What makes people live, die and even kill in the name of a Nation? How does Benedict Anderson theories of ‘imagined communities’ apply to a virtual world? RMB City and other SL realities need to be founded as RL cities are, or do they apply to a different logic of existence, balance and survival?
I don’t know the answers to these questions and I think it all depends on the needs and goals of any different virtual project…RMB City could become a showcase for artists and creative minds to show off their talents, it could be a stage for different trade and commercial activities, it could attract interests and provoke indifference but I personally still think that RMB City, as its own name registers, needs to be thought as a real, anthropological entity made of citizens sharing some common principles, faith and expectations and consequently still needs some essential elements to be laid for its stable foundation.
The birth of a new city and a new civilization must be built on something more than the mere defence from a common enemy or the mutual exchange of goods and services, and this is especially true in the case of virtual realities where you don’t normally need to bother about external threatens or perilous dangers. This is exactly the point: what brings people together if there is no fear and no need for self-conservation? Behind a virtual world’s artificiality there are real men, there are ideas, there are dreams and expectations that could turn out to be interesting and valuable in the construction of any kind of community. We should therefore find the proper ‘ingredients’ to build up this new community; this is particularly important in the modern multicultural context, where cultures and identities get lost in the huge macrocosm of globalization and it is also specifically urgent in contemporary China, a place of thousand-year traditions whose past has partially been erased from history books, though.
From this perspective, RMB City could also be used as an opportunity for contemporary China to redeem itself from the obscurantism of the past and start writing its alternative history anew.
If it is possible, this is my fundamental ‘recipe’ for the making of a new society:
a big handful of fantasyyth (cosmogony, fratricidal fights and semidivine nature of the founder), three grains of Modern Myth (Childhood-as-Poet, Marylin Monroe, Libertė-Egalitė-Fraternitė)
three grains of Ancient M
a patron saint to whom pay homage every festivity
a past and a future
a founding text
a common language (what about sign language)?
a handful of utopic desires
a spoonful of transgression (useful to any society to regenerate itself)
a slice of sociality and free exchange of opinions
a copy of ‘The Noble Savage’ by Rousseau to believe (naïvely) in human goodness
a copy of Hobbes’ ‘Leviathan’ to keep in mind our animal nature: bellum omnium contra omnes
the complete edition of ‘Lost’ tv series for fun and as a modern reinterpretation of ancient myths and superstitions
Suggestions and new recipes are warmly welcomed.