In my opinion, it is virtually impossible to design a utopian society. Although the principles you base your society may have the potential, if the rest of life in that society is modified enough so that all those in the society introduced to this idea or principle will take it as reality and apply it to their everyday life, thus allowing them to fit the mold of the perfect person in the perfect society; then how can anyone consider complete equality between all people, truly perfection. It is at this point where I truly began to see the impossibility of a Utopian society. Although I have always thought it would be cool to live in a perfect world, where there were no problems and everything was easy in life, I would rather live in a world full of users and abusers where I still have the power of free thought. For the most part, the majority of Utopian Societies makes less of the brain capacity of those with any sort of intelligence, and keeps everyone trapped in a world where they have been programmed to do as the society, or in Platos work The Republic, tells them to. In actuality, the founders of this perfect society have simply thought of a way to make everyone believe that through equaling everything out we will all be able to succeed at whatever we want. Or so the founders want us to believe. Once they get everyone to the point where thought outside of the present and now is impossible because our brains have depleted so much and have been massaged to the thoughts and beliefs that the heads or founders of these society want us to think, that we are no longer able to break free from that comfort. My theory is that while the founders may claim to partake in the society 100%, in reality it is impossible for him/ her to do so because his/her thought would be completely destroyed and he/she would be unable to monitor the remainder of the society. In doing so, this would make it possible for a youth to slip past the key points and ideals behind the society, due to the fact that everyone is stuck in the now and can not do anything about their thought patterns. This child would obviously notice a difference, especially as the years pass, and would pick up on manipulative skills and the ability to lie. You see these are two things you will learn about in the real world. Through these skills you are able to get things to go your way and or benefit you completely without having to give anything up (this would obviously not be something you would learn about in this set perfect society). These two points are two of the main reasons why a Utopian society would never work. If the founder and/or his children ever wanted to, they would have the ability to control and possess each and every one of those people with-in the society, without them even knowing. That, is obviously not a Utopian Society if it is possible for the heads to manipulate, cheat, and con their way to the top of the world and reap great success from a bunch of virtually thoughtless and in a way lifeless group of people.
If you want to look at the Utopian Society where even the founders become part of the system, and interject themselves with-in this self created Utopia, the effects can be even more detrimental than if they simply control you without you knowing. By really having everyone completely dumbed down to the same level you leave yourself open for error. If everyone is to be brought down to the bottom standard and only focusing on the Now, then their ability to do jobs would go down along with it. Eventually it would get to the point where there would be an entire group of babies that never went through the daily rituals or ideals, and therefore the society can not grasp their minds. In doing so this gives all the power to the youths, while the elders are left clueless. This could lead to a few possible outcomes. The most likely, in my mind, would be that the youths would teach their elders, break the mold, and eventually get society back to the way it was. However there are still a few more possible outcomes. Although this is way out on a limb, it was seen in Cambodia, although in a completely different environment, when Pol Pot and the Kamerouge took over. There was a bunch of 12 and 13 year old kids killing their parents and relatives just because of the fact that they were told they were doing the right thing for their country, and had to follow through on these acts. Others committed these horrific crimes simply because it gave them, the youth, the bottom of the barrel, the ability to call the shots.
Regardless of how you think of it, in the end you always get screwed. In this case it may be a little more severe and sci-fi than the Utopian Societies that Plato and Confucius create. However, if you really closely examine any of these philosophers societies, you will easily spot at least one point that makes it so you can pick at and tear apart the whole infrastructure. Once you begin to progress further and further down you line, you eventually end up with settings such as that seen in Harrison Bergeron or my example. It will always deplete and deplete until one day you eventually collapse into vast nothingness. Just like any other society does at one point or another. However the crash of a Utopian society would inevitably far more disastrous than that of a normal economy. For in the Utopian Society, everything is inter-dependent and cannot function without every other piece of the society. Once these people are put back into real societies where work ethic and beating the other man to the job is key. This disqualifies the idea that someone might try to say that the end of a supposed Utopia brings about the formation of a natural Utopia because all of these people now realize their place in the world, but can not bring themselves to intentionally wrong another person simply for their own financial benefit, obviously you would never learn about these skills in a utopian society where everything is sharing, youre now tossed into a world youre completely unprepared for, and the possible consequences are unheard of.
