Does dreaming actually make sense?
Why should you read a booklet that describes at least parts of a utopia, i.e. a fictitious new social order that lies in the distant future, has no relevance at present and is unlikely to be implemented in its pure form? In Germany we have rather mixed experiences with right-wing and left-wing utopias. We certainly have seen how quickly utopias become ideologies and how bloody they can fail. It is right and valuable to learn from the past and we Germans in particular would do well to look at our history to avoid repetition. So hands of utopian thinking?
Do dreams shape reality?
The conclusion to avoid all kinds of utopia misses the essential point. With an idea you have the chance to promote change: Actually, the idea already changes reality because it creates a reality in which an idea exists that did not exist before. Any major social change without an underlying new idea is hard to imagine. A new idea has to emerge and then “materializes”. With inventions (technical, new ideas) this is immediately obvious. But also the influence of new philosophies (ethical ideas) – for example the Enlightenment – or religions on our experienced reality can hardly be overestimated. Some of them materialize.
Are we living our dreams?
Capitalism itself, which guides and permeates all our destinies today, is a thought construct that cannot be taken for granted and began as utopia just a few centuries ago. Capitalism – at that time – for some was the perfect way to distribute capital according to needs, to create incentives to bring prosperity and peace to the whole planet. The implementation of the capitalist idea, for example within the East India Trade Company, which financed a private army of more than 30,000 soldiers, shaped entire continents and co-founded the British Empire. The early capitalist even had the idea of financing a revolution in Greece by means of stock bonds on the market. Certainly, new and not an obvious idea and yet – born out of a utopia – it has been realized. Ideas and utopias shape our world when we take a mid-term approach.
What happens if we stop dreaming?
The fact that many people and politicians in Germany and Europe currently shy away from any far-reaching ideas, this too has a repercussion on reality. To propagate a world without utopias is a self-contained world of ideas and thus itself a utopia of a future in which only by means of reactive management actual changes to solve a specific problem are effected. A Catch 22 – even the fear of utopias and change is a utopia in itself. One that promotes the status quo and wants to keep changes as little as possible. However, as stated swift change is needed and an not-changing-world is utopian. So, if it is not possible to shape the future without ideas, it may be time to come up with another idea that could have a positive impact – even if it does not solve all problems right away and also even if it imposes some risk to interpreted as an ideology.
Are you dreaming or shaping reality?
Ideas and utopias can create effects way before they are implemented. For example, a community that thinks terraistically would work to limit the effects of sovereign states. A community that sees it as the next common step of mankind to go into space would at least change the perspective on the planet – even if none of the structures I propose below would be implemented. Here, I would like to give an example of the “founding” of Asgardia see chapter 1.6.2. which I experienced as an inspiring step. Already the foundation of the mentioned association, yes, even reading this essay could be a (small) contribution to peace and environmental protection – although this is not a complete utopia, but a new idea to approach a better future.
Great pain or great dreams?
Therefore, I will take the liberty of thinking as broadly and comprehensively as possible at this point and encourage you to follow this example. Change happens through great pain or great dreams. My preference is clear. I have no fear to come near utopia. We should not allow ourselves to be discouraged by possible difficulties in implementation from imagining the best conceivable world. This is the only way that major changes have a chance. Forward-looking changes that go beyond reacting to necessities, crises and pain. And we need change!
Next week will start focussing on the journey rather than the goal …