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  1. #1
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Default Fantasy, reality and utopia

    I've always been interested in utopias left, right, centre, green.

    I dont think they are a vice per se but they can become a vice, it depends what (maybe even who) you are willing to sacrifice to realise utopia. Would you agree?

    This leads me on to another aspect, is utopia simply fantasy? If so is fantasy political, is that a good or bad thing? Should people be more or less discriminating between the fantasy and possible reality when making political choices?

    I'm interested in this because I've read really mixed responses to this, Eric Fromm suggested that capitalism and authoritarianism relied upon fantasies to succeed and reproduce itself, without illusions individuals would not support either.

    Some of the arguments in libidinal economy (dont recall the author right now) suggested that capitalism prospered (in more than a straight economic abundance sense) while alternatives failed, immediately or eventually, was a result of capitalism being able to appeal to the Id rather than Ego, the fantasy rather than reality or rational, to promise, even if it didnt deliver and also to appeal to more visceral, instinctual, animal or impulsive drives.

    Some of the arguments in the same vein which I've heard articulated (ironically or perhaps logically by advocates and detractors alike of capitalism) have reinforced that but also suggested that markets and privacy permit satisfaction of personal vices, including fantasies, stabilising society in a way that other systems particularly central plan or totalitarian ones could not.

    Stephen Duncombe has argued that the lack of a fantasy is what has inhibited the spread of liberalism or alternatives to conservative, capitalist status quos.

    Conversely I've also read material produced by Hayek on socialism and intellectuals attacking capitalists for their lack of utopianism, suggesting that moderation is a vice in politics because it doesnt motivate and that aiming for greater intangible goals such as vaguely defined personal freedom would appeal were a moderate cut in income tax wouldnt.

    So like I say there's mixed opinions and of course the arguments about emotive as opposed to rational choices is something which can be levelled at anti-capitalism as much as capitalism, Mise described it as a fatal conceit. Opinions?

    I'd like to point out too that when I use the word capitalism I dont mean free markets or the ideology per se, neither exist in fact, instead I mean what is, which is something which doesnt and isnt ever likely to conform to the theory.

  2. #2
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    In practically all plans an ideal is necessary. The ideal is not meant to be achieved, it is only meant to give one an idea of what traits to optimize within the realm of feasibility. Presumably, acting outside the realm of feasibility will create excess damage/cost that will actually put you in a position further away from what you had in mind. It is in this way that political pragmatism and idealism actually go hand-in-hand, rather than against each other.

    So, reaching for the stars is okay. Pushing yourself on the belief that you'll actually get to the stars is a mistake.

    This entails a discrimination between fantasy and reality, but it does not deny fantasy its worth.
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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  3. #3
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    In practically all plans an ideal is necessary. The ideal is not meant to be achieved, it is only meant to give one an idea of what traits to optimize within the realm of feasibility. Presumably, acting outside the realm of feasibility will create excess damage/cost that will actually put you in a position further away from what you had in mind. It is in this way that political pragmatism and idealism actually go hand-in-hand, rather than against each other.

    So, reaching for the stars is okay. Pushing yourself on the belief that you'll actually get to the stars is a mistake.

    This entails a discrimination between fantasy and reality, but it does not deny fantasy its worth.
    This Its a healthy balance.

    Without idealism there is no progress
    Without realism there is no recognition of the need for progress

    It is interesting to read your summary Lark. I didn't realize there was such a variety of political and economic discourse on this subject.

  4. #4
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    Without idealism there is no progress
    Without realism there is no recognition of the need for progress
    Well, actually, may usual way of putting it is:

    Without pragmatism, you can't accomplish what you want.
    Without idealism, you don't know what you want to accomplish.
    Go to sleep, iguana.


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  5. #5
    Priestess Of Syrinx Katsuni's Avatar
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    A true utopia will never exist; yeu need all types of people to build a civilization, and a utopia presents no further need to expand ones' horizons, and no challenges to those within.. many people would grow weak or bored, and leave, the ones most needed to run higher infrastructure.

    It would quickly devolve into a dystopia.

    So, as said, it's a list of ideals that would be wanted to be obtained, but only within the realm of reason. True utopia would just lack any motivation to exist. A vacation is nice, but we need some way to support our existance, without meaning or motivation, we falter too quickly.

  6. #6
    Minister of Propagandhi ajblaise's Avatar
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    Some of the best political systems had their start in Utopian fantasy, and then were tethered to the earth by pragmaticism, but turned out alright.

    Communism --> Socialism --> Democratic socialism --> Social democracy (as currently practiced in Northern Europe)

    And just for clarity, social democracy uses a mixed market economy with a well funded public sector, as well as a large private sector.

  7. #7
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Poriferan View Post
    Well, actually, may usual way of putting it is:

    Without pragmatism, you can't accomplish what you want.
    Without idealism, you don't know what you want to accomplish.
    I like it!

  8. #8
    Senor Membrane
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    I think it is frustrating that popular utopias are concentrated around science. It seems so unlikely that they could be possible world wide solutions. We need simpler utopias.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajblaise View Post
    Some of the best political systems had their start in Utopian fantasy, and then were tethered to the earth by pragmaticism, but turned out alright.

