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Discussion in 'News and Politics' started by Rowan Tree, Sep 27, 2018.

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  1. Rowan Tree

    Rowan Tree Community Member

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    William Morris (perhaps an INFJ himself) once wrote: 'The only safe way of reading a Utopia is to consider it the expression of the temperament of its author.’ Along those lines, what would an INFJ utopia look like? For me, it would deprioritise competition and status, acquisition for its own sake and emphasise social harmony, shared goods and the economic commons. But I'm more interested in your views than mine.

    How would an INFJ utopia handle the different aspects of a society (that is, economy, governance, education, justice, culture, defense, religion)? It would be great to read various answers.
     

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  2. Asa

    Asa Resident palindrome

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    Hi, Rowan! Great topic!

    I'm going to backpedal a bit and state that being an INFJ does not guarantee shared world views of politics, ethics, religion, social norms, etc. Hitler was an INFJ, after all, and his version of utopia would be my version of hell. Some of the world's most evil people, along with some of our most courageously, and selflessly, compassionate leaders, have been accused of being INFJs.


    Your version of Utopia is interesting, and I wouldn't disagree with most of it. For mine, I would add that religions would not dominate the world, and that veganism would be the norm. Both science and nature would be embraced. It would definitely be a more harmonious society where all were truly treated equally. I'm not going to go more in-depth than that right now.

    I'm interested in learning more about your favorite utopian literature.
     
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    Rowan Tree

    Rowan Tree Community Member

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    Good point, I think you're right, although I would expect commonalities. While some INFJs (perhaps poorly functioning) might be perversely attracted to fascism (the centrality of the state, a 'visionary' politics), I suspect few would want to live in a society that encourages alienated, atomised competition. Moreover, I expect that the rare few who would identify with such a politics, might justify it through appeals to systemic group benefits—à la Adam Smith's invisible hand.

    Your utopia recalls Ernest Callenbach's Ecotopia, Robert Llewellyn's News From Gardenia and William Morris's News from Nowhere. I can imagine that a lot of our utopian ideas would be compatible. Thank you for sharing and I would definitely like to read your ideas in more depth.

    I am a bit of an obsessive on the subject. Aides from the ones I mentioned above, I am fond of a great number of texts: Tao Yuanming poem ‘Peach Blossom Springs,’ Johannes Valentinus Andreae's Christianopolis, H. G. Wells's A Modern Utopia, Rokeya Sakhawat Hussain's short story ‘Sultana's Dream,’ Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland, Aleister Crowley's poem ‘The City of God: A Rhapsody,’ Aldous Huxley Island, Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed and Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy. However, my three favourites would be Thomas More's Utopia, which not only pioneered the genre, but is also a witty, clever, moving work of genius; Marge Piercy's Woman on the Edge of Time, the utopia in which I would most likely elect to reside, and Nisi Shawl's Everfair, which is a superb work of counterfactual literature.
     
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  4. Hostarius

    Hostarius Permanent Fixture

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    I find the exercise of utopianism really challenging to be honest, probably because I don't know what I want.

    It usually boils down to the fact that human peace and harmony is not coterminous with all the different aspects of human satisfaction and fulfillment.

    So what about the deep fulfillment of challenges overcome? Or injustice fought and defeated? Or the plotting, planning and execution of ideas for a better world?

    Without these things, any utopia would be a kind of sterile, juvenile space, where the majority of human development is forever closed off.

    So for me, I always tend towards designing 'realistic' societies with existential challenges and struggles. They are able to experience, therefore, heroism, pride, sacrifice, determination, the contrast of love and loneliness, &c. This, I think, is the kind of 'utopia' I would have to subscribe to.
     
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    Rowan Tree

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    Thank you for sharing. This is a good point and you might enjoy the process utopias, with an emphasis on ambiguity and imperfection. Ernest Callenbach's Ecotopia Emerging, Nisi Shawl's Everfair, H. G. Wells's A Modern Utopia, Ursula K. Le Guin's The Dispossessed and, perhaps more than the others, Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy. Perfection might even be the wrong way to consider utopias, but rather it can be more helpful to see them as imaginative, fictional spaces in which to optimistically reconceive the institutions of society and thereby critique contemporary society.

