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What is your ideal society? Do you have a view?

I have a confession to make. I have posted some of the following words in a previous article. Probably more than once. But I do so this time within an atmosphere of change. We have been through a period I have named “The Luddite Period” and survived with the hope that a more empathetic, transparent and credible form of government might replace the ones of Howard, Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison. One that somehow encapsulates these words of Robert Kennedy.

“… the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages… It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom or our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

Even if you don’t give it much thought, somewhere in that part of your brain that provides this subject with consideration is a view of what you think a modern society should be.

My view of what a society is and how it should function is encapsulated in those short but exquisite words of Robert Kennedy. He counselled that it must be more than just an economy.

My ideal society is an assemblage of people who desire to express themselves in every human endeavour as a collective: A collective who has aspirations of conducting their humanity, labour, learning, aspirations, spirituality, art, poetry, play and exploration with the most extraordinary possible diversity and at the very centre of my society would be an empathy instilled in their learning – the common good would be at the centre of their politics regardless of ideology.

I mean, equality of opportunity for all would be enshrined in my constitution for the common good.

We judge art not by how it arrived on the canvas but by how it speaks once there.

My kind of society is one where one’s sexual preference or, indeed, one’s gender wouldn’t be the determinant by which one’s character is judged. One’s skin colour would say nothing about anyone except perhaps their geographical origins.

My society would advance the individual’s right to pursue whatever they desire, including the pursuit of economic success, which would only be regulated by the principles of the common good and in consideration of everyone’s entitlement to an equitable share of society’s wealth.

People would be guaranteed freedom of expression, including the right to disagree but be reminded that debate is not necessarily about winning. It is an exchange of many thoughts, Facts, ideas and principles. All have a place. But when broken down, it is simply the art of persuasion.

In my enlightened society, the suggestion that we must legislate one’s right to hate another person would be considered intellectually barren. Free speech would have its limitations based on what serves the common good.

Education or rather the lack of it is, in the main, responsible for racism and should be taught as a subject in our schools.

Access to health and welfare would be assured and treatment guaranteed. Most importantly, the principle that we should treat others in the same manner, we expect them to treat us would be memorable in every citizen’s mind.

My society would have a healthy regard for science over myth and mysticism but simultaneously recognise that each individual has a right to express their individuality or spirituality. Everyone has a right to seek spirituality and practice it so long as it doesn’t harm others. Or so long as it doesn’t corrupt the aspirations of “commongoodism”.

Commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry, rather than faith and mysticism, is the best way of providing solutions to human problems.

Free speech’s original intent was to give the oppressed a voice and keep governments honest. If the commercial press instituted a code of conduct similar to the ABC and obeyed it, the government would grant it freedom. In the United States, the 1st Amendment is now used as a justification to incite racism, validate hatred, and promote religious and political bigotry.

In a democracy, the government gives the people’s right to free speech. Therefore, it should be incumbent on everyone to display decorum, moderation, truth, fact, balance, reason, tolerance, civility and respect for the other point of view. Sadly, this seems to have been forgotten here and in the United States.

Will we ever grow intellectually to the point where we can discern and understand the potential for the good within us?

My society would be judged by its welcoming and treatment of its most vulnerable citizens, including the aged, the homeless, the poor, and those seeking asylum.

Accessibility to the law, regardless of stature or wealth, would be available to everyone.

Accepting change would be part of the very fabric of our existence. It would be a progressive society. One that wouldn’t resist change on the foolish assumption that we can make permanent that which makes us feel secure.

My ideal society would acknowledge that a democratic group mentality advances society better than dictatorial individuality. In democratic institutions, our herding instincts are realised by electing quality leaders to form the government.

A “fitness to serve” test would need to be passed by all parliamentarians. The function of Parliament would ensure that experts in various areas assist in our Parliament’s deliberations.

Individual or collective ambition would be encouraged within a social structure built and controlled by an accord with the government.

