miércoles, 23 de marzo de 2016

Utopia

by Stephen Eric Bronner

Utopia is usually considered a dirty word. The concept has been too often been employed to justify the worst totalitarian terror and justify passivity in the face of actual political issues. Rarely is utopia understood as a regulative ideal that resists translation into practice yet remains necessary to guide any genuine attempt at liberation. It instead conjures up images of demagogues, dreamers, fanatics, apocalypse, gullibility, and – perhaps above all — what Samuel Butler, the great Victorian satirist, called “erehwon” (or “nowhere” spelled backwards). But this is only part of the story. Utopia has an anthropological appeal, especially for the lowly and the insulted, and Ernst Bloch was surely right when he noted in Heritage of Our Times (1935) that “man does not live by bread alone – especially when he doesn’t have any.” Most civilizations have their unique ideals of a heavenly or secular paradise from which, given a cosmopolitan outlook, every other civilization can learn. Utopian traces appear in the most varied forms of art, philosophy, and religion. They provide insight into what humanity might truly want—or not want – and so give substance to aspirations for liberated society.

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