I have been in several spaces where we have persons agree on set goals and on pretty much everything else about what kind of future they want, but their entrenched positions on Capitalism and Marxism or Socialism. I have always found it strange that such ideas can be deified even among freethinkers, a feat I thought impossible. After all, it is the mantra of freethinkers not to hold on to ideas so vehemently that they misconstrue a critique of such ideas as an attack on their person. My approach is to go back to the basics – ab initio. This method served me well in an engineering class and I hope it serves me well here too.
First, I want you to close your eyes and imagine a world, with no societies. Around you are 7 billion people of varying economic positions, genders, race, sexuality, and genetic proclivities. Your current status in this new world is unknown. Do not hold on to any pre-existing biases. You could be a different gender now, in a different geographical location with one leg shorter than the other. Now imagine that a million of you want to build a society and you will get a random million only. Colonies of a million each are being formed all over at random geographical areas with a random distribution of wealth. You do not yet know what resources lay beneath your feet or what perils await you in your location. Now imagine these established colonies have been set up. Your answers to the following will guide us to what framework you believe is right or wrong.
- Would you want a country with any leadership structure or none at all? Why?
- If you want a leader or leaders, how would you like to select them?
- Once selected, what would you require from those leaders and how do you plan on ensuring they do their part?
- What manner of structures would you like to see in place to ensure whatever roles you have created in leadership?
- If you have natural resources, what do you plan on doing with them?
- If you do not have any natural resources, what do you plan on doing?
- If accessing your natural resources will potentially put future generations in peril, what would you do?
- How will proceeds from any resource be distributed to the population?
- The land is in itself a huge resource. Do you plan on providing any structure to ensure equitable distribution of land or you will adopt strongest take all approach? Explain.
- What do you propose is to be done as a collective about a human resource?
- What will you consider to be resource threats and how will you safeguard against them?
3. Rights, Rule of law and Justice
- What rights will you like to get?
- What laws would you like to pass and on what basis?
- How would you like the law enforcement system and the Justice system to operate?
- Would you consider the death penalty in this instance? Why?
- What existing laws would you not allow in this new reality and why?
- Are there any rights or privileges currently not being realized that you will want to see happen for everyone?
4. Commerce and Labour
- In turning our limited or otherwise resources into goods and services, what relationships do you foresee between the labour force and the goods and services they produce?
- In turning our limited or otherwise resources into goods and services, what relationships do you foresee between the labour force and the owners of the plant, machinery or land, that is, those with capital?
- Do you think inequality in wealth is good or bad? Explain
- How do you hope to achieve the near-perfect balance of wealth distribution to ensure that you imagined society survives?
- What relationships do you hope to cultivate with the other colonies if you have natural resources that they want?
- What relationships do you hope to cultivate with the other colonies if they have natural resources that you want?
- Would you consider merging with other colonies? Why?
These questions are in no way exhaustive but it gives us a starting point. What are your answers to them? What additional questions would you like to ask and have answered?
Kwabena Antwi Boasiako (April 2019)
Kwabena Antwi Boasiako is the current President of the Humanist Association of Ghana and a Building Services Professional.