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This nOde last updated April 29th, 2003 and is permanently morphing...
(3 Cib (Owl) / 4 Uo - 16/260 - 18.104.22.168.16)
1.a. Often Utopia . An ideally perfect place, especially in its social, political, and moral aspects. b. A work of fiction describing a utopia.
2.An impractical, idealistic scheme for social and political reform.
[New Latin U¯topia, imaginary island in Utopia by Sir Thomas More : Greek ou, not, no + Greek topos, place.]
Utopias, ideal or perfect communities. While some writers have created fictional places that embody their ideal societies, others have written satires that ridicule existing conditions of society, or antiutopias, which show possible future societies that are anything but ideal.
absence: being nowhere, Utopia, fantasy
Term coined by Sir Thomas More in the early 16th century. Derived from two Greek words: Eutopia (meaning 'good place') and Outopia (meaning 'no place'). Thomas More intended the irony when he wrote his genre-setting novel, Utopia.
"The authoritarian utopias of the nineteenth century are chiefly responsible for the anti-utopian attitude prevalent among intellectuals today. But utopias have not always described regimented societies, centralized states and nations of robots. Diderot's Tahiti or Morris's Nowhere gave us utopias where men were free from both physical and moral compulsion, where they worked not out of necessity or a sense of duty but because they found work a pleasurable activity, where love knew no laws and where every man was an artist.
"Utopias have often been plans of societies functioning mechanically, dead structures conceived by economists, politicians and moralists; but they have also been the living dream of poets." --Marie Louise Berneri (in Journey Through Utopia , first published posthumously in 1950).
"We should think of utopia
as a world in which individuals and groups had the freedom, will, energy,
and talent to make and remake their lives unencumbered by insufficiency
and the fear of violent death".
--George Kateb (from the preface to Utopia and Its Enemies , 1972 edition).
"A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realisation of Utopias. --Oscar Wilde.
"Without the Utopias of other times, men would still live in caves, miserable and naked. It was Utopians who traced the lines of the first city... Out of generous dreams come beneficial realities. Utopia is the principle of all progress, and the essay into a better future". --Anatole France.
"The world is now too dangerous for anything less than Utopia." -- R.Buckminster Fuller.
Utopia is a region on the planet
Mars that was chosen over Cydonia
for the Viking landing. no one knows why, as Utopia is a selection
far less interesting - the equivalent of picking the Sahara Desert over the
Amazon jungle on Earth (ref. _The Mars Mystery_
Iceland, an unlikely Utopia
Summarised from an article by Eliot Weinberger, entitled 'Heaven on Ice' in Utne Reader (May '97) reprinted from The Nation (Feb 10th '97) and another by Richard C. Morais, entitled 'Who are the happiest people?', in Forbes magazine (Oct 23rd '95) monitored for the Institute by Roger Knights.
The classic social ideals of liberty, equality, and fraternity, along with more modern ones such as sorority and sustainability seem, of all Western nations, to have been best realised in the unlikely, but spectacularly beautiful setting ofIceland. 82 per cent of its citizens reckon themselves satisfied with their personal lives, which is the highest figure anywhere, some 10 per cent more than the United States.
'Its small, ethnically and linguistically distinct population (268,000) have sustained a remarkably cohesive culture'
Remote from the convulsions of European history, its small, ethnically and linguistically distinct population (268,000) have sustained a remarkably cohesive culture over their 1,000 year history. (Since it was originally uninhabited, it has none of the painful colonial legacies borne by other nations.) Even now, its uniquely literate population - they are the keenest readers on Earth - are all well-versed in their foundation sagas, which celebrate the trials of ordinary folk (rather than kings or gods) and the magnificent glacial wilderness which surrounds them still. They speak more or less the same, unique language as their forefathers, and have the same, ancient system of traditional names: first name plus fathers' first name plus 'son' or 'daughter'. The phone book is indexed by first names - all of which are the same - and people can differentiate one another only because they know each other.
They also have one of the longest democratic histories in the world - having invented the idea of a parliament, and established women's rights to divorce and property some thousand-odd years ahead of the rest of the world.
It is also, nevertheless, a modern, capitalist welfare state, which provides well for its citizens, and is notable for its equitable social mix. The statistics make one's jaw droop: there is very little unemployment; no poverty - and no conspicuous wealth either; they have the world's lowest infant mortality rate, and are fantastically long-lived. Whilst enjoying the advantages of modern technocratic society, they seem to have escaped most of its pitfalls: Since there is so much freely available geothermal heat, they have little pollution; there is no army and little crime. Most prisoners are allowed home for holidays and children walk the city streets without fear.
How have they achieved this remarkable social success? Writing in the Nation, Eliot Weinberger suggests that Iceland has simply been lucky with its happy combination of history and geography: its success could not be emulated elsewhere. Another historical fluke theory, from sociologist Thorolfur Thorlindson of the University of Iceland, argues that the Icelanders' gift for contentment arises out of their centuries of coping with an extreme climate and the vicissitudes of a fishing economy.
However, as a long standing advocate of small nations as the best social formula, the Institute for Social Inventions is pleased to note that Iceland's Utopian social achievements have been realised on a very human - almost tribal - scale: Akureyri, for instance, its second city and cultural capital, has a population of 15,000.
"Frankly, I'd find life a bore if I weren't playing for very high stakes in a very high risk situation. We do have the chance now, for Utopia and even for immortality. If we who see this opportunity aren't smart enough, adroit enough, and fast enough to seize the chance, then we don't deserve to initiate the next stage of evolution... Meanwhile, until they shovel me under, I still think our side is winning and that the power brokers that you worry about are a bunch of dying dinosaurs."
"We should always try to have a reality-tunnel this week, bigger, funnier, and more hopeful than we had last week, and we should aim even higher next week. Besides, paranoia is a Loser script; it defines somebody else as being in charge around here except me. I prefer to define myself and my friends as the architects of the future. If David Rockefeller has the same idea about himself and his friends, well, the future itself will decide which coalition was really on the Evolutionary Wave: the Money people or the Idea people"
Anton Wilson, 1977 interview with _Conspiracy