By: Michael Shermer
Level of Difficulty: **
LISTEN, READ ALONG AND HIGHLIGHT
Click “listen here” to the right of the screen, listen to the text being read out loud, read along and highlight the main ideas and important details.
1. The writer makes the following statement in the first paragraph: “This is where the trouble begins.” What trouble is he referring to?
2. Why are dystopias the dark mirror of utopias?
3. Watch the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJ4L8JEILNE&t=10s This example proves that …..
4. The New Harmony community didn’t work because of…. (Two answers, find both)
5. Watch the following video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cUB6vOErS8 Why didn’t any of them wreak the kind of havoc Soviet collectivization of farms did?
6. Watch the following short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkzDrLpmIXY Why did the King and Queen of Spain turn into dystopian murderers?
7. Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOpf6KcWYyw Why is the typical answer given to the trolley experiment significant? Because it implies that……………
8. Read the thought experiment involving the ER doctor. What is this type of thinking called?
9. Watch the documentary on Stalin’s experiment with apes and humans: http://www.documentarytube.com/videos/joseph-stalin-s-humanzee-experiments What was the justification for such experiments?
10. What conclusion can be drawn from all the atrocities committed in the 20th century with the view of creating a so called ‘utopia’?
11. What realization on the part of Hitler contributed to his large following? His realization that…
12. Read the remainder of the text. A protopia is considered better than a utopia because it aims at realizing…
13. All the examples provided in this last section of the text prove that…
UTOPIA IS A DANGEROUS IDEAL: WE SHOULD AIM FOR PROTOPIA; KEY AND TEACHERS’ NOTES
This thought provoking text is a little gem encapsulating history, political thought and even philosophy yet it is straightforward and easy to follow. It is also a well written argumentative essay and should lead to some lively discussion. Books like 1984 and Brave New World could be assigned as follow up.
1. The failed social experiments, repressive political regimes, and overbearing economic systems that result from utopian dreams put into practice
2. Because a perfect society is designed for an imperfect species
3. Utopias are especially vulnerable when a social theory based on collective ownership, communal work authoritarian rule and a command-and-control economy collides…
4. Nature’s own inherent law of diversity / the individualities of persons and circumstances and the instinct of self preservation
5. Without large numbers of members, they lacked political and economic power
6. They believed that the only thing preventing them from unifying Spain was heresy
7. It would be easy to convince people in autocratic states with utopian aspirations to kill 1000 to save 5000, or to exterminate 1.000.000 so that 5.000.000 might prosper
8. Utilitarian utopianism
9. Leon Trotsky’s utopian vision (OR write it out in full)
10. When you have to murder people by the tens of millions to achieve your utopian dream, you have instantiated only a dystopian nightmare
11. The realization that human beings, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice
12. Incremental progress in steps towards improvement, not perfection.
13. A protopian future is not only practical, it is realisable