14. The history and value of utopian thinking, part 2: what makes us human?

14. The history and value of utopian thinking, part 2: what makes us human?

00:00 / 00:50:12

“It’s not about rearranging the chairs on the deck of the, of the Titanic, uh—because in fact, capitalism is the Titanic. And no matter how you rearrange those chairs, it’s going to go down, right? It is doing so as we, as we talk, we’ve seen this, we have these crises, we’ve run into the icebergs that play the game of that metaphor. So maybe a little bit of imbalance is what we, what we require. I want to defend a certain kind of, of metaphysical extremism as it were.”

—big mike

Listen: iTunes, Spotify, Mixcloud | Transcript

In this episode:

00:00 How have conceptions of a fixed human ‘nature’ limited humans’ conception of what’s politically possible? How does the history of thinking about human nature reveal how unstable a concept it really is? Why is it so ideologically powerful to make a contingent political system aligned with human nature, be it ordained by biology or God?

14:02 Should we be questioning the existence of human nature? Does that open up certain possibilities for us?

19:38 When we think about utopia, is it an end goal, or a process—the good place which is attainable, or the ‘no-place’ which, by definition, never is? What does this subtle difference have to do with how capitalism is foreclosing our sense of time?

33:04 How do we deal with the distance between what may in fact be possible and what appears possible to us based on the facts we have now? What do we do with epistemic systems, like evolutionary biology, that appear to limit what is possible for humans? How do we deal with the brute fact of utopia when it fails? How malleable is reality, really?

Further Reading:

[on the impossible negotiations of political possibility] adrienne maree brown, Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds & Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?

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