Thinking It Through: Transnational Democratic Socialist Utopia

I like to think things through, and while I’m certainly not perfect at it given my cognitive limitations, interesting insights do arise on occasion.  There are some people who genuinely believe that a transnational democratic socialist utopia is impossible.  They may even have pretty compelling reasons to think that this is the case.  On the other hand, people who have suggested that something is impossible have frequently been proven to be very wrong when circumstances changed in ways they could not predict, so relying on the argument that it’s impossible is not my preference.  I try to avoid building sandcastles where I need a stone fortress.

Interestingly, I don’t agree with the folks who claim that this sort of socialism is impossible. If I genuinely thought it was impossible, I wouldn’t bother concerning myself with it. I suspect that within the next couple hundred years we will have the technology to solve the practical problems with implementing transnational socialism through central planning such that we can match the ability of markets to address the optimization of supply and demand. Assuming, of course, that we don’t manage to cause a global economic collapse or devastating ecological catastrophe before we get there.

I simply abhor the consequences of achieving such a state of affairs. To gather enough data to solve the optimization problem via resource redistribution through central planning, we would need a state with the ability to be in our heads and in our homes all the time because our set of needs can change dramatically at almost any time. The price of achieving such a state of affairs is that we have no privacy and a state so powerful that any corrupt official has the potential to cause far more damage than I’m content with. I’m already worried about the state of executive power in the U.S. (I’m noticing negative trends across party lines), and our executive branch doesn’t have nearly the kind of power the executives of such a transnational socialist state would have even if their power were distributed in a group. Not being an authoritarian, this scenario seems unconscionable to me.

What might legitimize the existence of this state is democracy, as I’m sure any good democratic socialist knows. Everyone would need to consent to having no privacy and accepting the risk of horrific consequences if even one high-level official is corrupt. I can only see everyone doing this if they are so driven by compassion for their fellow persons that they are willing to take grave risks to provide them with the resources they need. And would that not be a wonderful world, a world in which compassion rules over all?

Setting aside the time or the practical means needed to reach this situation for humanity, let’s consider this world in which everyone is so compassionate that they would accept grave risk and grave harm in order to provide all the resources needed by their fellow persons. A world pervaded by people willing to do this is a world in which local and regional and global charitable organizations have already seen to the needs of their fellow persons without the need for a state to direct their efforts because they have been given sufficient donations and use them conscientiously, particularly when we already have the technology to provide robust communications and logistics services to those organizations relatively cheaply. This is a world in which voluntary charity would have already solved the problem of income inequality without the added cost of building an unwieldy and dangerous state apparatus to coordinate it. If we have such a world, then socialism is no longer needed. The very thing which would make a transnational socialist state just in a moral sense would also obviate the need for its existence.

In an ironic twist, such a system would only be worthwhile after we had surpassed the need for it.  It would be like getting everyone to wear good boots when we’ve already used genetic engineering to solve our difficulties with foot care.

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