Real Modern Utopias

I have often been coined a “Utopian” per several participants on this blog.  Although I despise the stereo type, I realize that my child-like and naive rants indeed warrant the sentence.  I have posted arguments against the hyper focus on profits and capitalism, against human created instruments like money, debt, credit, and investments, against over-population (7 billion people), against environmental destruction, and against the overall lack of meaningful direction or directions of mankind that prevent the human species from striving to its full potential relative to the rest of the known animate creatures on Earth.  But, there are a few civilizations and periods of time that I admire in the past given my western focus (Greece, Rome, the Renaissance) and certain individuals after those eras that inspire me.  Yet, there are a few examples in the here and now which I can highlight as beacons for humankind.

There exists several countries on Earth that I and others believe serve as role models or potential solutions to the short-term human mis-direction that exists with the majority of the  7 billion human beings in existence.  I resort to an article as a simple source to this argument Top Ten Modern Utopias.  I will of course review this article and the assumptions with a critical eye, but on the first few reviews I believe it offers a very good foundation.  It is important to note that the United States and other large power-houses didn’t make the cut!

My next several posts will go into more depth on perhaps the top five and discuss the attributes, structure, culture, and environment that enables these civilizations or countries to reach greater levels of “happiness” or “fulfillment” than the rest of human population.  My desire is to merge my naive and child-like Utopia visions with practical and real life examples to offer solutions for the future direction or directions of mankind.  The top five countries that I will focus on per the article above are:

1. Denmark

2. Canada

3. Norway

4. Australia

5. Netherlands

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19 thoughts on “Real Modern Utopias

  1. I wonder how much longer this view of Canada can remain in the international eye. “My” country is becoming devastated by greed-powered politics under the Harper regime, which appears to want to cull, colonize, consume, or sell every component of this regional space. And now we are looking at revisiting the debate about the death penalty. In broad terms: any country that considers public murder an appropriate measure in any circumstance is actively participating in the global problem, and refusing to be part of the solution.

    Alternatively, the perspective on utopia that includes some of the regional space called Canada is the concept of Cascadia, whose borders are less political and more geo-philosophical and ideological.

    That said, I agree that Vancouver is indeed a lovely city, canker and all.

    • Thanks for comment Owl…I see by your comment and those below I have my hands full. I am really going to focus on some high-level attributes, but input and more detail may also be fun and interesting to look at. Guess I need to review a little bit on Harper. I see you don’t like anything to do with the death penalty…how about a separate island or society for hard core criminals?

      • I agree, lots of work, but a worthy project. I really look forward to your findings about common attributes between the countries, and perhaps about where they diverge. It would be good to put some pressure on the perception of the countries listed in terms of their national narratives and what gets suppressed in order to sustain those narratives.

        Canada has for a long time enjoyed identifying as a peaceable nation. Now we have a Prime Minister who appears to be itching for the opportunity to play a big role in the theatre of war. Maybe what is beneficial about Harper to Canada is that he exposes the violence (physical, cultural, ecological) that underlies this country’s national identity in the first place, and in so doing begins to force confrontation with that actuality. That is as close as I can come to having anything besides a low opinion of the man.

        For review, you might find counterpunch.org useful. For example: http://www.counterpunch.org/2011/11/15/will-stephen-harper-destroy-canada/

        As for justice–that’s the BIG question, isn’t it.

  2. I’ll look forward to the “Australian” part of ‘Utopia’. While Australia has undoubtedly survived the global meltdown very well, thanks to the Chinese unabated hunger for resources, it has been less successful in other perhaps more important human endeavors.
    We are, per capita, the world largest Co2 polluters and with America are also the largest in size. Our expenditure and care for the mentally ill is well below most of the OECD.
    There are many similarities between America and Australia, especially with its suburban blight of trying to house millions in separate free-standing dwellings. Australia’s ugliness in design is overpowering especially in its design of urban cities. You might care to read my take on this:
    http://oosterman.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/how-do-we-feel/

    • Thanks G.O. I have never made it Australia, but I did meet some nice girls from down under when I was traveling extensively through Europe:)

      As I mentioned to Owl, I am going to look for common attributes at high level and then drill down. I will be interested in more of your insights as those mentioned above. I will check out your article as well.

