Orion Digest №39 — The Paragon Society
The state and its functions are ultimately just a tool — eco-socialist federalism is simply a mechanism to keep peace until we can get back on track. This is not to say that we were ever truly ‘on track’, but given that we have witnessed the general direction of social progress, we can guess as to where that progress is heading. Many have coveted after the idea of utopia, and such an ideal is perhaps truly unachievable. Nonetheless, aspects of it could be within reach.
What constitutes the utopian idea? The name has become synonymous with perfection, and so within a utopian society, the government must be perfect, people’s lives must be without hardship, and the world must have guaranteed peace and safety. The vague promise of utopia is often what constitutes it’s downfall — to be perfect means there is no room for improvement, nor discovery or change. Human life is about change, and so our culture and society changes with time, to meet the problems of the times. A perfect society is one that, in a way, simply stops moving, and would likely be unable to adjust to reality.
It is also folly to assume that our lives will be without hardship. For those that are able, labor will always be a necessity for society to function. Even if we automate processes, there will be those that need to tend to the machines. So too will there be struggles beyond just labor and economy — simply living requires one to come to terms with who they are and their place in life, and finding one’s place is not without struggle. It is simply part of life, though the barriers through which some are forced to endure more than is necessary can be removed with time.
And so we are brought to the final common utopia, which is that the world is at peace. It is hard to deny that within a world federation, so long as the world is moving according to design, we will have more peace. The world will be one nation, and so the prosperity of the federation is prosperity all can share in. More economic assurance and social welfare means there is less reason for conflict and crime. If change is necessary, it can be brought about democratically through the people. But this is considering that the whole world plays along. Even if the system is designed to succeed, it relies on the willingness of all to coexist and cooperate.
Take, for instance, the crime of robbery. People do it now because it promises an easy and quick shot at a better life through wealth. Given that the economy is disadvantageous to the people already, why not simply take it for yourself instead of playing along? Even if it is usually harmful to others, it still helps you in the end, and ensures that you can live the kind of life you want without sacrificing much of your time to labor. This root cause is what we seek to eliminate with economic reform, but by the time we have developed an economy that requires less labor and offers more favorable opportunity, will the mindset have changed? Even if it’s less of a load, there might still be those that want to take the easy way out, and rob from others to skip the toil.
Where there are robbers, there is fear and mistrust among a community, and so people will lock their doors, arm themselves, be afraid to walk at night. People see that robbers can still get away with the crime, and they decide that if others are going to get out of working, so will they, and join in. Even if now, the system has been evened out to make things easier, the people might still be the same, used to these ideas and conditions carried over from the old world, and so things might not change as much as we expect, even if the opportunity is available.
Preventing the rise of monopolies and political corruption is a much easier task than eliminating greed and malice in general. The sociological elements of society are much harder to understand and tackle, and while they are affected by the structure of the system around them, they will also have effects on that structure. A crooked government will breed crooked politicians, which will keep the system in a state of moral disarray. Even if we work to build a better system, we must keep in mind that any system still relies on people, and if those people continue forward, laboring under the ideas that have driven us for millennia, they can take advantage and abuse the power it provides.
It’s not to say that human nature is bad, nor that we can never find a sense of peace. It’s that we’ve spent so long fighting each other over the course of generations that we don’t know what peace looks like. Just as with nations, so it is the same with individual people — it’s hard to be convinced the world isn’t about the survival of the fittest, when you, too, would take advantage of opportunities for advancement. Injuries of the past are hard to forget, and most wouldn’t offer their hand to strangers a second time if it was shunned the first. This forms perhaps the toughest puzzle of our cause, one that goes beyond eco-socialist federalism — how do we convince the world to unite?
The state we will build is but a tool. While we’re starting to get an idea of how to treat other people and what is morally good, the environment we have built around ourselves is a cage that is not conducive to true sociological development. Lifting these restrictions upon us and making a system that allows the chance for equality is the first part, but we will still need to undo the conditioning we have developed. We still have to develop as a society and learn to trust and respect one another, or else we will keep fighting others out of misunderstanding. All sides in a conflict are either in pain or misguided, ultimately victims of ignorance. Should they be brought up to learn, we could begin to solve problems with a handshake and not a knife in the back.
In more concrete terms, we live in what could be called a ‘survival society.’ On the hierarchy of needs, physical needs such as shelter, food, and water are the absolute minimum, while psychological needs leading up to self-actualization are higher on the list, only accomplished after the survival needs are met. A survival society is one in which the organized structures are insufficient to provide citizens with a means of having their survival needs met, with time and energy to spend on fulfilling secondary needs. Instead, the focus of many citizens, whether due to absence of necessary resources or insecurity due to conflict with others, is primarily on survival, and thus they often have little time to focus on their higher needs.
Even if they can survive without them, this does not mean that higher-level needs are any less of needs. Mental health being overlooked often has dangerous consequences for people’s interaction with the rest of society, and results in harm done to many, even if unintentionally so. Societal structures of economy and government not being adequate to universally provide for physical needs, as well as sociological threats to oneself (physical needs becoming even harder to come by due to economic and cultural discrimination) contribute to the flawed idea of a ‘survival society’, and our goal must be to move beyond this.
The opposite of a survival society is thus a paragon society — a society in which the structures in place, as well as sociological and cultural factors, allow for all members of a civilization to have their physical needs consistently met, so they can expend their energy on higher level needs. If people are not always fighting just to put food on the table and a roof over their heads, perhaps it wouldn’t be so hard to slow down and understand each other. If it’s not all a race against each other, we can pull our head out of the heat of battle and see our neighbors for who they are, rather than what threat they pose to us.
Over time, this could naturally occur within a federation. After all, if the structural problems are solved, people will become acclimated to it over the course of generations. But the individualist survival mentality could still pose a threat to even the most full-proof system, and would only continue to make it hard on other people. It’s not an unfounded habit, but it is one that, to truly improve the world, we need to let go of. There will always be new problems to solve and work to do, but if we could pull off the impossible task of peace, new generations can be born into a brighter world, free to be themselves and to know others without fear.
- DKTC FL