Indeed, the tools they marshaled—guns, printing presses, and plows—were in many ways embedded in a symbolic and cultural framework that undermined Xhosa cosmologies at every turn. What the colonizers envisaged was total transformation: faith, land, and the social order would be entirely redefined. Predictions of abundant new economies and mass conversions remained a distant hope.
So far, so good. But Sarkar, as Chakrabarty suggests, was involved in his own death march, taking up the losing side in a utopian struggle over the fate of universal history—the desire, so to speak, to narrate the past scientifically. In this sense Wenzel and Chakrabarty are in dialogue trying to draw our attention to the unsettling incoherence that lurks within all histories when we substitute narrators, choose different documentary evidence, or even select which points in the plot to emphasize.
As whites clung to alleged racial standards and utopian imagery of working telephones—the stand-in for qualities and conditions that helped them to justify minority rule—they tended to construct Rhodesia in their imaginations in ways that transcended both place and time.
This was accompanied, paradoxically, by their deracination and denationalization, a point White underscores when she details just how many supporters of the Rhodesian Front were recent immigrants. Such a racial utopia—some might say dystopia—was difficult to sustain at the level of the state. Take coal, for example. Its methods of extraction and distribution, between roughly and , inadvertently gave miners, and to a lesser extent railway and dockworkers, a considerable degree of power to disrupt its flow at precisely the time coal energy was becoming increasingly essential to emerging industrial economies.
The gradual transition to oil in the mid-twentieth century, by contrast, wrested some of that power away from workers; indeed, as Mitchell argues, this was a central incentive for corporate and state actors to support the shift to oil. Where coal tended to be consumed within the countries in which it was produced—shoring up a domestic power base—oil, because of its liquid form and light weight, was a far more transportable energy source.
This enabled existing democracies to uphold and even increase participatory politics domestically while their representatives simultaneously eroded emergent political movements elsewhere, especially in the Middle East. More significant still, according to Mitchell, in the postwar decades of large-scale oil production, these same democracies promoted the myth that hydrocarbon energy was limitless, a utopian vision on which such iconic ideologies as Keynesian economics were built.
Only when Middle Eastern states began to threaten these carbon democracies, in the early s, did oil companies invoke the idea of environmental limits, which in turn helped them orchestrate changes in the way these resources were priced globally. The chapters in part 1 place greater stress on life-forms and natural objects— populations, cattle, land, archives, races, and carbon-based energy—and those in part 2 emphasize the role of human manipulations and abstractions, the links between Homo faber and Homo cogito.
In the process, many of these reorientations went right to the heart of human subjectivity. The hope of a general reorganization of the world proved to be deeply and intimately connected to a highly specific conjuncture. Understanding the artifice of human consciousness helps us to appreciate the ways in which the Self has also been imbricated in utopian politics. Nuclear power and its dark cousin, the nuclear weapon spawned utopian visions embedded in the technical infrastructure—as, indeed, had to happen, for there were few preexisting patterns to condition this new form of energy unlike oil.
But as Krige explains, not only did the frame of the U. World War II, the trauma that the peaceful atom was supposed to heal, was preceded by its own epoch of utopian therapists. The central and eastern European cosmopolitans of the interwar years, as Marci Shore persuasively argues, sought a literary, linguistic, and artistic utopia to remedy the disastrous wounds of the Great War.
The avant-garde that Shore describes took the time and place issues of utopia seriously, and they rejected place in favor of time: modernity was the moment, and although that took many forms liberalism, Marxism, fascism, futurism, and Dadaism , the important point was to live this present fully. Phenomenologists, structuralists, and other universalists populate her Mitteleuropa, traveling between the urban nodes of Vienna, Petrograd, Warsaw, Berlin, Paris, and others, knitting together a new utopia that severed the links to a diseased past.
Much more directly than the cosmopolitans or the nuclear engineers, these avant-garde artists of the post—World War II era constructed their utopias through explicit emphasis on the nature of the present. Pinder builds his narrative of their reflections on the transformative and utopian possibilities inherent in the here and now by starting where they did: at the street. The tension between the humdrum quotidian aspect of a stroll on the street and the intense futuristic dynamism of architectural modernism of the Le Corbusier variant found expression in the situationist vision of a completely open architecture of the future, one whose design imposed almost nothing to shape the desires of those imagined future inhabitants.
Here, the goal of utopia was to use the present to conjure a future liberated of the context of that very present. The contradictions were deeply felt and hard to ignore. Just as Jane Jacobs and other urban thinkers emphasized the possibilities inherent in the street, the skepticism toward the conservatism of the everyday proved recalcitrant. The utopian street contained its intrinsic dystopia, as reflected in the collapse of the Situationist International, which Pinder chronicles.
Yet, for all their intensity, these debates remained largely in the arena of the theoretical and analytical. The central problematic for Halfin is how the Communists brought before NKVD tribunals, knowing that they would be shot for crimes they did not commit, not only did not resist the secret police but even confessed to the invented accusations.
The Communist worldview confessed its own sins to itself—the accused truly believed themselves to be guilty, in a nontrivial sense. Both interrogator and interrogated were utopians forged in the same furnace. The artifice of utopian thought should not be understood as existing in some blueprint of a Grand Designer; rather, we need to recognize that the artifice forms no less than a natural part of the self-conception of those embedded within its discourse. The kingdom of Utopus lies within us. Given the pervasive discrimination and prejudice against Dalits in present-day India, their leaders have emphasized the use of status quo mechanisms, such as affirmative action and antidiscrimination laws, to gain employment in the public sector when the private sector excludes them.
Nigam discusses the representations of Mayawati, an important Dalit and on-and-off chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, as well as a contemporary short story, to explore the ways in which Dalits have made efforts to construct a counterutopia that aggressively deploys the artifices of the present instead of developing an animated, organic mass movement akin to those explored in the previous section. The political results may be equivocal, but the aspiration is no less real. If so many emancipatory promises have been betrayed and liberatory movements come undone, does that mean that none should be attempted or proposed again?
Have we really reached a point beyond utopia? However complicated these questions might appear, especially when situated against the grand sweep of human history, the answers are rather simple: no. Even as the utopias of communism and cosmopolitan peace stand indicted, the neoliberal utopia of the market creeps up on us, now under the ideologically driven notion of a Smithian human nature. Perhaps this helps to explain not just why interest in utopian historicity is on the rise, but also why scholars focusing on Asia, Latin America, and Africa have begun to explore its implications.
Several of our contributors grapple explicitly with cross-cultural phenomena—orality and textuality, scientific epistemologies and other ways of knowing, empire and nationhood, and so on. Others bring to the fore circulations that have a global effect: production systems, weapons, energy. They involve risk, they usually rest upon faith, and they often require their progenitors to relinquish control. More to the point, they are imbued with their own fault lines: limits and critique accompany the projection of utopias and dystopias.
