TRANS–ATLANTIC, Part 8: A Year in Utopia

This week is the final installment of “Trans-Atlantic”, and a big thanks to Hamish Spiers for the last eight weeks. You can read more of Hamish’s stuff on his website by clicking on his name (above). We’ll be back some time in late September/early October with our next By Prescription Only, which has the theme of Regret

 

TRANS–ATLANTIC
By Hamish Spiers

Part VIII. A Year in Utopia

 

The article on Marakaz that Bob gave me deserved a wider circulation than it received. But, with the author’s permission, I am able to reproduce an excerpt here:

***

“The governing principles of life in this place seem to be contentment and happiness. They do what needs to be done. They share their labours. And they enjoy their lives.

One day, my host told me we were going to the farm. As it turned it, no one wanted to be a farmer in this part of Marakaz but since food was something everyone needed, people pitched in, taking it in turns. Most people did about five days of farming each year.

Sometimes, my host told me, when a job needed to be done, the community would welcome all hands and many people would volunteer. Other times, people couldn’t participate unless they were specialists. With some jobs that only a certain few people could do, those people occasionally did them in exchange for getting out of other things.

Joyce, the lady who ran the fish and chips place by the beach wasn’t required to do anything else she didn’t like. She loved making fish and chips and since she made the best damn fish and chips in town, everyone was happy to cover other jobs for her so she could go on doing it.

It was the same with Mike the garbage collector. He liked getting up early, he enjoyed driving his truck, and if he could be guaranteed no other duties, he’d be happy to collect the garbage every week of the year. And since no one else wanted to collect the garbage but everyone thought it was essential that it was done, they all agreed it was a fair arrangement.

When I got to the farm, it wasn’t that bad. There was a good sized crowd there. We gathered corn and we talked and laughed. And most of the difficult work was automated. There were some very efficient labour saving devices all over the country; due to the constant rotation of people working the farms, a number of engineers and robotics experts had seen how they were run and had made a few inventions to improve them.

Actually, despite some misguided ideas in the media about the people of Marakaz living like the Amish, they’re quite innovative. Anything that can save time and energy is gladly adopted throughout the country.

Their education programs are worth a mention as well. In school, kids focus on whatever role they’d like to play in society when they’re older. The fact that they won’t get paid for whatever work they ultimately decide to do, whether it’s specialist work or just lending a helping hand in a range of tasks whenever it’s needed, seems to have little effect on their motivation to pitch in and help out. When everyone has a roof over their heads, plenty of food, entertainment and lots of free time to do with as they please, they don’t need to be motivated by money.

When things need to be done, people do it. When enough people want things to be done, they get done. And everyone does things in the most efficient way possible. Rather than cutting costs by heaping work on fewer and fewer shoulders as is the norm in so many parts of the world, the case in Marakaz is just one of many hands making light work. Then those many hands knock off for the day and go to Joyce’s for fish and chips.

At one point during my stay, I wondered whether the locals ever wanted to see big international movies and how, if they weren’t participating in a monetary society any more, they could do that. As it turned out, they weren’t missing out on any of these things either.

I learned that there are communal funds that come from the profits that are made from selling the country’s excess products overseas. And once a month, everyone’s invited to put in their requests for little items they might want.

Nobody asks for much but it seems everyone can get a few little imported luxuries each month. Fancy clothes, toys for their kids, CDs and DVDs and things like that. They put in their requests and a handful of people order the goods. Then, as they come in, people come and collect their orders.

At the end of my stay, I was a little sad to leave but my host told me that even though the people of Marakaz keep their population small so everyone’s needs can be met, they’re not adverse to some migrants joining their community. But perhaps, rather than flocking to them to enjoy their way of life, it may be better in the long run if we look at changing our own.”

***

“Well?” Bob asked when I had finished reading the article.

I put it down. “I think those people get it.”

“And I think the man who wrote that got it too,” he said. “If you want to enjoy a piece of Marakaz, you don’t need to move there. You can make your own piece of Marakaz at home. Need someone to fix your gas oven? See if you can do them a favor in exchange. Your neighbor’s destitute? Put an extension out the back of the house and put them up. Have a barbeque every weekend and invite the neighborhood.”

“And just leave the corrupt elite off the invite list?” I suggested.

Bob smiled. “Exactly. And as for the rest of the details, I think people can figure them out. If they want to.”

“If they’re not disconnected, you mean.”

Bob nodded. “If they’re not disconnected.”

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