Is Utopia a Hopeful Dream or Hopeless Fantasy

–Written By Snehal Asthana
BA(LLB)(H), Second Year

“I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing.” These were the words said by Plato in his book Republic, where it can be inferred that the world is full of imperfections and the most imperfect element of the world is the man himself. A man is the one who has created this society, norms and other processes in order to achieve utopia. Now, what is this term utopia?  The word was coined by Thomas More, which is again derived from Greek word eototia meaning a good place. Interestingly, there is another word from which the word gets its roots, uototia, signifying no place. So, the question arises that can a “good place” be achieved or is the path which we have taken will lead us to “no place”. The various philosophers and thinkers belonging to sundry time periods have tried to answer the question but no solution can be accepted totally. Utopia basically means a perfect place where everyone is enjoying a perfect place, and there is no place for imperfections or fallacies. Every thinker from 18th and 19th century had the dream to achieve this state and in order to do that, they started to form new ideologies and advocated for implementation of the same. There are various factions in utopia, such as religious utopia where one talks about the governance of society by virtue of religion, then comes economic utopia where one talks about egalitarian distribution of resources and working for the common good of the society, which eventually led to the emergence of utopian socialism, and last but not the least, political utopia where one talks about having equal right and right to exercise our powers in the formation of various laws as being the essential part of the society. As there is only one source of energy which binds everything on earth, i.e., sun but the same energy is used by different organisms for different purposes and to achieve different goals, in the same manner, different philosophers and thinkers have used the term in order to cater to their beliefs. Marxism advocates the protection of rights of working class against the owner class, socialism talks about equal distribution of resources for the overall growth of the society, and secularism talks about the separation of religious institutions which totally counters the ideals of the religious utopia and liberalism focuses on the individual rights of the people, but there is one term which tries to encompass all these aspects altogether, democracy. Nowadays, democracy has become a status symbol for most of the countries around the world as even if they do not follow it faithfully, they claim to be a country with the goals of achieving democracy. Now, democracy again comes from a Greek word, demokratia, which means rule of the people. Does democracy guarantees the correct road for reaching utopian state? Though, it came into existence to counter the aristocracy which was prevalent in the ancient Greek states and usually dealt with the political rights of the individual, but with the advancements in technology and rising of demands, it also spread its roots in economic and social field by assuring sustainable development and uplifting those who are socially backward and denied from availing to the services and benefits provided by the state. But is this sufficient to achieve utopia? Thomas More in his book Utopia states that there should be equal opportunities for men and women to get education and all kinds of facilities made by the state. Democracy is a term which has somehow tried to achieve the ideals of utopia, but does ensuring political, economic and social equality is enough for a utopian state. Utopia means a place where everything is perfect and there is harmony and peace that persists in a state, but with the life threatening disease such as global warming, frequent terrorist attacks on various places, pollution, depletion of fresh water and other resources, etc., which are prevalent nowadays, are we heading towards the way out of the dark cave towards the bright and sunny utopian state which is full of opportunities and promises growth or we are leading towards another cave which is darker than the first one or probably do not have a way through which we can come out. Many thinkers and writers such as Oscar Wilde, states that a map of the world that does not include utopia is not even worth glancing it (but if we take as a statement then we will have erase the current map as none of the country is able to achieve that), none of them proposed or identified the ways to reach that level because even if we consider one issue, the other two- three issues will lag behind. It is just like as we stare at the stars in the sky and admire them and show desire to have a perfect life like fairytales, we all know in our subconscious mind that we cannot have that. (even fairytales have villains and unstable life, isn’t it?) 

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