The conceptual framework we have selected to analyze these dynamics— anima and artifice—intentionally addresses our twenty-first century collective consciousness, if we can speak of such a thing. Nowhere in the world is it now realistic to deny the need to take into account planetary life as we envisage a better future. Whatever shape our utopian dreams may take, they cannot ignore the constraints and opportunities posed by nonhuman nature. A historical analysis of these visions—and of the conditions that produce them—exercises our imaginations and animates our understanding of how and why things change.
It has the potential, in other words, to breathe new life into transformative politics. Whereas anima forces us to take into account those things that sustain life— and even to reject the ethos that humans can live beyond limits—artifice requires us to strike a balance between our inner and outer realities. Not only does what we construct outside ourselves matter—as the histories of failed technocratic solutions can attest—but also the way we construct our very selves shapes our future possibilities.
Yes, we are toolmakers, and, yes, those tools can help us test the boundaries of reality, but unless we account for our inner natures as well, most artifices will crumble. These are among the conditions of possibility that our analysis has brought to light. Many others are also imaginable. Our goal is to open the question, not to nail it down and seal it up. Notes 1. See, for example, the collected utopias from antiquity to the present gathered in The Utopia Reader, ed.
Fredric Jameson has recently taken this location within science fiction to unearth some new potentials for the concept of utopia although less so for dystopia , and his perspective colors this essay in particular. To some extent this follows on the attention to the intellectually productive features of science fiction articulated, for example, in Donna J.
See also Felicity D. The film places viewers directly in a mechanistic utopia gone mad and alerts us of the danger of apocalypse if we do not pay heed. Indeed, only total destruction, the film suggests, can provide a new beginning. There are, as always, very valuable exceptions to a statement like this one. For some more general treatments, see J. James C. The notion of practice we deploy here derives mostly from the science-studies literature.
This point is further elaborated, in explicit contrast to the totemic intellectual style of analyzing utopias and invoking Thomas More , on pp. Clemens Dutt with a preface by J. Ben Fowkes London: N. Other diseases have been brought close to zero incidence, such as polio, but several thousand cases per year persist. Donald A. Henderson et al. See, for example, the conjunction of urban planning and environmental constraints represented by the chapters in The Nature of Cities, ed. Andrew C. Isenberg Rochester: University of Rochester Press, The vast and growing literature on environmental history speaks to these issues again and again.
Fre dric Ja me son Utopia as Method, or the Uses of the Future We ordinarily think of utopia as a place, or if you like a nonplace that looks like a place. How can a place be a method? Such is the conundrum with which I wanted to confront you, and maybe it has an easy answer. If we think of historically new forms of space—historically new forms of the city, for example—they might well offer new models for urbanists and in that sense constitute a kind of method.
The first freeways in Los Angeles, for example, project a new system of elevated express highways superimposed on an older system of surface streets. That new structural difference might be thought of as a philosophical concept in its own right, a new one, in terms of which you might want to rethink this or that older urban center, or better still, this or that as yet undeveloped Sun Belt agglomeration. For a time then, the Los Angeles concept is modern; whether it is utopian is another matter altogether, although Los Angeles has also been a utopia for many different kinds of people over the years.
Here is Brecht on Hollywood: The village of Hollywood was planned according to the notion People in these parts have of heaven. It Serves the unprosperous, unsuccessful As hell. Will it be possible to untangle the negative from the positive in this particular utopia, which has perhaps also, like all the other utopias, never existed in the first place?
Something like this will be our problem here, but we need to work through some further preliminaries before we get that far. The hypothetical new kind of city that sets an example for the building or reorganization of other new kinds of cities to come is based on a conviction we may no longer be able to rely on, namely, the belief that progress is possible and that cities, for example, can be improved. What is utopian is then identified with 22 CHAPTER 1 this now-traditional and much criticized bourgeois idea of progress, and thus implicitly with teleology as such, with the grand narrative and the master plan, with the idea of a better future, a future not only dependent on our own will to bring it into being but also somehow inscribed in the very nature of things, waiting to be set free, lying in the deeper possibilities and potentialities of being, from which at length and with luck it may emerge.
But does anyone believe in progress any longer? Even keeping to the realm of the spatial, which we have taken as an example, are the architects and urbanists still passionately at work on utopian cities? The utopian city was surely a staple of modernism; one thinks of everybody from Le Corbusier to Constant, from Rockefeller Center to the great Nazi or Soviet projects.
As far as space is concerned, the rich are withdrawing ever more urgently into their gated communities and their fortified enclosures; the middle classes are tirelessly engaged in covering the last vestiges of nature with acres of identical development homes; and the poor, pouring in from the former countryside, swell the makeshift outskirts with a population explosion so irrepressible that in a few years none of the ten largest cities on the globe will include the familiar first-world metropolises any longer. Indeed, it suffices to think of the four fundamental threats to the survival of the human race today—ecological catastrophe, worldwide poverty and famine, structural unemployment on a global scale, and the seemingly uncontrollable traffic in armaments of all kinds, including smart bombs and unmanned drones in armaments, progress does apparently still exist!
Under these circumstances, the last gasp of a properly utopian vision, the last attempt at a utopian forecast of the future transfigured, was a rather perverse one: so-called free-market fundamentalism as it seized the moment of globalization to predict the rising of all boats and the wonder-working miraculous powers of worldwide unregulated global markets. Nor did this waning utopian effort recover much strength by shifting to a different code, from economics to politics, and rebaptizing the freedom of the market as the freedom of democracy.
Yet an empty signifier seems far enough away from the utopian visions with which we are familiar from More and Plato on down, and this is probably the right moment to say a word about the long book on utopias I have recently published and of which this chapter is something of a reconsideration, if not a supplement. What has tended to perplex readers of this book, Archaeologies of the Future,6 if not to annoy them, is not only the repeated insistence on the form rather than the content of utopias—something that would, on the face of it, scarcely be unusual in literary criticism, no matter how deplorable—but also another thesis more likely to catch the unwary reader up short, namely the repeated insistence that what is important in a utopia is not what can be positively imagined and proposed, but rather what is not imaginable and not conceivable.
The utopia, I argue, is not a representation but an operation calculated to disclose the limits of our own imagination of the future, the lines beyond which we do not seem able to go in imagining changes in our own society and world except in the direction of dystopia and catastrophe. Is this then a failure of imagination, or is it simply a fundamental skepticism about the possibilities of change as such, no matter how attractive our visions of what it would be desirable to change into?
Do we not here touch on what has come to be called cynical reason, rather than the impoverishment of our own sense of the future or the waning of the utopian impulse itself? Cynical reason, as the concept has evolved far beyond what Peter Sloterdijk named so many years ago,7 can be characterized as something like the inversion of political apathy.
It knows everything about our own society, everything that is wrong with late capitalism, all the structural toxicities of the system, and yet it declines indignation in a kind of impotent lucidity that may not even be bad faith. It cannot be shocked or scandalized, as the privileged were able to at earlier moments of the market system; nor is the deconcealment of this system, its analysis and functional demonstration in the light of day, any longer effective in compelling critical reactions or motivations.
