20. The purpose of doing history: to create knowledge of the past or to inform where we are headed in the future?

Greg and Mike think about what the practice of history is for — whether or not it should have a purpose or destination, how it opens up or forecloses certain possibilities, and what historical ‘objectivity’ really consists of.

19. What are revolutions, and when are they necessary?

Greg and Mike talk (political, social, economic) revolution: what it is, when it’s necessary, how it’s represented, and what history has to teach us. Then, they turn to the present—the revolutions, or lack thereof, that we’re facing, and the challenges that incipient revolutionaries face in current conditions.

18. Theories of private property in the age of capitalism: Hobbes and Locke

Greg and Mike dive into the intellectual origins of private property, and how the idea of private property was justified (or combatted) by different philosophers and theorists. Then, they relate the question of private property to different forms of utopia, and with that, return to the question of human nature as inscribed in the differing stories around private property and the nascent theory of liberalism.

17. The history and value of utopian thinking, part 5: Thomas More’s “Utopia”

Greg and Mike discuss two utopian texts—Thomas More’s Utopia and Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis—to think about how envisioning alternative societies casts light both on possibilities for other worlds, and changes the way we view our own. In particular, both texts envision the commons, or a common wealth, in ways still relevant for our society today. Greg and Mike also touch on the question of education, as currently embodied in institutions, and the kinds of education we need going forward.

16. The history and value of utopian thinking, part 4: the Western philosophical tradition (Plato)

Greg and Mike discuss the utopian ideas of Plato’s Republic, challenging the commonly held notion that he was speaking primarily about morality and instead reading him as a social theorist. Then, building off the centrality of education in Plato’s utopia, they start to imagine what education in a fairer society than our own might look like.

15. The history and value of utopian thinking, part 3: socialist values and culture in the Bible

Greg and Mike explore how the Bible expresses utopian ideals, particularly around class and class society, and reflects ongoing ideological dilemmas the left today still has to face. Then, they look at real historical examples of people using religion for social change, and weigh the difficult question of two different historical times: the slow time of individual transformation, and the sometimes very rapid time of social and political transformation.

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

Greg and Mike continue the discussion of political utopias by explaining how concepts of human nature—the idea that human potential is limited by certain fixed properties, whatever they may be—limits political thinking both in the past and present. Then, Greg and Mike debate how limitlessly we should be thinking of our political potential—if there is a balance to be struck between who we are and who we could be.

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

Greg and Mike think about thinking—exploring why it is we are afraid of thinking about utopias, what actually constitutes ‘utopian’ thinking, and what blocks us from imagining more just, more equal political horizons.

12. Back to fundamentals: private property, the commons, and democracy

After an extensive dive into recent history, Greg and Mike try to define just how radical a change we need, and then look forward to two possibilities for change—the commons as an alternate way of conceptualizing property, and education as an alternate means of revitalizing democracy.

11. The legacy of the Cold War part 4: its influence today

Greg and Mike end their review of the Cold War by diving into the overwhelming intellectual and ideological impact of the Cold War, including its impact on the organization of higher education, cultural discourse, and the horizons of political possibility. With greater conceptual clarity in hand, they then more precisely cleave social democracy from democratic socialism.