  3. I think history shows that liberal democracy [liberal as used by the Founding Fathers] combined with a system of markets [markets are a fact everywhere] well regulated for safety and soundness has done the best for humankind. But it comes up short, still impoverishing say 20% of a country’s population, and neglects the environment. So, improvement is needed, and I look forward to what you determine. The greed virus appears to be hyper breeding everywhere, sorry to hear owl.

    • Sounds like a plan…will pack my shin guards. To be honest, I am kind of scared about the creepy crawlers and wild crazy animals they have down under! All those poisonous snakes, poisonous spiders, alligators, sharks, poisonous jelly fish….I would have to walk around in a space suit!

  4. Very much interested on your view of the Netherlands as a fair few Dutchies (not me) consider it one of the worst countries to live. Usually they are not the ones that leave though. I like the country but it is very very full of people and through this give a great infrastructure, it also leaves very little room for nature, The bit we have needs to be shared by many. Anyway as said looking forward to your assessment.

    The thing with Utopia is that living in it shows the hard edges too. I lived in three countries and none of them is perfect. I know 4 of the 5 countries on your list and through visits and friends know that neither of them is paradise. The fifth (Canada) is on my bucketlist, but that too I suspect is going to be flawed when under the microscope.

    • Thanks for the comment Gilraen! I have been to all the countries except Norway and Australia…but visiting the countries for a brief period isn’t the same as living there. I will be interested in more of your input!

      • No it isn’t the same, you are quite right about that one. My other country (New Zealand) is not on the list, but is on the other side of a big splash to one, And I often had to tell people that visiting it is something spectacularly different from living there
        Denmark I know quite well, not just as a tourist. Some of my best friends are Danes and I spend time there with my Danish friends within their corner Danish society. That still is not the same as living there, but gives a better insight into daily life than being a tourist 🙂

        In my experience utopia and paradise do not exist as an entity – you make your own paradise but it will not be given to you.

    • I always have a soft spot for The Netherlands. It is where I was born and even though it is densely populated, there are still magic bits of nature about. Above all, I am forever impressed by their willingness to try out something ‘different’ and on social issues, Holland is the world’s undisputed leader.
      I know Geert Wilders is stirring the race card and with some success has managed to get a sizable following, but..I remember a similar upheaval when Suriname became independent and Holland was swamped with many people from a different culture. In the long run it all came together once again… So… As you can tell…I still love my birth country.

      • As said I am not one of the people that think this is a bad country, but I do listen to those those around me, and that is often insanely negative. I am the one that says go and compare and find that this is a very good country.

        I was born here and moved back 5 years ago. I was away for 11 years and do recall that feeling of still loving it, despite not living there. In fact I think my love and understanding of what is important increased when away. I also learned to accept its flaws – and many there are. It is not utopia, though when away it felt like it on occasion. But being away has shown me the good, the bad and the ugly sides of the country and the good ones exceed the bad ones and that is why I returned, otherwise I would have stayed where I was.
        I so see the beauty and I do see the nature – as I said, but it needs to be shared with many and if you live away in a different country with much more space, you do notice how little it really is.

  5. Well Randel,

    I suppose there are as many different mid-western Americans as there are different out-back Aussies. Like America, Australian cities are very similar. They all have suburbs, large advertising signs and endless roads. There are some real out-back cities that will give you a more authentic genuine Australian experience. In NSW there is ‘Broken-Hill’, a small ex-mining town with huge empty shops and lots of pubs. It’s a hot place and about 80km away is Mootwingee which is a fascinating aboriginal place.
    If you like the beach and surf, Byron Bay or the Gold Coast might be up your alley. For exquisite wine and a charming country side, try Margaret River in Western Australia. Cairns or Darwin in the Northern tropics are different again, plenty of prawns and lobster if you have a penchant for sea food. I personally like the inner cities with cafes and plenty of people about well away from cars and highways. Hope this helps.

  6. Pingback: Modern utopias | Keglerscorner

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