We may say all this in terms of ideology as well. If that word has fallen on hard times, it is perhaps because in a sense there is no longer any false consciousness, no longer any need to disguise the workings of the system and its various programs in terms of idealistic or altruistic rationalizations, so that the unmasking of those 24 CHAPTER 1 rationalizations, the primordial gesture of debunking and of exposure, no longer seems necessary.
The waning of utopias is thus a conjuncture between all these developments: a weakening of historicity or of the sense of the future; a conviction that fundamental change is no longer possible, however desirable; and cynical reason as such. To this we might add that sheer power of excess money accumulated since the last great world war, which keeps the system in place everywhere, reinforcing its institutions and its armed forces.
Or maybe we should adduce yet a different kind of factor, one of psychological conditioning—namely that omnipresent consumerism, having become an end in itself, is transforming the daily life of the advanced countries in such a way as to suggest that the utopianism of multiple desires and consumption is here already and needs no further supplement. So much for the limits on our capacity to imagine utopia as such and for what it tells us about a present in which we can no longer envision that future.
But it would clearly be wrong to say that today representational utopia has every-where disappeared. Another significant critique of my book suggested that I failed to do my duty as a utopian inasmuch as I omitted any mention of these surviving utopian visions that mostly center on the anti- or postCommunist conviction that small is beautiful, or even that growth is undesirable, that the self-organization of communities is the fundamental condition of utopian life, and that even with large-scale industry the first priority is selfmanagement and cooperation; in other words, that what is essential in utopianism is not the ingenious economic scheme the abolition of money, for example so much as collectivity as such, the primacy of the social bond over the individualistic and the competitive impulses.
I would rather speak of the genre of the revolutionary idyll; and indeed, in his Some Versions of Pastoral , William Empson went a long way toward assimilating socialist realism in general to such a form, which, with its shepherds and shepherdesses and its rural peacefulness and fulfillment, seems to have died out everywhere in the literature of the bourgeois age. So I do see a place for the representational utopia, and even a political function for it.
As I tried to argue in Archaeologies, these seemingly peaceful images are also, in and of themselves, violent ruptures with what is, breaks that destabilize our stereotypes of a future that is the same as our present, interventions that interrupt the reproduction of the system in habit and in ideological consent and that institute that fissure, however minimal and initially little more than a hairline fracture, through which another picture of the future and another system of temporality might emerge.
Yet I also want to project a different way of invoking that future and to propose a different function for the utopian; in a sense it is premised on the distinction I proposed at the very beginning of Archaeologies between the utopian program and the utopian impulse, between utopian planners and utopian interpreters, or between More or Fourier and Ernst Bloch. The utopian program, which aims at the realization of a utopia, can be as modest or as ambitious as one wants; it can range from a whole social revolution, on a national or even world scale, all the way down to the design of the uniquely utopian space of a building or garden.
What all these have in common, however— besides the utopian transformation of reality—is that closure or enclave structure that all utopias seemingly must confront in one way or another. These utopian spaces are thus totalities, whatever their scale; they are symbolic of a world transformed, and as such they must posit limits, boundaries between the utopian and the nonutopian. It is with these limits and with this enclave structure that any serious critique of utopia will begin. The interpretation of the utopian impulse, however, necessarily deals with fragments. It is not symbolic but allegorical; it does not correspond to a plan or to a utopian praxis; and it expresses utopian desire and invests it in a variety 26 CHAPTER 1 of unexpected and disguised, concealed, distorted ways.
The utopian impulse, therefore, calls for a hermeneutic, for the detective work of a decipherment and a reading of utopian clues and traces in the landscape of the real; a theorization and interpretation of unconscious utopian investments in realities large or small, which may be far from utopian. The premise here is that the most noxious phenomena can serve as the repository and hiding place for all kinds of unsuspected wish fulfillments and utopian gratifications; indeed, I have often used the example of the humble aspirin as the unwitting bearer of the most extravagant longings for immortality and for the transfiguration of the body.
Marx This kind of utopian analysis, however, may seem to foreground the subject and subjectivity and to risk transforming the utopian impulse into inconsequential projections that carry no historical weight and imply no practical consequences for the social world. This objection seems to be overstated to the degree to which human desire is constitutive of the collective project and of the historical construction of social formations, within the limits imposed by objective conditions of possibility.
Still, it may be best to lay in place a view of those objective conditions before continuing and to outline a model of the objective possibilities of utopian social transformation against which interpretations in terms of some putative utopian impulse might be measured. Indeed, we might well want to argue that the Marxian view of historical change combines both of these forms of utopian thinking, for it can be seen as a practical project as well as a space of the investment of unconscious forces.
The old tension in Marxism between voluntarism and fatalism finds its origins here, in this twin or superimposed utopian perspective. A Marxist politics is a utopian project or program for transforming the world and replacing a capitalist mode of production with a radically different one. But it is also a conception of historical dynamics that posits that the whole new world is objectively in emergence all around us, without our necessarily perceiving it at once, so that alongside our conscious praxis and our strategies for producing change, we may take a more receptive and interpretive stance.
In this stance, with the proper instruments and registering apparatus, we may detect the allegorical stirrings of a different state of things, the imperceptible and even immemorial ripenings of the seeds of time, the subliminal and subcutaneous eruptions of whole new forms of life and social relations. At first Marx expressed this second model of temporality through the most banal of essential mysteries, which no longer carries much figural power for us.
Meanwhile, we need to add that both Marx and Lenin wrote specifically utopian works, both of them based on the Paris Commune. Both texts, however, deal with political rather than economic utopias, and it is clearly the latter that poses the greatest conceptual difficulties for us. To be sure, the anarchist strain in Marx is not to be underestimated. This is the first negation of individual private property, as founded on the labor of its proprietor [a reference to the yeoman system I just mentioned]. But capitalist production begets, with the inexorability of a natural process, its own negation.
This is the negation of the negation. It does not re-establish private property, but it does indeed establish individual property on the basis of the achievements of the capitalist era: namely cooperation of the possession in common of the land and the means of production produced by labor itself. The knell of capitalist private property sounds. The expropriators are expropriated. What is at stake in the account generally is, of course, the growth of monopoly; and it is monopoly that I perversely wish to identify as a utopian phenomenon.
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This expropriation is accomplished through the action of the immanent laws of capitalist production itself, through the centralization of capitals. One capitalist always strikes down many others. Hand in hand with this centralization, or this expropriation of many capitalists by a few, other developments take place on an ever-increasing scale, such as the growth of the cooperative form of the labour process, the conscious technical application of science, the planned exploitation of the soil, the transformation of the means of labour into forms in which they can only be used in common, the economizing of all means of production by their use as the means of production of combined, socialized labour, the entanglement of all peoples in the net of the world market, and, with this, the growth of the international character of the capitalist regime.
