Entry: In Defense of Utopia Tuesday, June 01, 2004



Now I know I definitely haven't been holding up my end of the discussion here, but I've been busier than an accountant in April. Applying for work visas, landing and losing several jobs in a day, and of course drinking loads of Czech beer. But in all of the discussions I get into, either electronic or in the pub, conversation generally tends toward "things are fucked now, I don't know how we're ever to improve." The sort of hopeless defeatism that allows things to continue in the status quo. Of course, then I launch in upon my hope for the future spiel, which is almost always shot down as being too utopian and not real world. That's the only criticism afforded me, that it's too utopian. No rationale is ever provided as to why this is bad, or why this means that it isn't feasible.

So I ask, what's wrong with utopianism? Isn't it at least more optimistic than the defeatism that tends to grip the heart of activists and those aware of the downward spiral our culture is latched to? In my experience, realism is little more than a nihilistic acceptance of the state of things. A mental wringing of the hands, which accomplishes no form of positive change. I think this comes down to a lack of hope. Hope comes from a dream, a deep wish that things can change if we desperately want them to. Hope comes from a view of an alternate reality different than the current. This dream of a better world, this place where we can live better, can serve as a goal, a motivator, something to lift one up out of the morass of despair that threatens to engulf the very people we need to help improve affairs.

Of course, I realize that it will undoubtedly be impossible to create our ideal world within the world that exists now. Even Huxley's Island was overwhelmed by militarism in the end. Still, as a goal, as something to work toward, utopianism can help provide the impetus for change. As long as people have a future to work for, we can start improving things in our current state. However, to say that continuing in the status quo is going to destroy us all if we don't change, without giving some alternative future, tends to disable proactive change before it even begins. I do not mean to advocate some definitive, rigid, future but rather an idea for a better world that shifts with the changing situation, that is able to take into account new developments and change accordingly. We have seen what an inflexible utopia has led to before, with the gulags of siberia, and I am enaxious to avoid such extremism in the name of a better world. Yet the need for some unifying vision still persists. Living with the knowledge of the downfall of our world is too depressing otherwise.

(i am aware that this is a stilted, drunken ramble and makes little to know sense. In effect, it is nothing more than me shouting my blind optimism to the void, but it's 3am and I needed something to distract me from the drunk Brits trying to get behind the front desk. mmmm.... hostel life.)

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