Debate and Panel on Utopias Life Today

A panel discussion about utopias with thinkers like Dass, Montagu, and Ginsberg discussing their ideal utopia and why life isn't like it now.


8. Why isn't life like this now?

Asimov: (1) There are too many people for the world to support comfortably. (2) Technology has not advanced to the proper level of computerization and automation. (3) Prisoners of their past, human beings and human societies are too eager to pursue short-term goals to the doubtful benefit of themselves and the undoubted detriment of humanity and the planet as a whole.

Buckley: Invincible ignorance.

Dass: For some people it is. For others, fantasies based on exploitation of others are still very real. I experience most of the time that I am living in a utopia of my own design in the sense that (a) my mind creates my universe, and (b) every moment provides plenty of grist for the mill of awakening--and awakening is my primary work in this lifetime.

Fadiman: As you can see, I think the notion of utopia a bit childish. Let's get rid of war, environmental decay, poverty, and overpopulation and then see what happens. The human race should hang loose. Idealists are dangerous people. Hitler and Stalin were idealists, pure utopians.

Ginsberg: For some it is, for some it isn't. Probably solidification of ego in capitalist skyscrapers and in communist office buildings inhibits the necessary transparency of consciousness.

Michener: For me it is.

Montagu: Because by the time people reach the age at which they might be capable of understanding how things might be better, they are too deeply immersed in the strenuous attempt to keep themselves from falling apart. They have no time for "utopian" ideas or unrealistic idealism. Here and now they are faced with the big-enough problem of survival to have anything left over to pay much attention to anything else. The idea of love has virtually gone from the world, so that millions are unloved to death in societies in which there is a massive failure of love behind the show of love--in which success is measured in terms of its material validations, not its humane victories.

Untermeyer: Why indeed! It never was and (alas) it never will be.

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