    In terms of my politics, I often see utopianism in terms of the beginning of a new type of history—perhaps I am naive. Once, as a species, we have resolved the pettier challenges of distributing essential goods (food, shelter) and creating a society that helps eliminate or, at least, effectively manage spiritual (or mental) illness, we can focus more fully on the existential challenges that are at the heart of life: the realisation of life as a work of art, the refinement of theories of virtue, the shared overcoming of inner conflicts, the invention of new rituals and ceremonies to honour existence, the challenges of friendships and relationships. I sometimes imagine the medieval scriptoriums as something like a model—communities united in pursuits that are at once intellectual, aesthetic and religious in the sense of expressing a sense of metaphysical awe.
     
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  6. Hostarius

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    Thanks for that, that's brilliant.

    I'm thinking about this a lot actually - I'm working on ideological formation during the religious movement in the twelfth century.

    I agree, here - utopian thinking typically precedes an ideological revolution or a serious development thereof, thought I'm not precisely sure about the causal ordering. My hypothesis is that the particular ideology of the religious movement (asceticism, simple life, &c.) was a philosophy of praxis based on the existence of wildernesses which harboured these heterodox groups.

    Martial Staub calls this initium and natality of ideas following a translocational caesura; a view which gives the sense of space causal primacy in the process of novel ideological formation.

    So the form and shape of utopian ideas is very much a posteriori, suited to a particular or new historical circumstance.
     
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    Rowan Tree

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    Your thesis sounds fascinating. Utopian studies have caused me to focus more on political thought in the early modern period up to the present, but I am fascinated by Scholasticism and the history of monasticism (both clearly tremendous influences on More's own thought). Although I am not in complete agreement with MacIntyre, I love this (quite utopian) quote from his After Virtue, 'We are waiting not for a Godot, but for another—doubtless very different—St. Benedict.' I can imagine that's a sentiment that could very easily connect our own period with the twelfth century.

    I can imagine More agreeing with relish. The reason he played around with the idea of a no-where, but the suggestive pun of a good place, is that for him there was great value in the idea of a place freed from the expectations of his period (which were clearly calamitous to his own concerns, be they spiritual or economic). He presents this very much as an imaginative encouragement to new conceptions of society, one that has been richly successful looking at the subsequent outpouring of distinct utopian fiction.
     
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  8. kinglear

    kinglear Community Member

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    i am not too sure about some of your picks here!

    so for example you mention aldous huxley who of course outlined a dystopian vision of a future world where people were centrally controlled by what he called 'world controllers' in his novel a 'brave new world'. In that novel he portrayed a society where people 'learned to love their slavery' because their impulses were tranquilised for example through a state issued drug 'soma'

    I guess that form of dictatorship is one that wears a velvet glove over its mailed fist

    Huxleys brother julian was a fabian socialist and was involved with the United Nations which is itself a de facto world government so huxley was well versed with what the champagne socialists who ran british society were talking about at that time

    George orwell on the other hand outlined a dystopian world where the state was all pervasive and ruled through fear and violence...a 'big brother state'

    HG Wells was also a fabian socialist and crowley pushed a credo of 'do what thou wilt' which lacks a sense of personal responsiblity

    I prefer the libertarian viewpoint of 'do whatever you want as long as it doesn't hurt others' because that contains the golden rule in it which was part of the christian ethos that crowley so despised

    Crowley was more of a social darwinist who believed that you should do what you want and if that meant crushing other people then fine because his credo was a 'law of the strong' as he put it or dog eat dog to put it another way
     
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  9. kinglear

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    regarding the issue of an INFJ utopia i think this idea of no competition etc is too simplistic

    there is a danger that what you end up with is a collectivised system where everyone is bound in by the constant constraints of that system

    INFJ's are INDIVIDUALISTIC and need to be able to express themselves and that kind of behaviour is stifled in a collectivised system

    when communism takes over a state the first thing they do is line all the free thinkers up against a wall and shoot them because they need people to CONFORM CONFORM CONFORM

    so for me the problem is how to reconcile a desire for maximum personal freedom that is also married to a realisation that a person owes responsibility to the people around them

    for example if you were camped up stream from another group you wouldn't pee in the river while they were washing their pots and pans
     
    #9 kinglear, Sep 27, 2018
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    Rowan Tree

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    Quite right, dystopia is not my favourite genre, but Brave New World is one of the better ones. It is a great examination of the operations of soft power and quite prophetic about the direction of state capitalism, with its wont to use distraction and cheap hedonism as a method of social control. I would recommend Huxley's Island, it is in many ways a mirror image of Brave New World; it possesses many of the same features (drug use, contraception, communities that go beyond the family unit), but is based on ideals of spiritual fulfillment, freedom and self-liberation instead of hierarchy, authority and hedonism.

