This interesting question shows up in the most contemplative writings through history, from Socrates to de Toqueville to Huntington. The question of how we would like to live is perpetually valid and provocative.
We know for the most part that our current system is an aggregate of things that have not yet led to catastrophe; it’s a work in progress created by avoidance of bad things and rarely by striving for the good.
The reason for this is that since 1789, when we adopted equality in the West, we have been unable to have actual leadership. Democracy picks the comfortable compromises, not the bold new directions.
Looking at what society we would desire then requires us to take into account both what we do not want from the present, and what is missing in the present that we do want.
A sample answer would have to be divided into two parts, since this question is so huge. The first part is a general answer, like a theory tying it all together. The second part is a laundry list of tangible visions of how that would manifest itself.
- Parallelism: any future society will not be based on universals and moral absolutes, but the idea that in different places and at different levels of society, different standards are needed. Uniqueness is more important than a universal, conformist, idealized, optimized, industrial-like uniformity. These parallel societies and clines would each use their own methods of adapting to their world. Further, in our thinking, we would look for parallels (metaphors) to insure compatibility of multiple factors, not simple linear comparison.
Like most directions that are truly distinct from the compromise default, or basic lowest common denominator to which our societies return if leadership does not intervene, this definition is fully esoteric. It opens up with study, with knowledge, and to those with the right ability and clear mental outlook.
In turn, this leads to several smaller concepts that address specific changes to society itself. These changes would be informed by the larger principle, and emerge from it, but address areas that are idiosyncratic enough to require specific visions.
- Nationalism: Diversity requires that people either give up their native cultures, and become cultureless, or that they hold on to their culture and remain outsiders. Nationalism gives people an identity as a group and allows them to establish social standards for that group, and culture, which regulates the society without powerful government. Pluralism, since each person is pulling in their own direction, requires increasingly higher levels of police presence to keep everyone in line, since they have nothing in common. Nationalism replaces the nanny/police state with a strong organic culture based on similarity of culture, values, language, customs and heritage.
- Deep Ecology: The revolution of deep ecology was the realization that in order for a society to value the environment, it would need to restructure itself around healthy values that respect reverence for nature. Consumerism and socialism both do not have this. As a result, the society needs strong leadership and principles that come before cash money.
- Monarchism: Perhaps democracy can persist if the voting pool is whittled down to those who have knowledge, ability and competence. But even if it survives, it will need a monarchy to lead and an aristocracy to support it. Monarchs can make semi-arbitrary decisions based on long-term needs, and by ruling over a lifetime, apply a personal vision to the shaping of a society. Unlike rules, which are worked-around and tend to address past problems not unknown future circumstances, organic human intelligence is more flexible and adaptive. Traits like intelligence are heritable, but at the highest end of mental ability are those who have leadership intelligence, which requires the ability to find clarity among thousands of details and pick an optimum path with a fallback. By creating a caste for these people, we encourage them to breed among each other and preserve and nurture these traits.
- Modified social Darwinism: it is imperative that the best rise, but we must be cautious about administrative and bureaucratic methods of doing this. It’s better to throw people at problems and real world challenges, and promote upward those who do something useful, while doing nothing to support those who are inept at even basic challenges. This seems unsociable, cruel, horrible, unfair, unjust and inegalitarian because it is, but so is nature. There is a logical reason for this course: it is the fairest in that it allows all options to exist, and picks those that work with the rest of the system. Schools should base their learning on practical skills, all theory must have an applied component, and all classes should work students through a real-world project starting from the simplest and developing to the most advanced solutions. Workplace promotions should be based on demonstrated ability. Fewer hoops to jump, with more things tested at once with real-world problems, should be the rule.
- Efficiency initiative: our society worships work as a kind of moral proof of value to the individual. We should start worshipping smarter work, not “harder work” (which almost always translates into more time spent on the job). Our new heroes should be those who get the job done quickly and then go home to spend time with their families and hobbies, not the person who stays twelve hours a day out of obedience. As part of this, all government functions would take place through a single website and office, and different obligations to society and government would be streamlined into single events. The idea would be to force people to have free time so they deal with their existential and moral development as much as economic development.
- Privilege: Instead of a society of rights that ignores our past histories, we should appoint few basic rights — due process mostly — and instead become a system of privileges that are appointed for doing the right thing for many years. This does not mean that people become immune, only that their value to the community is counted in their sentencing, rewards and duties. Instead of “to each according to his need” our motto should be “you get what you give.”
Right now these ideas are taboo to many people. They are making the classic mistake of defending the regime that has passed, namely liberalism from 1789-2009, instead of embracing the order that is coming. The collapse of liberalism cannot be measured in terms of economy alone, but in the simultaneous arrival of dysfunction on many fronts, including existential, social, criminal, environmental and civilizational.
As a result, the old ideas — all of which are based in a single concept, which is egalitarianism — are fading away and people are looking for replacements. It is most likely that the new society will be composed of current ideas with their failing parts removed, as hybridized with what society was before we went down this path in 1789.
This synopsis covers the biggest changes alone and is vague because society is huge and to go down a level of detail would make this a much bigger writing. However, these are the thought paths we should explore, if we are serious about surviving ourselves as a species.