Is Utopia Always Dystopia? Is Utopia Possible?


In every second, of every day, you have to
decide between action and inaction. We’re all tangled up in a web of cause and
effect and so every choice you make has gravity and pulls us towards one of two futures: one
that is more heavenly or one that is more hellish; one that is more utopian versus one
that is more dystopian. It’s human nature to dream about utopia: a
place better than here. We dream about what our lives could be, and
some of us dream bigger, about what the world could be. One thing’s certain, there’s always a place
that exists outside of space and time, it’s better than here, and it’s where we want to
go. But all things come with a price tag, and
you have to decide whether you’re willing to pay the cost. In some sense, your life is defined by the
costs you’re willing to pay. A better world exists, and it demands payment;
so, what are you willing to sacrifice? In his story *The Monkey’s Paw,* William Jacobs
writes about a man who acquires a magical monkey paw that will grant him three wishes. Much to his dismay, the man finds out that
each wish comes with an unintended side effect. When the man wishes for 200 pounds, he receives
it — as compensation for the death of his son. When he wishes for his son to come back to
life, he does — as an undead being. Fate demands a price and if the man would
not voluntarily choose his sacrifice, it would have to be decided for him. The residents of Aldous Huxley’s *Brave
New World* live in a technologically advanced utopia: they’re happy, healthy, and youthful. They don’t fear death. When their time comes, they go in peace. Class hierarchies exist but everyone has been
psychologically conditioned to love their place within them. Babies are genetically engineered. Residents of this utopia have no attachments
to one another. In the words of one character, “everyone
belongs to everyone”. Everyone has multiple sexual partners, and
orgies are commonplace. If at any point in time a resident feels down,
they can take a drug called Soma to uplift their mood. Soma brings on feelings of euphoria — *with
no downsides*. In order to maintain the utopia’s ideals
of “community, identity, and stability”, residents have to make a heavy sacrifice. They give up their individuality, art, religion,
love, and, ultimately, their freedom of choice. Utopian thinking isn’t just confined to
literature. The 20th century saw the rise of many charismatic
leaders claiming to know the way to Eden but, wherever they were leading us, the cost was
too high. In some ways, we were like the man with the
monkey paw: we wanted the benefits of utopia, without the responsibility of bearing the
costs. But fate demands a price, and when we gave
up our responsibility, we gave up our individuality and, eventually, our humanity. Despite these negative examples, I do believe
utopia is possible. In his recent book *Enlightenment Now*, Steven
Pinker documents all of the positive changes the world has undergone since the Enlightenment. For example, average life expectancy has increased
from 30 years of age, in the 1750s, to 70 years of age worldwide [3]. Deaths due to malaria have declined by 60%
from 2000 to 2015 [3]. Worldwide rates of extreme poverty have been
declining since the 1800s [3]. All of these are what I would call positive-sum
games: win-win situations for humanity as a whole. I think the important questions to ask are
how many of these positive-sum games could we play, how much better could the world ultimately
get, and how do we continue down this path? At the same time, how do we avoid traveling
down some of the paths we already went down in the 20th century? You can think about the world at different
levels of analysis. The highest level might be something like
universal. The levels that follow that — in descending
order — are the planet, the country, the community, the family, and, lastly, the individual. The lower levels are all nested within the
higher levels which means that all levels are interconnected. The individual affects the family, which affects
the community, and so on. The opposite is also true. The problem with conceptualizing utopia is
that it gets created at the higher levels such as the country or the planet. By starting at the higher levels, we force
all the lower levels to mesh with it. Anything, *or anyone*, that fails to harmonize
with the highest level is seen as unfit for utopia and must be removed. This type of utopia always devolves into a
totalitarian dystopia. In design, we call this a *top-down approach*:
the highest ideal is generated and all of the lower levels are adjusted to meet that
ideal. A top-down approach will always succumb to
evolutionary pressures because a static and constant ideal can’t survive in a dynamic
and evolving world. The opposite of a top-down approach is a *bottom-up
approach*. Instead of starting at the highest, you start
at the lowest level of analysis possible. In our case, this would be the individual. You start by creating a simple set of rules
that govern the individual and allow the system to self-organize. From individuals — communities, cities,
and nations emerge. Bottom-up systems harmonize well with nature
because they can evolve and adapt. In fact, evolution is a bottom-up system:
