Do you believe in “achievable utopia”? And what role can play art in it?

Do you believe in “achievable utopia”? And what role can play art in it?

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Stephen Duncombe has a great narration about how utopias are thought like states (both literally and figuratively). He mentions theoretical utopias, like Plato’s ancient Greek Republic, Thomas More’s sixteenth-century Utopia, and the model society of the future sketched by Edward Bellamy in the late 1800s in his popular Looking Backward. And other state like “the horrific utopias realized by the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany in the twentieth century”.

He says that in this utopian imaginaries “progress has stopped, perfection has been reached, it is the end of history” (174).  But he highlights another definition of utopia, one that harkens back to the original meaning of the Greek ou-topos: no-place, and in this vein poet Eduardo Galeano writes of utopia in Palabras Andantes:

She’s on the horizon. . . . I go two steps, she moves two steps away. I walk ten steps and the horizon runs ten steps ahead. No matter how much I walk, I’ll never reach her. What good is utopia? That’s what: it’s good for walking. 

Duncombe, S. (2007). Dream: Re-imagining progressive politics in an age of fantasy. New Press.

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