13. The history and value of utopian thinking part 1: introduction

13. The history and value of utopian thinking part 1: introduction

00:00 / 00:46:09

“We’re engaging in utopian thought every day of our lives. ‘Oh, I wish it were better.’ That’s a utopian statement.”

-big mike

Listen: iTunes, Spotify, Mixcloud | Transcript

In this episode:

00:00 Returning to the question of political pragmatism, why and how is it that thinking about utopias has become disparaged? What does capitalism have to do with this ideological shift? What even is utopia? What can we learn from the history of utopian thinking?

12:27 How does utopia engage with human problems that seem fundamental, like greed? What historical examples do we have of utopias—that is, attempts at making a better world, or a world that doesn’t exist?

26:38 A little more provocatively, what if utopia isn’t just something over there but is already all around us? What if ideologies that naturalize the political present—like capitalist economics—are themselves fictional and, in a way, utopic? What if all political thinking is utopic?

37:24 How is the disparagement of certain kinds of political thinking over others as ‘utopic’—and thus, impractical—limiting our ability to discuss political issues? How are the moral stakes of political issues being elided by the insistence on political practicality?

42:04 What is it precisely about capitalist ideology that is being naturalized, made impossible to attack intellectually? How do we start to open up the idea that the premises capitalism rests upon are not part of human nature?

Further Reading:

Thomas More, Utopia

[on reopening political possibilities from the Cold War headlock] Slavoj Žižek, The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology

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