it’s governed by rules of survival and reproduction [4]. YouTube is also a bottom-up system: it analyzes
our behavior and evolves based on how we interact with it. The algorithms of today are more than mere
technology: they’re alive and YouTube is an evolving ecosystem. Bottom-up systems are partly unpredictable;
we don’t know what the YouTube homepage will look like in a year from now, let alone
life on Earth in 1000 years. *It’s impossible to predict what an emergent
utopia would look like.* Of course, I’m oversimplifying a bit here. Many systems are a mix of top-down and bottom-up
elements. With that said, are there a minimum number
of rules that, if an individual were to enact them, would allow a better world to emerge? The philosopher David Hume famously pointed
out that it’s difficult to determine the way the world *should* be based on the way
the world *is:* this is known as the *Is-Ought problem*. Science gives us a description of how the
world is and philosophy gives us a prescription for how we ought to act. Our ability to successfully cooperate depends
on how much overlap there is between our philosophies. For example, let’s say that I own a restaurant
and you want to come in for a meal. We both believe that a restaurant ought to
serve its customers food in a timely, friendly, and fair manner. We also believe that a customer ought to come
in and be respectful of the owners, the restaurant, and the other customers. This can be a very good reciprocal relationship
for the both of us. But if I believe that I ought to maximize
my profits at the expense of customer service, a conflict will arise between us. What you and I believe about how people should
act in restaurants is what historian Yuval Harari would call a *fiction* [5]. We all believe in a set of complex fictions
that allow us to cooperate at an impressive level — relative to other species. Some notable fictions we may believe are human
rights, democracy, capitalism, and money. Money becomes more than mere paper when everyone
believes in the fiction that gives it value. Society can function smoothly because of our
ability to believe in fictions. The degree to which a utopia is even possible
is dependent on our ability to construct a fiction that is universally agreeable. So we’re looking for a set of rules, or
a fiction, that an individual could live by that would bring the best possible world about. In other words, we’re talking about morality
or ethics. Everyone has their own opinion about the best
fiction to live by — and they should. If you buy my argument so far, then you understand
that everyone should have, and share, their own fictions so that the best cultural fiction
can emerge. And just as individuals and cultures evolve,
so too will the fictions they hold: preserve what works and discard what doesn’t. If there’s one abstract rule that an individual
could live by that I believe would allow utopia to emerge, it’s the belief in the *importance
of playing positive-sum games*. This means that each individual *intends*
to act in a way that is simultaneously best for them *and* everyone around them. The society that emerges from these individuals
would be one that is self-improving and respects the potential within each individual. Members of that society never try to win at
the expense of one another or, in other words, play *zero-sum games*. If we wanted to create a flying machine, how
could we do it? Our best bet would likely be to collect a
large set of species that could already fly and determine the principles that unite them. By discovering the principles of flight, we
could successfully produce an infinite variation of machines that could fly. Could we do the same thing with morality? Could we study our history and determine a
set of fictions that would allow us to identify and successfully play positive-sum games? In his book *Enlightenment Now*, Steven Pinker
compiles an enormous amount of data that shows how the world has improved on several important
measures such as health, longevity, wealth, inequality, human rights, and so forth [3]. He claims that the fictions that allowed us
to successfully play these positive-sum games were science, reason and humanism and, quite
frankly, I think he makes a pretty good case. I said earlier that fate demands a price. So, what’s the price we must pay for a better
world? It requires that each individual remain *adaptable*,
and be willing to give up on old and comfortable fictions for unfamiliar yet better ones. It requires enough *discipline* to carefully
estimate the probabilistic outcomes of each action based on past experience — to take
carefully calculated steps forward. But, above all else, it requires *courage*. The courage to lose in the short term so that
the individual, or their children, or their community can gain in the long term. The courage to be open and to deal with bad
players in the hopes of finding good players for positive-sum games. Maybe utopia isn’t a place we can *be* but,
rather, it’s a place we can always choose to *go*. We can only approach it but never quite make
it — like a line trending towards an asymptote. Utopia doesn’t exist in the brain of one
person, or group, to bring about but, rather, *it emerges* from our collective interactions with one another as individuals.