Along with the constant decrease in the number of capitalist magnates, who usurp and monopolize all the advantages of this process of transformation, the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation and exploitation grows. Indeed, here we are at a certain watershed in radical or socialist thinking: where a progressive bourgeoisie seeks to deal with monopoly by breaking up the great corporations into smaller ones again, in order to permit the return of a healthier competition; and where anarchism denounces concentration as a figure for the state, which is to be destroyed at all costs and wherever its power appears.
Without big banks socialism would be impossible. Quantity will be transformed into quality. I often share these sympathies and do not particularly mean to take a position here, but I observe that in both cases—regulation and the breaking up of monopolies in the name of business competition on the one hand, and the return to smaller communities and collectivities on the other— we have to do with historical regression and the attempt to return to a past that no longer exists. But we apparently cannot think of an impending future of size, quantity, overpopulation, and the like, except in dystopian terms.
Indeed, the difficulties in thinking quantity positively must be added to the list of obstacles facing utopian thought in our time. Wal-Mart This is the point at which I propose a model for utopian analysis that might be taken as a synthesis of these two subjective and objective approaches.
I develop two examples of this kind of interpretation, which are what I want to identify not as the utopian method as such but at least as one possible method among others; these examples draw on history and theory respectively. The picture is unappetizing, and the prospects for the future—Wal-Mart is already the largest company, not only in the United States but also in the world!
Yes, Wal-Mart plays by the rules, but perhaps the most important part of the Wal-Mart effect is that the rules are antiquated. Wal-Mart is not an aberration or an exception, but rather the purest expression of that dynamic of capitalism which devours itself, which abolishes the market by means of the market itself. This dialectical character of the new reality Wal-Mart represents is also very much the source of the ambivalence universally felt about this business operation, whose capacity to reduce inflation and to hold down or even to lower prices and make life affordable for the poorest Americans is also the very source of their poverty and the prime mover in the dissolution of American industrial productivity and the irrevocable destruction of the American small THE USES OF THE FUTURE 31 town.
This is the historically unique and dialectical dynamic of capitalism as a system, as Marx and Engels describe it in the Manifesto in pages that some have taken as a delirious celebration of the powers of the new mode of production and others as the ultimate moral judgment of it. The dialectic is an injunction to think the negative and the positive together at one and the same time, in the unity of a single thought, where moralizing wants to have the luxury of condemning this evil without particularly imagining anything else in its place. So Wal-Mart is celebrated as the ultimate in democracy as well as in efficiency: a streamlined organization that ruthlessly strips away all unnecessary frills and waste and that disciplines its bureaucracy, creating a class as admirable as the Prussian state or the great movement of instituteurs in latenineteenth-century French lay education or even the dreams of a streamlined Soviet system.
New desires are encouraged and satisfied as richly as the theoreticians of the s and Marx himself predicted, and the problems of distribution are triumphantly addressed with all kinds of new technological innovations. Bit structures reorganize the pattern of the city and allow its destabilization. Yet on the side of the material object, there is another relevant development, as fundamental as this one but quite different from it, and that is the invention and emergence of containerization as a revolution in transport, whose multiple effects we cannot explore here.
Indeed, these ends of the 32 CHAPTER 1 so-called supply chain demand a philosophical conceptualization and stand as the mediation between production and distribution and the virtual abolition of an opposition between distribution and consumption. Meanwhile, the anarchy of capitalism and the market has been overcome and the necessities of life have been provided for an increasingly desperate and impoverished public, exploited by its government and its big businesses over whom it is scarcely able to exercise political control.
But such admiration and positive judgment must be accompanied by the absolute condemnation that completes the dialectical ambivalence we bring to this historical phenomenon. Nor is WalMart wholly oblivious to its own ambivalence; after avoiding journalists altogether for fear of letting damaging facts slip out, its publicity people have come to expect mixed feelings in which the harshest criticism is inevitably accompanied by celebratory concessions.
It is enough to recall the admiration of Lenin and Gramsci for Taylorism and Fordism to be perplexed by this weakness of revolutionaries for what is most exploitative and dehumanizing in the working life of capitalism. But this is precisely what is meant by the utopian here, namely that what is currently negative can also be imagined as positive in that immense changing of the valences that is the utopian future. I now address two further but extremely pertinent objections to this paradoxical affirmation, before moving on to a different utopian exercise.
First, Wal-Mart may be a model of distribution, but it can scarcely be said to be a model of production in the strict sense, however much we might talk of the production of distribution and so on. It is a utopian suggestion, to the degree to which the valences of this power—from retail monopoly to the various producers—could be reversed without structural change.
The breath of the possible: everyday utopianism and the street in modernist urbanism
The other objection has to do with the profit motive. After all, the driving force of Wal-Mart is that it is a capitalist industry, and the failures of socialism all seemed to lie in the slackness encouraged by the command economy, in which corruption, favoritism, nepotism, or sheer research ignorance led to the scandals in which, famously, the basements of the GUM were filled with illimitable quantities of identical lampshades that no one wanted to buy. Wal-Mart is also driven by moral incentives.
The secret of its success is not profit but pricing, the shaving off of the final pennies, a policy fatal to any number of its suppliers. Perhaps, then, even the explanatory 34 CHAPTER 1 appeal to the profit motive is essentialist and pertains to an ideology of human nature that is part of the initial construction of capitalism. Marxism is not psychologically reductive in this way, and it asserts not determinism by greed or acquisitiveness but rather the determination by the system or mode of production, each of which produces and constructs its own historical version of human nature.
Virno Let us describe with more precision the theory and practice of this new type of utopia that my account of Wal-Mart seems to presuppose. Indeed, the theoretical approaches to it are sometimes found in positions explicitly characterized as anti-utopian. This is the case with our next example, which will turn on the now well-known concept of the multitude, as developed borrowing a term by Spinoza by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri in their books Empire and Multitude, respectively. Every new approach to collectivity is worth welcoming in an atomized and individualistic society but I will come back to individualism in a moment.
The older collective concepts were also clearly flawed in their own very different ways, at the same time that they expressed the social reality of the emergence of new forms of collective agents or subjects. To do so, however, I will draw not on the massive and complex books of Hardt and Negri, but rather on a briefer intervention in this discussion, a luminous exposition of some of the consequences of this new theoretical position which by now is a new tradition by one of the most remarkable philosophical minds of the era, the Italian philosopher Paolo Virno, who is still little known in the United States.
Heidegger called for a purgation of precisely those habits of bourgeois comfort by way of anxiety and the fear of death, and he saw modern life as dominated by inauthenticity and urban collectivity. It is essentially these categories, and the very concept of inauthenticity, that Virno has it in mind to revise leaving Nazism and the later theories of technology out of it, as we will also do. Eliot to Ortega y Gasset, by traditionalists from China to America. I return to the issue of representational utopias I raised earlier. Now these are all no doubt excellent and desirable developments, but it is not hard to see that they are also essentially reactive; that is, they constitute so many obedient replacements of the reigning negative terms by their positive opposites.
