Saturday, 3 June 2017
We managed to dip into some items at the Hay Festival. One was a discussion, ahead of broadcast, of a new examination of Utopia(s).
Years ago, I read Thomas More's original book, whose remarks create a response to Plato's Republic. I was left with an overwhelming impression of an authoritarian state, where free will had been replaced with a range of managed distractions.
I suppose I regarded the book as a kind of early science fiction, where a new world had been built, largely as a mechanism to critique the prevailing one.
The upcoming BBC Four show didn't seem to emphasise More quite so strongly, and reviewed wide ranging attempts at Utopias and model societies, both utopian and dystopian.
There were references to The Hunger Games and the recently televised Handmaid's Tale. A couple of sections dealt firstly with a Latvian(?) simulation of a hard-line authoritarian role playing drama and secondly with a fifty year extant community living with Utopian ideals in Twin Oaks, Virginia.
Suffice to say that the Latvian example was all rottweilers and fierce spirit-breaking interrogations and the Twin Oaks was all about collectivism with plenty of rules.
My aerial photo of the Twin Oaks would, for example, break their 'no use of drones' rule. Apparently the drones are not to be trusted.
There didn't seem to real answers to the thoughts about which models worked the best. All had their inevitable flip-side, although, when pressed, one of there presenters ventured a long view that right now was maybe about as good as it gets.