A whole new world: four writers and activists share their visions of utopia
We often forget to talk about the world we’re working towards. Rather than making you a fantasist, dreaming about the world you’d rather live in is ambitious, hopeful, and gives you something to keep fighting for.
27 May 2020
A world without borders
Ash Sarkar, 27, journalist and literal communist
There are no borders in nature. Tectonic plates don’t make them. Governments, laws, hardware and paperwork are what dictates whether a person has transgressed and become a “foreign body”. As well as requiring bureaucratic and often physical infrastructure to sustain them, borders need storytelling to make what is one of the most arbitrary features of human existence seem natural. Racism and nationalism are fables that create a system of dominance that fuels a collective obsessions about decline.
If what we want is a future where racism and nationalism no longer determine who gets to live a happy and fulfilling life, and who’s consigned to die trying, the left needs to think of a migration strategy which works at both the level of storytelling and of social policy. All too often, the refrain of “No Borders!” is mobilised as a reason not to engage with electoral and legislative vehicles for achieving such change. As though, like the utterance of kings, speaking it is enough to make it thus.
In my ideal world, we’ll have dismantled the core architecture of the UK border regime, and transformed the nature of citizenship itself. Finally, we’ll tell the story of border enforcement as a barrier to survival and happiness, rather than a line of defence against social decline.
A world where inequality and climate change has been tackled
Scarlett Westbrook, 15, teen activist
In 2016, when I was 12, the unrest I was feeling got the better of me. So, I campaigned for Labour in the 2017 general election, talking to people about why they should vote. I wasn’t seeing enough change from my activism and wanted a qualification to validate my opinions so people would listen to me, so I decided to do an A level in Government and Politics at 13, becoming the youngest in the world. I’m used to lying awake at night wondering what will become of the issues I feel so passionately about. Recently, I’ve pulled all-nighters finalising details of our school strikes and have woken up at 5am to send off an article before school. It’s exhausting, but I do love it and, right now, it’s the only way I can make a change.
As a young person, I’m often asked about the future. And here’s the harsh reality: we won’t have one without a Green New Deal (GND). We need to see a radical shift where our world and economies would be centred around the environment and tackling inequality. Having a GND would pluck our country out of the Orwellian nightmare we’re into a position where we have more secure jobs and warm homes in winter, all while moving away from fossil fuels. We only have until 2030 to reach net-zero carbon before the effects of climate change will become irreversible. We can’t lose touch with the thing that unites us all: our Earth.
A world with free public services
Chanté Joseph, 23, digital media officer, writer and concerned citizen
Like the great philosopher Nicki Minaj once said, “to live doesn’t mean you’re alive”. If people are struggling to exist because they’re broke, they aren’t actively participating in life. The UK is not only underperforming economically; it is floundering socially. If we are to increase cohesion, the sense that we are “all in it together”, we must act where we can have the greatest impact and that is on the cost of basic living.
Universal Basic Services (UBS) are a collection of free public services that enable every citizen to live a fuller life by ensuring access to safety and opportunity. It won’t merely stop at education and healthcare but will cover seven core provisions of our social infrastructure: food, shelter, healthcare, information, education, legal servicesl and transport. We’d all have a free travel card, not just the over 60s, there’d be internet access in every home, rural and urban, and a “Meals On Wheels” service would alleviate food insecurity.
Ensuring that access to basic services is free means that any money earned is retained and makes work actually meaningful. No longer will we have to slave away just to barely survive, but we could afford to spend our income on the things that make us happy.
Fully Automated Luxury Communism
Wedaeli Chibelushi, 24, journalist and former co-host of The Diss(ability) Track podcast
Riddle me this. An Eton-educated guy inherits his father’s law firm. He hustles hard, but is able to employ assistants and consultants to ease his workload. A single mother on a council estate juggles three jobs to get by. Who works the hardest?
Society preaches that you will always enjoy the fruits of hard labour. Not true. Our single mother barters her fruits for food, electricity, wi-fi and other contemporary essentials.
Fully Automated Luxury Communism proposes a fairer future by making technology work for us rather than becoming slaves to machines. Imagine a society where our economic, environmental and social woes are solved by automated machines. They have replaced humans as the main employees, so there’s no paid work. Everyone has benefitted from their labour and the spare time the extra hand provides. Instead of working to survive, everyone has ample time to develop skills – maybe take a foreign language class, or learn and create out of passion rather than for monetary gain as you needn’t worry about how to provide for yourself. Fossil fuels are obsolete, thanks to developments in renewable energy. Fully Automated Luxury Communism even envisages a better world for animals: synthetic biology means technology grows our meat in labs, making food poverty something we learn about in history classes.
Fully Automated Luxury Communism is outrageous, over-ambitious and idealistic. However, it’s also something virtuous and revolutionary for us to strive towards. Because… why not? With so many people in relative and absolute poverty, there’s no denying that capitalism has thoroughly failed. It’s time for Fully Automated Luxury Communism to take over. Free fruit for all!
Taken from gal-dem’s print issue UN/REST, on sale now