But this very reactivity of the Heideggerian response tends to confirm the priority of the negative diagnosis in the first place. It is only in postmodernity and globalization, with the world population explosion, the desertion of the countryside, the growth of the megacity, global warming and ecological catastrophe, the proliferation of urban guerrilla warfare, the financial collapse of the welfare state, and the universal emergence of small group politics of all kinds that these phenomena have seemed to fold back into each other around the primary cause if that is the right category to use of the scandal of multiplicity and of what is generally referred to as overpopulation, or in other words, the definitive appearance of the Other in multiple forms and as sheer quantity or number.
It is indeed just such a strategy that I want to find at work in Grammar of the Multitude, whose themes may now be briefly and incompletely passed in review. The operator of the transvaluation recommended here, from anxiety to affirmation, is the Kantian notion of the sublime, which incorporates fear within its very jouissance; yet the practical consequences of such a transformation will also transform the pathos of Heideggerian homelessness into the animation of Deleuzian nomadism, as we shall see.
Nomadism, however, would also seem to characterize contemporary labor, in a situation in which, as the economists solemnly warn us, no one should expect to hold down a single lifelong job they do not generally add the increasingly obvious supplement, namely that many should not expect to hold down any job at all. We must first note the specificities of labor today, as Virno outlines them, drawing the ultimate conclusion from the movement of all modern philosophy from categories of substance to categories of process.
Modern or perhaps 38 CHAPTER 1 postmodern work is a matter of process, an activity for which the end has become secondary and the production of an object a mere pretext, the process having become an end in itself. This is comparable to virtuosity in the aesthetic realm, and indeed here we meet an unexpected avatar of the old Left dream of an aesthetic disalienation of the world, from Schiller to Marcuse and the s. Yet this one will have none of the saving graces of the older aestheticism; it will be a culture of minding the machines, a postwork culture, an activity of language sharing and linguistic cooperation.
This move then also entails the resituating of labor—hitherto ambiguously differentiated from both private and public spheres it is not private life, but its framework is still owned by the capitalist and not open to the public —within some new space from which the opposition between private and public has disappeared, without the reduction of one to the other. In this context, then, where science and language have soaked into the everyday and permeated all the pores of our daily lives, making everyone an intellectual as Gramsci famously put it , a henceforth globalized mass culture and omnipresent communication have a very different significance.
The multitude has its own new kind of linguistic and cultural literacy everywhere on the globe: there are no prehistoric peoples, no premodern survivals; tribals listen to their portables and nomads watch their DVDs; in mountain villages without electricity, as well as in the most dismal refugee camps, the dispossessed follow current events and listen to the vacuous speeches of our president. It may be increasingly obvious that gossip, as in Proust, is preeminently the mark of a human age and of the preponderance of the human other over the former relations between human beings and nature.
At the same time, however, the media trains the senses also for the opposite task: to consider the unknown as if it were known, to become familiar with the unexpected and the surprising, to become accustomed to the lack of established habits. Cynicism thereby abandons the universalism of equivalency read: exchange value for that new kind of multiplicity that traditionalists call relativism, but which is a new effect of the multitude rather than some inherited philosophical position.
With these few remarks, Virno opens up the whole urgent problem of cynical reason for some original retheorization. And this is also the way our bourgeois tradition has, from time relatively immemorial, observed the crowd or the mob—that is, from a safe distance and deploring the excesses and the way in which its subjects run to and fro aimlessly, 40 CHAPTER 1 shouting and gesticulating, released from the constraints of law and decency, and, as it were, under the spell of a kind of shamanistic possession. What Virno has to tell us about this is extremely timely. The multitude is, on the contrary, the very condition for individuation; it is alone in the multitude and the collective that we arrive at our true singularity as individuals.
We must abandon the habit of thinking of a host of things— language, culture, literacy, the state, the nation—as goals to be achieved in some arduous yet beneficent process of modernization. On the contrary, they are long since all achieved, everyone is modern, and modernization has been over for some time. It also casts a different light on the politics of difference, which has a meaning after the totalizations of capitalism that it could not possibly have had in early capitalist or precapitalist thought and experience.
Even the unification of groups in some great collective project must necessarily work differently after the consolidation of a system of nation-states from the way it did when the very construction of the nation, incomplete, was a heroic and a progressive process. So much, then, for some of the constitutive features of this new world of the multitude, which we are to train ourselves to welcome as the first fresh stirrings of the very storm of utopia.
What we are calling the multitude, then, is the population of those refugee camps as they supplant the promise of suburbs and the mobility of freeways, which have become permanent traffic jams. Virno associates two kinds of actions with this new multitude, whether utopian or not. The camps, the frontier: such is the deeper unseen reality of the world of the multitude that Virno asks us to embrace in Nietzschean fashion, not as some forever recurring of the present, but as the eternal return of the future and of utopian possibilities to be celebrated as though we had chosen them in the first place.
The hermeneutic I want to demonstrate is therefore not predictive; nor is it symptomological. It is not meant as a way to read the outlines of the future within the present, nor is it meant to identify the operations of collective wish fulfillment within the rather unpleasant phenomena monopoly, overpopulation that are its objects of examination. The former line of inquiry, that of practical politics and programs, and identified here with Marx and with Lenin, would have had to assess the concrete world situation in its economic and political objectivity, as well as in the balance of ideological forces, from a strategic perspective rather than from isolated data.
By that he meant to distinguish his own or perhaps even some more generalized post-structural or postmodern method from either empirical history or the evolutionary narratives reconstructed by idealist historians. The operation itself, however, consists in a prodigious effort to change the valences on phenomena that so far exist only in our own present and experimentally to declare positive things that are clearly negative in our own world, to affirm that dystopia is in reality utopia if examined more closely, to isolate specific features in our empirical present so as to read them as components of a different system.
This is what we have seen Virno do when he borrowed an enumeration of what in Heidegger are clearly meant to be negative and highly critical features of modern society or modern actuality, staging each of these alleged symptoms of degradation as an occasion for celebration and as a promise of what he does not—but what we may—call an alternate utopian future. This kind of prospective hermeneutic is a political act only in one specific sense: as a contribution to the reawakening of the imagination of possible and alternate futures, a reawakening of that historicity which our system—offering itself as the very end of history—necessarily represses and paralyzes.
This is the sense in which utopology revives long-dormant parts of the mind, unused organs of political, historical, and social imagination that have virtually atro- THE USES OF THE FUTURE 43 phied for lack of use, muscles of praxis we have long since ceased exercising, revolutionary gestures we have lost the habit of performing, even subliminally. Such a revival of futurity and of the positing of alternate futures is not a political program or even a political practice, but it is hard to see how any durable or effective political action could come into being without it.
