February 2, 2012
“It’s a sunny little dream I have of a happier mankind. I couldn’t survive my own pessimism if I didn’t have some kind of sunny little dream. That’s mine and don’t tell me I am wrong: Human beings will be happier – not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities. That’s my utopia. That’s what I want for us.”
Ah yes, “primitive communities”: a strange sounding proposition. But is it so strange? Whenever I teach American government and teach about the Anti-Federalists and their argument that small republics are more humane than large republics, I point out to the students that when I grew up in the small and by today’s standards “primitive” Metuchen, New Jersey, my mother knew that I had gone where I was not suppose to go by the time I got home one night. It was not a bad place but I was not to go there and, of course, did anyway. But as I point out to students, we had mothers but today we need cameras to spy on us. I suspect that this “primitive” arrangement is better than the “modern” arrangement we have today. And I bet you can think of other examples of the advantages of “primitive” arrangements that no longer exist.