The Utopian Impulse & Its Trouble With Postmodernity

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The Utopian Impulse & Its Trouble With Postmodernity
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One might argue that the collapse of communism is the loss of the future that really never was, but the fundamental source of fear of Utopianism is rooted in its formal necessity of Utopian closure and its origin in the idea of an idealized settlement and colonization. Can we reclaim Utopia to help us generate new ideas for how to survive and transcend postmodernism? Here's an idea: anti-anti-Utopianism.
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the other thing about the and the and the the
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OK and I in be the biggest challenge we face today
seems to be our own imagination it looks like we gave up on our own future and if we get to think about it at all climber a climate catastrophe seems to be unavoidable even science fiction offers no relief dystopian visions all around and even those seem to have trouble to keep up with the speed of the deteriorating reality so what to do how can we get out of this and seems I stole this from a recent panel called Apple buffering and changed it a little bit the because I here to talk to you about utopian not so much as science fiction but as a thinking tool that can be used by anybody and that I hope will help us get our future back utopia by definition is a good place that has no place and if 1 thinks about it like this it doesn't sound very alarming rather like harmless exercise of the imagination a thought experiment yet today a lot of people believe that even if maybe naive and useless that such imaginary exploration of
difference if taken seriously will always and inevitably lead to disaster if we think about it to be an we think about it only negative terms it's either ridiculous all will lead to the horrors of Stalinism on Nazi Germany if this alright for fear of its totalizing powers that made a Spanish it'll be on and time it kind of almost became unthinkable but what if being unable to thinking it has also made us blind to see it to recognize a what if nameless and hidden from our view it still controls the world of work which seems to be quickly changing into bad place for people everywhere but if we have been trapped by what we fear I want to argue
that the inescapable and that indeed we have been trapped but that it's not a to appear that we should fear but our denial of its powers because as I would try to show you the as not only the the cars it's also the key to get out of work for we not quality and of history but to make my point I 1st we'll have to clarify some terminology because words and their meanings are important to understand the story I want to tell you afterward it's a story of neo liberalism the most successful photopion ideology to date yet we never call it that I will explain why and by taking you back to its beginnings rooted in and tell utopianism and now this curious but seldom acknowledged connection resulted in our current state locked into the present seemingly unable to imagine any change despite knowing that without it we seem destined to perish Fredric
Jameson causes predicament late capitalism or postmodernity a time that is best described by its rampant cynicism how to get over it using what he calls and try and tell you to open is utopianism would be the 2nd part of my talk but 1st let's start with clearing up some common misconceptions about the 2 beyond and tiotropium isms most powerful weapon against utopia has always been the claim that a perfect society can only be achieved by caution therefore auto pianism will always Archer totalitarianism and the use of force and violence against people but it is important to remember that would go beyond by definition is a good place that is no place it's not supposed to be perfect it's also very rarely just escapism that tries to deny and dream away on negativity far from it by imagining alternatives that highlights and brings into focus what it seeks to overcome always Jamieson puts it would talk there's not a positive vision of the future so much as it is a negative judgment of the present the Tobias I'm not blueprints to that societies on their tools for criticism opening doors to debates about problems that often didn't even have a name before as seen in this slide it becomes clear that Tobi has always been the driving force of human development and history the fact that it is haunted by reversals into its side a dystopian only helps to underscore that the utopian impulse is a process a self-correcting critical mechanism that aims for better rather than a perfect world there's 1 more thing the difference between and tell utopian and dystopian on those 2 terms often get conflated but there is a distinction between them and it's really important according to the Mandela Sergeant dystopias I imagined by their authors to be society substantially worse than the ones they are living in the term and trying to appear and contest and I will quote in here should be reserved for that large class of work both fictional and expository which are directed against it to appear and thought then 1 could also say that enter utopia as are about the dangers of seeing which will be as as blueprints and acting on it at West dystopia us as well as to appear as a tool for analysis and criticism of the contemporary which especially in our times because dystopias are so popular seems to express the collective yearning for rupture of collective desire to somehow break free from an all pressing inescapable totality but yet in this yearning are this yearning its wish for an end and a new beginning is in itself inherently utopian doesn't matter how humble ladies in its aspirations it still is a wish for difference so let's look at how we got here and how did we lose our ability to match anything beyond the status quo of global capitalism it started as a lot
