Seriously, why not? Why the hell can't we have voluntary, tight-knit communities organized around dedication to science, technology, and Humanism? Why do our scientific communities all degenerate into research arms of the military-industrial complex or corporations? I've been on a completely random and inexplicable kick lately of watching documentaries and reality TV shows about the Amish, and it got me wondering - why are the only self-sufficient, grassroots, tight-knit communities in this country ones that are based on fucking religion (spit)? Why is that the choice - live in a disconnected, nihilistic suburb; a disconnected and dangerous urban labyrinth; or a rural community full of ignorant hicks who hate modernity and don't know the Earth is round? Why can't we build real, self-sustaining communities like in Neal Stephenson's Anathem that are strongly rooted in scientific and mathematical education?
This is admittedly just a random thought, but it's one that occurs to me again and again, and keeps irritating me. We have college towns in this country that are strong on education, but they're completely undirected - basically just places where people can, if they feel like it, seek an education. But where are there communities that are actually dedicated to the educational/scientific/technological proposition from stem to stern? Where are the cities whose governmental architecture is fundamentally designed to promote continuous progress and advancement?
We have tons of cities that are nothing more than brand labels on the financial interests of the rich people who live in them; so-called "communties" that are nothing more than filing cabinets for the workers who support the rich people in the former category; and here and there, rural towns where organic cultures evolve that are painfully dominated by ignorance, parochialism, and religious superstition.
Obviously what I'm talking about is not some impractical fantasy of a city full of scientists and engineers, because obviously any working community needs a lot more waitresses and construction workers than PhDs, but where are the cities that are ethically and politically guided by science and engineering? Where are they? These things are the zenith achievements of Western civilization, but they're treated as little more than gadget-mongers to implement the designs of nihilistic corporate sociopaths and corrupt political systems. Why not have communities where science and engineering are the guiding forces and not just slaves to base impulse?
I'm thinking that the Amish are a pretty robust, stable societal model, and it's not because what guides their culture is particularly worthy - it's a bunch of religious mythology and gruesomely authoritarian attitudes, and they'd be well and truly fucked if the rest of society didn't protect them. But why not have voluntarily religion-free communities where it's the theists who are shunned, and stupidity rather than impiety is the sin? Where principles of logical planning and evidence-based policy are at the core of the local culture?
I know this is just a random tangent, but maybe the country as a whole would benefit from the development of such communities. We already have more than we can handle of medievalist fundie towns and corporate wastelands, and the artistic achievements of our major cities aren't really enough to overcome the damaging effects of the former. We need some Science Cities - not just places associated with science and technology, but actually dedicated to them on every level.
8:51 AM PT: Think about it: Isn't the Federation really just the extension of university life to the level of an entire civilization? Why can't we start that by implementing it on the municipal level?