Thinking Utopia: Steps into Other Worlds

Thinking Utopia: Steps into Other Worlds

Thinking Utopia: Steps into Other Worlds

Thinking Utopia: Steps into Other Worlds

Synopsis

After the breakdown of socialist and communist systems in the East, it had become fashionable to declare the so-called "end of utopia" ("end of history," "end of narratives"). The authors of this volume do not share this view but think that it is time to rehabilitate utopian thought. The political concept of Utopia that has given its name to these transcendental projections onto the world has been too narrow to describe and analyze the moving forces of the mind perceiving human existence beyond reality. By broadening the perspectives of utopian studies, these essays enable the reader to reconstruct scholarly paradigms and strategies of utopian, complex and holistic thinking in modern cosmology, philosophy, sociology, in literary, historical and political sciences, and to compare traditions and ways of Western utopian thought to the practice in the East.

Excerpt

After the fall of the Wall in 1989, there developed a small 'end of utopia' industry. This occurred mostly in Germany but was found elsewhere as well. The arguments for the 'end of utopia' were wrong on almost all counts. First, these arguments continued the erroneous equation of utopia and communism. Secondly, it assumed that communism itself had somehow actually ended, ignoring at the time China, Cuba and Vietnam, among others.

It also missed, probably because it did not fit the ideology, the utopian role being played by capitalism and the free market in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. The failure of this utopia, while bringing about a resurgence of communist parties under new names, has not brought about renewed exultation over the 'end of utopia'.

From the perspective of the early twenty-first century, a glance back at the twentieth century should give us pause regarding utopia. The twentieth century witnessed a continual movement between utopian aspirations and the creation of dystopias out of those aspirations. The hopes of communism became the dystopia of Stalinism. The positive images projected by fascism became the dystopia of the camps. The utopian dreams of Pol Pot became the dystopia of Kampuchea. The utopian dreams of African nationalist movement turned into a series of military dictatorships. The dream of a Boer utopia became the dystopia of South Africa throughout most of the century. The dreams of a post communist capitalist utopia in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union have often become dystopias of corruption and poverty. The dream of a Shiite utopia . . .

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