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About

Hello, my name is Michael and I just wanted to explain this idea I have. I live in the UK, the home of Brexit. However this circus concludes we will still have a lot of problems to solve here. I wanted to find a way to use my own particular set of skills as productively as possible.

In many ways we are enjoying the safest and most prosperous period in human history, but it doesn’t feel like that. Inequality has never been so chronic — never in history has it been possible for so few individuals to hoard so much wealth. Environmental catastrophe is upon us yet we continue to wreak havoc as we find more and more ways to permanently tear energy from the planet’s dwindling reserves. Never before has mental illness been so ubiquitous, as swathes of the population feel surplus to requirements, betrayed and ignored by their leaders. As the digital age matures we have become separate, individual, set against one another, railroaded by the predictions of our own personal bubbles — bubbles optimised not for our benefit but to sell our attention to advertisers. And it’s not really politically correct to say this, but never before have stupidity and ignorance been given such an easy ride, never before has less knowledge or accountability been required to broadcast an opinion. Reality has become white noise — distraction follows distraction follows distraction follows endless, unlimited distraction as our emotions are relentlessly buffeted on the whims of the algorithms.

I think we need to focus. I don’t mean focus on the people we disagree with and why they are wrong but I don’t mean focus on the anxieties of our situation either. In recent years we have been inventing new technologies at an accelerating rate, but the only guide has been the market’s insatiable thirst for what they call “growth”. That growth does not benefit us — it eats up our work and attention only to be skimmed away by investors who then store it in our city centres as real estate, inflating house prices to the point of absurdity, driving us from our homes and scattering communities to the wind.

I want to focus all of our energy, all of our technology, all of our creativity on something that first and foremost benefits us.

So I’vecome up with this idea to imagine a new country, designed from the ground up to benefit its citizens first. To think about how things would look if we dumped all the legacy and used the latest technologies to design a new system from scratch. In my mind this is “starting small” — it’s hypothetical, it’s just one country — not the entire planet, not something that we have to figure out exactly how to do. It’s interesting to me because it short circuits the “how” that can sabotage a conversation about doing this in the real world.

Given unlimited resources and the most skilled designers, engineers and civic leaders, how would we make a government that took care of everything it’s supposed to? I’m not talking about marginal improvements. I’m talking about a world where anybody can get their clothes in a boutique store (if you like that sort of thing), anybody can eat organic and refuse plastic, where anybody can get the private healthcare experience of having a doctor who knows them well, who they can trust to spot a problem before it becomes a problem. A state where everyone can have a nice home. Where we could all work on things that we are most interested in and be supported while we try to figure out exactly what that might be. Where schools were like palaces with well paid teachers who had all the best resources at their disposal. Where everybody felt safe and nobody had to resort to drugs or violence just to survive.

Personally I think there is more than enough wealth kicking around this planet to make something like this possible but you don’t have to agree with me to play the game. I just want to see what people would value if money was no object. (Which, by the way, it is — but I’ll save that for another video!)

I’m a software engineer, musician and I make videos. I am good at thinking about systems and making stuff to put on the internet. But I’m just one person. Most of the ideas I’ve shared on Blank State so far are not my own — I didn’t really understand this growth thing until a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t really pay too much attention to the environment until Ivanka kept bringing it up on our podcast. I stopped eating meat to lose weight not because I cared about the animals. I wasn’t aware how angry everybody was outside the capital of the country I live in until Brexit. I knew something was wrong but I assumed it was just me. But it wasn’t just me. And it isn’t just you.
I need your help. I need your skills, experience and unique perspective because I have this strong sense that while we are all worried about something different, that when presented with a vision of how things should be, we would mostly agree.

If this all sounds like some “utopian vision”, why not ask yourself this: Why is “utopia” such a dirty word? Why is simply describing someone’s vision as “utopian” enough to discredit their argument?

How are we ever going to invent something we want if we’re not even allowed to imagine it or talk about it?

I’m gonna keep creating media for this channel. The ‘cryptocurrency taxes' idea was just one and I think it demonstrates how a little video like this can effectively communicate a very complex idea. I’d like this channel to start feeling like The School of Life — lots of ideas presented with short, shareable videos created to start conversations. I’d love to get some help choosing what to focus on next. What idea is obvious to you but nobody seems to understand? I want to give you the tools to transcend the artificial divides we’re all experiencing and work together to picture something better.

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