Utopian Society Thinkers Ernest Callenbach Part 2

About the famous utopian thinker Ernest Callenbach and history of his planned utopia Ecotopia.

UTOPIANS-DREAMERS

ERNEST CALLENBACH (1929- )

Ecotopia is based on a biology-conscious philosophy and a stable-state food cycle in which all food wastes are utilized. People sort their wastes and throw them into bins marked M (Metal), G (Glass), and P (Paper). Agriculture uses no chemical fertilizers; instead the earth is rejuvenated through sewage recycling, garbage composting, nitrogen-fixing crops, and animal manure. No one uses nonbiodegradable plastic, metals (except iron), or paint. In Ecotopia, "...humans were meant to take their modest place in a seamless, stable-state web of living organisms."

Refrigerators and heaters are run with methane gas from household septic tanks, which also produce processed sludge for fertilizer. Power comes from the sun, thermalgradient plants, geothermal plants, and some fission (which the inhabitants plan to phase out). Sources are small (a radio run by a waterwheel) and large (massive solar cell banks). Transportation is nonpolluting--small trains run by magnetism, bicycles, battery-driven minibuses, and electric trucks.

Everything is decentralized, but almost all people live in minicities within half a mile of a transit station. Separatist city-states are developing--Soul City (black) and Chinatown, for example--which preserve racial and ethnic heritages.

Factories, farms, and stores are owned by the workers, with no absentee funding allowed. Instead of facing the monotony of an assembly line, workers put together whole units; the work week is 20 hours long. Newspapers, television stations, and other media are run by small, independent groups.

The only spectator sport is "war games," in which young men, their bodies painted, engage in semireligious, ritual warfare, using stonepointed spears. Yearly death toll: about 50.

Schools are privately owned, with emphasis on survival skills and the outdoors. Colleges separate teaching and research, provide courses in "industrial history," and allow students to hire some of the teachers. Students alternate a year of study with a year of work, and many higher education programs are replaced by apprenticeship programs.

Ecotopia has a two-party system. The Survivalist party, which is female-dominated (the president is female), holds the power. The more traditional Progressive party has a platform based on individualism and productivity. The country is broken up into five metropolitan and four rural sections, with emphasis on local government. White-collar crime, such as embezzlement and polluting, is punished, usually by a jail sentence in one of the humane Ecotopian prisons. There are no personal income, sales, or property taxes; all government funds come from a corporation tax.

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