Poems, —, ed. Lewis S. Feuer New York: Doubleday, , Fishman, Wal-Mart Effect, — Heidegger, Sein und Zeit, paragraphs 35, 36, 37, Miller Oxford: Oxford University Press, , — From here on, page numbers from this source are given in the chapter. The cattle killing was the climax of nearly a decade of millenarian prophecies among the amaXhosa, whose livelihood and culture were centered around cattle, and who had been repeatedly dislocated for more than half a century as the border of the British Cape Colony pushed eastward in a series of frontier wars. The cattle-killing prophecy was delivered in to a young Xhosa woman by strange men who identified themselves as ancestors of the amaXhosa.
Their message was disseminated by the young woman, Nongqawuse, and her uncle Mhlakaza. The prophecy promised the return of the ancestors if the amaXhosa would kill their cattle, abstain from agriculture, and destroy the grain stored in underground pits. The amaXhosa were to prepare new grain pits, strengthen their houses, refrain from witchcraft and sexual impurity, and await the return of the ancestors, who would bring with them herds of new cattle and piles of grain. The world would be renewed, and the Europeans and unbelievers would be driven into the sea.
In widespread—yet by no means universal— compliance with the prophecy, approximately , cattle were killed in — Compounding this decimation of the herds, as many as , cattle had already died or been culled during an epidemic of bovine pleuropneumonia, or lung sickness, that had arrived in the Cape in The ancestors and cattle failed to return on the final announced date in February , and the human toll was devastating: approximately 40, people died of starvation, and 50, left their land to become laborers in the Cape Colony. Those who remained were forced into villages as the British seized more than , acres of land.
This Christian civilizing mission began among the amaXhosa not long before the cattle killing and accelerated as some of the starving survivors sought relief at Christian missions. One of the crucial engines of this project was literacy, and my aim here is to read the cattle killing in terms of the literary, ideological, and material consequences of the dissemination of literacy in southern Africa, a process contemporary with the cattle killing. Although these Xhosa and colonial visions of futurity have been read as diametrically opposed, I suggest that we might see each as providing mutually constitutive conditions of possibility for the other, in terms of both material constraint and repertoires of the imaginary.
While believers and unbelievers disagreed most urgently over whether to kill cattle, their divergent utopias involved far deeper questions. The missionary project of religious conversion is the most obvious of these imagined transformations in southern Africa, part of the nineteenth-century global dispersal of European and American Christian evangelicals who saw their work of spreading the gospel as redeeming the sin of slavery particularly in the British case , creating a kingdom of God on earth, and even hastening the fulfillment of biblical prophecies of the millennium and the end of days.
A neat little village has been formed, inhabited by those who a little while ago roamed the world at large, as wild and savage as their old neighbors, the lions and tigers of the forest. They imitate us in all things—even in their dress; and now beads and baubles have fallen in the market, and old clothes are in demand. If you except the black faces, a stranger would almost think he had dropped into a little Scotch village.
In Colonel John Maclean, the chief commissioner of British Kaffraria, described a far more wary process of selective appropriation: The [Xhosa,] contented like the North American Indian with his barbarous state, and apathetic as to improvement, has in addition to these other characteristics, that he clings tenaciously to his old customs and habits, is proud of his race, which he considers pure and superior to others, is therefore 48 CHAPTER 2 eminently national, is suspicious, and holds aloof from others; and while considering the white man as a means of obtaining certain articles which the despised industry of the latter supplies would yet prefer their absence.
They cling to the native chieftainship as to a power which. Beginning in , a series of frontier wars between Europeans and the amaXhosa had pushed the colonial frontier eastward, resulting in successive evictions of the amaXhosa from lands where generations of ancestors were buried. By the mids, the amaXhosa inhabited territory on both sides of the Kei River, which served as the eastern boundary of British Kaffraria, a military colony directly east of the Cape Colony, established in Grey had direct authority unmediated by a local elected body over British Kaffraria, which was ruled under martial law through a network of military commissioners and magistrates settled with Xhosa chiefs of the Ngqika and Ndlambe clans.
On the eastern side of the Kei River, the Gcaleka Xhosa chief Sarhili ruled over independent Xhosaland, and his authority as king or paramount chief of all the amaXhosa was recognized by chiefs on both sides of the Kei, that is, both those under British military occupation and those in unconquered territory. Grey aimed to transform the chiefs in British Kaffraria into paid agents of the colonial administration and to replace the Xhosa pastoral economy with wage labor on European farms and other enterprises.
The prophecy called not only for killing cattle, discarding grain, and halting agriculture, but also for actions whose consequences would be rejuvenating; preparing new cattle kraals, grain pits, and homesteads and abjuring witchcraft and sexual misdemeanors would make way for the emergence of ancestors and superior cattle and grain from underground riverine caverns, in a reenactment of the creation in Xhosa cosmology. The Xhosa had long believed that if they could find uHlanga, the site of the original emergence, they could obtain new cattle; Nongqawuse claimed to have access to the site and to waiting herds and armies, ready to expel the invaders and restore the land.
The emphasis of the colonial dream, on the other hand, was on the innovative, unprecedented aspects of millennialism. In other words, the Xhosa prophecy and the European civilizing mission can be roughly distinguished in terms of temporality, a recursive vision of renewal as compared with a unidirectional, linear vision of progress. But it would be a mistake to conceive of the cattle killing merely as a reactionary movement, imagined in some putative premodern, non-Western oceanic time. Fundamental elements of the prophecy were without precedent before the s, and the realization of the prophecy would have been a radically new departure in the history of the amaXhosa, not simply a turning back of the clock.
The European project worked through technologies of transformation: guns that gave lethal motion to inert bits of lead, turning people to corpses; scripts and printing presses that gave visual, permanent, and reproducible form to spoken words; plows and irrigation furrows that helped turn agricultural surplus to money. Carrying a small press with him from Scotland, Reverend John Ross arrived at the Tyhume mission station in the eastern Cape on 16 December and joined his new colleague, John Bennie.
In a 20 December letter, Bennie wrote to Dr. A new station, named for Dr. Love, was built in at a nearby site. Thus the Lovedale Mission Press, among the oldest and most prolific mission presses in southern Africa, traces its origins to those four days in Yet as Soga was to discover, the Bible and the button without a hole were not easily separated. Nineteenth-century European missionaries among the amaXhosa understood Christianity in broadly civilizational, rather than narrowly doctrinal, terms, so that conversion was as much about everyday modes of living as about matters of faith.
Stretch, a military officer and the resident agent among the Ngqika Xhosa, for cattle to replace those lost in the recent war. For the amaXhosa, cattle were a special kind of commodity, a singular locus of value: their ownership rested with 52 CHAPTER 2 chiefs and elders and ultimately with the ancestors , and their circulation created networks of patronage and filiation that made social relationships visible, rather than obscuring them. With printing, however, it was a different matter,—Kaffir experience not showing how a man could make a living by arranging small bits of lead in rows.
By patience and much persuasion one apprentice was got. The contemporary imbongi oral praise poet David Livingstone Yali-Manisi draws upon a centuries-old trope of books turning into guns: The day the missionaries arrived They carried a Bible in front, But they had a breechload slung behind. Tiyo Soga returned to Africa from his study and ordination in Scotland in July , a few months after the new cattle and ancestors had failed to emerge as prophesied.