of history does we then we're talking desire to change the word 1938 5 years after the 1st concentration camp was built in the home and at the height of Stalin's Great Purge to refugees from the out met at a conference in Paris it was a gathering of intellectuals who went to construct a new liberalism 1 strong enough to fight with they saw as threatening the world socialism and it was there that neoliberalism was born the two-man look at from users and for the Shire went on to define this new ideology through what can only be called fears and tell utopianism they believe that social democracy and its programs like rules with new deal we're just another form of collectivism that would ultimately lead to the same terrifying results as Communism and Nazism for them any form of state planning could only lead to tragedy in terror and both went on to write books in which they ridiculed the socialist idea by calling it it'll be in in Beaurocracy published 6 years later 1944 from users rights nobody doubts that bureaucracies thoroughly bad in that it should not exist in a perfect world and therefore Socialista propias I entirely impracticable and must result not only in impoverishment for all but in the disintegration of social cooperation in chaos that same year Hayek's book The Road to Serfdom was published to a dedicated a whole chapter to attacking ectropion and thought and I argued that socialism by destroying individual freedom must always lead to dictatorship conclude this chapter with to those who have watched the transition from socialism to fascism at close quarters the connection between the 2 systems is obvious the realization of the socialist program means the destruction of freedom Democratic Socialism the great octopi off the last few generations is simply not achievable the but during those times there and tell utopianism was still at the margins of political thought or as George Monday your rights it was still a time when governments try to achieve social outcomes without embarrassment not only in the US but most of Western Europe full employment and poverty relief what common goals and pursuit by developing new public services paid for high taxes on the rich it was another economist John net Maynard Keynes was policies and ideas were on the rise and became widely adopted to rejected neoclassical economics which claimed that the free market would naturally establish full employment if unfettered by the government it wasn't although token an idea and teams replaced it with his own the having witnessed the hardships of the Great Depression his general theory stated that the economy could stay trapped in a high state of unemployment if the government didn't help boost consumption or investment he argued that state intervention was necessary and he went as far as to recommend that governments should spend money on these interventions even if they didn't have it the there was a radical idea which all but guys later proposed may have saved capitalism but nowhere is this would talking dreaming more evident than in his conviction that is new system of state managed capitalism could promote peace rather than war in the world and even though the ideas of high again from these estate at the margins for decades to come to the very rich immediately identify the new theory as a promise of freedom from government regulation and those hated Texas think tanks were born lavishly funded to refine and promote the new ideology throughout the world and grew and evolved away from Hayek's believed that the state still had a role to play in preventing monopolies to Milton Friedman who saw them as a reward for efficiency those were decades at the margins but they were not stand idly and then it happened something that according to teams should be possible high inflation and high unemployment at the very same time was the seventies and his dreams of a crisis free transform capitalism hit a brick wall and those who had been waiting sees the opportunity Friedman recalls when the time came that you have to change there was an alternative ready astonishingly though this alternative had already started to lose its name and maybe what's odd about that slogan with which it a couple years later under Reagan and Thatcher finally came to power is not only that it promoted freedom and choice by claiming that they smaller ternative but that the Slovenian self celebrated something nameless and this name business turned out to be a brilliant marketing idea if played on gut feelings instead of trying to explain a new theory and what in rough times when people are disoriented and scared could do better than a bit of common sense because if something is not even worth mentioning surely some out that must be common sense so this namelessness enabled neoliberalism to presented itself as the answer to what they successfully sold as something like a natural law a lot that reduced humanity to self interest in competition and it's theory then was just like the cherry on top of the way 1 had to deal with the facts In a spectacular reversal the blueprint on which to build societies on which Anti-Utopians had spent years denouncing as the root of all evil became nature itself and therefore it was already given just like that and tell utopianism achieve the impossible in 1 ingenious move would talk be at this time as the best of all possible worlds was not only declared an established but also hidden from view because not surprisingly those Anti-Utopians didn't claim that they failed to appear was a perfect world instead it was merely the best and all that we could hope for all
encompassing but not a place this until but would Toby enclosure was grander than any ever before and it placed its new borders firmly in the nowhere of our minds but as any utopia recognized or not it started to become haunted by strange reversals if the what was 1 1 big competition it was essential to figure out who was winning everything needed to be compared and quantified and suddenly the bureaucracy that for nieces set so despised and wanted to eliminate became the foundation not only of economics but of everything and even worse once privatised bands and public services turned out to be too vital too-big-to-fail making it obvious that competition didn't ensure efficiency but by 2008 when you liberalism should have lost all credibility bailing out banks were still maintaining that the same can't be
done for actual people it seems that we simply couldn't imagine anything else anymore what been a slogan have become reality there really was no alternative the neoliberal neoliberalism pseudo enclosure the big wars in our head allow for 1 and almost 10 years later they're still isn't so this is where we are and it seems a political crisis even bigger than the economic 1 we all know it can't go on like this but new liberalism's enter utopianism exactly because it is utopianism as discussed in disguise his colonize the future the only way to get it back is overcoming our cynicism that things cannot be otherwise so let's turn to Jameson's and try and tell utopianism and see how it how it how it might be helping to free our imagination and instead of explaining I want to show you how it works by comparing it to 1 of the few examples of political ideas today that still expressed some photopia longing and that I'm sure you are familiar with will be on universal basic income according to Jamieson Jamieson the radical difference of octopi isachieved by 2 processes 1 he calls ectropion imagination and the other utopian fancy the former builds on the reason why we set out to imagine it and the latter on how such ametropia could be achieved what top imagination as a kind of wish fulfillment identifies the world of evil and imagines a world without it while we talk in fancy is the construction of this world the details or what in a traditional literary widow PR with been demonstrated by the guided tour utopian imagination of will be as a reaction to technologies achievements