Utopianism is Nowhere to be Found

This week David Brooks bemoans the state of our country and the world in a New York Times oped piece titled
Where Are the Jobs? (i.e. Steve Jobs). Here are a few clips from it:
Let’s imagine that someone from the year 1970 miraculously traveled forward in time to today. You could show her one of the iPhones that Steve Jobs helped create, and she’d be thunderstruck. People back then imagined wireless communication (Dick Tracy, Star Trek), but they never imagined you could funnel an entire world’s worth of information through a pocket-sized device.

The time traveler would be vibrating with excitement. She’d want to know what other technological marvels had been invented in the past 41 years. She’d ask about space colonies on Mars, flying cars, superfast nuclear-powered airplanes, artificial organs. She’d want to know how doctors ended up curing cancer and senility.

You’d have to bring her down gently. We don’t have any of those things. Airplanes are pretty much the same now as they were then; so are cars, energy sources, appliances, houses and neighborhoods. A person born in 1900 began with horse-drawn buggies and died with men walking on the Moon, but the last few decades have seen nothing like that sort of technological advance.
If you go back and think about America’s big World’s Fairs or if you read about Bell Labs in its heyday or Silicon Valley in the 1980s or 1990s, you see people in the grip of utopian visions. They imagine absurdly perfect worlds. They feel as though they have the power to begin the world anew. These were delusions, but inspiring delusions.

This utopianism is almost nowhere to be found today.
There is something saddening about these thoughts. I remember the days when I believed that cancer and other diseases would be cured in my life time. I recall watching video clips (in my youth) of cars that would not need wheels but would ride on air and I dreamed of a magical 21st century. Mostly I thought of space travel and how we would see people walking on far off planets. Realistically some of these were pretty naive, yet it saddens me that these dreams of a Utopian existence are not talked about at all these days.


  1. i think there was an episode of Star Trek where it showed life on Earth as one without the need for currency. I cannot comprehend life with out the need for money (aside from being extremely rich) and since I cannot comprehend how life like that would be, I cannot even dream about it. But I know I want it.

  2. I also used to dream of the future and the amazing inventions and discoveries it would bring to mankind. Well the future is here and I must say we have advanced in many areas but sadly we are still basically the same. Sinners in need of a savior.


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