True progress is the work of generations. Easy formulas for progress either serve the interests of people who are doing well under the status quo, or they lead to disaster. Have you ever noticed how "progressive" university administrators sound in their public statements? Have you also noticed how much money those people make?
The Manifesto for the Peoples of the Third Millennium describes a general approach to progress that is deliberately slow, uncertain and, in many ways, conservative. Societies are complex. Real social progress must be slow, because if we make something right in one place, something else will probably go wrong somewhere else.
Have you ever tried to improve yourself? Did you succeed? Are you now a completely perfected individual? OK, I haven't had much luck either. But, well into mid-life, I am finally beginning to see a few things, to understand things about which I was for many decades clueless. Blessed are those who require only a few hints to set their lives on productive courses!
Our attempts at self-improvement do occasionally succeed, but more than half of the time they fail. And when we do wake up to one thing or another, it is probably due to some accidental enlightment, not our deliberate efforts. Having said all of this, I must also say: But yes, there is hope. Lives really do get better, sometimes.
So it is with social progress. There are phases where things seem to change rapidly, but such moments are preceeded by years, decades or even centuries of preparation. The ultimate benefits of positive transformations can take years, decades, etc., to develop.
Thus, I distrust all forumlas for instant utopia. On the other hand, I do believe that it is possible for human life 1000 years from now to be amazingly better than it is now, even without flying cars, English butlerbots or internet-connected coffee pots. ;)
In that spirit, I offer a few links to sites or texts, some of which might seem negative to those of us with progressive or even utopian impulses. But I believe that real progress is NOT impossible, it is just very difficult. It will be achieved only by those who are able to understand the difficulties. True progress is the work of generations.
The "future" section of the Spirit and Sky directory includes links to various utopian essays and other sites of potential interest.
The Utopian Urge by Ryan McMaken discusses the history of utopian thought and behavior and applies his critique of such to the current (2003) leadership of the U.S.A.
Why Do Some Societies Make Disastrous Decisions by Jared Diamond delves into the reasons for serious failures of human decision making.
Educational Options: Picking Through the Debris by Steven LaTulippe contains some interesting ideas about the education of young people.
In his article Group Think in the December 2, 2002 issue of The New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell discusses the positive dynamics that sometimes take place in small groups of creative, intelligent people.
"To act on the belief that we possess the knowledge and the power which enable us to shape the processes of society entirely to our liking, knowledge which in fact we do not possess, is likely to make us do much harm." A wise word from the 1974 Nobel Prize lecture The Pretense of Knowledge given by Friedrich August von Hayek.
In History Matters, Butler Shaffer writes about what happens when political structures become too large.
I recently learned of another Utopia Links page. It has many links, including some to technical articles about geodesic domes, agriculture, etc. It also links to yet another collection of links: UTOPIA ON THE INTERNET -- Philosophy for a better world, which includes references to articles about specific communities.
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<a href="http://m3peeps.org/utopialinks.htm">Utopia Links</a>
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