100 thoughts on “Is Utopia Always Dystopia? Is Utopia Possible?

  • I believe if society can learn to take both consciousness, respect for the other, individual freedoms, and the good of the whole, all in equal measure, then Utopia is. However, it requires a massive shift in humanity's mindset.

  • You have to have complete understanding of the universe to truly create a utopia. Which is why the only thing that can create utopia is god. Luckily he has, it’s called heaven.

  • Well, if one believes in most religions, yes. Even christianity says "the kingdom of god is in men (people)". Meaning it is a choice we must all make in unity for it to ever be made real. Even if one doesn't believe in religions, peace and prosperity on earth for all is the highest goal we as a species can ever attain. Sadly, the misguided belief that we all have to think the same, believe the same, have the same language, the same skin color, the same priorities then becomes the greatest roadblock to ever attaining that peace.

  • @3:20
    Here is the dark side of the coin:
    Increase the life expectancy may cause them to suffer more

    By not reducing life, humans increase yet the wealth of the country remains same

    By having less super poor, we have more equally poor people

  • Well the thing described as possitive sum games, are they really? What if we could all live as much as we wanted and death was voluntary, or all third world counties could afford the goods advanced counties do.For how long would earth be able to sustain this situation? Overpopulation would lead in drastic changes from wars to maybe colonizing the whole universe who knows

  • I wouldn't say increase of life expectancy and reduced death by malaria to be positive-sum games. It produces overpopulation which causes pollution and other environmental problems which would in turn affect humans in a negative way too. I'm not saying that these events are bad but that we always pay a certain cost, there are no positive sum games.

  • If someone's looking for books on the subject to read, I recommend No.6 by Asano Atsuko, you can read its (absolutely amazing) fan-translation online on a blog.

  • There's no such thing as a single utopia, the notion of utopia is very subjective! What may be wonderful to someone may be horrible to another. It's possible for there to be billions of utopias, and levels of utopia
    The lowest level of utopia is an improved version of our current society, though people can't agree on what would constitute an " improvement " to current society. To some people, the improvements to society would be things like government run healthcare, " free " housing, etc for all. To other people, the improvements to society would be things like drastically reducing the size and power of the government or eliminating it entirely.
    People are too different for a single utopia to exist! It's best to get the government out the way and allow people to pursue their own utopias!

  • Human nature never wants to degrade. human already upgraded to dystopia, so he or she will never want to turn the clock backward. Even if you reach the utopia, you will restart working toward the dystopia. Because human nature is and as such the world is to search the world since we have brain a non stopping functionable part of us. Therefore, it is possible to dream about it but you will never live in it because you will always be thinking that the gross on the other side is green.!!!!!!!

  • Utopia is an impossibility in any one person's viewpoint as any good thing can be viewed as a bad thing by another person

  • I don't know why but to be candid, I find any and all of your videos to be quite calming.

    I'm a pretty weird guy, but I have a feeling I'm not the only person who feels this way.

    And I'm positive it must be absolutely unanimously agreed it's all such valuable, well-put together and animated content.

  • A much-needed dose of reality: http://zielonewiadomosci.pl/tematy/obywatele/we-are-off-the-cliff/ A comprehensive, factual and unflinching look at our collective situation.

  • We are on the way to utopia, this video very well illustrated it. I think we should discover ourselves more and the people who influence others gave the best description of how utopia should be built from the ground up, in us. One of the videos which I gave a like because I value his effort into making the video. Thank you @Freedom in Thought.

  • Never gonna happen if greed still exist, even in an utopia you wanna be “more happy” than someone else it can’t exist

  • I believe a utopia is possible if we all get on the same page on the internet to create one , the internet is a powerful tool

  • Utopia is not possible to create, so long as there is one person with mental readiness to have his/her way at the expense of others.

  • All systems in nature gain in the predestined forward motion of time and creation . This is always in a positive direction in creation. As it started , it has never stopped.humanity however has a mind that has its own motion in which can be corrupted into "not following the positive motion as nature demands. We all should try to place the universal tendencies ahead of our material world.

  • "If the world was perfect, it wouldn't be."

    It's the imperfections of life that make life worth living. Humans are born in and molded by conflict. All religions seem to start with humans being engineered by some form of conflict. Its by conflict that the universe was formed (protons and electrons), its conflict that gives us cycles (day and night), its conflict that gives us a wide variety of primordial emotions that serve a unique purpose (love and hate). Opposition must exist in all things. Utopias seek to tear away that all in the name of a heavy sheltered environment where humans are forever young and in ignorance, tucked away from the beautiful nature of life and what we were biologically made to be.

    A utopia, then to me, is not "perfection" but rather- a world where experience is possible, experience that both gives us joy and pain. A utopia is not a place, but a state of mind and therefore, a universal utopia is not possible as we all have our own idea what it is. Progress itself is not universal, it is subjective when it comes to morality. We can progress towards knowledge of truths regarding chemistry, biology, etc. but when it comes to philosophy, progress is nothing more but an emotional sensationalized ploy to rile the masses together who think linear and not realistically.

    It is also wise to not hate human nature. Our nature is what makes us human, and there is nothing evil about that. Good and evil are social constructed concepts designed to control society towards one goal otherwise risk being shunned or outcasted. Human nature is solely focused on survival through any means necessary and is capable of adapting to different situations to attain that if it is compatible with the person's personality (some are more socially reliant than others).

