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+5 votes

This is a thought exercise based on a talk I went to at the BASTARD Conference*. If you were to imagine your own utopian vision of the world you want to live in (it doesn't matter if it is achievable IRL), what would be two overarching social conventions or expectations (akin to the concept of "Sila" from Bolo'Bolo), and what would be two specific things be that would be facilitate this utopian vision (eg "Taku" or "Nugo" also from Bolo'Bolo, ?

*Here is a partial description of the talk:

"The problem with utopias is that they are plans. Most anarchists understand that plans for situations we haven't been in are too limited (and/or short sighted) to actually work. But the good thing about plans is that if we commit to them IN OUR IMAGINATION, then we are encouraged to flesh out what we really think we want, what we think is possible: these can be good challenges to our daily practices..."


by (22.1k points)
btw- I'll answer with what I thought of in the workshop, but I want to wait to see what others say.

3 Answers

+2 votes
this is an awesome exercise!

to flesh it out a little more - taku is a box that everyone gets one of, that is for a person's totally private, cannot-be-challenged private property. (mostly intriguing as an exercise in what are the things that each of us would choose to keep). nugo is a suicide pill. everyone has access to one (if they can't use it for some reason, they can ask for help to kill themselves). sila are rules of hospitality for both individuals and villages.

but the above are just examples.

joanna russ talked about children going on walkabout at a certain age, joining up with other children in bands, and having adventures/finding themselves, before they settle down. i love that idea. so that would be an overarching social convention. another one is smallish self-sufficient villages as the largest consistent form of people living together. a third would be something like a custom of people making the tools they use in their life (ie no trading for tools).

i would definitely steal the idea of the suicide pill. i love the idea of what it means to choose life every day (by having the simple opportunity to not).
by (53.1k points)
that walkabout sounds a bit like what the amish do.

i haven't thought about a real answer for myself, but i'd have to say the suicide pill is a keeper. and of course, small, self-sufficient human social groupings are a given for me.

bolo'bolo is a great springboard (surely not the only one) for these kinds of ideas and discussions.
joanna russ's concept was on a wilder planet than ours, so the children (younger than the amish coming-of-agers) are defending their lives, sustaining themselves, etc.

but yea, the amish are the closest in our world i guess (sigh).
+3 votes

So my answer from the workshop (wherein some other much-appreciated asshole encouraged me, with time constraints, to answer this in a small group setting!) is as follows:

My utopia would have, as meta-concepts the ideas of free association (and dis-association) and operating on a human-scale. Our concrete things would be minimal shelter and human-scaled transportation.

By free (dis-)association I mean what anarchists always talk about - the understanding that people will come together based on projects and shared interests, and that those same bonds will be rejected or dissolve based on the lack or end of such. These associations could last lifetimes, they could last minutes. It is up to both the individual and the group to determine when the group or the individual is no longer a desirable associate.

Human-scale means, basically, I don't want a world where the speed of communicating, or getting from one place to another place is faster than humans can conceive. Global connections as they exist with jet planes, internet, etc. are all immediate. There is no lag, and I want lag. This is both helpful for being thoughtful, and for avoiding ebola and similar outbreaks.

When I talk about shelter, I mean that it depends - it could be a hoody, it could be a tent or yurt. It isn't permanent, it is a thing that a person born to a place would need to survive the expected worst seasons of where they live.

Human-scale transportation is similarly flexible, it could be sneakers, or a canoe, kayak, sandals, raft, or Flintstone's car (okay, not really a Flintstone's Car, but maybe...) It is what someone needs to realistically travel beyond their immediate area while still not outpacing our own abilities to adapt.

by (22.1k points)
edited by
I also like the suicide pill, I purposely precluded the examples given for the talk.
the speed and scale things are really significant to me too.

but it seems like your concrete things are not concrete -- they're still conceptual. (i didn't do a concrete thing either, since you're right and stealing an idea doesn't count.)

why is the concrete so much more challenging!

part of the reason the suicide pill is so cool (and the box) is that both are technologies that are totally accessible right now, but that the context given in b'b reframes them so radically. i will think more on this...
the "R" on my keyboard sticks. so at least the peson part is a typo. How my fingers went to a P as opposed to a B I dunno.
I agree that the concrete things were much more difficult. It is really easy to zoom out and conjure up big ideas (mutual aid, free association, blahblahblah), but trying to think of what things in particular would be there is much more tricky. I tried to link the things to the meta-concepts, which made it more of a struggle. Someone else in the group I talked with suggested a knife or spear for hunting and self defense, unfortunately I don't recall the other thing.
+3 votes
I'll have a go at it.

No parenting. A friend who went to the workshop said no fathers, but I'd just cut the kids off from the adults wholesale, aside from meeting their needs, and even then it would be a matter of discretion whether to give a child or group of kids some object, information or lesson. As a consequence, a person's name can only come from their peers or their choice.

Destruction would also be socially conventional. Destruction especially of structures (these would be burned down regularly in the form of a game in which one team tries to burn everything down and another team tries to stop them, but more importantly the membership of the teams is secret and there are spies and double-agents) and of language-forms, and destruction of a person's clothing, personal effects when they die (and, at least for a time, one does not speak their name or keep images of them). These would have their necessary accompaniment of creation, of course.

Everyone would have a wooden puzzle of unique construction, entertaining to play with and seemingly impossible to solve.

And a mask.
by (20.5k points)
I want to be a child in your utopia, anok.