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Utopians against capitalism

L’utopia potrebbe non esistere mai completamente nella realtà – deriva il suo significato ambiguamente dalle parole greche antiche per “nessun posto” e “buon posto” – ma parti del suo sogno possono essere così attraenti che ci sforziamo di far piegare la realtà ad esse.

In these crisis times there is a premium on utopian thinking—but also practical proposals and the power resources to make change real.

If this is not a time ripe for writing about utopias, when would be? After the financial crash of 2008, the greatest growth in the democratic world of xenophobic extremism since Nazism and fascism, and the still current pandemic, many certainties of preceding decades have been blown away, leaving a vacuum utopian writing properly fills. Now comes the time to imagine futures which are not just better but altogether different.

Utopia may never fully exist in reality—it derives its meaning ambiguously from the ancient Greek words for ‘no place’ and ‘good place’—but parts of its dream can be so attractive that we strive to make reality bend to them. And, provided some power can be wielded, a few will actually be achieved.

Of the three books under review, Oli Mould’s is the most unrealistic. The plea for a four-day week by Anna Coote, Aidan Harper and Alfie Stirling on behalf of the New Economics Foundation is at the other extreme, comprising practical policy proposals rendered ‘utopian’ only because of the severe pressures on working conditions under neoliberalism. Tim Jackson’s Aristotelian plea for a via media comes, appropriately, in between.

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