Utopia will make you a tyrant

The simple task of creating paradise on Earth will see you walking in the footsteps of Pol Pot. I know, I’ve been there.

The realisation began in a world building exercise. A future world that is one the verge of achieving a condition approaching paradise. No problems, no worries, true equality, a sustainable existence. I thought about it every day and that’s when the ‘radical’ ideas began to emerge.

Any attempt to create a utopia will be pooh-poohed, usually by an intellectual middle class who think they know everything. Critics I can handle, but carpers, no. Get rid of ’em. And that’s when the ugly spectre of the Khmer Rouge entered my peripheral vision.

They strived for a basic back to the land existence, devoid of money, inequality, spectacles (yes, they banned spectacles) and the middle classes. I can sort of sympathise with that last bit, but I began to wonder why utopian visions nearly always end in totalitarian nightmares.

I suppose it’s because there’s usually one crackpot in charge held up by paid-off cronies, and to pay them off the crackpot needs money. The money comes from the unwitting (enforced) devotees. Well, okay, lesson learned. I steered clear of the short-sighted Khmer Rouge / Pol crackPot model and soldiered on.

Avoiding megalomania would require a sort of democracy without the tribalism of party politics. So party politics had to go and replaced instead with a sort of membership club model. Sign up and you get the benefits of the utopia. Don’t sign up and you’d be banished to a suburb of Gelsenkirchen or St. Helens. Party membership would bring its own reward.

The phrase had a familiar ring. Party membership. Yes, I had wandered into the smoky realm of Brezhnev and Mao. The swines had got there before me and demonstrated that allowing people to join the club would lead to a rotten two-tier system, with non-members travelling around in Trabants and rattling trams whilst the elite sat in the backseats of ten year old Mercedes and had their own train carriages.

There had to be an alternative. Liberal democracy has had a fair crack at creating utopia and instead produced nothing more than nationalist monsters who preach to the lowest common denominator. And the free market created an intoxicating utopia for about 34 billionaires as the rest of us die of air pollution and boredom. (And if anyone mentions religion I’ll simply laugh in your face.)

So what is the answer? Is utopia living sustainably off the land, sharing resources instead of trading them? A removal of party politics to allow consensus decision making? The abolition of money and a return to some form of social exchange where you offer whatever you can do in return for what you need. We wouldn’t necessarily be living like animals if there was a strong sense of trust and respect. Respect for others, respect for the planet, respect for yourself.

And if anyone doesn’t want to join in they can get a cheap Ryanair flight to Gelsenkirchen and a job in an Amazon warehouse. But when they see the error of their ways they won’t be allowed back in. Not back in to the Club, my club.

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