The search for Utopia and the formation of a nation: teaching the ultimate paradox
In this documentary, in the form of a Google Map, we investigate the search for Utopia. Whether an economic utopia, an ecological utopia, a feminist utopia, a political utopia, a religious utopia, an egalitarian utopia, a fascist utopia, or science and technology utopia, man strived to create a society possessing highly desirable or perfect qualities. The search for utopia was the basis for the founding of a nation and it's constitution. For many it resulted in expectations that were unfulfilled. For other's it was heaven on Earth. For other's it meant mind control, child-abuse, sex-abuse, mass suicide, or are the reason there will never be peace in the Middle East. For many, it was simply a redistribution of their modest wealth from them to the organization which eventually failed. As a result of these contradictions, the search for utopia becomes the ultimate paradox. Like an M.C. Escher perspective-based paradox, or the adage be careful what you ask for because when you get it you may not like it.
What I discovered in researching utopia are the following:
- For some it meant eternal life until their leader suddenly died.
- For others it meant being a self-sufficient farmer even though they knew nothing about farming.
- Others pooled their money together to improve their lot as a group, essentially a redistribution of their wealth.
- Some were created under the search for religious freedom, a search for a purer community, that masked a neo-fascist attitude.
- Others found that the oppression they left in our main society was replaced with a different harsher oppression within their isolated community.
- Some failed because of fate or bad choice of location.
- Others failed because of competition when the railroad was built.
- According to Wikipedia, one involving 3M, was planned with a pedestrian zone, where cars were to be parked on the edge with a people-mover connecting them to the center. An automated highway system would connect the town with the outside world. No schools. The city itself would foster lifelong learning, with everyone both a student and teacher. Waterless toilets, etc. It was never built.
- According to Wikipedia, others believed that the planet Earth was about to be "recycled" (wiped clean, renewed, refurbished and rejuvenated), and that the only chance to survive was to leave it immediately. While the group was formally against suicide, they defined "suicide" in their own context to mean "to turn against the Next Level when it is being offered," and believed that their "human" bodies were only vessels meant to help them on their journey. In conversation, when referring to a person or a person's body, they routinely used the word "vehicle." They killed themselves to flee society.
- Other utopias were national in origin, such as Stalinism, Nazism, or the American Revolution. For some it meant death, while for others it meant freedom and liberty.
Yet the drive for utopia has not ceased, there are probably as many today as there were in the 1800s. Today we have eco-communities, hippie communities, technology and science communities. Some disguising their wanting to live like back in the early days of the founding of the nation by calling it an eco-community. Some just want to live by their own rules and at their own pace. I would think that some of them may even be considered extremist because they don't fit in with the rest of society. On the other hand you can consider the drive for utopia in the same vane as the mass migration of the Oregon Trail. While many failed, their failure and successes helped to drive the American economy and the spread of the nation westward.
Canterbury Shaker Village in New Hampshire.
Auroville (City of Dawn) in India, as seen in the Google Earth KML file.