Okay, here’s an experiment. The comic book I’m writing just now, Gonzo Cosmic, is, as the name might suggest, a big old poppy cosmic superhero slugfest. Well, it will be. But see, this is kind of just a disguise for a comic that will try to tackle some really, really big themes. I aim to use critical thinking techniques, from the likes of Paulo Freire and such, to try and look at the status quo we have at present on Earth: poverty, inequality, labour, dispossession, oppression, repression, lack of solidarity, intolerance, bigotry, greed etc. Not much eh? Just the big things. But the Gonzo Cosmic vehicle allows me to potentially build a new world, one with all of these things, if not removed, then certainly levelled out somewhat, less polarised.
In order to do that, the main protagonist will act as an agitator, an agent of change, and will be someone who is not bound by typical superhero morality: having had a glimpse of something bigger than the world we know, he’ll do everything he can to protect it, including being viewed by some as an outright villain. He’ll pose some questions that will require humanity to engage in their own thinking processes in a critical way because, whether he achieves it or not, he intends to create a level playing field, where there are no hierarchies of wealth, opportunity etc.
Think of this: we’ve all read many sci-fi novels, short stories and comics, seen films etc, that posit utopian futures. Admittedly there are far less of them now (recuperation into the spectacle means we get to watch our own partly dystopian lives up on screen in a more extreme format, so that we don’t have to think about it. ‘We’ meaning humanity – partial dystopia for one is utter terror and horror for another…), but once was a time when we would read about bright, futuristic cities, wonderful advances in science and technology, and biology for that matter. Of a human race working largely together, and learning to find its way in perhaps a more crowded universe than we might have thought.
But I want to find the answer to the question: how did we get there? How did humanity go from the world we have now, with all the inequality that we have, to a more “utopian” egalitarian society (Utopia being unobtainable, of course…).
In order to achieve that, I’d like your help, if you please. I’d like to see your answers to some questions I’m going to pose below. As you do so, please take some time to have a think about them, then think about your thoughts, and what they might mean. Check over your answers and ask yourself why you’re answering that way – it might surprise you.
Anyway, the comic is a long way off yet (2013 so far) but anyway who contributes in this way will get a namecheck for helping me with my research. I’d also be grateful if you’d share this with anyone who you think might be interested. And on one final note, for anyone who actually knows me, please don’t be influenced by what you might think my political leanings are: this exercise is supposed to try and go beyond that. Here we go!
1. Can you briefly describe your ideal world? Feel free to be as imaginative as possible!
2. Can you see a solution to inequality of wealth, hierarchies of power etc?
3. If you had access to unlimited resources, how would you tackle:
i) The labour market, and the fact that some people work much harder than others for less pay.
ii) The fuel situation – with unlimited resources, how would you tackle the Peak Oil situation, or deal with sustainable energy?
iii) The possibility of climate change, and pollution across the world.
4. What would happen if someone came along and offered to change the world overnight into a better one – but on the condition that you accepted there may be some bloodshed, or that there would be a period of great upheaval? How would you guarantee the success of that plan, regardless of how they intended to achieve it? What conditions would you place on that individual?
5. How would you “police” a perfect society? How would you ensure that a minority of people who disagreed with the overall order “stayed in line”? Should you?
That’s it! You can either leave your answers in the comments box below, or email them to me at: email@example.com. Looking forward to your replies!