The World Wide Republic – A Feasible Utopia
The world seems to have forgotten about the history-long practice of designing ideal versions of our society. Disenchanted by the pain and poverty suffered by the nations that succumbed to the charms of charismatic men who sold them utopic visions of their future, our predecessors have transmitted to our generation two core beliefs that have shaped how we imagine the advances of civilization for the next decades: grandiose ideologies aren’t to be trusted; science and technology will provide us with a better future. Neither one of those statements are completely believed by anyone, of course, but they do carry some wisdom in them; after all, everybody’s lives have gotten better with the aid of technological advances, and the absence of any great political or societal movement has brought a good deal of peace and well-being to a large portion of the world. Meanwhile, countries with stronger political, religious, or cultural ties seemingly have fared worse.
There is, however, a glooming pessimism hovering over us in recent years. Democracy -once everybody’s favorite ideal- has been producing some odd results: nobody trusts politicians, elections have become a dishonorable battle of marketing strategies, decisions are heavily influenced by pressure groups whose interests don’t always match those of the general population, and the international institutions and agreements that seemed to be building the path to a better future are now at peril due to the actions of the current world leaders.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the decisions made by a few people, fallible and susceptible of manipulation, are sometimes flawed. What is surprising is that we are all so willing to continue relaying on a very select few to oversee the administration of our planet. The dire consequences of this practice are painfully visible.
Because of the incredible leverage big companies and wealthy individuals have over the political class, enacting any deep changes that have an impact on our relentless destruction of the environment is a long, eroding, nearly-impossible task.
Access to technology, biased markets, and the increasingly heavier influence of marketing have made it harder for small producers to compete; the world seems to be gearing towards an economy where very few competitors control the vast majority of services and production means. Among other illnesses, this will contribute to the ever-so-larger gap between the rich and the poor. This gap causes social disconformity which usually expresses itself in the form of distrust, aggressiveness, and close-mindedness. Curiously enough, these are often directed towards other people in distress rather than to the people in power, who should be changing things.
Giving such a large amount of decision-making power to such a small amount of people is proving to be a deficient model for modern times. Even when they are well-intended, there is too much to consider, the consequences to their actions are too big, and the powers trying to influence them far exceed them in means and expertise.
Going back to the two statements mentioned above, science and technology, when put in the wrong hands -or rather, in a few hands- can be very dangerous. Especially without a clear vision of where we want them to take us. Even though grand ideologies are to be scrutinized, and never given enough importance as for them to supersede basic human rights as the priority of any social institution, we need to start making decisions regarding our future as a civilization. A minority cannot make those decisions.
So, what now? Should we take the system down? Should heads roll? Should the people come to the streets once more? Probably not. Revolutions are a very ineffective way of improving things. An organized transition is a lot more likely to succeed, and luckily, we now have the resources to attempt a different society without breaking the one we currently have.
The World Wide Republic will begin as an online movement, which will be built by the already existing online community that wishes to see profound change in our society. It will be based on four main premises: a direct democracy, in which decisions are taken by the aggregate opinion of the public and not by elected representatives; free open markets, in which exchange spaces are in the hands of the community, relieving them from fees other than maintenance and transportation of goods, and preventing influence peddling from the bigger players; uncompromised access to technological services, by having the community develop its own search engines, social networks, email services and so on; and a unified cultural identity that celebrates the differences among us but provides a common platform of understanding through a universal second-language, a single currency, and free resources for education and cultural sharing.
Is this yet another mad utopia? Possibly, but even if it is never fully implemented, there is much to gain from the exercise of pursuing it. At the very least, it is something to which we can collectively aspire, a goal which we can set for everybody, and an experience that will allow us to learn a lot about social dynamics in the modern world. At the very most, it will be the begging of something extraordinary.