In an Ideal World... by Peace Activist , Writer and General Inspiration Milan Rai

Photo by Daniel Clements

Milan Rai is co-editor of Peace News, the radical London-based monthly; his anarchist ideals have been shaped by 25 years of activism and writing (Chomsky's Politics; War Plan Iraq; Regime Unchanged; 7/7: The London Bombings, Islam and the Iraq War). Rai is also well known for being arrested when he refused to stop reading out the names of the civilians killed in the Iraq war.  He was found guilty in court and fined £350.  He refused to pay and was sent to jail for two weeks.


In an ideal world... would there be a political system?

I think that in all worlds, ideal and otherwise, there are issues of power and that means that there is a political system. In an ideal world there would be the least amount of centralised power and the political system would be as flexible and human and sensitive as human can be in relating to each other. I think you always need structures to help you towards real equality and freedom so I think to be really free you need a lot of organisation hopefully with the least amount of authority and domination.

Would there be democracy and if so, how would this be achieved?

I think that probably where we are right now is that we have a certain amount of democracy in the civil part of our life and no democracy in the economic part of our life and so there's only one out of two ways forward which is to either extend the corporate principle into politics and go towards totalitarianism or extend the democratic principle to our productive lives and have democratic control where we work and where we live directly. So I think that without that kind of grass roots direct democracy and workers control you don't really have a democracy worth talking about.

Would there be wars, and if not then how would conflict be resolved?

To have a war you have to have a Nation State and a lot of people involved. In creating a military system you have to have a lot of weapons produced.  In logistics, you have to have taxes raised for this purpose so I would hope that we could live without Nations States, without large-scale weapon productions and without the kind of cohesive taxation system that would allow a government to arise, which could create a standing army. I think conflict is inevitable and in a lot of cases healthy.  In an ideal world there'd be a minimum of physical conflict and with the elimination of poverty and excessive riches we wouldn't have so many badly damaged personalities. I think we now know a lot more about mediation and conflict resolution and in an ideal world these would take care of a lot of the conflict that people have with each other but there's a minimum amount that we're never going to eliminate.


Would there be Peace Police?

In an Ideal World there would either be no police or being a police officer would be a temporary rotating job that couldn't develop into a weapon of government.

If no, how would crime be prevented in absence of police/ law?

Most crime happens because of the inequality and oppression and poverty created by this society including the kind of masculinity which this society promotes. In an ideal society those things would be eliminated. There'd still be some crime, I'm sure but it's not clear to me that there'd necessarily be enough crime to have specialised police officers because police force is a danger to the people.

How would news be reported?

Well, in an ideal society there would be no way that someone could stop other people from expressing themselves and talking and writing about whatever they wanted to or were worried about a  so that's the negative side - there wouldn't be a barrier. On a positive side there are always people who have an interest in investigating things and exposing things and trying to show the other side and in an ideal society there would be some special role for media people like that to serve society.

Would there be a religious system?

If people want to associate in churches or other religious groups then they'd be free to do that I hope that there would be very few people who would want to do that because churches are also a danger to freedom and justice.   But of course there's a difference between church and a set of spiritual beliefs.

In an ideal world what's the single most thing that would not have happened politically?

In an ideal world the human race would survive so the single biggest threat to our survival is climate change so in an ideal world we would not have ignored the pressing need to change every aspect of our society in order to avoid climate chaos.

How would wealth be distributed amongst people

Well in an idea world we would use communism, which originally meant to each according to their ability to each according to their need. So if you've got a disability which requires a lot of technology to assist you to live a normal life you'd get more resources than someone who didn't need those things. If you were crazy about classical music and you needed a very fancy piano to fulfill yourself then you would get more resources for your leisure then some one who was happy for with a penny whistle, I don't think we should we should be striving for equality in the sense that everyone has exactly the same number of pennies. How that worked internationally is very difficult but within any particular society you would know what that society could afford. In Nepal, where I'm from, right now the grand piano is not an option for musicians if we had equality but in Britain it ought to be an option if that's what someone really needs.

What if people got greedy and needed lots of things?

Well all these things are going to be negotiated because people who make and distribute goods and services are your equals and you can't force them to give you whatever you want just because you're rich. 


Well this is the kind of question that each area would get to chose for itself how it wanted to arrange itself. I would hope that in an ideal society the motives for surveillance would pretty much have disappeared and would be back to a time when you could leave your door unlocked.

What would this planet be called?

Famous answer to that question 'Erewhon', it was a book published in 1872 by Samual Butler.  It's supposed to be 'nowhere' backwards. Itâ's a bit weird. It's a Utopia and some of it's a Distopia.  


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