Why call my blog Utopia – you are standing in it?

Welcome to my blog.

My blog reflects where I came from and how I think the world works for better and for worse.

Yes, my background is as a trained economist, but this blog’s title is more to do with how the over-weaning conceit of youth was replaced by an increasingly unreliable memory, a bad back and the odd dose of wisdom.

My mum and dad grew up between the two world wars. Their and my upbringing seem to be light years apart in terms of quality of life.

Longer and healthier life expectancies are obvious. Less obvious are the day to day risks of crippling diseases.

My brother told me a story about how my father, who was a doctor, used to give my older brothers and sisters  the once-over with his eye each morning at breakfast looking for initial signs of polio and the other endemic childhood illnesses of the 1950s. These days, you show your age if you know of these endemic diseases. I was born a few years after mass immunisations of babies started. Was it just lucky me?

I am also old enough to remember when going to an airport was exciting because you were going somewhere. Devonport (in Tasmania) to Melbourne was a big trip when I was a kid. A luxury back then. Now airports are a boring wait that we must endure.

My sister traveled the world a lot. She started in about 1973 when an airfare from Sydney to London was $2,000. That was maybe a year’s income back then for her. For some reason, I kept note of that price. That airfare never increased despite 40 years of inflation.

I first visited Asia in 1993. Lived in Japan from 1995 to 1997.

Although of average height for an Australian, I was tall in Asia back then. Looking over the top of the crowd is really great. There were so few obese Japanese of any age that it really was a cause for comment when you saw one.

No more, no longer. Last time I visited Hong Kong, I was looking up at the young Chinese men serving behind the counters at McDonalds.  Each generation is head and shoulders taller than their parents in Asia.

When I first visited my parents-in-law in the Philippines, that part of Leyte had no sealed roads and no phones. The next time I visited, the road was being sealed and mobile reception was better if you had an arial on the roof. After a five year gap in visiting, not only was mobile reception good, there was cable TV if you wanted it. When I visited in 2012, there was wireless internet if you had outside arial. Last Christmas, we hot spotted off my sister-in-law’s mobile.

These revolutionary improvements in my life in a rich country and in lives in developing countries must have a cause.

This blog will champion the spread of capitalism and the rule of law as the cause of the flourishing of humanity in the 20th century and beyond.

I call this a utopia because it is the heaven on earth that led so many to fall for the siren call of socialism and progressive politics. They did not notice that they were already in paradise.

Joan Robinson noted in her 1942 book An Essay on Marxism that when the Communist Manifesto was published in 1848, its battle cry, which would have had some currency, was:

‘Rise up ye workers, rise up, for you have nothing to lose but your chains.’

The industrial revolution was still in its infancy in 1848.

Alas, 90 years later, Joan Robinson suggested that this battle cry at the barricades would have to be amended to:

‘Rise up ye workers, rise up, for you have nothing to lose but your suburban home and your motor car.’

This optimism was in the middle of a world war and after the Great Depression. (Joan Robinson was one of the first writers to take Marx seriously as an economist).

These days the battle tweet of the progressive Left would have to be:

‘Rise up ye workers, rise up, for you have nothing to lose but your iPad and your air miles’.


One thought on “Why call my blog Utopia – you are standing in it?”

  1. Ever since the beginning of modern science, the best minds have recognized that “the range of acknowledged ignorance will grow with the advance of science.”…

    Unfortunately, the popular effect of this scientific advance has been a belief, seemingly shared by many scientists, that the range of our ignorance is steadily diminishing and that we can therefore aim at more comprehensive and deliberate control of all human activities.

    Enjoyed reading through your blog. Love your list of quotes. My favorite:

    It is for this reason that those intoxicated by the advance of knowledge so often become the enemies of freedom…

    The more men know, the smaller the share of all that knowledge becomes that any one mind can absorb.

    The more civilized we become, the more relatively ignorant must each individual be of the facts on which the working of his civilization depends.

    Liked by 1 person

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