What Is Life?
And the Politics of a Utopia Vol. 1
Chapter 2: Adopting What We Know
Chapter 3: Why Optimistic Nihilism
Chapter 1: Humanity
When considering humanity, one must look at the bigger picture. It is impossible to consider humanity without considering our place not only in history but our place in the universe. How can a human ever truly say they matter when humanity in general is just a speck in the history of a planet that is microscopic in terms of universal measurement? One can matter to their family, or to all of Earth even for a couple of days, or a couple of years, or even a couple of millennia when considering historical figures. What does this matter though? You may have ruled an empire or saved 1000 people, but what is the worth of those people when the worth of humanity is practically nothing. So we don’t matter...what does this have to do with anything? Well, it might almost be cruel to say we don’t matter when every person, old and young, wants to matter or wants to have an impact in some way, shape or form.
It is easy to say, almost impossible to deny, that humans don’t care about their lives. Even suicide has an impact and those contemplated the worth in their own lives and weighed the care they had for it. Some may choose to end their own life because they feel worthless or feel as though they are not enough. This may be overwhelming realization or onset from something bigger in how our brains function.
Our brains are truly the most complicated, complex, magnificent things in the world. Just one slight difference in how neurons transmit signals, and suddenly someone feels worthless, can smell colors, or is a sociopath because of how they see humanity or how they see others. An overload in how much we actually matter can be overwhelming and these complex brains, even one that functions “normally,” cannot truly process the insignificance of our lives.
Now that our brains see a problem, they crave a solution to fix it. The issue with trying to find a solution to a problem we can’t understand is that it just makes us want something that is not possible to get. We want to matter; our brains crave it because we need to solve the problem of not being significant in terms of Earth’s history or even in the present universe. Well...this creates another problem for our brains to solve, what can we do about wanting something we can never get?
The short is answer is nothing but have fun and make ourselves and others happy. The long answer goes into a depth of political and philosophical ideals that are possible to achieve and implement these into society as fast as possible. This is called optimistic nihilism. This optimistic nihilism is how all humans must think before our lives run out and it’s too late to accept reality. According to Louis-Laves-Webb, Optimistic Nihilism is, “Optimistic nihilism views the belief that there is no underlying meaning to life from a perspective of hope. It’s not that we’re doomed to live in a meaningless universe–it’s that we get the chance to experience ourselves and the universe we share. The optimistic nihilist looks at a world lacking meaning and purpose and sees the opportunity to create their own.” To me this means one thing concerning politics.
We, united as a people, must make a utopia as quickly as possible before humanity runs out. The history of humanity as we know it is going to be short lived so we must make it as nice and as close to perfect as possible before we run out of time. Each generation much contribute to the well-being of the next in order to try and reach this utopia. But what is Utopia?
What a utopia would consist of is completely subjective, but we can share some common concepts based on the common human nature. Everyone would have to live comfortably, not only having the basic needs, but also to have some form of luxury to feed our materialistic need. To have a utopia people must be happy, so in turn we must reduce the common misery we face in everyday life. I believe this means we would have to eliminate poverty, currency, work, schooling (in the modern sense), and other social constructs that limit the human potential.
How would it be possible to do all of this? Well, we would have to eliminate government, first and foremost, as it holds back our potential as a society and our rights in general. People may fear for themselves or fear for how humanity would do, but the strongest force is not the government, it is the human mind acting collectively. We must necessitate our individual rights, but when a crisis comes, the most reliable source is not the government, that can be witnessed throughout history. The most reliable source to fix a localized crisis are societies coming together to solve their own problems. It seems that every government falls, but we have only replaced it with another government; however, it has evolved and slowly become less controlling over time. We have moved from monarchy to democracy, and at the same time our innovation increases exponentially. What would this figure be if we had no government limiting our individual rights, and no currency to limit what we are able to work with. Do humans not have a natural drive to learn?
To eliminate misery and create a Utopia, we must eliminate modern social structures like a market or an economy. There is no point to have these if there is no currency (the root of all evil). Why have a market, jobs, or education when learning and applying what is learned is a natural thing to do for humanity. The reason the modern schooling system is so harmful is that it only prepares us to go into industry. It prepares us for the work force and causes kids who have a knack for something like entertainment or some form of self-employment to do badly. Undoubtedly, the abolition of work or at least reduction of work would be needed for a utopian society.
