On the failure of utopias
(Prologue to the long exposition : On humanity's
failures to steer itself properly)
The world goes wrong... relatively. Sometimes it feels so more
acutely than other times. Do people care ?
In his essay A
Participatory Future of Humanity, Dean Rickles assumes
"Many of the problems are rooted in the fact that
people believe that the way things are at any time are how they
have to be. They find it difficult to question the (or their
particular) status quo"
Is he serious ? Did he completely forget about history ?
One century ago, lots of people felt things going wrong really
badly. They looked up at the starry sky, imagined all the planets
that should exist somewhere up there, orbiting other stars, and
shared to each other this deep conviction : another world is
possible. While of course, worse worlds are conceivable, the
point was that we felt too bad on our planet, the planet of
capitalism, and there should exist somewhere up there, some
quite better, more hospitable worlds, as they vaguely imagined under
the name of planet of socialism, and this is all what
But why was it that, despite their dedicated wishes, the planet of
socialism seemed so inaccessible to them ? The answer appeared
obvious : the main obstacle was gravity.
Indeed, this Planet of Capitalism on which they lived, was exerting
a powerful gravitational force pulling back to it anyone who would
try to jump away. This the gravity of the rest of their world and
all the other people around them, with whom they constantly needed
to interact for their survival. The gravity of all their habits, all
what they had learned since their birth about how to live and
interact with their peers. The point was clear : they couldn't get
there alone. They needed to unite their efforts together, to form a
mass of people whose mutual gravity, together with their
common will to leave the Planet of Capitalism, could overrun the
gravity of the rest of the Planet of Capitalism itself, so as to
escape from it.
Eventually they succeed to give to
their picture of the Planet of Socialism a sufficient public
attractivity to gather that critical mass of people they needed to
take off. They formed the huge Soviet Spaceship, whose plan was to
serve as the Vessel of Transit, from the Planet of Capitalism to the
Planet of Socialism. It still wasn't clear where this Planet of
Socialism could be exactly found in the sky and what it would look
like. Yet hopefully, they assumed, once their Soviet Spaceship would
reach closer to the stars, the Planet of Socialism should show up
somewhere on their cosmic horizon.
To put all the chances of right directionality on their side, in
replacement for the capitalist methodology of blindly impersonal
market interactions between independent units, each ruled by a
self-interested leader, they formed groups of representatives in
charge for the global intelligent planning of what needs to
be done in the name and for the interest of the whole community.
Indeed, if they follow a collectively designed intelligent
direction, then surely they should succeed better until reaching the
planet of socialism, than those who follow the blind impersonal
forces of market mechanism and their self-interest driven local
leaders, shouldn't they ?
Yet, even after many years of that epic voyage, the Planet of
Socialism didn't show up, and the Soviet Spaceship found itself lost
in space. What a disappointment for these heroic travelers to
discover that, despite all their efforts of intelligent planning,
they were heading into the wrong direction ! But what sort of
conspiracy may have mislead them into targeting the wrong galaxy ?
Next : The science of
changing the world : needed skills
Up : On humanity's failures to steer itself properly