  • I have this book that was written 2000 years though. I can't give that up. It gives my life meaning. I look at all the great things around me and bend over backwards to make them align with this book. It gets even easier when I want it to align with my biases that were programmed into me by some dude I was forced to go see every week because my mom didn't want to admit that she married the wrong guy. Hoorah! for rainbow nation.

  • make create "utopia" word is some crazy guys always talk about make heaven in the earth, btw when human get died, heaven in the earth is nothing

  • Utopia is a fictional dream of people who doesn't believe in the mantra of Buddhism.
    But if u really, really, really want to achieve utopia. Then wait for alien invasion and conquer all of humanity's free will, and let them control our internal as well as external world by programming all of our brain action.
    There… a society that not only is equal, but also perfect ly acting the same as everyone else. No conflict, no war, no social hierarchy(except for aliens and human, 2 levels of intelligent life), there is only peace, harmony, synchronity and equal rights.

    Because in the end, u have to know and understand the origin of human beings and its millennia of history. Before u can make a fiction, a reality.

  • 3:20, I’m gonna stop you right their on the talks that the world supposedly gets better and better until Utiopa. How many deadly weapons capable of obliterating eatchother do we have? Oppressive governments, we have more people Enslaved world wide than ever in Human history. With Computers comes the ability to wipe out completely and totally eatchother just by typing in a few lines of code to blow up a Nuclear Reactor or shutdown an entire Infanstructure. Dangerous drugs are more and more common and used, Bacteria and Virus has began to become antibiotic resistant, Climate Change is already a massive issue, I can go on and on. Utiopas in real life are flawed because every probelm that gets better or solved ten more even worse problems are created. It’s a rabbit hole.

  • Utopia is possible – but not with this gameshit you call actually social wealth and the believe you reached the final point – we have to reconstruct

  • Utopia is impossible, perfection is unatteniable and we can never go back to Eden.
    And that's good.

    Sure we can never be perfect but that just means that we can always improve ourselves. Utopia will never be reached because there is always a better tommorrow. Eden is gone and there will never be a Heaven on earth but who cares?

    Dsytopia will only ever truly happen when we the human race decide to stop looking to the horizon.

  • I want to live in a utopia where everyone thinks the same, does the same things, talks the same way…hmm it's odd utopia sounds a lot like dystopia.

  • It's about responsibility, not sacrifice. In fact, "sacrifice" usually leads to hard-won gains that don't offer a net gain at all. Only doing what works for you will help. There are plenty of people who literally kill themselves trying to make a living or even a difference. Right at the beginning, I'm already alienated from what the narrator is saying because I don't think they've thought it through.

    If everyone were responsible, it would solve everything. They're not, so the best thing to do is gain as much power as possible so that you're happy and encourage other responsible people to gain an advantage. A world that rewards responsibility and discourages irresponsibility is a reasonable and realistically ideal world. When the responsible have all the power and the irresponsible have none, the world will be as good as it gets, everyone will have every reasonable opportunity for happiness, and bad people will be made powerless, usually before they can cause serious problems.

  • It's having a "simple set of rules" that makes this idea unrealistically theoretical and hypothetical. Good judgement is what's really needed. By individuals. Voluntarily. And that good judgement should be used, probably to gain power rather than waste it on irresponsible people who are set on being oblivious and demanding their irresponsibility be protected as a right. Only if people deserve rights or basic consideration should they be given them. When people show contempt for responsibility, they show contempt for their own lives and should simply be unsupported so they have to deal with the consequences of their actions. Responsible people should have all the power and irresponsible people should have none. There doesn't need to be a set of rules or laws for people. Laws should be very basic guidelines. It's judgement, good judgement, that is most important.

  • The positive sum game ~ doing what's best for the individual and the world around them ~ is agreeable. Doing what works for you and makes you happy involves doing what works for the world you live in, too. Making tons of money while destroying the planet is not good. However, doing this to the point where everyone without money will suffer because you can afford to save yourself and anyone else you want to does work. And it's really the fault of the jerks stupid enough to pay into the system destroying them.

  • Responsible people should help each other and work against irresponsible people and irresponsibility. It can sure come across as a zero sum game, but that's because there are plenty of people working against themselves and the common good and they deserve to lose, especially if the alternative is everyone losing together.

  • Goodluck! Singapore is already a Utopian Country and in the Philippines New Clark City will be the next utopian city

  • Why it isn't possible? If every single one in this world has the same goal, which is to make the world an utopia, it's very possible to achieve. And with the technology we have now, everything has actually gotten easier. What we need is just mindset and willingness to inform everyone in the world how important it is to make our world an utopia

  • Okay, it's impossible because on Einstein's words:
    "Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former."