Next, we must look at the aspect of luxury in a utopian society, as it is obvious all humans have developed material want. Well, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that technological capability will increase exponentially within the next century at least. If we were to abolish currency it is obvious that a luxurious society could maintain itself through the aspect of four human aspects: the want for material things, competition, mutual aid, and the desire to learn. These four natural aspects of human nature would drive us to have luxurious lives not only for us, but for the society around us. These four aspects would work together like gears turning to make a machine work. The want for material needs would drive us to learn about architecture or blacksmithing, or welding. When we learn this, we have the desire to show off what we’ve learned or do favors for others because it makes us feel good about ourselves and makes us feel good at something (a form of fulfillment). That is where mutual aid and competition come in. We give to others because it makes us feel good about ourselves, the uppity feeling one may have by being a philanthropist or even donating a couple dollars to The Salvation Army. This is a natural feeling and we do it because it is fulfillment in some way shape or form to know we improved someone else’s lives. The natural competition between not only people within societies but possibly societies as a whole to have the attention and fame they may crave to have their societies recognized will contribute to a more innovative, luxurious society.
Individual rights are somewhat of a controversial topic when it comes to politics, but nonetheless I see it as inevitable. A true utopia could never have anyone ruling over anyone or hierarchy of any sort. Hierarchy creates oppression and oppression even being existent means we don’t live in a utopia. The best architect in the society may have the best house, but does this really constitute hierarchy? They may have a feeling of being above someone, but if no one else constitutes them as better and no one has more power or wealth, there is no real hierarchy within the community.
This leads to the destruction of most social constructs, as most social constructs are harmful. Things like poverty and hierarchy can truly be considered social constructs because they are intangible concepts brought about by human made concepts like money or power. Does no one else see a problem with someone not having a home because they don’t have enough paper that represents an intangible construct to buy even a small home. And because this money represents an intangible construct, it fluctuates, and this fluctuation can lead to a downturn in a whole country. This itself is unstable, and countries like Venezuela can be seen suffering from hyperinflation.
Personally, I have heard the claim that humans are naturally selfish, but I refute this claim by simply pointing at society. Amid COVID-19, mutual-aid groups can be seen coming to the aids of other not for profit, not for recognition, but simply for the concern of other human beings. If people did not care about the well-being of others, we would never have food kitchens, or non-profit organizations. We wouldn’t even scream “Don’t go in there!” when a character in a horror movie steps into the basement. It is evident that people who claim humans are a creature need to step outside and simply see the counterargument in their own backyards.
It is also evident that humans are a dependent creature, but this does not constitute a taking of individual rights. This can be a confusing concept so let me explain. Humans crave company and attention. It is in our nature. Humans marry for one reason: to have a companion for the rest of their lives. This is the same reason solitary confinement is such a cruel punishment, it takes away the human nature of interaction (having company and attention). This refutes the extreme individuality and egoism people like Ayn Rand argue for, where the ego is the most sacred, and one must only have concern for themselves. People care about the company of others before treating themselves. I guarantee someone living alone in a mansion would rather downgrade their house if they had a companion to live with. Our materialism and our ego follow the need of our dependence. Nonetheless, our ego must still be pampered, and we must take care of ourselves because we crave freedom. The only true way to feel freedom is having every individual right protected. Living in a collective society may not completely allow for someone to think on their own or complete their own tasks for their own happiness. Everyone’s happiness cannot be achieved through compromise, but individual freedoms can still allow for interaction and dependence on others while not having to compromise anything but possibly time.
Striving for a utopia like this allows for humans to enjoy their short timespan on this earth, achieving everything we want, doing whatever we want, and making life enjoyable for the next generations. Decreasing our own chances of a utopia decrease them for the next generation and wanting revenge on the next generation for not living in as good of a world seems rather petty and embarrassing when taking the true worth and value of human life and how the human timespan will only be judged by our achievements. Holding back the human races achievements through revenge not only makes the person individually look bad, but humanity as a whole. Therefore, attempting to find and achieve this utopia is the only way to create happiness and live this short, pointless life to the fullest.
