Competition year: 2004
About Cyril Belshaw
Responsibilities of Education
Weft and Warp
The Global Order
Appendix on Global Trusteeship
Studies of Utopia have in the past primarily focussed on imaginative literary expression, without worrying about the practicality of achieving what the mind imagines. There is a sense in which such work, valued in creating Alice in Wonderland mirrors and critical appraisals of inadequate human society, were precursors of later science and fantasy fiction.
In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the focus partially shifted. On the one hand entrepreneurs endeavoured to create living, real, Utopian societies, localized in space, through colonies and communes. At the same time, led by Marxism or religious fervour, ideologies – the governance of behaviour through fundamental principle – took on an even stronger role in guiding political and socio-cultural action.
It is my contention that the twenty-first century can celebrate the evolution of Utopian propositions into forms which provide practical guidance for those of us who wish to create the best of possible worlds. This presentation is intended to be a step in that direction.
At first sight, the subject matter of the two subjects I elaborate – education and world government – appear only marginally connected to each other, if at all. In fact the connection is fundamental on three grounds. The first is that an educational system which succeeds in creating youth maturity, and especially maximizing the broadest aspects of courtesy and understanding while minimizing aggression, anxiety and dysfunction, would be a major facilitator toward the goal of a just and effective world government. The second is that a just and effective world government, freed from the trappings of state nationalism, is an essential prerequisite for the principles of engendering youth maturity to become global, rather than a privilege of rich countries. The third is that a practical Utopian society must be based on holistic premises – in other words each facet of the societal continuum affects the capability of the other facets to perform optimally(1) .
If this is so, then other social themes than the ones I have selected must be of similar importance. It would be beyond the patience of the readers of this essay for me to devote equal weight to them. But we must recognize them. Thus in a linking section entitled Weft and Warp I give the gist of the kinds of Utopian reforms which are needed in parallel to the ones I discuss at length, indicating the kinds of changes that must be envisaged.
An underlying theme is that we have at our fingertips all the technical apparatus that we need to achieve our goals. A basic premise is that most of humankind wants a peaceful globe without violence of any kind, yet respecting and valuing cultural difference and variety. Since we have the means, it is not unreasonable to have the ambition to reach the kind of global Utopia I envisage by the year 2001, that is within the century. Such is the current momentum of societal change. We have the choice of letting that momentum run its chaotic way unchecked, or of consciously deciding to guide it into paths we want to follow. It is, as never before, up to us.