Justin Reinhardt

Welcome to Elysian: The Community for All

What is a Utopia?

A utopia, to us here at Elysian, is a place or in our case a facility which allows for all the necessities in life to be given as a right, so that the joys in life can be pursued.

Elysian in Summary

Upon acceptance, our facility offers the capability of free housing, medical care, food, and water. All that is required from our community is the relinquishing of capitalism and the ideologies of old, and replacing them with the ideologies which are truly inherent within people. That people are meant to be equal, happy, and free. The foundation of utopias. Should that adherence be acceptable, then all members are free to pursue whatever they desire. Since the adoption of our ideology will allow them to realize what they truly desire and find happiness within, which is what truly matters.

Why Elysian Began?

Our facility, or “family” as many of us like to call it, started as all things do, an idea. This concept was born out of the minds of working class people, and the under-privileged for millenia. As they toiled away for those around them, the idea of what a society based entirely on equality, and the absence of wants could look like emerged in their minds, an oasis which they longed for. Throughout the years these oases would take form through literature, and even song, showing up in works like “The Land of Cockaigne,” where the ideas of endless paradise existed and no one who resides there should suffer from the fear of not having what they should want, and this utopia persisted in the imaginations of those who desired it, however, never seemed to truly be a reality.

“The Land of Cockaigne” by Pieter Bruegel

Why, though, if the majority of the population who toiled for the few had longed for such a place could it never become a reality? This boils down to a few things. Amongst these, and perhaps one of the most vital, are the inherent problems which accompany capitalism. The economic, and political system, in which trade and industry are privatized and the only motivation is the accumulation of material wealth. It becomes clear even just in the very fabric of its nature how incompatible capitalism is with the motives of equality and freedoms. Even as Marx noted, degrading familial relations and the relations of all to a mere “money relation” (Marx & Engels 1848). As the capitalistic systems prevailed, particularly through the industrial revolution, a new era of capitalism emerged. That being one of extreme class divisions, ones which were drawn based off of nothing more insubstantial than the accumulated wealth of the respective person within it. Where, the extremely poor lived under rule of those above them, due to the emphasis of power being on the capital which one has. Therefore, those with the resources, and who could grant jobs were those who controlled the populace. Furthermore, this working class, or the proletariat, needed to remain subservient to these class bounds because all things which were necessitous to survive and live, what they were to be told was a meaningful life, were bought with the money which they needed to break their backs to accumulate, all the while making the richest class, the bourgeoisie, all the wealthier. This perpetual struggle between needing whatever wealth one could accumulate to survive, and being forced to stay within the bounds of one’s class forced the proletariat into a dystopian existence. A daily struggle of fear, of not having the needs to live, or the means to be happy (Marx & Engels 1848). Furthermore, this dependence on exploitation as a means of survival, which in turn led to the degradation of human interaction and caring led to an even further track of medieval societal interactions. Where people need to steal, and even kill out of fear for not having what is needed to survive. Where, people can no longer interact with one another based solely out of the beautiful fact that we are all the same truly. This has been perpetuated endlessly since its inception. The very few, controlling the many by limiting their resources and requiring work to allow for the freedoms which all people should have. Endless wars, class struggles, the supposed finite resource of the imaginary concept of wealth, and further divisions proposed by the wealthy all for them to maintain power and keep the proletariat scrambling for the crumbs.

So how did this come to end? In short, innovation trumps all. Capitalism always will lend its strongest branch to whomever can perform a task the most efficiently. The result, an almost poetic one at that, automation of labor (Keynes 1930). Poetic in the sense that, such unfettered capitalism in the pursuit of the cheapest and most precise labor results in the lack of labor at all. The inability to keep the working class employed, which in turn undercuts the very wealth of those in control because with no workers, there is no market for the products or services to be purchased. The advent of AI and robotics changed everything. Now, a world where people need not work for goods to be produced could, in effect, become a reality. Because there could be a transferal of the toil from the backs of the manipulated poor, to machinery. Freeing them, truly making everyone equal, and allowing for all the necessities in life to be right for all.

How does Elysian Function?

