Aardvark on April 12, 2011, 05:41:53 pm
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Lots of examples.  Beginning with Looking Backward by the cousin of the guy who wrote the Pledge of Allegiance to the US flag (both serious socialists).  Continue with some of H.G. Wells' less exciting work, such as In the Days of the Comet.

You're quite right: those are two very good examples, but I have to add that they were also written a long time ago.

I read "The Days of the Comet" (1906) many years ago, and I had to look at the synopsis. I'd only vaguely heard of "Looking Backward," (1888) and was surprised to learn how important it was to socialist thought in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Both show interesting socialist Utopia's, but both were written before there were any socialist (unless you count Imperial Rome) or communist societies, when the idea of enlightened benevolent dictatorships of the people were thought possible.

I'd say that in hindsight, "Looking Backward" is quite dated nowadays -- even something of an embarrassment --  while Thomas Paine's pamphlets, "Common Sense" and "Rights of Man" have ultimately stood the test of time.

sam on April 12, 2011, 05:58:37 pm
Personally, I'd love to see a graphic novel of a communist Utopia. With all the intelligent and literate lefties out there, I find it a wonder that the shelves and Internet aren't full of them. On the other hand, maybe such graphic novels have been tried repeatedly, yet failed to materialize because the author would ultimately realize, to his great chagrin, that a communist universe, while it might work with a hive of bees, would, fully formed on the page, seem to be a sick parody of human life.

It has been tried.   There is in fact quite a lot of such literature, for example the Cassini division.  The usual procedure is to move the main character away from utopia as fast as possible as in the culture novels, though "the Cassini" division simply has the viewpoint characters all ruling elite, and it is indeed utopian for them, since they never have to bother with the opinions of the masses.  The author assures us that the masses participate, but the somehow the rulers are never faced with the inconvenience of such participation, and, for the masses own good, the rulers never tell the masses what is going on.  Despite regular authorial statements that the "Solar Union" was perfectly free and egalitarian, what we actually see is Stalin's Soviet Union from the ruling viewpoint.  In "the Cassini Division" we are told, but not shown, that the place was free and egalitarian.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2011, 11:43:07 pm by sam »

Aardvark on April 12, 2011, 06:28:01 pm
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Despite regular authorial statements that the "Solar Union" was perfectly free and egalitarian, what we actually see is Stalin's Soviet Union from the ruling viewpoint.  In "the Cassini Division" are told, but not shown, that the place was free and egalitarian.

Yeah, details, schmetails. :) It's so easy to show tolerant, enlightened rulers and not show how hard they are to come by. Rule of thumb nowadays is that generally, only the worst sort manage to fight, bully and bribe their way to the top.

J Thomas on April 12, 2011, 06:46:13 pm

Heinlein had the same problem, when he wrote a utopian novel Beyond This Horizon, a whole lot of it was devoted to a romance, marriage, children, and discussions of philosophical problems. The action involved a secret society that was trying to take over the utopia which had no chance at all -- which was collecting people who should be euthanised and giving them the opportunity to euthanise themselves, and in a moment of uncharacteristic brilliance they try to grab a central DNA repository which by oversight the authorities did not think to defend.

In Heinlein's utopia everybody who wanted to, went armed and had duels on a moment's notice. There was a government with essentially unlimited power which mostly gave everybody almost-complete freedom, and which had trouble thinking up enough projects to spend money on to prevent rapid deflation.

Thinkin' it might have been quite a while since you read that one.

It has, but I remember it vividly and I don't see what you would disagree with in what I said.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beyond_This_Horizon

Oh, looking back, I see I was unclear. The utopian society was collecting people who should be euthanised by offering them the secret group to join. People who joined it and took part in their doomed revolt and got killed in the process, were proving that they were unworthy to live by doing so.

wdg3rd on April 13, 2011, 12:52:31 pm
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Lots of examples.  Beginning with Looking Backward by the cousin of the guy who wrote the Pledge of Allegiance to the US flag (both serious socialists).  Continue with some of H.G. Wells' less exciting work, such as In the Days of the Comet.

You're quite right: those are two very good examples, but I have to add that they were also written a long time ago.


Probably the main reason there haven't been many communist utopias written lately is because of too much experience with communist reality.
Ward Griffiths        wdg3rd@aol.com

Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.  --  Denis Diderot

Rorschach on April 28, 2011, 05:16:21 am
I've been debating writing out my personal story with minor omissions for Privacy. I spent some time crippled and homeless, denied medical care, denied filing a habeas corpus for compensation from govt, denied social security. I used to be an extremely well paid programmer/network specialist. I've dedicated my energy to other pursuits and healing myself, I make enough money to live and my leg is recovering after nearly 3 years of no medical care. I was homeless, denied an extension at the homeless shelter, slept on the sides of buildings in the snow + wheelchair. A christian organization that offered housing for senior and disabled kicked me out because I left the premises at 4:45am instead of 5am despite getting permission to do so. After a few months of living in a tent, I was offered a place to stay. I live in a trailer with no water, an extension cord for electricity and propane I pay for in order to cook. I volunteered my computer skills, at the Veteran's Training Center I put in over 80 hours of work, and they reciprocated by stealing my laptop I needed to survive. A friend I was doing side work for paid $100 advance to get me a desktop. That is... an extremely abbreviated version of my story, but it should be sufficient. If people are interested in the very long version, a lot more detail can be provided.

I am convinced of several things.
#1 Some people stay with you through thick and thin, most people run. All of my family had other priorities, my mother would rather smoke pot.
#2 People in power ignore rules and make excuses whenever it is expedient
#3 Federal Employees are completely immune to the law, and even filing against the government has been rendered difficult to the point of being ludicrous. That is okay by me, I won't use law.
#4 The medical system in most countries is completely broken, and operates in a failure state according to systems theory. A sane system of medicine is something I devised, using "least cost" measures first, the internet and AI to diagnose (more appropriately deemed "Expert System")
#5 There exist groups of people who refuse to be productive, they sometimes deem themselves "Freebies" or "Professional Homeless". I don't mind them being provided with care, but it should NOT be Fair Market Value. (No 2 bedroom house paid for by govt section 8, etc)
#6 Having filled out every application, and even trying to get myself committed to an insane asylum in order to get PTSD counseling and a place to sleep, I have become convinced that govt is NOT for the people or by the people.
#7 Some parts of the story I skipped convince me that 2 govt are my personal enemy.
#8 I took John Galt's vow again, tried to make an exception for non profits and came full circle back to my vow.
#9 People need skills more than education, and the ability to learn skills more than specific skills. Teach a man to learn how to learn > Teach a man to fish > Give a fish
#10 Anyone can be productive, anyone not productive is either going by a version of the John Galt vow or just milking the system