Chapter 2: Adopting What We Know
When considering the works of past philosophers, we must consider not only their own lives but also the date they were written and what they lived through. Undoubtedly people like Marx had good writings and I take special consideration from advocates of individual rights like Max Stirner and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. Nonetheless, none of these philosophers dealt with the same problems we face today and none of these philosophers had the same access to studies, surveys, and scientific research as we do today. People like Murray Bookchin found it better to constantly redirect ideas or ideologies that decreased government power because we are always gaining access to new information and new technology. It is rather futile to try and implement an old ideology to a new society when there are new problems to face, and interpretation needs to be done, leading to infighting that may corrupt or destroy the system.
How often do you see new interpretations or ideologies trying to fix or critique Marxism? I clearly don’t see why theorists just describe their own true utopia, even if it’s not possible, and try and bridge the gaps that make it possible. There is no doubt we would see somewhat of a similar conclusion. Even if there are vast differences it is easy to interpret how anarchy would turn out.
Undoubtedly, there would be multiple societies practicing different forms of anarchy or practicing different ideologies. Some may die out, especially ones with markets, as workers will most likely flee to societies where they will either get treated the best, or where they think their lives are most likely to improve. Others will soon be forced to follow.
I believe this will leave many agricultural societies, like what is seen with the Peter Maurin communes or Twin Oaks. I believe this may also lead to many anarcho-primitive societies, as I believe the choice to revert to one’s natural state or to choose the convenience and luxury of full freedom within a society and advance technology may be the main split. Those who choose rapid innovation and mechanization in order to abolish work will build a life of luxury for themselves and their society. It might even be said that some of these people may take pride or hold some type of nationalism in the society they’ve helped create or contributed to, and this nationalism may honestly be a driving force in making this society better. With a life so short and meaningless, why not take pride in your experiences and what you’ve done? Why not gain the recognition you can while you are still alive? Why not obtain all that you want and give to others what they want because this and only this is what leads to true human happiness and keeps a human sustained with true human pleasure?
We can adopt how to build a society or even how to achieve a society by building upon what we’ve learned from history and from philosophers of the past. If we do this in science, building upon theories of the past and adapting them or discarding them if it’s obvious they aren’t true, why can we not do this with political theory? Well...it’s in the name, it’s all theory, and usually governments end up using a mix of ideologies and people could never test if a true implementation of that theory would work realistically. Nonetheless, we can still build upon ideologies by, just like in science, taking the good or what we know is right or what works, and using this to create new ideologies or even implementing new ideologies, which is what countries attempt, but the world moves faster than our governments.
Obviously, to reach anarchy we must need a path to get there. Personally, I am open to any way to get to anarchy, whether it be through a revolution as described by Marx or the pacifism of the black market described by Konkin. There is work we need to do to counter the government, but no matter what we do, we must act rather quickly as to be an optimistic nihilist, you want to achieve as much as you can within your short life. To accept that one’s life is so small that it cannot possibly matter to plainly accept reality. As seen in Chapter 1, through accepting this reality, we are also accepting the fact that we need no government, currency, or social constructs holding us back, and that we might as well live life to the fullest because if we are going to die soon, and humanity itself may die soon on a universal scale of time, we need to die happy, and humanity itself needs to die happy, at that point we have achieved our goal as a species.
Of course, when mentioning nihilism, one must consider the Russian nihilist movement, which I believe had the right idea in spreading the idea of nihilism and how small we truly are, but undoubtedly took the idea the wrong way and possibly took the wrong idea. The logic that because we are insignificant means human rights and violence are also insignificant makes sense when explained in simplistic terms, but when the movement needs a bigger influence, human rights and violence cannot simply be passed off. There is no doubt that the violence was justified, and I do not completely abhor justified violence; however, there needs to be more push for the revolutionary aspect if optimistic nihilists choose to take this route. The best way, in terms of keeping a workable society intact, would most likely be speaking out primarily, and then creating several branches of the movement, who take separate routes, but somehow prevent infighting. This multipronged approach would be the only effective way to bring about change within society as smoothly as possible, as it is obvious from past revolutions or social changes, there needs to be support from many classes and cultures.
