Exploring Rudimentary Utopias

If you were to imagine the first steps towards crafting a utopia on Earth, what would they look like? Assuming our point of departure at this very moment in time, we’d have to keep our ideas radical in their potential, but not too far beyond the immediate moment as to be considered unrealistic. That means living in the Star Trek universe is out (bummer), but building a society that is significantly more advanced in both institutions and collective ethos is in!

Any attempt at organizing society begins by setting a framework for our efforts. Utopian societies will take form through evolutionary stages, rudimentary being the first and our focus of the moment. Rudimentary utopia begins in a culture very much like ours, with technological ascendency powering the possibility of a new way of thinking and being within the world. We can imagine that they would take root in two possible scenarios: after a significant crisis or through the collective efforts of a population.  

The point of thinking through ideas about the next era of humanity is to give us a foundation to work off of. The underlying theme that permeates all aspects of a society undergoing the process of becoming a rudimentary utopia is that change changes. There is a wholesale rejection of stagnant institutions, leadership, and ways of thinking. We let go of the isolationist principles guiding us since primitive agriculture, reviving the cooperative and egalitarian nature of our species. 

Rudimentary utopias are societies where individual survival is no longer dependent on labor. Automation technology has advanced to a point where the majority of repetitive tasks are automated. The productive benefits of these collective advancements are shared with society. These arrangements allow for new approaches towards labor, better supporting the individual’s opportunity to explore and innovate in the directions of their choice.  A stark contrast to the technological distribution methods of today.

A minimum requirement for rudimentary utopias would be a collection of national social programs removing burdens and barriers from a population. Burdens would be survival-related: food, water, housing, and healthcare would all fall under varying degrees of public ownership. Barriers are structures preventing us from being better than we are at any given moment. Education, transportation, information, and communication also fall under shared ownership models.  

Rudimentary utopias approach these industry verticals through the mindset of scaled efficiencies. The idea is simple, collectively investing in the research and development of these programs expands our power to improve them consistently. Public ownership can take a variety of forms. Utopias are not limited to the type of closed economies that we operate under today. Worries and debates about capitalism, socialism, and other modes of production are not relevant concerns of utopias. Participants consider each productive vertical as the separate and unique challenges that they are — forming new laws of property and contract for different market verticals that all operate side-by-side.

Rudimentary utopias classify water extraction and distribution as a total public ownership model. Human utopias all recognize water as an absolute necessity for well being. From our present perspective, water is becoming increasingly scarce due to the climate crisis.  Combined with the privatization of the resources, we’re setting ourselves up for some very dystopian times. Utopias manage water through collaborative efforts and innovations under the complete ownership of the public. Pursuing advancements in water extraction and creation technologies through public and private initiatives.  

Food management in rudimentary utopias occurs similarly to water. Participants recognize that food stability is vital to the health and security of all people and implement systems to ensure its equitable ownership, distribution, and advancement. The growing and distribution of core food products such as vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, beans, and others are publicly owned, usually through national or continental models. Regional and global production models may be supported but are not isolated to avoid catastrophic failures.

These higher forms of cooperation allow for more focused investments in scientific precision agricultural as well as innovative techniques such as vertical farming [1]. The result is more production for fewer resources, making our collective sustenance better for the planet and our species. In a utopia evolving from a capitalistic system like our present day, it’s likely that for-profit specialty food production still exists at this stage. For example, your celery and tomatoes may be free or very low cost because of the public ownership model. However, your Beyond Burger may still exist in a profit-driven market because it is a private innovation. Rudimentary utopias allow for the simultaneous exploration of social and individual verticals within a society. In a scenario where specialty food products like the Beyond Burger become deeply integrated within the human diet, the participants within a utopia of any form can regulate it to a public ownership model.  

Rudimentary utopias remove the burden of secure housing from the population by providing a socialized housing option for participants. We can imagine them as moderately furnished two bedrooms, one bath unit in high rise buildings, but forms will vary. Utopias support these new housing models through the reclassification of housing assets using new laws to split homes into two categories, private and social. The houses are provided at a democratically determined age, always ensuring that the opportunity for revision is available.  

Consider social homes permanent residences until the occupants relinquish control. Every person or couple is entitled to one public home under the condition that they have no ownership of any private home. Typically located near the centers of industry, they offer dignity, comfort, convenience, all while allowing for the efficiencies of scaled services. We already have successful prototypes of this type of program. Hong Kong has over 3.5 million people living in a version of social housing today.   

Healthcare is the rudimentary utopia program that the United States is coming closest to realizing in the present day. It is astounding that the wealthiest, most powerful nation in the world is the only developed nation, out of thirty-three, that lacks the will for a universal healthcare system. Participants in rudimentary utopias consider healthcare a right and do not burden their population with the risk of destitution and damage caused by medical issues.  

