Dead States

The idea of a perfect state, like Plato’s Republic, or More’s Utopia, is in itself a fallacy. The mistake is made when you assume that there can be such a thing as a perfect state, and, even if you don’t go quite that far, that such a thing is even desirable. If we look at the world of nature, at biological organisms, we’ll see that they’re in a state of constant change, all the time evolving and adapting to their environment, which is itself always changing. The things that lack this constant movement are dead things and inanimate objects. In the same way the “perfect” state is one that is in a state of constant change, all the time growing, changing and evolving, just as life that it supports is. On the other hand, a design for a state that restrains and locks things down into one configuration will prevent this movement, working instead towards an ossified state of death rather than the vigor of life. An ideal state by definition is a very specific configuration of its components–a thing that can only exist when the components remain fixed and unchanging–and that in itself can be neither ideal or desirable.

Published May 2011