So, what can we take from different philosophies? Well of course Marx had the right idea in advocating for a moneyless and classless society as this is the only way people can live in harmony. There can be no harmony or peaceful society when there is hierarchy or a currency that creates a kind of hierarchy. The Russian Nihilists also had some good ideas in pushing for a large-scale social realization. There is no doubt Max Stirner had good ideas concerning individual rights and human nature, and of course writers like him and Jean-Paul Sartre had good writings on existentialism and what being human and humanity in general is.
There is no way to formulate an ideology without acknowledging the ideologies and philosophies of other theorists first. Of course, people may call these ideologies utopian, and that they could never be achieved in their true form, but these people fail to recognize that is exactly what an ideology is. All an ideology should be is creating a theoretical utopia, not a goal to reach but a landmark to try and get as close as possible to. We need to formulate these utopian ideals from other theorists, and as one human race, strive to a utopia.
Chapter 3: Why Optimistic Nihilism
When observing life, and the universe in general people often think of how small they are. We can scale from our whole Planet fitting in the Sun 1.3 million times over to our sun being just a speck in the known universe. Not to mention the possibilities of multiverses or parallel universes. All of this is hard to comprehend and quite overwhelming for the human mind. There is no short way to put it except that our life is pointless.
There is high possibility that we are not the only versions of us and a high possibility that there are many other forms of life with consciousness like us out there in space, whether they are even in our universe or not. And the time we have on this planet is short, not just as individuals, but as a human race. We are also constantly shortening that span by destroying the oceans, overusing our resources, and depleting the ozone layer.
Well, you may ask, what’s the point if we have no worth, no value, and no point? Well, if you’re reading this, you obviously want to live enough to wake up. That is the whole contradiction of our existence: We want to live, yet there is no point in living. This does not mean we contradict our human nature yet again just because we realized a universal truth, this means we must go along with our human nature while observing the truth. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and by contradicting our human nature we are just twisting ourselves up into a tighter knot of overwhelming depression and realization. If we simply go along with our human nature and simply observe or realize that our lives have no real meaning in the big picture, we can find the truth that we just need to live our lives to the fullest, and help others live their lives to the fullest, in order to help humanity itself reach its fullest potential.
Well, we reach our fullest potential and what? We die out. Yes, we die out, but we die out happy. We die out with dignity. We die out ready to die. We die out with no regrets, no sadness, and no anxiety. These problems are worse than ever in our current society, and we are not only refusing to abide by our human nature and the universal truth that we are too small to really matter, but we are destroying our earth and rates of depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders are skyrocketing. Our world is practically starting to crumble before us, and time is not going to wait on us.
We need to act now and spread social change, environmental change, and even mental health awareness. Without these changes, we aren’t truly able to experience what humanity has the potential to be. If we create a better world for ourselves, our generation will die happy, and the next generation will pay it forward and so on. Why die unhappy, if it brings us no pleasure? Life is pointless so we should give up on humanity just dismantles the entire human nature.
Chapter 4: Utopia/Coclusion
I feel the need to end simply because I would have clearly drawn attention by now if there was interest to draw. The simple fact of the matter is that if we are not striving for a utopia, for a better future for not only us, but our children, what are we doing? Are we simply ignoring reality? Is reality what we make of it? There are a lot of questions to life, not all of them answerable, but this one thing is answerable: What Is Life?
Quite simply, life is what you make of it. The very chance to experience life is a gift to the human person, and we need to take advantage rather than sitting back and letting people in charge whom we don’t personally and therefore instinctually not trust guide our lives. These people in charge we may choose, but we don’t KNOW them. If we govern ourselves or let the community govern us, only then can we have a say in our futures, die happy, die with dignity, and achieve the utopia we all have been trying to strive for and the happiness we have been searching for our entire lives.
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Louis Laves-Webb, About the, and Louis Laves-WebbUpon receiving my bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1990. “What Is Optimistic Nihilism? — Louis Laves.” Webb, 25 Feb. 2021, www.louislaves-webb.com/optimistic-nihilism/.
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in Philosophy | October 31st, 2017 5 Comments. “The Philosophy of ‘Optimistic Nihilism,” Or How to Find Purpose in a Meaningless Universe.” Open Culture, www.openculture.com/2017/10/the-philosophy-of-optimistic-nihilism-or-how-to-find-purpose-in-a-meaningless-universe.html.
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