Education in a rudimentary utopia is recognized for what it is — the ultimate technology of humanity, one that empowers all other advancements. Public education programs are well-funded, widespread, and continuously improved. Utopian societies recognize the desire to explore is part of what defines us as human beings. The educational systems reflect this understanding, ensuring that access to continuing education is available to anyone, at any time. Utopian societies empower participants to change the directions of their lives as seamlessly as possible.  One major shift in a utopian society compared to America today is that education is funded nationally or globally. It no longer relies on local municipality taxes, a form of generational disadvantage for those born into impoverished areas.

The quality and character of education in a rudimentary utopia has evolved as well. Most of us have experienced a similar structure of public school, one whose roots draw from our industrial era. As the nature of our productive work changes, so must our methods of educating. More focus on dialogue between each other and creative problem-solving. Instead of learning a wide range of topics, students begin to focus on going deep into the areas of study they most prefer. Emphasis on memorizing facts and taking tests for ranking purposes gives way to developing creative and competent individuals prepared to challenge the status quo. Utopian societies all rely on interlinking networks. Education empowers them all.

Today education is both a vehicle and a barrier. Disparities exist in multiple directions, driven by the funding of public education through local municipality taxes. Utopias transition this model into a national model, creating alternative pathways to ensure rural residents gain access to the highest quality educational resources. Secondary and professional education paths are also publicly funded. Rudimentary utopias recognize that a highly educated population is the best foundation for perpetual progress.

Transportation in a rudimentary utopia enters a phase of significant public investment and expansion. We cannot create structures to support more profound personal freedoms if we do not provide ways for people to leave the circumstances that they were born into. Open transportation empowers innovation and collaboration among participants within society. We plan globally and begin nationally. We give everyone the opportunity for broad experience.     

According to the EPA, transportation is the largest single pollution vertical in the United States [1]. Rudimentary utopias have completed the process of electrifying and automating their transportation infrastructure. Because the entire system runs on renewable energy and batteries, transportation is free and plentiful for everyone. These programs would begin statewide and nationally, extending continentally, and maturing globally before reforming themselves into space.  

Rudimentary utopias have achieved a system of open access information available to all nationally, and are working towards the same globally. The central theme of any utopia is the constant ability to recreate ourselves and our world as need be. Giving more people more access to more quality information is the surest pathway towards experimentation.  

Communication technology in rudimentary utopias is a social ownership model approach removed from profit incentives and innovation-driven. The ability to connect, to share knowledge and perspective, is the defining characteristic of humanity. All of humanity’s successes and failures are the result of communication, both of which will be amplified by the expansion of our communications infrastructure. Intertwined with education, the character of communication evolves continuously. 

Rudimentary utopias address the spiritual aspect of society by developing and acting upon visions that lead us towards new states of being. Hope is not the precursor to action. It is the result of it. In this era of utopian development, the human being is not fully realized, but they understand that their efforts are working towards something more significant. The redirection is a grand, unifying vision that transcends the political struggles of the past. The underlying theme is that there is the ability for all of us to live the lifestyle we want to live, so long as we are open to others varying their direction.

Adopting this shared vision of progress has a profound impact on the people inhabiting basic utopian societies. People begin to reevaluate everything. It becomes a shared passion among the populace. History, science, religion, all of it viewed under a profoundly different human consciousness. The incentive to maintain old narratives which in turn maintain traditional power structures gives way to a quest for radical truth. Deepening our understanding of who we are and who we can become.

Perhaps most importantly, but also most abstractly, is a reevaluation of time. In The Singular Universe and the Reality of Time, philosopher Roberto Mangabeira Unger and physicist Lee Smolin argue for a reorientation of the practice of physics concerning cosmology (the study of the universe). The book offers a perspective that is presently on the fringe of theoretical physics but is one that, if adopted, would radically change the way we approach the science. The central theme is that change changes, a concept that empowers us to understand that rudimentary utopias like the ones we imagine today is possible. A significant mark of any utopia is the abandonment of the idea that we can ever hope to resist change through policies or institutions.  

Today in the United States, we hear a lot of talk about innovation economies, policies, and projects designed to spur the creative, productive powers of society. We rarely listen to discussions about the cost of attempting to innovate. Modern-day America levies a high price of failure on any individual risk-taker. Rudimentary utopias have altered their beliefs, understanding that the best way to create perpetual progress is giving people the freedom to try and fail without fear of destitution. These systems are more than just social safety nets. They are a coordinated effort to transform a population into a higher state of being. More people can explore, experiment, and create in more directions than ever before. 

All Earth nations in 2020 are on the pathway towards a rudimentary utopia but exist at different points within the journey. It requires a wholesale reorganization, a global cooperative movement, but begins within individual states and communities. The choice to start the work of rearranging society isn’t a goal unto itself. Instead, it is the first step towards a broader social vision that is beyond anything we experience today. 


[1] Sources of Greenhouse Gas Emissions Environmental Protection Agency https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emissions 

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