If we live in a democracy, then it must be the elected officials that decide and regulates society’s advancement and who provide the environment in which to do so. Private enterprises cannot advance without the assistance of facilities provided by the government.

Therefore, every parliamentarian must abide by the principles of a robust constitution independently conceived by the people and a bill of rights under a newly formed republic.

People who disagree with the “common good” society say that it would have to be very ordered and would unlikely work in the United States, for example, where governance structures differ from state to state.

However, in metropolitan areas, governance already consists of overlapping authority jurisdictions and duplication of function.

Brian Kogelman, writing for the Philosophy page “Thinking Small about the Ideal Society” says:

“Disagreement over how our schools should be run, whether we ought to be able to own guns, or whether we ought to be able to smoke marijuana need not result in winners and losers in the political process. In a polycentric governance structure, different political units can cater to diverse individual preferences. Instead of living in constant strife with one another, polycentricity allows us to live better together by, essentially, allowing us to live more apart.”

I fervently hope that the election of Anthony Albanese will change how we are governed and, by extension, our way of life.

In the recipe of an ideal society, there are many ingredients. None more so than the values we pass on.

My thought for the day

Ask yourself: Does the democracy we have make you feel good about your country?

PS Your thoughts on an ideal society, please.


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  1. GL

    No matter what type of a sensible ideal society can be created there will always be someone, or group of someones, who will come along and tear it all down because it offends them or that their belief systems are superior and they should…cough, cough, LNP…be ruling.

  2. New England Cocky

    More JL commonsense in a world where sense is not common. The trend of ”I’m all right Jack, bugger you” leaved a great deal to be desired. Look at the following examples among many: the Howard inspired over-funding of private schools by governments to the detriment of state schools; the demise of QANTAS as a reputable airline in favour of shareholders profits leading to huge staff redundancies and mountains of ”lost luggage”; the de-funding and closure of government departments planning for disasters like bushfires (Gladbags NSW) and floods by (Toxic RAbbott).

    Overseas, the Flint (USA) town water pollution ”problem” that the water company refuses to rectify because THAT would reduce the profits for shareholders; the Texas electricity supply crisis in a recent winter that saw long duration blackouts resulting in the deaths of many vulnerable persons … because the privately owned electricity power corporation declined to build additional power network capacity to handle the about 80,000 increase in population, due to loss of profit for shareholders.

    Neo-liberal economics has been a failure since it was scribbled on a napkin over lunch and passed on to Ronald Regan for US economic policy in the early 80s. However, it may be difficult to reverse these self-serving trends given the political power of the beneficiaries

  3. Harry Lime

    Perhaps we could learn a thing or two from the Scandinavian countries.Of course ,this would mean a summary execution of our current tax system,and the immediate implementation of a socially just model.Any takers?..Anyone? The way things are shaping up,I think the best we can hope for is a larger representation of Greens and Independents in subsequent elections that can force the hand of any prospective minority government.We can dismiss any thought of a minority LNP government…if they were not already fucked,the bald headed vulture is making a certainty of it.

  4. Canguro

    Given that the extraction and use of global resources is occurring at an unsustainable rate; viz., the planet is incapable of regenerating or supplying resources currently of commercial interest to humankind at current and arguably predictable future levels of demand, the concept of an ‘ideal’ society seems somewhat academic and incapable of being actualised. Untrammeled resource usage that outstrips the planet’s regenerative capacity along with one-off extractives – minerals and rare earths, sand, carbon fossil resources etc. – tend to indicate that future civilizations will in all likelihood be something less than the present modern civilization that much of the planet’s inhabitants take for granted.

    In the spirit of the enquiry, however, I offer the following comments.