    I am not much of a fan of Nineteen Eighty-four as a dystopia—it's better as a work of Romantic tragedy. There's some real pathos in Orwell's writing and for that reason he is one of the authors who first attracted me to fiction, but like the man (who ultimately engaged in McCarthyite behaviour), the political critique is a little empty (power craves power, authoritarians rewrite history, war is self-perpetuating etc. are all quite obvious observations). I would suggest Katharine Burdekin's Swastika Night is a better alternative; it makes many of the same points as Orwell, but did so earlier and with more insight. As for the Fabians, I don't belong to that reformist, gradualist tradition, but Wells et al. do have some good points. I think you might enjoy the nuance of A Modern Utopia.

    That brings us to Crowley. Now, my list is by no means an endorsement of every one of these utopian visions—it is the plurality of visions and the conversation between texts that I love about the genre. For example, William Morris's News from Nowhere is essentially a rebuttal to Edward Bellamy's earlier utopia Look Backward: 2000–1887. Crowley is great fun (I love learning about the traditions of esotericism, the occult, Hermeticism, alchemy and so on), but he was also an undoubtedly flawed and complex man and I doubt I would want to live in his utopia for all that I enjoy reading his strange, poetic musings.

    I am attracted to the traditions on the left that emphasise freedom and autonomy and I believe the Golden Rule is important. For me, being on the left is all about creating a society of reciprocity. I was born into Anglicanism, and although I am no longer a practicing Christian and find many of its institutions contradict my values, I am still influenced by some of its core moral tenants.

    Yes, @Asa made the point too and it is a good one. I shouldn't be too reductive about the potential political spectrum of INFJs. I think it is better to say that there are tendencies to prefer values that might nudge INFJs towards certain ideals, tendencies that will also be shaped by other, contextual factors. I am sure there are examples of INFJs with all kinds of political beliefs, which is why I am interested to see the distinct answers I get to my question. What different utopias might INFJs write, what are the general similarities?

    A timeless question, and perhaps there will always be tensions between our freedoms and social goods. The tragedy of this tension is evoked powerfully for me by Sophocles's play Antigone and the titular's inability to reconcile her duty to her family and her obligations to the state. How do we honour the autonomy of the person, but in a way that recognises persons as fundementally social creatures? It's a timeless question.
     
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  11. Wyote

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    INFJs tend to be natural rebels, so whatever society is conforming to, INFJs will tend toward the opposite.
    Their perceptions of what conformity means can differ greatly, however.
     
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    Rowan Tree

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    I have a lot I would like to learn about MBTI—still very much getting to grips with the function stacks. Your point makes sense personally; I have adopted different politics and ethics (within a certain scope), but I have never been attracted to the status quo or uncritical acceptance of pregiven values. I wonder if INFJ utopias might tend to value pluralism and change, then—a certain allowance for outside perspectives and development. I have had a suspicion that Thomas More, the genre's clearest progenitor, is ENTP and therefore an Ne-dom, which seems to be all about seeing future alternatives. ENTP seems to match his mental agility and ability to comprehend and play with different arguments.
     
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  13. Wyote

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    Not only value, but I believe that it's necessary for survival of a Utopia, especially if it's founded on INFJ ideals. If nothing else but to maintain sanity.
    Who better to get an INFJ out of a NiTi loop than a crazy ass ENTP? lulz. @Lady Jolanda
     
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  14. Milktoast Bandit

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    The Commune
     
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  16. kinglear

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    folk here might be interested in this town in mexico that has thrown out the state, police and criminal elements. Some libertarians involved in the 'anarchopulco' festival explore the town in the clip

    You Won’t Believe What We Saw In The Most Violent State In Mexico

     
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  17. kinglear

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    the commune movement in the 1960's collapsed amid squabbling

    they created a system to deal with antagonisms within the group whereby people would come together in group sessions and a person would air their greivances with another person and that person had to sit in silence and listen

    however these sessions simply turned into unconstructive hazings where people would just rip into other people
     
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  18. Wyote

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    Good thing infjs don't take no shit from nobody
     
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    That's unfortunate
     
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    Well, they do for a while... But eventually they stop
     
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