Thursday 08th of June 2023


The Domestication of Utopia and the Climate Crisis


Darren Webb, School of Education, University of Sheffield, UK pdf_icon_30x30



Abstract: This paper makes four arguments. The first is that “utopia” has become domesticated. Taken seriously now within academic journals and mainstream media, utopia has been rehabilitated in recuperated form. The subversive, counter-hegemonic thrust of utopia has been tamed and rendered fit for domestic life within the established order. The second is that utopian studies as a field has been complicit in this process of domestication. Accepting the ideologically constructed association between totality and totalitarian, utopian scholars have worked to redefine utopia as social realism on the one hand or a mere heuristic device on the other. The third is that utopia in these domesticated forms is not up to the task of addressing the climate crisis. Partial, provisional, fleeting, ad hoc utopianism is no good; a romanticisation of open-ended process is not fit for purpose; appeals to social realism will get us nowhere. Finally, the paper argues for a non-domesticated understanding of utopia as the dialectical interplay between immanent praxis and totalising programme. The term that best describes a non-domesticated utopianism and a politics of transformative change, the paper concludes, is communism.


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