    Much has been speculated about the nature of prehistoric pre-agricultural societies, often referred to as hunter & gatherer societies; nomadic clans of relatively small numbers of humans banded together in common aim; survival and regeneration. Cooperation amongst members was the default expectation and behaviour. Anthropological curiosity has suggested that both polyandry and polygyny, if not at the basic level expressing formal relationship but more functionally a willingness of women to share themselves amongst the men of the tribe and the men to reciprocate by sharing themselves amongst the women, guaranteed a degree of social cohesiveness and mutuality of care and responsibility in the raising of the offspring. Both sexes participated in the question of maintaining food supplies – hence the signification of the terms hunter & gatherer. Ample time was available after these tasks for socialisation, art & craft production, and other elements of this relatively simple lifestyle. The ecological footprint was minimal. It can be successfully argued that this is a form of an ideal society.

    In much later times, from around the 7th to the 10th centuries C.E., the Tang dynasty (or Tang Empire) is today regarded as the high point of Chinese civilization, a golden age of cosmopolitan culture; an era in Chinese history when essentially all people were cared for, without discrimination; no food shortages, housing and gainful employment for all, free of internecine conflict, and generally conducted with good relationships between neighbouring states. Maybe that’s an example of an ideal society?

    As to the future? I think it’s impossible to speculate with any degree of accuracy. I’ve mentioned within these pages a number of times that the planet faces an unprecedented challenge to its geophysical stability due to global warming; our loading of the atmosphere with billions of tonnes of heat-trapping gases and our evident inability to rein this process in is leading us inexorably towards environmental and ecological collapse. I defy anyone to cogently argue otherwise. This position is supported by tens of thousands of physical & earth scientists from across the planet and codified by numerous reports under the aegis of the IPCC. Follow the science is a far wiser approach than ‘trust my feelings’ or ‘it’s all a conspiracy’.

    Musing on the nature of an ideal society in the face of a looming Anthropocenic crisis seems a futile exercise, but given our attraction to distractions; I’ll go with an anarcho-socialist model, anti-capitalist, preferencing civil liberties and individual freedom, along with the mandated global abolition of all types of armed forces, the cessation of any form of weapons manufacturing apart from those essential for food gathering (assuming there are still huntable species), the abolition of fiat currencies and mercantile usury, along with the introduction and establishment of a fairer means of exchange for goods and services, the shutting down of major carbon-based technologies including air and sea travel that rely on fossil fuels as energy sources, the mandating of primacy of food security on a country by country basis, along with guaranteed housing for all, and an evolution towards a type of society that allots primacy towards cooperative relationships and positive being. It’s a dream, I admit, and it’ll never be the case.

  5. Michael Taylor

    What would be ideal is for Australia to be a shire of Scotland.

    Free healthcare, no burning of fossil fuels.

    If not a shire, perhaps we could learn off them.

  6. Douglas Pritchard

    If we are to have the slimmest chance of keeping this planet from a self destruct mode, then it would seem necessary to decree that all war toys must be put to an emissions test and will be banned if they impact our environement….sea, land or sky.
    The penalty for non compliance would be instant death to the perpetrator.
    Since we live in a functioning democracy then next time we get the chance at the ballot box, it has to be for candidates advocating EV tanks and battleships and aircraft.
    I`m sure it would get the support of my grandkids who face pretty grim prospects if we keep on doing what we are doing right now.

  7. RoadKillCafe

    Yes, as Canguro says, so diplomatically, John Lord is pissing into the wind. Ideal society, for fuck sake, we live on a planet of finite resources, global warming/ climate change/ our fucking braindead insanity increases at an alarming rate, many areas now have their own feedback loop happening, Arctic experiencing the effects of our negligence four times faster than the rest of the planet, on and on it goes, so much of our ecosystems are irretrievably damaged, but, hey, delude yourselves in what you think are important discussions, saves thinking of the reality. Apologies for the insult, but this article and motive behind it are bullshit.

  8. Michael Taylor


    Any ET looking at this little dot couldn’t begin to imagine all the crap happening there.

    This is one truly screwed up little dot.

    PS: You may need to expand the photo to see the little messed-up dot.