Thus white men plan to get a footing in their country, which they afterwards take altogether. Religious conversion is figured in his biography as a process of textual transformation, and in exemplary cases like that of Tiyo Soga, as a process of transformative textualization; the full title of the biography is Tiyo Soga: A Page of South African Mission Work.
Literacy, then, can be imagined as the afterlife of orality. In this infinite potential for reanimation, textuality is intertextuality. The notion of afterlife connotes the ineffable commingling of essential continuity, substantial transformation, and spatiotemporal displacement and return that are implicit in a resurrection. Dying to live is also the paradoxical, millennial logic of the cattle killing, and what the Xhosa examples of literacy as death make explicit, in the link between mission-sponsored literacy and British military supremacy, is that the sense of loss or rupture in the transition to literacy that Ong figures as death occurs within a context of coercion, if not quite at gunpoint.
The relationship between orality and literacy in the colonial context is not a zerosum game in which literacy makes steady advances over and against orality. People die of sickness, and are killed in war; my words seem few but they are long enough. In contemporary literary theory, the author may be figured more as dead and without hope of resurrection than as divine; however, theorizing literacy in terms of prophecy and what I call the afterlives of textuality is particularly evocative in the context of the cattle killing, where the dissemination of textuality, and the textualization of the colonized other, are processes enmeshed within the project of colonial transformation against which the Xhosa prophecies were articulated.
Tiyo Soga resolved. He juxtaposes the resurrections heralded by false and true Xhosa evangelists, the exceptionally deluded Mhlakaza and the exceptionally pious Tiyo Soga. In the context of purportedly nonfictional narratives of the cattle killing written by missionaries, colonial administrators, and early historians, however, what is remarkable is not their naturalness, but rather the insistence with which they call attention to their literariness. Perhaps the best example of this tendency to construct the cattle killing as a literary set piece is to be found in the oeuvre of George McCall Theal, who began his voluminous output in southern African historiography while he was a teacher and printer at the Lovedale mission.
Enormous skin sacks were being made ready to contain the milk shortly to be like water in plenty. Armies were seen reviewing on the sea, others sailing in umbrellas; thousands of cattle were heard knocking their horns together and bellowing in caverns, impatient to rise, only waiting until all their fellows who still walked the earth were slain; dead men, years in the grave, had been seen, who sent pathetic appeals to their kindred not to delay their coming back to life by refusing to obey the prophet. They differ substantially from the account of Wesleyan missionary William C.
The differences among the accounts are evident in their treatment of portentous movements of the sun and moon. In stark contrast to Holden, Theal and Mrs. Brownlee read the sky as a figure of human consciousness and find in the constancy of its diurnal rhythms an ironic foil for human error and disillusion. Another aspect of the prophecy that receives tropological attention is the anticipated return of the dead ancestors.
They do not appear, and yet they do when the aftermath is figured as a reversal of the prophecy. Brownlee makes the reversal of expectations even more explicit, and the pathos of her account derives from the connections she draws among anticipated, actual, and figural appearances of the dead. This investment in imagination aims to convey the enormity of physical suffering; Mrs.
Brownlee allows the reader to sympathize with the expectant amaXhosa in order to heighten the affective response when the prophecy is figurally fulfilled—through reversal—in the appearance of the living dead. In contrast to J. The effect of these accounts depends upon the shock of reversal after readers temporarily suspend their disbelief in the prophecy, and whatever meaning is to be found in the cattle killing in these accounts is to be found in peripety, in the ironic pairings of before and after, of imagination and actuality.
For Mrs. Brownlee relives the pity and fear that Aristotle saw as the precipitates of a tragic plot structured around anagnorisis recognition and peripeteia reversal. What is so remarkable about these accounts, in other words, is that they generate some measure of narrative surprise about the failure of a prophecy that their readers would not have expected to succeed. The dynamism of peripety in their accounts also implicates their sustained interest in the elements of the prophecy that involve Europeans.
Amid the convoluted articulations of the prophecy, which varied in space and time, the singular image of being driven into the sea certainly captured the imagination of anxious settlers. The consensus in these accounts is that the cattle killing is, at least in part, anticolonial, directed at the destruction of whites and of colonial rule. Far from being driven into the sea, however, the Europeans remained to write these accounts; it is the Xhosa who are dead, starving, and driven out of British Kaffraria and into the Cape Colony as laborers.
For more information, see the History of Socialism article. In a materialist utopian society, the economy is perfect; there is no inflation and only perfect social and financial equality exists. In , H. Wells published A Modern Utopia , which was widely read and admired and provoked much discussion.
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Also consider Eric Frank Russell 's book The Great Explosion whose last section details an economic and social utopia. During the " Khrushchev Thaw " period,  the Soviet writer Ivan Efremov produced the science-fiction utopia Andromeda in which a major cultural thaw took place: humanity communicates with a galaxy-wide Great Circle and develops its technology and culture within a social framework characterized by vigorous competition between alternative philosophies.
The English political philosopher James Harrington , author of the utopian work The Commonwealth of Oceana , published in , inspired English country party republicanism and was influential in the design of three American colonies. His theories ultimately contributed to the idealistic principles of the American Founders. The colonies of Carolina founded in , Pennsylvania founded in , and Georgia founded in were the only three English colonies in America that were planned as utopian societies with an integrated physical, economic and social design.
The communes of the s in the United States were often an attempt to greatly improve the way humans live together in communities. The back-to-the-land movements and hippies inspired many to try to live in peace and harmony on farms, remote areas and to set up new types of governance. Intentional communities were organized and built all over the world with the hope of making a more perfect way of living together. While many of these new small communities failed, some are growing, such as the Twelve Tribes Communities that started in the United States.
Since its start, it has now grown into many groups around the world. These utopian societies included the Shakers , who originated in England in the 18th century and arrived in America in A number of religious utopian societies from Europe came to the United States from the 18th century throughout the 19th century, including the Society of the Woman in the Wilderness led by Johannes Kelpius — , the Ephrata Cloister established in and the Harmony Society , among others. The Harmony Society was a Christian theosophy and pietist group founded in Iptingen , Germany , in On February 15, , about followers formally organized the Harmony Society, placing all their goods in common.
The group lasted until , making it one of the longest-running financially successful communes in American history. Although this utopian experiment has become better known today for its manufacture of Oneida silverware, it was one of the longest-running communes in American history. The Bruderhof was established in and has 23 communities across the world. The Amana Corporation , manufacturer of refrigerators and household appliances, was originally started by the group.
The Amish and Hutterites can also be considered an attempt towards religious utopia. A wide variety of intentional communities with some type of faith-based ideas have also started across the world. The Book of Revelation in the Christian Bible depicts an eschatological time with the defeat of Satan and of evil. The main difference compared to the Old Testament promises is that such a defeat also has an ontological value Rev ;4 : "Then I saw 'a new heaven and a new earth ,' for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea Daily and mundane details of this new Earth, where God and Jesus rule, remain unclear, although it is implied to be similar to the biblical Garden of Eden.