identifies ultimate isation as the root of evil and proposes a solution that argument goes that automatization will obliterate the need for most of human labor and that to deal with this government should pay each citizen unconditionally a monthly fee to cover their basic needs but to find out if this solution could in fact produce systemic change we have to ask if it would result in a truly different world and the moment we look at the utopian fantasy of will be all the details of how this word is supposed to work we look at a problem we lacks a global vision in a globalized world it's utopian enclosure is at least for now envisioned and propose depending on national or regional borders the same borders right wing politics ignoring the complexities and interdependencies of an already globalized world is so fond of emphasizing today in times when refugees diet those very same borders when they're seen as a threat most people we need to protect cool be without a global vision really accomplish systemic change or is it just a patch for the same old system a prolongation of what we already have despite that will be as a political program fits quite ectropion it still seems to keep our imagination trap In contrast Fredric Jameson admitting that all political programs today I destined to fail because they have to work inside the system doesn't even aspire to match and 1 instead he simply sets out on of thought experiment and asked himself what the most radical demand on our system would be that could not be fulfilled without transforming the system beyond recognition and he comes up with an old done some full employment as economists would frankly admits capitalism runs on profits and eternal growth and eats masses of the unemployed to keep inflation low if workers 1 threatened by cheaper unemployed competition they would start to demand fair share of those profits and therefore full employment would no doubt transform the system radically but 1 rather quickly comes to realize that the system would have to be changed in advance for such a change to ever take place it looks like a vicious circle with no escaped but still imagining such a future allows us to read the dark spots of our current situation as symptoms of the root of evil we identified Jameson writes crime war degraded mass culture drops violence boredom the lust for power the last for destruction sexism racism all can be diagnosed as results of a society unable to accommodate the
productiveness of all its citizens puts the difference then tool you might ask doesn't do we want to solve the same problem it does but the difference becomes clear when we look at the main arguments brought forward by its proponents from the left and the right and which can be summed up to something that sounds rather familiar face no alternative to the fullest lies not on the value of all human beings for society but on an inevitable progress that system simply cannot be stopped the left might highlight the promise of new salsa productiveness unleashed by the freedom of not having to worry about full door roof over your head but the discussions always seem to end up at the same question could we afford the freeloaders the people that can't all warmed compete to prove their value groups and I really want will be to read us from our in this fake human nature of self interest in competition that neoliberalism so successfully implanted in our brains and hearts but how could this be achieved if all we won't change the system itself I believe was most of us hope is that we could create alternative spaces for collaboration inside the system but the problem becomes painfully visible when even its defenders at MIT that its success depends on the amount of money that will be handed out could then ever worked in times of global inflation and even if the money will help us build those collectives and co-ops we still end up being forced to compete with each other measuring human value by economic gains so although Jameson's proposal full employment also misses global aspirations and seems less likely than will be to ever come true it's still offer something that will be does not it makes us realize much more clearly those walls in our heads and once we've seen them we can start to examine what they're made of and wonder if there might be any cracks if the problem seems to be that we can't imagine a society were all humans have value then good crack to start with might be the realization that our cynicism is just the frank acknowledgment of exactly that because the truth is the truth is that even if we still try to believe in them we lost all our values replacing them with money and if that's all it might be a great idea to return to and ponder 1 of the oldest ectropion dreams abolishing money and imagining a life without of it because even if seemingly impossible the mere thought experiment of it not only brings immediate static relief but unmasks all kinds of invade individual and social relationships that have been disguised by the abstraction of value for money imagining a world without it makes visible the man's often already unpaid human collaboration on which even our system rests and instead of the deadlock that is supposed human nature based on competition used to create the utopian Impuls finally is released to imagine other forms of being but Jameson and try and tell utopianism proposes that the answer to our conviction that smaller genitive is utopian form itself not by offering a blueprint or plan but by insisting that difference is possible and that the break is necessary in our times where we are at the stage of massive protesters and demonstration but without any conception of how globalized transformation might proceed where we want to act but we don't know how and where any political program currently offered only few sellers cynicism all state of mind might be best reflected biotope Tobias radical break from reality it's far more weakness lack of agency and plans for working political transition paradoxically not turn into a power forcing us to concentrate on and you think the bright itself and die and to pianism does not offer immediate solutions for the problems of our globalized world but it also is an cynicism or capitalization hopelessness instead a much stronger than any retreat about the future of our children ever could it helps us see what keeps us locked in the presence and locates the fear of losing the future directly within ourselves the it's grasping and rattling the bars of our cage in an intense spiritual preparation for and possible future that yet has to arrive we may feel helpless and we don't have a plan but we do have power the system of money making and profits may not need us to believe in
it but it still needs us to believe in its eternal permanence thank you Prof Harlan have a highly could fall the references and material on the website in properties if you want to read more about the thank you I thank you know the
whole or if and only if you're