    Communism --> Socialism --> Democratic socialism --> Social democracy (as currently practiced in Northern Europe)

    And just for clarity, social democracy uses a mixed market economy with a well funded public sector, as well as a large private sector.
    Well I would have had the same series there but after social democracy put --> Mixed Economy because I tend to think that while there's the same commitments to circulating the money through tax and spend more private delivery of services, purchaser-provider splits and "out sourcing" of public services are being looked at in all those states.

    It IS a cost cutting exercise and often it is the workers who bare the brunt of it and it does result in low level corruption, transfers of tax money into tax avoidance (as opposed to evasion) accounts or off shore accounts or swiss accounts (depending on how sophisticated the third parties are).

    On the other hand there is an effort to create world class services which will persist across the life span of different administrations or parliaments, that's understandable, though there's no evidence of conservatives really being more willing to fund market providers than state ones, the ideological struggle of the eighties is over, either provider would be treated as an expense regardless and cut back if the opportunity exists.

    Plus, basically, the managers and professionals within the various services, health, social, civil (bureaus), law, security, are no business men and women, they arent entreprenuerial and attempting to encourage this kind of thing in the UK at least has had some awful results for the tax payer, selling off public assets way, way too cheaply, opting for expensive private providers and getting locked into contracts and privatising services (this can be as simple as car parking spaces) to make an immediate saving when they earn scandalously high revenues within the second or third year (seriously, a car park attached to a hospital in NI was making a million).

  10. #10
    Babylon Candle Venom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nolla View Post
    I think it is frustrating that popular utopias are concentrated around science. It seems so unlikely that they could be possible world wide solutions. We need simpler utopias.
    Is this an attack on my post scarcity society utopia?

    Quote Originally Posted by Babylon Candle View Post
    You've all had your fantasy predictions, now let me have mine :

    1. In the next 30 years we will harness the power of Thermonuclear Fusion. At first we will only gain 10 to 1 energy out, energy in (not that great, but certainly better than any biomass, solar etc) and then as the technology improves we will see ratios approaching 100 units of energy out to 1 unit of energy in (dwarfing the 30 to 1 ratio of oil).

    2. With plentiful amounts of electricity we will switch cars over to being fully electric, and powered by carbon nano tube batteries. Due to their small size and stack-ability, they have a unimaginable capacity when compared to modern batteries for a similar space. These tiny batteries will increasingly make things possible that once simply required way too much power:
    --robotic body parts
    --robots in general
    --personal computers powering all sorts of now mechanical devices.
    --Plasma rocket engines that can fly on much much much less fuel weight and take us much farther and faster than conventional rocket fuel.
    --more electricity can be sold or given to parts of the world in giant blocks of a battery (no battery acid to corrode it!). Think of the salt water --> fresh water and general water cleaning stations that could be powered in various places around the globe.

    3. With the space program reinvigorated by new found power and speed, the private and public space sector will take off! We will make use of the solar system for many needs. Our garbage and toxic waste will be loaded onto space garbage trucks which will fly to a giant lunar/martian landfill. Think about it! all of the garbage in the entire world that now goes to landfills (maybe even all the trash that's already there) could be sent off to mars and the moon!

    4. Everything will be hooked up to the media cloud! You can go anywhere and have all of your stuff! 'Stuff' will increasingly be about what electronic goods you posses. Your TV shows, your music, your movies, all the paper work you have filed away in a cabinet or a computer today will be on the cloud. We will reach a processing point where the computers will be so powerful that no one notices a difference between faster ones or not. Everything will be on a cloud anyways and so what you will have is a monitor and a keyboard. Upgrades will be off-site. So there will be less plastic/electronics waste because increasingly it will be about content you buy rather than that device you use.

    5. Food will be a problem. As will space. People will increasingly live in dense farm/city communities where there are farm skyscrapers with crops being grown right in the city! All the industrial stuff will be in space, and cars will be electric and therefore the cities will be clean enough to grow the food right there! With all of the food and the people living so close together, many of our appliance needs will be obsolete. People will have less and less need to buy their own kitchen appliances, cleaning appliances etc because people will make use of urban services more and more. This will again lead to less wasted plastic/metal crap being used over time.

    6. Paper and plastic recycling could still be a problem. Nano robots could be unleashed upon vats of used plastic/paper and manually separate out the clean molecules one by one. True 100% recycling will be possible. And again, this will all be happening in space, therefore none of this affect our planet.


    YES ALL OF THIS WILL COME TO PASS!!! ...as soon as we get that fusion power
    I think utopia thinking probably should center on scientific thinking, because I dont think a political utopia is really possible. Even worse is when they try to combine the two like the first half of the 20th century (progressive social engineers commandeering science with political power = run for your life!)

    EDIT: "progressive social engineers commandeering science with political power = run for your life!" I cant help but relate this to 'man made' global warming theories and manipulated data and the supposed 'green revolution'... we shall see though...

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