Inspired to write "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" partly as a response to utilitarianism, Ursula K. Le Guin creates a fantasy land called Omelas where smiles have become "archaic."
In Omelas, smiles have become antiquated because happiness appears to be universal now. However, this appearance of a utopia is false because there is a condition attached to the residents' happiness. Hidden away is a miserable child who bears the burden of immorality and selfishness for all the other residents of Omelas. When certain residents of Omelas learn of the existence of this child, they leave Omelas. Others are more pragmatic, as they realize that the "nobility of their architecture, the poignancy of their music, the profundity of their science" would not exist without the child's being in its present degraded position. They believe in "the greater good."
This belief that an individual or some individuals must suffer so that others can prosper and be happy was a part of the ideology that acted as a driving force for Nazism. In Germany, Jews, especially the wealthy and prosperous, were targeted as the cause of the economic failure of the country. If the "Jewish Question" [Die Judenfrage] were dealt with, then Germany could prosper, the Nazis contended. History, of course, teaches that such an idea was incredibly inhumane.
In a democracy, each individual is of importance. Therefore, any such coldly "pragmatic" solution as that of Omelas's incarcerating one being to bear the sins of all is indefensible, because the acceptance of the scapegoated child's miserable state is morally revolting. Walking away from the problem is also an unsatisfactory solution. In a democracy, the only socially sustainable solution is for all people to be treated equitably. So, all people must endure some misfortune and unhappiness in their lives, and no one should be victimized. Ironically, it can be argued that the only way to know any true happiness is to actually have suffered some in one's lifetime. Certainly, then, if people suffer and survive misfortune, smiles need not be "archaic."