Saturday, December 21, 2002

Miel's Utopia

I once expressed some surprise that I have not been made dictator of any country or dictator of the world yet. This was something I grew up simply expecting.

I haven't given up hope on this yet so I do think I need to answer the question: What would Miel's utopia be like?

I'm still thinking through my utopia...

I think it would be part Montessori school, part 1970's Volvo factory. First, no one would have to do anything they don't want to do and there would be plenty of opportunity to do whatever one wants. Of course, we would engage in cooperative tasks but rather than motivate people to do such tasks through fear, shame and censure we would instead make them exciting and fun.

'Merit' would count for a lot in Miel's utopia. However, we're talkin' real merit not that silly merit that makes people who go to Ivy League schools think they deserve all the wealth and prestige they later acquire.

We'd have rather an algorithm or table to figure out what makes someone 'deserve' something. The thing that would make you the most deserving, of course, would be how hard your life is. The people with the hardest lives would deserve the most, the people with the easiest lives would get the least. Hard work would get you things but not in the hierarchical way that it does now...Instead, if you work hard in the fields sowing and reaping you get just as much as someone who works hard in some kind of white collar job.

When bad things happen to you, you also get compensated...So: If you lose a finger or if your wife leaves you or you get cancer, you get something nice--like a small garden, very luxurious sheets and towels, a home entertainment center.

Everything is done on the principle of reward and very little on the principle of punishment...(No one would be stupid enough to believe the retributive theory of punishment anyway). 'Punishments' would be creative: You'd lose your privacy, for example and have to live in a glass house; you'd have to spend all day at the old age home feeding the patients; you'd be made to listen endlessly to the BeeGees. For the occasional person whose behavior is very, very bad we'd make you sit in a room while everyone you'd ever harmed complained and complained and complained....

We'd let you out when you were sorry though.

We'd let people do things that are bad for themselves but we would make them write an essay explaining why. Anyone can try heroin as long as we think their reasons for doing so are good enough...The essays would not be graded too harshly but they'd have to be written coherently and persuasively--spelling and grammatical errors here and there would be alright but one would have to provide evidence for compelling reasons.

No one would be allowed to get 2 of anything until everyone had 1 of that very same thing. No one could have 2 cars unless every person in the world got a car...

Finally--I think we should borrow from Borges the Babylon lottery idea. People would have to trade social positions on occasion...Wealthy people would have to trade social positions with welfare moms, etc.

The utopia is still in the early stages...Naturally, I wouldn't expect a complete utopia. There would be imperfections and problems, I am sure.


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