  9. Josephus

    Such questions regarding the ideal society have been asked by intelligent humans over the centuries, from Plato to Thomas More, to anarchists, socialists, utopians such as Saint-Simon, Proudhon, Fourier, Rosa Luxembourg, up to today. Thanks to medical advances enabling till now an ever expanding human population despite frequent wars and plagues, plus now dwindling clean water and arable land cannot but engender ever more frequent and widespread catastrophes that have historically wiped out entire towns, even civilisations. To this add in our era the extinction of species other than (for now) our own. The planet will survive as evolution produces novel creatures adapted to changed conditions. It is surely too late for idealists to dream of fanciful revolutionary polities as police and armies everywhere accrue brutal powers to crush dissent. Mass movements cannot withstand modern weapons. Meanwhile Hobbes’ Leviathan is worth rereading, rather than Utopians.

  10. colin

    Thank John a great read.
    I would love to understand why this is not the goal of all Australian or for that matter all.


  11. Graham

    Good idea Douglas, go green the war machine. I look forward to watching a 62 tonne M1 Abrams tank being put through its paces powered by a 2.5 tonne EV battery. They probably hope in their stupid war theatres to have charging points every x km. The most economic speed for the weapon according to the chart below is about 10-15km. First there was slow dining, why not slow warring?

    Analysis: Towing 10,000 Pounds With An Electric Truck Requires A Battery Pack As Heavy As A Ford F-150 Raptor

  12. Michael Taylor

    Nowhere to post this, but it’s too funny not to show it to you.

    It’s a comment in spam, and typical of what goes straight into our spam folder.

    Attractive portion of content. I simply stumbled upon your site and in accession capital to claim that I get in fact enjoyed account your blog posts. Anyway I will be subscribing on your augment or even I success you get right of entry to persistently rapidly.

  13. Canguro

    Michael, re. your late-night rendezvous with the majestic expanse of the universe, what’s to say, other than ‘wow!’

    I have a bit of an obsession with the never-ending endeavour to try to keep in mind the relative scale of things in the physical universe from the macrocosmic all the way down to the microcosmic; Hubble and now James Webb giving us a sense of just how HUGE a world we live in, the collected efforts of physicists over the last one or two hundred years giving us a very good picture of the nature of matter & time, the same for chemists and biologists and others within the life sciences who’ve informed us as to our local reality, and we a biological vehicle populated by millions (zillions?) of bacteria of dozens (hundreds, thousands?) of different species, all essential to our health and well-being.

    Yes, a pale blue dot, as Sagan described it. A small planet, orbiting an insignificant star itself a member of an insignificant galaxy, one amongst trillions. And we, the so-called (by ourselves, hah!) alpha species, tearing ourselves to bits over trivial matters of difference; skin colour, customs and beliefs and language or place of origin, the extent or degree of possession of things material, the relative notions of wealth, wisdom or knowledge or education or law-abidingness or otherwise and so on, and in the same breath, ruthlessly and mindlessly stripping the biological and physical resources from the face of this pale blue dot to the extent that it may one day resemble its near planetary neighbours.

    You couldn’t have made this up, as a fantastical narrative, unless you’d seen it for yourself. Crazy!

  14. Terence Mills

    I wonder if Sky-after-Dark are paying attention?

    Alex Jones, a Right wing radio show host in the US who consistently denied that the Sandy Hook massacre of so many children ever took place, has finally had his come-uppance and been sued by distressed parents. He will have to pay damages of around $US50million for telling those lies and sponsoring conspiracy theories.

    There are a few spruikers on Sky-after-Dark who should be reeled in for telling half truths and spreading fake news and conspiracies.

    In an ideal society we shouldn’t have to sue these people to bring decency back to our media.

  15. GL


    The current lunacy that surrounds us is succinctly summed up by the last two lines.

  16. Wam

    An ideal Australia is the one country with one government, one education system, one legal system, one health system and a local elected government.

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