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With Mishana Hosseinioun

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Resurrecting Utopia

By Mishana Hosseinioun

August 11, 2005

Free health care and education, a democratically elected King, and no private property -- such is a state of Utopia as fashioned by Sir Thomas More, in early 16th century London. Not even Marx' Manifesto figures into this forgotten Brit vision of a classless society. Still, when five centuries later, we condescendingly refer to something as utopian, lurking somewhere beneath our passive aggressive remark is a concurrent resentment for the status quo separating us from our desired, ideal state of collective being -- the kind of resentment that all, including our inner real estate developer, may contend with at one psychological level or another.

It is not to say that achieving Utopia is fundamentally advisable or conversely, that it 'should not be tried at home;' rather, the very notion of the ideal, never before having been achieved in our documented, non-mythical history, must be redefined altogether. As a species, our sheer terror of falling short of ethereal perfection has led us to push the notion of perfect harmony so far off the scale of realizable aspirations, that we are content settling with mediocrity or flat-out inequity so as not to individually trail off the map of socially esteemed standards.

Faced with no other outlet, this primordial fear finds further release in an inflated sense of cool and superiority vis-à-vis a bogey-idealism, reserved for consumption by rogue agents and enemies of the state only. What is more, confirming everyone's worst fears are those who dare think in the removed, idealistic realm and who are subsequently thrown off the deep end -- Sir Thomas More's head, July 6, 1535, being one case in point.

While some in smaller circles or in given decades such as the sixties, may claim a Utopia for themselves, it is typically never much more than a illusion of the latter -- a mere bubble to be busted by the next cop or dotcom pinhead. Even now, cruising in our respective economy, business, and first class airplane seats, it becomes difficult to imagine a social plane in which all could have the same legroom and delicious steak dinner, and never at the penalty of the other. Instead, there will invariably be the red eyes and their twinkling counterparts, the bloated bellies, and satiated brethren, and never a communal ramp leading to the aircraft to so much as risk an accidental run in between the divided camps.

While each group of world passengers is destined for a distinctly separate fate, some will argue that Utopia is only a chance upgrade away, or in a decision as conclusive as blowing off last month's paycheck on an extra yard of reclining space -- on the second floor of the 747. In other words, buddy, Utopia departs at 0600 and often lands quicker than you can say more Bailey's please; however, technically, not even skeptics will dare call you idealistic for the next 12 hours and 14 minutes if they are also suspended at 34,000 feet, doing 560 mph in no man's land.

Mishana Hosseinioun is the Program Director of International Convention on Human Rights (ICHR), a non-profit dedicated to drafting a legally enforceable international human rights document. She is a longstanding intern in Mayor Gavin Newsom's office in San Francisco and a recent graduate of Rhetoric and Near Eastern Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Email Mishana at Mishana@ichr.org


Editor's Note: Views expressed by columnists published on FogCityJournal.com are not necessarily the views or beliefs of Fog City Journal. Fog City Journal supports free speech in all its varied forms and provides a forum for a complete spectrum of viewpoints.



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