What makes a society utopian? Potential responses might include increased leisure time, governments that serve their people or perhaps the ability to correctly predict the price of Bitcoin and the next financial crisis. Although these ideas concern rather different fields of study, they do have something in common: neither of them will ever happen. Similarly, the desire for utopian communities is but an abstract longing with which humanity is involved for a number of reasons. The primary aim is that by studying it close enough, we will eventually be able to replicate it. However, you and I may not live to see it happening. As a matter of fact, nobody will. And we should be thankful for that.
The word “utopia” was first used by the Greek philosopher Plato in his literary works, and it symbolised an unattainable state of societies that is characterized by perfection on all levels. In a utopian world, poverty is but a distant nightmare, humans are not required to work anymore and there exists no conflict between nations. All information about the past is fully known and can easily be accessed through a remote-controlled television set. Once the desired year and particular episode are selected, an exact recreation of the event and its whole underlying set of causalities appear onto the screen. And it’s just a button push away. Not to mention, a utopian society has also reached its highest feasible technological level.
In short, everything that was once unknown is now widely-familiar in the tiniest detail. For instance, the origins of the universe, once portrayed as one of the most ambiguous scientific questions, is know but a triviality. In fact, everything is pointless given these circumstances.
While the absence of political conflict is almost surely beneficial and results in improved welfare for mankind and for planet Earth, the absence of conflict in areas such as literature, biology, physics, film or painting to name a few, would cause great harm to the future of our race, for beauty emerged out of dispute and difference. Consequently, art will lose its purpose and meaning. Artists shall create perfect works of art that are nonetheless boring and dull. A society that grows to know everything evolves to appreciate nothing.
In addition to that, it might be considered that converting job time into leisure time is highly beneficial for reasons such as pursuing one’s goals and aspirations or perhaps one’s mental sanity. Since money is not a constraint anymore, for it is widely available, every citizen is virtually free from the bonds of the long-forgotten hierarchical system.
But what happens next? Humans come to realise they are drowning in a self-sufficient society. In a utopian community, leisure time has highly diminishing returns to scale. Because of the attainment of full knowledge, there is nothing meaningful one can further do with his free time. No new concepts to explore, no conflict, no technological advancement. Darkness all around. A suffocating shroud of indifference slowly engulfs the last martyrs standing, and with them, the most valuable asset a society possesses: the founding ideas upon which it is built. Not to mention, humans have a strong craving for their work and contribution to be noticed and commended. However, there is no room for such praising anymore.
Ever since the beginning of man’s reign on Earth, humans have had countless desires, among which that of attaining full knowledge. However, once the utopian society has facilitated that lust, one may find himself tremendously dissatisfied. Just like race dogs trying to be the first ones to catch the cardboard chicken, humans are running in circles without precisely understanding why. Once we get to the chicken, a hole opens up in our lives and we are left without purpose. That is, until the next chicken makes its appearance.
Similar to the cardboard chicken, a utopian society is exactly that: a mirage that will keep one on a wild-goose chase.
In the end, as fallibility gives rise to beauty, so does a dystopian society such as ours. An imperfect world would undoubtedly bring about dissatisfaction for mankind. Nevertheless, it is the sole provider of two quintessential elements necessary for the continuing existence of humanity: curiosity for an unknown past and excitement for a better future.