# Ideal Society

Discussion in 'Business & Economics' started by Michael, Feb 2, 2012.

1. ### Michael歌舞伎Valued Senior Member

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Would you agree that an ideal society would be one where no human had to work? Suppose robots were able to meet all of the needs of all humans so that we had perfect health, were able to have anything we wished (non-violently) and could live a life of pure leisure. Of course, if you wanted to work, you could do so. You could paint, you could write, you could even go out and mine coal, if that is what you wished.

Human productivity has allowed for more and more leisure time. You could envision society 200 years from now where humans only worked 1 hour a day. And 1000 years from then, where there was no work needed to be done at all.

Would this be an ideal society?

3. ### cosmictravelerBe kind to yourself always.Valued Senior Member

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Utopianism

In many cultures, societies, religions, and cosmogonies, there is some myth or memory of a distant past when humankind lived in a primitive and simple state, but at the same time one of perfect happiness and fulfillment. In those days, the various myths tell us, there was an instinctive harmony between man and nature. Men's needs were few and their desires limited. Both were easily satisfied by the abundance provided by nature. Accordingly, there were no motives whatsoever for war or oppression. Nor was there any need for hard and painful work. Humans were simple and pious, and felt themselves close to the gods. According to one anthropological theory, hunter-gathers were the original affluent society.

Scientific and technological utopias are set in the future, when it is believed that advanced science and technology will allow utopian living standards; for example, the absence of death and suffering; changes in human nature and the human condition. Technology has affected the way humans have lived to such an extent that normal functions, like sleep, eating or even reproduction, have been replaced by artificial means. Other examples include a society where humans have struck a balance with technology and it is merely used to enhance the human living condition (e.g. Star Trek). In place of the static perfection of a utopia, libertarian transhumanists envision an "extropia", an open, evolving society allowing individuals and voluntary groupings to form the institutions and social forms they prefer.

Particularly in the early 19th century, several utopian ideas arose, often in response to their belief that social disruption was created and caused by the development of commercialism and capitalism. These are often grouped in a greater "utopian socialist" movement, due to their shared characteristics: an egalitarian distribution of goods, frequently with the total abolition of money, and citizens only doing work which they enjoy and which is for the common good, leaving them with ample time for the cultivation of the arts and sciences. One classic example of such a utopia was Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward. Another socialist utopia is William Morris' News from Nowhere, written partially in response to the top-down (bureaucratic) nature of Bellamy's utopia, which Morris criticized. However, as the socialist movement developed it moved away from utopianism; Marx in particular became a harsh critic of earlier socialism he described as utopian.

Chronologically, the first recorded utopian proposal is Plato's Republic.[1] Part conversation, part fictional depiction, and part policy proposal, it proposes a categorization of citizens into a rigid class structure of "golden," "silver," "bronze" and "iron" socioeconomic classes. The golden citizens are trained in a rigorous 50-year long educational program to be benign oligarchs, the "philosopher-kings." The wisdom of these rulers will supposedly eliminate poverty and deprivation through fairly distributed resources, though the details on how to do this are unclear.

5. ### Michael歌舞伎Valued Senior Member

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I did like Plato's Republic - seems like Singapore somewhat took that route. The Persian king Khosrau I has been referred to as "The Philosopher King" (for taking in the heretic Greek neo-Platonists as well as his public programs and works).

Two other ideas came to mind:
(1) One would suppose that as society gets closer to ideal economic conditions unemployment should go up. However, in reality, unemployment only goes up when the economy is in the shitters (such as following one of the Fed's bubbles). You'd think all these unemployed people would be coming up with all sorts of nifty stuff to make life better. Yet, most don't. Most want someone to hire them. Which in retrospect, seems rather odd. Wouldn't you rather be free and trade in such a way as to create prosperity for yourself (instead of someone else)? Ideally?

(2) Completely off the track. IF robots are doing all the work. What's the difference between robots and human slaves? I mean, it would seem to follow that if slaves OR robots were doing all the work non-workers would have idyllic lives? I'd maintain at such a point, there'd be little (if any) progress. I sometimes wonder if the Chinese aren't slaves? Yet, their society is greatly progressing. Or so it seems. Of course Chinese aren't really slaves. They can (and do) quit to go start their own business once they have enough savings.

7. ### spidergoatLiddle' Dick TaterValued Senior Member

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That sounds great, but we don't actually have more leisure time than we have in the past, we just use our technology to be that much more productive. Hunter-gatherers had much more free time.

I think we could use technology to provide us with the ideal hunter gatherer environment, that way we would see the need to work and engage in productive and creative challenges that relate to real life.

8. ### Michael歌舞伎Valued Senior Member

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Hunter-Gather's lived and died pretty young - often fighting for limited resources and always at the mercy of the environment. Native Americans weren't treehuggers.They sent the Vikings packing on more than one occasion!

I'm interested in your poignant observation: We actually have LESS leisure time than we did (even 20 years ago). If you swing over to here I propose that perhaps it's our currency system itself that is the problem. It's a problem of debt.

Thomas Jefferson once said: “It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.”

We were born into Debt and we're leaving a massive debt on the children born today. What we have is a debt problem and nothing is going to get better economically until that it dealt with. We do NOT want to go down the road of the Japanese. We're not Japan. Shit will hit the fan down that road. Yet, that's exactly where we're going. Which if we go there, there's only one politically viable solution: War. I hope not, but, I'm not too optimistic of the American public.

