Diary of a B+ Grade Polymath (tcpip) wrote in earthgov,
Diary of a B+ Grade Polymath

A work in progress

Started at around 5.30am this morning... Thoughts?

n e o t o p i a . o r g

Are the social systems and cultural structures of the early twenty-first century (C.E.) really as good as we can do?

Is it not possible to imagine a new and better society? To envisage an ideal which could potentially become real?

That is the purpose of this community. To propose elements of a new, ideal societies. To have those elements and ideals tested.

Your contributions are welcome.


Lev Lafayette
Founder of neotopia.org

f r e q u e n t l y a s k e d q u e s t i o n s

Why "Neotopia"?

The word "neotopia" comes from the Hellenic prefix "neo", for "new" and topos, for "place". It refers to the idea of a new place, an ideal society.

In part, this word is used to indicate the purpose of this site distinct from the notion of "utopia". A utopia ("no place") refers to an "ideally perfect state; especially in its social and political and moral aspects" (Wordnet, Princeton University, 2003). It was also a bit of a lyrical pun, as the prefix "eu" would make it a "good place".

In both these regards the idea of neotopia is very similar.

However, rather than propose schemes which are utopian, (i.e., "chimerical; fanciful; founded upon, or involving, imaginary perfections") (Websters, 1998), neotopia.org has a practical orientation and demands propositions which are possible, which can arise from current circumstances including society, technology, nature etc.

It is expected that each an every element of a proposal is tested by other members of the community, the elements are then rebuilt, the proposals coalesce, a consensus is reached, resulting in a "new place".

Like how the Electronic Frontier Foundation was once described, "The end is to reverse-engineer government, to hack Politics down to its component parts and fix it". (Wired, 2.06, 1994).

But people are different!

Yes, people are different. But they are also capable of coming to agreement. We already agree on some ideals (e.g., mathematics) and contextual values (e.g., language), although it is readily admitted that the former tends to be stable, whilst the latter tends to be dynamic. As Leibniz once remarked, for all scientific or cultural questions, (Method of Mathematics) "Let us calculate".

But people have different interests!

Yes, people have different interests and sectional affiliation. Sometimes these interests mean that they are biased. A neotopia has the difficulty of determining whether one sectional interest will dominate another, or whether sectional interests can be balanced, or whether sectional interests can be transcended. Noone said this is going to be easy.

All utopias fail.

Likewise, as Oscar Wilde pointed out, "A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not even worth glancing at" (The Soul of Man Under Socialism).

The point being, ideals are proposed and criticized in order to improve and develop society. For example; Plato's Republic is considered a despotism by many. Augustine's City Of God doesn't allow for much pleasure of the senses. Most reading Thomas Moore's Utopia find it dreadfully dull. Karl Marx's vision of communism is not sufficiently elaborated.

Both the proposition and the criticism are important.

I have an ideal society!

Great! Give it a name. Post a couple of basic propositions. Keep them short and simple. Let those be analyzed and criticised. Be prepared to back them up with factual evidence, moral values and even aesthetic style. Counter the arguments or modify your propositions, or don't. Add a couple more proposals. Try to remain logically consistent with what you've already posted. Be consise. Refer to relevant, actually existing situations. Recognize that different people have different interpretations and experiences. Do not become abusive.

That proposition is false/wrong/ugly!

This is encouraged. If someone makes a proposal that you think is incorrect (on a matter of fact), that is wrong (on a matter of morals) or is simply ugly (on a matter of aesthetics), state as much and provide your reasons for saying so. Point out when the author is being inconsistent with previous statements. Point out realworld examples when the proposal has been tried and has not worked. Recognize that different people have different interpretations and experiences. Do not become abusive.

Can I really save the world?

Knock knock, Neo. ;-)

Moderation and Abuse.

This is a difficult one, because I really don't want to spend too much time dealing with disputes, rather than debates. At the same time I want this to be an environment where people can make their proposals and discuss them in a civil way.

The basic rule is "discourse ethics". The basic reason on why a person enters a debate is to test the validity of an existing or proposed norm. Threatening people, abusing people, engaging in mere sloganeering or posting weighty volumes of text from other sources does not "test the validity of an existing or proposed norm".

People who breach this proposition will be at first warned, and if they continue suspended.

Version 0.1, 13th November, 2004. Lev Lafayette

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