-ecological relations. We use the word utopia to describe these alternative visions five centuries to the year after Thomas More’s published his classic work with that title (1516). It is a word, we believe, that now more than ever captures the conundrums of modern
Constanza Parra and Casey Walsh
Reviving a Sense of Uncoerced Political Possibility
Utopian thought has been discredited because attempts to re-engineer society using Utopian formulae have invariably produced violence and despotism. But the apparent eclipse of Utopia has left a yawning gap, for economic and social conditions across the globe suggest a need for alternatives to the reigning social order - and thus for Utopian thinking which avoids the pitfalls of 'classical' Utopias. This needs to begin by recognising that the chief flaw in earlier Utopias is that they aspired to a world in which contention and conflict were banished. If Utopia is imagined as a state in which contest persists but in which all can contest equally without violence, it becomes a state in which democratic difference is not abolished - as in earlier Utopias - but in which it reaches its fulfillment. By conceptualising democracy as an 'openended' Utopia we can reconstruct the vision of an alternative which will legitimise neither violence nor the suppression of difference. Utopia is, in the mainstream of social and political thought, no longer seen as a subject for serious discussion. It is necessary that it become one again.
Erich Fromm’s Early Writings (1922–1930)
the Romantic Jewish generation, who distrusted rationalism, industrial progress and liberalism, and who will be rather attracted to the anarchist utopia – or to communism – rather than social democracy. In the specific context of Central European
(anti-)utopian novel Erewhon: Or, Over the Range (1872; 1901). Like the ou-topos or “no-place” of Thomas More's South Atlantic island in Utopia (1516), the “no-where” of Erewhon is an imaginary space within the “real world” space of colonial New
The making of race and class in Brazil and the United States
Sean T. Mitchell
The extensive literature critiquing the weakness of cross-class Afro-Brazilian solidarity is perhaps equaled in size by the structurally similar literature on the weakness of cross-race working-class solidarity in the United States. For many critics, marginalized or exploited people in Brazil and the United States do not have the political consciousness they ought to have, given apparently objective conditions. What if we started, instead, from E. P. Thompson's insight that class is a “cultural as much as an economic formation,” that it is “a relationship and not a thing,” acknowledging that political consciousness is the partially contingent result of culturally specific struggles and utopias, as much as of determinate historical conditions? Drawing on ethnographic research on conflicts between Afro-Brazilian villagers and Brazil's spaceport, supplemented by comparative data on the mobilization around inequalities in Brazil and in the United States, this article sketches a comparative anthropology of political consciousness that attempts to avoid the objectivizing pitfalls of the genre.
Rick Turner on Morality, Inequality and Existentialism
of maintaining a system which treats them simply as a profit motive instead of contributing to reforms which promulgate a more just, equal or charitable society. Utopia for Turner is a rejection of the status quo and the limitations bequeathed from
Richard Widick and John Foran
just and ecologically sustainable world economic system. Consequential Utopias? “Utopia”—originally from the Greek ou for “not,” or “no,” combined with topos , the word for “place,” yields the meaning “no place” or, better put, “no actually existing
Construction, temporality, and politics in Astana
This article focuses ethnographically on the built environment of the socalled “Left Bank” area in Astana, Kazakhstan. Previously merely a provincial administrative center, the city became the country’s capital in 1997; soon a new quarter of monumental, futuristic, and stylistically extravagant administrative, residential, and commercial buildings emerged. I argue that the construction effort produces complicity by mobilizing and channeling citizens’ agency. Against the background of recent history, it offers a sense of restored progress-directed collectivity within which individual citizens can seek to engage, pursuing more meaningful and materially satisfying lives. A selective vision of the city is propagandized widely, producing a hyperreal space that captures imaginations, set in opposition to more “ordinary” social space. The contrast between that vision and the lived realities of Astana causes disillusionment, but emic criticism of the political economy fails to transcend the logic of modernization narratives that the ideology of Astana’s construction rests upon.
Nicholas J. Long
The metaworld Ultima Online was designed to foster 'tight communities' of inhabitants. So ware users frequently say it has done just that. Yet many users spend most of their time online alone, engaged in practices of self-realization, individuation, and skill maximization. Drawing on Wilde's utopian writings, I suggest that Ultima Online has fostered an emergent sociality of sympathetic individualism - but that characterizing this as 'community', 'friendship' and 'camaraderie' also allows users to engage with seemingly opposed communitarian tropes of the good life. This affords insights into how ethical imaginations influence emergent forms of human sociality.
The Legacy of Richard Turner for Post-Apartheid Political Thought
In recent times South African politics has come to exhibit features typical of many post-colonial contexts, not least the rise of acrimonious and confrontational politics based around personalities and forms of populism. In such contexts rational dialogue and democratic deliberation become increasingly difficult to get going and to sustain. Drawing on Richard Turner's The Eye of the Needle, first published some forty years ago, the paper examines the role religion, and religious organisations, could play in returning such acrimonious public debate to more democratic and visionary grounds. The key point is that religion offers a form of transcendence from the divisive and bitter particularities that animate contemporary political conflicts. It does this through the spiritual affirmation of our shared human worth due to the love of God(s). From this recognition, achieved through spiritual appeals, the conditions for more rational and democratic debate can be retrieved. In addition, religious transcendence redeems the value of utopian thinking, and thus could help re-orientate public debate from a politics of blame for past wrongs to a politics of imagining of future rights.