Modern societies require complete reshaping of their administrative structures to adjust to the changes that occurred over the last decades and to achieve sustainable development. I feel that our social structures are presently inadequate as they constantly fail to provide the results which would correspond to the high levels of quality of life which we should be providing not only to the elites but also to the wider population. This is because I observe that our societies are not determined enough to fully use and develop potentials of making the best, rather than just passable products. Apparently, the free market economy takes us only that far.
Increased human capability of grasping disparate elements of social and material realities and understanding of their interactions will be defining element of what humans will call “design” in the future. This capability of understanding of complex interactions and influencing desired outcomes will define the future societies.
In order to illustrate what I mean I would like to use the following example of possible government reforms I would like to witness. If we accept to talk in different terms about our reality we could say that our surroundings are, in many a country or locality, uglier then they need to be. Ugly, simply said, is opposite to beautiful, and if we know that usually beauty in objects is considered as an expression of close merger of form and its function, the question is why don’t our societies strive more often to achieve large scale harmony between the functions we need to satisfy our needs and the social form we are giving to those functions?
I therefore would propose that our governments merge their various ministries into a Ministry of Design. It’s purpose would be to beautify the social processes by giving them streamlined and sculpted underlying structure. The structure would strive to ideally relate and align the ideals of sustainability. The affordability of the most beautiful form would be the overarching goal and all social programs would be designed to affirm the high ideals of visual harmony, the usability of the entire output and optimal financial planning. The functions of the traditional ministries of finance, ministries of environment, ministries of industry would merge into such ministry of design where a multidisciplinary mix of experts with financial, banking, business and aesthetic (architecture, urbanism, design, visual arts) would manage the process of creating the optimally budgeted, skillfully financed and aesthetically appealing products and services that will in a better way satisfy the functions necessary to fulfill our needs.
A friend mentioned the risk of such a proposed ministry developing a totalitarian streak. While I agree that traditionally, our governments had a tendency towards totalitarianism if given unchecked powers, I do not envision a Ministry of Design to be even close to a benevolent dictator role and much less of a full fledged statist despot. I never would propose removing the markets as I feel their force is healthy and competition helps moving forward and is a guarantor of and for competing ideas and projects. While I might dislike consumerism, I really don’t think there is any guarantee of quality of products, or quality of life for that matter, without competing on a free market. Having said that I do believe that a certain social intelligence might be a necessary addition to the functioning of a market economy rather that leaving the profit a single and sole driving force. Therefore, I propose that such a ministry only adds the social intelligence element to a society that will choose to form it. I would never propose banning poor design, I just wish that meaningful designs of products, services and social institutions gets coordinated and promoted in order for the competition to be able to use its invisible hand wiser.
Utopian? I find it rather practical and easy to implement in a society capable of project management. What do you think, is this utopian or practical?
I will revert to this post and elaborate further once I get your feedback.