My favourite philosopher, Bertrand Russel once said that “If there were in the world today any large number of people who desired their own happiness more than they desired the unhappiness of others, we could have paradise in a few years”. Now even though I agree entirely on pretty much everything I have read that he has said, this is his only quote so far that I emphatically and categorically disagree with. Unless he was basing what he said on the hypothesis that this large number of people comprised only fair and just people then I dare say he was dead wrong.
The world as it is today does in fact consists of a large number of people who desire their own happiness more than they desire the unhappiness of others. But that doesn’t stop them from taking actions that indirectly affect negatively the lives of other people and prolong their unhappiness. Russels’ assumption discourages the notions of society and civic responsibility by promoting selfishness.
But I have a suggestion I believe is better than Russels’. Why instead of looking after our own interests, we, as a society, start looking after the society’s interest. Stop caring only about ourselves and start caring about everyone else except ourselves. Instead of considering the positive and negative consequences something we are planning on doing or saying will have on ourselves, consider the positive and negative consequences it’s going to have to everyone around us.
In essence create societal “cells” that all together would make up the “body” of the human species, and those cells would try to stay alive like the cells on our bodies do by having its components working together and not antagonizing each other! So from having just one person caring about you, namely yourself, you can have anything from two people, a small group, a city or a whole country. That, I think, would really be an ideal society, a society of love, respect, solidarity and above all, this non fascist model of society would be able to perpetuate itself without the need of external means of propaganda as described in Platos’ “The Republic” for “Kalipolis”, where Socrates suggests a number of “safety” measures to keep his model city from imploding, or all the intricate propaganda network in George Orwells’ book, 1984.
Humans, just like all other animals in the face of this earth, have their violent side, but are primarily animals that enjoy social affection. This is where I base that model of society as it promotes social affection on its own. Russel once said “Religions, which condemn the pleasures of sense, drive men to seek the pleasures of power”. Such a society would not allow the ego to dominate in a person but would establish an equilibrium between the “me” and “us”. How? Simple! The only way why a person would seek to satisfy his ego is because of a need for that, but if the rest of the society would keep those needs satisfied there would be no reason for the ego to dominate.
Adam Smith wrote in his book “The Theory of Moral Sentiments”, “To feel much for others and little for ourselves; to restrain our selfishness and exercise our benevolent affections, constitute the perfection of human nature”. What came as a surprise to me with that is that I have had the same exact idea in my mind years before I even heard of Adam Smith, in fact I only became aware of this a few days before I started writing this article! What is even more surprising is that this ideal didn’t catch up these last 200 something years.
You might say that it’s an idea that will never catch up due to the human nature of a hunter. American Indians used to be hunters too, but everything they did was for the benefit of their small community, because they knew that they couldn’t make it alone out there. Now most of the things we do is at the expense of others. We climb the ladder of success stepping on other peoples’ backs. But with that model of society the top will not have to be lonely anymore. Sure ego is what drives that society, what drives evolution, not of the human species but of technology and of markets. But the model I am suggesting shouldn’t have to go against that. Where in the first place the ego forces us to antagonise others for personal gain this “antagonism” will become a friendly competition to get there first for the advancement of the human race. I’ve worked in retail for a few years in a fairly competitive environment with colleagues, we did have individual targets and we were often having friendly competitions in reaching those targets, but that didn’t stop us from helping each other, even if that meant that a colleague would reach his target sooner than me as a result of a bad stroke of luck that left my target suffering, as long as everything was still fair of course. I didn’t mind about it one bit. He was the best man, he won the competition. Next month it could have been me and I know he would feel the same way. And it was all for the same higher purpose. The success of the company we were all working for.
Albert Einstein is credited with defining insanity as the expectation of different results while doing the same thing over and over again, and Adam Smith once said that “No society can surely be flourishing and happy of which by far the greater part of the numbers are poor and miserable.”. My question is, “If following the same model of society for thousands of years have gotten us today to a point where there is so much suffering and violence going on everyday, at least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day (http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats#src1) and most of the rest of the 20% of the human population, as seen by the recent civil uproars, is severely unhappy with he way things are going and the only happy people in this world are CEOs of huge multinational corporations and investments bankers who do not have any liability for risking and loosing your money speculating for their own gain, why don’t we change the model of this rotten society?