Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Utopia.


I never took much interest in politics until the last few years. The mysteries of the world didn’t appeal to me as I was enthralled with the worlds I could create in my head. You could seethe about the ignorance of this, the fact I was a writer and yet had no real knowledge of what happened beyond the four walls of my bedroom. That changed though. It had to eventually. The phrase “ignorance is bliss” had never made more sense to me than in the last few years and particularly in the current state of our political world. I didn’t suddenly decide to engage in the affairs of our world (past and present) on a whim, of course it takes far more than a whim to kick a teenager up the arse and motivate them.

Studying Shakespeare’s ‘Measure for Measure’ at A level was what kicked me up the arse. It is, succinctly, a play criticising King James 1sts ruling, the puritan beliefs that dominated at the time it was written (1603-04), the way the lower classes were controlled, the presentation of marriage and lots more but the way the society in the play was presented as being engineered by a corrupt ruler and a set of beliefs swaying how we live and stringently behave actually frightened and disturbed me. I had always loved literature, but that play started my passionate exploration into texts old and modern, which then started my interests in philosophy, history, religion, politics and psychology. It was then that I realised, to be quite frank, how fucked our modern world is everywhere and not just in this country.

Recently I’ve been reading Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’ which nicely coincides for this blog. A lot of the ways in which this fictional island work I agree with.  For example, and this will come as no surprise to those who know me, their treatment of the natural land is with preference to cultivate instead of exploit. They reap the full potential of what the earth provides without destroying it. Their society works with no particular hierarchy; all Utopians work and wear simple clothing of undyed wool or linen over practical working clothes. There is no need for individual display. Nothing is private; the Utopians have evaded private interest and civil law. Money does not exist. The Utopians have an intense but healthy appetite for knowledge with lectures lasting throughout the day with a heavy focus on Greek studies. There are slaves in Utopia, but their slavery is imposed as a crime not inherited. Foreigners, or prisoners of war, also become slaves often willingly as it is better than to be subject to poverty which would be the alternative. This is a penal system that rehabilitates prisoners rather than merely provides a labour force. When Utopians population rises, they establish colonies on the mainland wherever there is unused or neglected land.

These are all wonderful ideas, and portray my own ideas of a perfect society but what it doesn’t do is consider the raw ugliness of human nature. Ownership and greed has always streaked through human nature like the skid marks on a toilet. Property and cash has nearly always been a problem. So has the fact that those two aspects are only consistent for a select group of people in society. The penal system, religion, clothing, education have always been at the mercy of that select group in society.

Perhaps, instead of taking the political ideas of “Utopia” and questioning its ability to function in our real society and likewise with other political ideas such as communism, we should instead ask what the hell is wrong with ours and why (maybe not for us all) Utopia seems so glories, and so out of reach. Dreams tie hand in hand with politics. The changes, good or bad, within society start with a dream. My dream is to live in a world where you don’t have to pay disgusting amounts to be educated (and I want to me a teacher) or to be fed or to have shelter or to receive healthcare, where the forests and oceans still flourish and stand in all their glory, where a hierarchy doesn’t set a cruel status quo, clothes don’t determine who we are, the media doesn’t manipulate how we receive the news of the world, music and art and literature are as necessary as breathing,  people don’t kill each other over theory and fancy…. And ice-cream should be 100% completely free.
Reactions:

2 comments:

Colin Davies said...

The ptoblem with humans is thast they had to invent money so they could have more of it tyhan others.

Cracking post.

Ashley R Lister said...

Don't go into teaching. Go into politics. You will have my vote.

Ash