As labor was initially slowly compartmentalized via need and slowly replaced by an automated workforce, eventually a fully autonomous retrofitting of the entire industrial complex of our facility was undergone. This full automation did come with a certain amount of skepticism though, and for good reason. Throughout history, the evolution of technology and the quality of life of humanity have been thoroughly correlated. With inventions like fire, the plow, the printing press, and nuclear power people were granted the ability to live more fulfilling and more free lives. These freedoms and changes were not without their downsides though. Technology, although it can allow for a greater sense of community, it also has the power to divide and while it empowers some can keep others in the dark. Technology doesn’t eliminate problems, it merely shifts them. The gatekeepers of knowledge or power just become different; they aren’t eliminated. For example with the printing press, although it allowed for the widespread ability for communication and thought it also led to the widespread capability for hate speech, bigotry, and terrorism (Marantz 2019 ). Therefore, the transfer to an automated workforce could have had the same possibilities. Where those “gatekeepers” of wealth and power remain, because they maintain control of industry in absolutes, because at least labor could have protested or refused work, whereas now, production and industry has no bounds but the capability of the machines which produce them. Furthermore, the outright capabilities for destruction of technology also requires contemplation. Nuclear power is a great example for this. With the advent of nuclear power two polar opposites were possible, the capability of destruction with magnitude never before seen and the capability for widespread energy manufacturing. This dichotomy is a fantastic demonstration of what technology can bring, and how techno-utopias can seem doomed. However, as John Krige pointed out, the main driver in how technology is used is via the code of ethics embedded within the societies which use it (Krige 2010). In other words, the technology has no inherent qualities, it is merely a tool of the people and societal practices which it is employed in. The same way the printing press was a tool for both good and bad, depending on who employed it, nuclear power is the same. This is why when considering the use of the automation within our own facility, and its capacity for good, the morality and ethical code behind those who employ it need not be considered. Without the capitalistic exploitation of the lower classes, and a shifted consciousness away from material accumulations, our facility has the capability to not digress into the dark sides of a techno-utopia. That “dark side” can be considered in failed utopias like Pullman’s village. The reason being precisely which is stated above. Pullman’s village, a village started by a railroad millionaire envisioned as a commune of his workers failed the two caveats which our facility employs. It became a dystopia for its inhabitants because they remained the proletariats of someone with power over them, and furthermore because this utopia did not have any consciousness shift away from capitalism and toward equality. Therefore, the lack of needs remained and the technology could be used to exploit them (Grossman 1998).

What is meant by the “shift in consciousness” statement which we continue to make. Well simply put, the reason why utopias seem so incapable of existing in the world as it exists today is because we as people are prisoners to the times within which we live. In other words, it can be hard to imagine a world in which capitalism is not the main driver of motivation and material accumulations are not solely responsible for progress. That is because that is the system and mentally with which we have grown accustomed to. In order to not only envision the possibilities of our facility, but any true utopia in general there must be a relinquishing of the status quo. That status quo is believing that happiness originates from material possessions. Rather, at our facility we encourage different pursuits to give people fulfillment. For example, so much unhappiness under the capitalistic structure comes from, as stated earlier, in the lack of having the needs of life like healthcare, food, water, and shelter. Even more unhappiness comes from further types of wants which are insatiable, those “needs” are the superficial needs, the material needs (Keynes 1930). Rather than the people within our facility living their lives with those being the pursuits of their lives they enjoy fulfillment in other things.These things being intellectualism, freedom, nature, communication, and love as the true causes of fulfillment and purpose. “When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues” (Keynes 1930). This passage from a statement considering what the economic possibilities of the future may hold, shows the end being exactly what we offer here.

You may be asking then, is this facility merely a place of sloth and indulgence? And how does technological progress continue? These are very formidable questions. The answer nonetheless is no. There is an immense amount of productivity here. However, productivity is not measured in dollar amounts, hence the shift in ideologies, rather in the equalities, freedoms, and happiness of those who live here. People are encouraged to pursue whatever it is that they desire. Whether someone wants to pursue intellectualism, and study at our university to develop new medicines, or robotics enhancements, or whether someone wants to pursue becoming a doctor they are able to do so. The reason there is productiveness here is because of the ability to pursue whatever you desire, allowing people to remain motivated and remain happy, and also because the outcomes of their productiveness are aligned with the ideologies which they have adopted. The proficiency in their fields will give people more equal and free lives. Furthermore, because the choices they make are no longer dictated by the fears of needing to make money to eat, have clothing, and shelter, we discovered that those who inherently want to be doctors, or engineers, or professors, do so because those are their respective passions are much more adept in their fields, rather than those who merely followed a life path because of the wealth which it would offer.

How to Join

If you feel like you fit in Elysian, then we would love to have you! Fill out the attached profile description and send to our P.O. box at 1 Eden Ave., Elysian.

References

Grossman, R. (1998, December 9). Pullman Village Was No Utopia For Its Working Inhabitants. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1998-12-09-9812090133-story.html

Keynes, J. M. (1963). Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren. In Essays in Persuasion (pp. 358–373). New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Co.

Krige, John.  “Techno-Utopian Dreams, Techno-Political Realities: The Education of Desire for the Peaceful Atom,” in Utopia/Dystopia:  Conditions of Historical Possibility, ed. Michael D. Gordin, Helen Tilley, and Gyan Prakash.  Princeton University Press, 2010.

Marantz, A. (2019, September 23). The Dark Side of Techno Utopianism. The New Yorker.

Marx, K., & Engles, F. (1848). The Communist Manifesto.

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