  • a utopia is almost impossible because humans naturally are curious and at least one is pound to disobey and send it all to a dystopia and the way to get to a utopia comes with meager set backs.

  • Your merch is great !!! The design is amazing 🔥. You should kind advertise that a little , I'm saving up for the pink sweater-really cool.

  • The only way to have a Utopia and World Peace is if everybody were to give up their individuality let go up there ego but that's a lot easier said than done

  • The same people who claim they are "pro-science" then turn around and can't see what's wrong with this equation:
    Free everything + sacrifice nothing = utopia
    But the truth is, EVERYTHING is an equation. There is no such thing as "free" anything.
    Oh, BTW, youtube is NOT a bottom-up system! Censorship always fails and it should be obvious why.

  • True Utopia is possible, but it would take away freedom, individualism, and the interesting things about life, essentially making it what most consider a dystopia

  • Utopia is created thru tolerance and respect of others. Its foundation lies in the individual. Thru control, we abolish utopia and moves closer to dystopia. Under the impression that if we control everyone to prevent them doing as we find fit, we create our own utopia when rather itd the opposite. In order to obtain utopia you must first abolish a means of absolute control. Aka, the government. The meaning of government is to control the mind. And a politician, to govern. A politicians job is to control your mind and therefore, your actions. If they control your actions, youre not free. Same with the mind. The start of utopia is ironically anarchy. Anarchy does not equal chaos. Complete control equals chaos. The first step in utopia is to abolish the ability of a person or set of persons from being to control all. Thru tolerance in respect we find that each individual is able to live their life as they choose within reason and be happy in doing so. If abolishing the government is necessary then, the first step is acknowledging that one doesnt exist. As john locke said, "the government derives its power from the consent of the people". The moment we deny they exist, the moment they no longer do. One set group designed to control cannot create peace but rather, everyone. Living tolerant and respectfully. Something being broken creates chaos. Something will always be broken but, if that something doesnt exist, it cannot be broken. The first step is abolishing totalitarian authority and relinguishing it to each individual. And each individual agreeing to play their part properly in the utopia. Government is not necessary for peace but rather, control. Control ironically equals chaos. Of course it wont exactly be perfect but, its better this way as each and every person can live as they choose within reason and be happy to the highest extent within reason. Utopia is first created in ourselves. And the closest we'll ever get is believing that it can become under these circumstances

  • In the video, it is said that individual has to sacrifice in the short run so the community can gain in the long run.
    The problem is what should I sacrifice. Who is gonna decide what I have to sacrifice for the greater good of the society ? Who decide what is the greater good for the community any way ?

  • The reason there's no given in marrige in heaven…it is probably not needed. For when we become as like the angels we would have spiritual type bodies that can go where biological bodies have to stop in getting to know each other. Angel beings can probably possess an other to get to know them, by transitioning right into the body of another angel. The problem with fallen angels…is that they fell just to do evil to another spirit…that's why they always make a human being suffer when they possess them…according to Jessie Pen Lewis, "they are evil, and evil only". I add, even when they pretend to you they only will do you good…Just for you to let them in. Check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JP34q9PYfpQ. To get to FDR High in Brooklyn, I used to ride looking out the front window of the first car all the way from Prospect Park to Coney Island; the long way to school, because it was so much fun. See all the different ethnicity who chose to ride in one car from Arab to seemingly everyone from around the world; except they don't seem to be loving everyone's happiness as perfectman people always do, and will always do in the new world. New York City is like Heaven's city called Zion…there is representation from every tribe, nation, tongue all around this Carousel…wouldn't you want to go to Zion's Utopia. Don't try it by today's christian church methods…go only by the Spirit of the new and old testaments words…and you're guaranteed not to miss it. For now true believers in Jesus have a task to purify and become sealed into a perfectman to keep it Heaven.

    Looks like its Jesus who invented fun…without Him, nothing was made. He is the clean "pleasures forevermore" guy.

    We will share all things worth experiencing (what good means); forever.

    since He is the one who designed male and female…don't underestimate His ability to supersede in what He can design even better as a man-angel body.

  • The main trouble is that utopia is subjective, we all have different visions of what a utopia is. For some people, they want the government to provide them with their basic necessities, either in the form of the items themselves, vouchers or something like a universal basic income. Others just want to be left alone to make their own utopias.

  • A utopian did not make this video. Utopians know that utopian things do not have a cost such as fruits from a tree or water, they are abundant self replicating and perform many if not thousands of beneficial functions!

  • Almost everyone in here and the videomaker was brainwashed by dystopian propaganda their whole lives, it is very sad.

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