Commonwealth, XXIV: “People Are a Million Things At Once”

Commonwealth, XXIV: “People Are a Million Things At Once” February 28, 2020

Commonwealth: A Novel of Utopia, part 1, chapter 6

Author’s Note: This is an excerpt from my novel Commonwealth. The rest of today’s installment is free, but only on my Patreon site. If you want to read the next part today, it’s already up on Patreon as well. You can sign up for as little as $1/month, or $2 for exclusive author’s notes and behind-the-scenes material. There’s also a table of contents for all published chapters.

“What Rae is saying,” Zoe explained, “is that the simplest solution isn’t automatically the best. You could argue that society is ‘simpler’ now than the way it used to be. We have fewer laws, fewer regulations. But that doesn’t make it better.”

“There’s simple-bad and simple-good. Don’t tell me you can’t tell the difference. The rich are the problem. They exploit the poor to feed their own greed, and because they have so much money, they get away with it. When there’s no more rich, there’ll be no more problems.”

“You can’t possibly believe it’s as black and white as ‘the rich are bad and the poor are good,'” Zoe objected. “The politicians in power say the rich are the productive makers who support civilization and the poor are lazy moochers who don’t want to get ahead. That view is harmful because it’s so one-dimensional and reductive. But it’s not an improvement just to switch the labels.”

“So you’re against the poor?” Owen said. “I never thought you’d stoop so low, Zoe.”

“What she’s saying is that people are people no matter where you find them,” Michael said calmly. “Neither the rich nor the poor have a monopoly on virtue. I believe in helping the needy, but I don’t believe getting rid of oppressive systems is as simple as changing who’s in charge. Vote out the bad president, cut the bad king’s head off – what does that accomplish? How do you know the next one won’t be worse?”

“In my utopia, we won’t have to worry about that. People won’t have power over each other, so they won’t exploit each other. Like I said, perfect equality. What could be wrong with that?”

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