History suggest Debt as the root of many wars and civil strife. Riots in London a couple hundred years ago, supposedly for "liberty" - well, the rioters went straight to were the letters of debt were held, burned the buildings, went back to their farms. That parts never really mentioned.

9. ### quadraphonicsBloodthirsty BarbarianValued Senior Member

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Nah, people need a certain amount of stress, work, responsibility etc. to function well. Take that away, and they tend to go off the rails.

Nah, we actually work vastly more hours per week today than back when we were hunter gatherers. Most of the increased productivity is going towards improved standards of living, not increased leisure time. This tells us something important: people would rather work more and be rich, than work less and not be rich.

Definitely not. Also, the thing about a society wherein robots do all the work, is that whoever owns the robots is effectively a dictator and has no reason to give anyone else anything more than the base subsistence required to hold off violent revolution against themselves (see: Saudi Arabia and various other petrostates). Note that the proliferation of automation in manufacturing over the past decades has correlated with big increases in inequality. I just do not see how you can prevent a problematic proflieration of inequality in a society where almost nobody does anything that anyone else depends upon. The people who own/build/maintain the robots would own the entire society outright.

10. ### spidergoatLiddle' Dick TaterValued Senior Member

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Debt is the greatest invention since money. It built civilization.

Now I could see a technological future that was hardly distinguishable from the distant past, with the except that our nanobot friends would constantly be updating our inoculations, removing parasites, mending broken bones, and fixing our teeth.

11. ### Michael歌舞伎Valued Senior Member

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Well I suppose I was of the mind that in an "ideal" society we'd NOT be beholden to the robot suppliers. Suppose there was no one in charge, the robots could take care of themselves.

That leaves us with a society where humans needn't work. Though I do agree that such a society could stagnate and suck in terms the human condition - I mean, if we did absolutely nothing useful. But, then again, think of all the fun one could have? AND if your hobbie is your work, you can still do that if you choose so.

Is it true we WANT to work more? I don't think so. I think most people end up working more because they want more consumer goods. I think if they won the lotto, most would quite their job and live a life of leisure.

I agree that debt is useful. But, it's also destructive. If you were born with $49,128.95 of debt slung around your neck - I don't think you'd find that debt useful. Imagine you could NEVER pay it off. Such a debt would bring your life misery. As of now, we add$4 billion dollars of debt to our society every single day. AND, each child born owes about \$50,000 the day they are born.

That's immoral IMO.

The debt the built civilization was based on a different kind of money than the one we use today. The money we use today and the way it's created through debt, is a big part of the problems we're facing and going to continue to face as life in the USA stratifies and goes from worse to worse.
You don't think you'd want the other amenities of life - like housing, internet, food....

12. ### EnmosValued Senior Member

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I think crime rates would soar. People generally can't entertain themselves, they need something to do.

Also, I think work may provide a lot of people with meaning in their life. So, possibly, depression and self-neglect would also increase.

13. ### Michael歌舞伎Valued Senior Member

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Really???

Huh.... they could do anything they like. Maybe even download into an artificial hologram-like environment (StarTrek style), erase their memory and live life as IF they were in 2012, not even knowing any different

I suppose part of this question was more about the economic outcomes of productivity. Sure, as hunter gatherers' we did have some free-time when bounty was there. During drought we died off I suppose. Much like any other animal.

However, since civilization I had the impression we've been able to create more and more leisure time as we've progressed. So much so that one day it seems reasonable most of our time will be for leisure.
Isn't this an outcome of economic prosperity?
And, isn't that one of the goals of society?

14. ### elteValued Senior Member

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I agree with that and am glad you brought it up. The reward for work should be gratitude and esteem, and crime shouldn't exist.

By crime shouldn't exist, I mean we will have get rid of it.

Last edited: Feb 3, 2012
15. ### elteValued Senior Member

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A thing about debt is that it is useful when there is a gain in productivity that can repay it quickly. However, living off of debt is a bad general idea.

16. ### The EsotericistGetting the message to GarciaValued Senior Member

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:bugeye: Sure, if you are the one holding the debt and not owing it. I really am having a hard time deciding who is more evil, you or adoucette.

Your assumption here is of course that civilization is good. Look what it has done to the planet, look what it has done to humanity. Seems to me the biggest and net beneficiaries of this type of civilization have been the end holders of the most debt.

Nahhh. . . I think there is a better way than consumerism, money and debt. One need not have life revolve around production, trade, money and debt to produce civilization. That just shows a plane lack of imagination, and in the end, all roads lead to violence and war.

Last edited: Feb 3, 2012
17. ### The EsotericistGetting the message to GarciaValued Senior Member

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Unsubstantiated garbage.

18. ### The EsotericistGetting the message to GarciaValued Senior Member

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What if everyone joined sci-forums and discussed the meaning of life or the Ideal Society?

19. ### EmilValued Senior Member

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Order for an ideal society to exist must exist the ideal human.
So, what should be the characteristics of this ideal man?

20. ### Motor DaddyValued Senior Member

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If you're at the top there is only one place to go.....down!

21. ### cosmictravelerBe kind to yourself always.Valued Senior Member

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Idealism and reality don't exist together at the same time. We just can do what we can with the life we have presented to us when we are living and try to remember those in the future that would like to enjoy the same things we do today or even better things we can make for them.

22. ### spidergoatLiddle' Dick TaterValued Senior Member

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I have a mortgage, and I'm happy to have it!

23. ### adoucetteCaca OccursValued Senior Member

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I was also happy to get my mortgage.

It allowed me to buy the house my wife always wanted.

I've since paid off my mortgage.

Does that make me more evil?