-fi, you can do that. But if I were to do that, would I be able to make the statement I want to make?

      Also, if you adjust the definition of utopia from a good place for all people to a good place for certain people, then you get closer and closer to the concept of “all animals are equal, some are just more equal than others”. One could argue that we live in a utopia right now – it’s just a utopia for corporations, not people. A utopia for anyone with the financial backing to force governments to pass laws protecting them.

  4. I like this idea of multiple Utopia and variation…it gives you the freedom to try different models and extremes…frees you from creating the perfect model which most likely doesn’t exist…as we progress…things change…ideas change…and eventually theyy will clash

  5. LOL…well…the way it exists today is no Utopia even for those on top of the pyramid…most of them are merely shuffleing money around or throwing balls…I think my ideas of Utopia are probably quite different from yours…but I can’t wait to read yours when it is complete:)

    • I would have to disagree on that – the rich are the group least affected by economic downturns. The difference between living on a million dollars a year isn’t that much different from living on a billion dollars a year. Historically, the rich have ridden such times out very comfortably. The shuffling imaginary money around is actually how the economic crisis got started, anyway. The very poor, for the most part don’t get much poorer, but the people hit hardest by an economic crisis are the middle class – the class the majority of people fit into. Their quality of life plummets in times like this, because while the poor have nothing to take, the middle class end up having their assets scraped away little by little when corporations see their profits edge towards the red, and they fix it by lowering wages and laying people off and demanding more work from those they keep, for less money, and then say they’re lucky they have jobs. All those companies that were bailed out a few years ago, they’re making record profits right now while wages continue to go down, and cost of living goes up along with unemployment.

  6. Oh I agree with you 100%…my parents are wealthy and have survived fine even though they are retired…but they did take some pretty big hits in 2008 collapse…probably lost over a million dollars that they had invested in Lehman brothers which went bankrupt….so they are watching money closely….I am middle class and have been hit extremely hard so that I can barely stand…and I understand the economic picture…but what I am talking about is higher beings…refined human beings aiming for a more enlightened existence…most of those at top of pyramid are mainly concerned with accumulating more weatlh…their souls are rotten…it is this I am referring to. A utopia in my opinion isn’t simply providing everyone with food and shelter…much more than that.

    • Heh, yes, most definitely not just about providing food and shelter – that’s why I had to break this up into multiple posts. I’ve got through the food and shelter part. Next will be the economics part. Lets see if I get to Daniel Quinn in that one before it bloats out to over 600 words. I’ve deliberately not decided how many posts there will be in this series, there turned out to be more to go on about than I expected. Though, I’m also trying to be careful not to give away the surprise in my story at the same time.

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