Getting back to the main theme, I suppose it is necessary that I admit that there have been numerous ideas of a potential Utopian Society that with the right direction, and the right mind set of everyone with-in the group. However, although I believe that it is impossible to even try to ponder the right guidelines to set down, (thus assuming your perception of good and bad is the correct one) if I personally had to choose between Plato and Confucius perfect society, I would say that Confucius society would be more intriguing to me. I must admit though, that Plato brings up many interesting ideas on how things should be done. The idea of separating you from your family is in a way a potentially good thing. If youre trying to live in a society where your sole responsibility is to The Republic, your government and society. Through known connections with others, i.e. siblings, parents, and grandparents, you may be forced to make a decision out of care for them, or reflective of their wishes. In doing so you would be in a way, going against The Republic and everything that it stood for.
To me, another interesting part of The Republic is the fact that thinking and philosophizing is such a big part of life. This makes me really question the whole infrastructure that Platos ideas rest on. Through years of thought and careful observation Plato was able to create what he thought to be the perfect society. However, if this whole idea of a perfect world came out of one man and his deepest thoughts, then what happens when you put multiple heads together? The results are catastrophic. Now imagine a whole society pondering things that have potential danger to The Republic. These theories and beliefs may replace the old, even if it isnt supposed to happen, and then Plato himself could end up stuck in a society where all of his thoughts and teachings have been quieted, and now the voice of the people shall over power.
To me, Confucius ideas spark many interesting questions. First of all, the base of which Confucius created his whole lifestyle and way life is based around family. In Confucius Utopia the most important part of life is the respect and servitude to those who deserve it, i.e. father, grandfather, or uncle. The value of your life is not based on the type of good deeds youve done, but rather it is based on your loyalty to your family, and knowing your role in this world. A quote from the book, Confucius the Analects, seen in Volume II, Book IV, chapter II says, A man without virtue can not long abide in adversity, nor can he long abide in happiness; but the virtuous man is at rest in virtue, and the wise man covets it.
I took this statement as meaning this, although you do have the choice as to whether or not you are going to do the virtuous thing and honor thy family, one can not be permanently content in only doing things for their own personal benefit. Even though at first you may feel content in the fact that you can do whatever you want to, without the fear of letting down your family name. But this state of happiness is only a mask to the ugliness that lies beneath. By not doing the virtuous thing it well eventually come back to haunt you. Through living a virtuous life you are contented with the fact that you are doing right by your family, as well as yourself. All that is truly needed in life is virtue. Virtue brings joy, love, compassion, etc.
Another aspect of Confucianism that makes me think even more highly of him, is his modesty. Although he knew, in one way or another, that his guidelines on how to live life, were and are, some of the most honorable rules to live by, he still remained modest about himself. In Volume IV, Book VII, Chapter I, Confucius explains how he fits into our world as follows, As a transmitter, not an originator, a believer in and lover of antiquity. I venture to compare myself with our ancient worthy Peng.
I interpreted this statement as follows. Confucius thinks himself to be a transmitter of what is the right way to live life. From my previous statement, and then the next statement in the quote, I inferred that Confucius didnt even think himself to be the inventor of Confucianism, however he discovered and was able to connect to every one in society. I also think that the statement about him being a believer and a lover of antiquity means that he wants to restore things to the way they used to be. He wants the pride to be in ones family and name, and the acts they do should be reflective of their father or grandfathers wishes. The final statement of the quote is simply showing Confucius modesty. Peng was a man of the Sheng Dynasty that had great power, and was rumored to have lived for 700 years. Confucius is showing that he truly is not of comparison, nor even on the same level as Peng.
Although this paper may have been a little off the topic for a while, and also a little far fetched, I believe it portrays the ability that man has to change and manipulate things to their liking. Through Utopian trials and errors the world would eventually realize the ineffectiveness of these societies. Especially when you consider that these ways of life are simply ideas that popped into someones head, that person thought the idea applicable to their life, and from their attempts to create something that encompasses all aspects of life, end up making more mistakes than what were already in the previous society. The idea of a Utopian Society still intrigues me, however, if you evaluate the validity of each lesson taught, what do you think you would find?