The utopian dream versus the dystopian nightmare: Part 1

Utopia describes a society whose characteristics are those that are extremely desirable. It could be a society in a socio-economic environment where people can live comfortably, yet sustainably. Crime is low or non-existent and freedoms are a plenty. If there is disaster it is the result of extreme natural events rather than human incompetence.

Utopian society would never allow Grenfell or Chernobyl type disasters to happen, or they would be very rare rather than the norm. Government officials would be expected to display compassion and be readily available for affected local residents to talk to about their loss and immediate needs, such as welfare support or mental health assistance.

Circular economics would be the preferred mode, rather than the market economics of now, which are exclusivist in nature because if one has no capital or means of generating capital they are locked out of the market. The underclasses that are emerging in many countries, who subsist on the fringes of society, unable to afford the basics, commonly afflicted by alcohol and drug related crime and health disorders, would benefit the most, though society wide benefits would become apparent over time. Rather than owning and throwing out electronics for example, they would be returned and repaired.

Ownership of of key infrastructure, such as the power grid, railways, airports and ports and so forth will help to ensure corporate responsibility is not negated in favour of corporate profits. This will mean changing how the Overseas Investment Office works. Individual sectors will be asked to show how they are mitigating their environmental impacts, and to have public events such as open days or make readily available information about their operations, technology so forth on public websites.

A utopian society does not leave anyone behind. A family that is struggling, perhaps because the main wage earner has a long term illness that has undercut their ability to work full time might qualify for a standard rate per hour (say $18/hr) for that time s/he has had to forego, so someone who can only do 30hr/pw might get $180/pw in cover. If their ability to work improves and they increase their hours the number of hours they qualify for decreases accordingly.

Without necessarily saying any number of migrants can arrive from other countries, utopian society would hint at allowing all nationalities an even quota that could be screened. Upon arrival, unless they already have family, new arrivals would be taken to settling facilities and given a period of instruction in how New Zealand legal, social welfare and other critical system work. They are then assigned to a case worker who has their details and introduces them to their ethnic communities who will help.

On a national day, in place of public holidays where retail sectors remain open, all but the essential services are stopped and the local council puts on community events – it might be a day when the local ethnic communities have a culture day, instead of a random day in the year. Fireworks and New Zealand music acts, citizenship ceremonies for our newest citizens get held. Public attendance is encouraged. This helps to develop the inclusivity necessary for utopian society to work.

Contrast the above with the dystopian society I will try to describe in my next article.


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