Some theological philosophers believe that heaven will not be a physical realm but instead an incorporeal place for souls. Though Francis Bacon 's New Atlantis is imbued with a scientific spirit, scientific and technological utopias tend to be based in the future, when it is believed that advanced science and technology will allow utopian living standards ; for example, the absence of death and suffering ; changes in human nature and the human condition. Technology has affected the way humans have lived to such an extent that normal functions, like sleep, eating or even reproduction, have been replaced by artificial means.
Other examples include a society where humans have struck a balance with technology and it is merely used to enhance the human living condition e. Star Trek. In place of the static perfection of a utopia, libertarian transhumanists envision an " extropia ", an open, evolving society allowing individuals and voluntary groupings to form the institutions and social forms they prefer. Mariah Utsawa presented a theoretical basis for technological utopianism and set out to develop a variety of technologies ranging from maps to designs for cars and houses which might lead to the development of such a utopia.
One notable example of a technological and libertarian socialist utopia is Scottish author Iain Banks ' Culture. Opposing this optimism is the prediction that advanced science and technology will, through deliberate misuse or accident, cause environmental damage or even humanity's extinction. Critics, such as Jacques Ellul and Timothy Mitchell advocate precautions against the premature embrace of new technologies. Both raise questions about changing responsibility and freedom brought by division of labour.
Authors such as John Zerzan and Derrick Jensen consider that modern technology is progressively depriving humans of their autonomy and advocate the collapse of the industrial civilization, in favor of small-scale organization, as a necessary path to avoid the threat of technology on human freedom and sustainability. There are many examples of techno-dystopias portrayed in mainstream culture, such as the classics Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four , often published as "", which have explored some of these topics. Utopias have been used to explore the ramifications of genders being either a societal construct or a biologically "hard-wired" imperative or some mix of the two.
For example, Edward Bellamy 's Looking Backward responded, progressively for his day, to the contemporary women's suffrage and women's rights movements. Bellamy supported these movements by incorporating the equality of women and men into his utopian world's structure, albeit by consigning women to a separate sphere of light industrial activity due to women's lesser physical strength and making various exceptions for them in order to make room for and to praise motherhood.
One of the earlier feminist utopias that imagines complete separatism is Charlotte Perkins Gilman 's Herland In science fiction and technological speculation , gender can be challenged on the biological as well as the social level. Marge Piercy 's Woman on the Edge of Time portrays equality between the genders and complete equality in sexuality regardless of the gender of the lovers.
Birth-giving, often felt as the divider that cannot be avoided in discussions of women's rights and roles, has been shifted onto elaborate biological machinery that functions to offer an enriched embryonic experience, When a child is born, it spends most of its time in the children's ward with peers. Three "mothers" per child are the norm and they are chosen in a gender neutral way men as well as women may become "mothers" on the basis of their experience and ability.
Technological advances also make possible the freeing of women from childbearing in Shulamith Firestone 's The Dialectic of Sex. The fictional aliens in Mary Gentle 's Golden Witchbreed start out as gender-neutral children and do not develop into men and women until puberty and gender has no bearing on social roles. In contrast, Doris Lessing 's The Marriages Between Zones Three, Four and Five suggests that men's and women's values are inherent to the sexes and cannot be changed, making a compromise between them essential.
Utopian single-gender worlds or single-sex societies have long been one of the primary ways to explore implications of gender and gender-differences. Charlotte Perkins Gilman's novel approaches this type of separate society.
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Many feminist utopias pondering separatism were written in the s, as a response to the Lesbian separatist movement ;    examples include Joanna Russ 's The Female Man and Suzy McKee Charnas 's Walk to the End of the World and Motherlines. In many cultures, societies, and religions, there is some myth or memory of a distant past when humankind lived in a primitive and simple state but at the same time one of perfect happiness and fulfillment. In those days, the various myths tell us, there was an instinctive harmony between humanity and nature.
People's needs were few and their desires limited. Both were easily satisfied by the abundance provided by nature. Accordingly, there were no motives whatsoever for war or oppression. Nor was there any need for hard and painful work. Humans were simple and pious and felt themselves close to their God or gods. According to one anthropological theory, hunter-gatherers were the original affluent society.
These mythical or religious archetypes are inscribed in many cultures and resurge with special vitality when people are in difficult and critical times. However, in utopias, the projection of the myth does not take place towards the remote past but either towards the future or towards distant and fictional places, imagining that at some time in the future, at some point in space, or beyond death, there must exist the possibility of living happily. These myths of the earliest stage of humankind have been referred to by various cultures, societies and religions:. The Greek poet Hesiod , around the 8th century BC, in his compilation of the mythological tradition the poem Works and Days , explained that, prior to the present era , there were four other progressively more perfect ones, the oldest of which was the Golden Age.
Plutarch , the Greek historian and biographer of the 1st century, dealt with the blissful and mythic past of the humanity. From Sir Philip Sidney 's prose romance The Old Arcadia , originally a region in the Peloponnesus , Arcadia became a synonym for any rural area that serves as a pastoral setting, a locus amoenus "delightful place". Out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
And the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; [ According to the exegesis that the biblical theologian Herbert Haag proposes in the book Is original sin in Scripture?
On the other hand, while supporting a continuity in the Bible about the absence of preternatural gifts Latin : dona praeternaturalia  with regard to the ophitic event , Haag never makes any reference to the discontinuity of the loss of access to the tree of life. The Land of Cockaigne also Cockaygne, Cokaygne , was an imaginary land of idleness and luxury, famous in medieval stories and the subject of several poems, one of which, an early translation of a 13th-century French work, is given in George Ellis' Specimens of Early English Poets.
In this, "the houses were made of barley sugar and cakes, the streets were paved with pastry and the shops supplied goods for nothing.
Datong is a traditional Chinese Utopia. Schlaraffenland is an analogous German tradition. All these myths also express some hope that the idyllic state of affairs they describe is not irretrievably and irrevocably lost to mankind, that it can be regained in some way or other. Christopher Columbus followed directly in this tradition in his belief that he had found the Garden of Eden when, towards the end of the 15th century, he first encountered the New World and its indigenous inhabitants.
In the 21st century, discussions around utopia for some authors include post-scarcity economics , late capitalism , and universal basic income ; for example, the "human capitalism" utopia envisioned in Utopia for Realists includes a universal basic income and a hour workweek, along with open borders. Scandinavian nations, which as of ranked at the top of the World Happiness Report , are sometimes cited as modern utopias, although author Michael Booth has called that a myth.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Community or society possessing highly desirable or perfect qualities. For original book by Sir Thomas More, see Utopia book. For other uses, see Utopia disambiguation. For a similar word, see Utopians disambiguation. Further information: Social ecology. See also: Palingenesis and Apocatastasis.