Utopias Are Not Fairy Tales but Rich Views of Constructive Ideas That Can Gradually Come True.

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  • Topic: Utopia, Utopian socialism, Socialism
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Contemporary International Relations Theory

Title: Assessment 2
Utopias are not fairy tales but rich views of constructive ideas that can gradually come true.

Context:
1. Introduction of utopian thought...........………………………………………..……p.3 2. Utopia, work and organisation...………………….……………………………..…...p.3-7 3. Utopia or ideology: Karl Mannheim and the place of theory……………..pp.7-8 4. Different utopias………………….................................................................................pp.8-9 5. Anarchy, utopia and the politics of nostalgia………………………….…..……pp.9-10 6. Conclusion…………………………………………………………………………………….pp.10

The word utopia stands in common usage for the ultimate in human folly or human hope-vain dreams of perfection in a Never-Never Land or rational effort to remake man’s environment and his institutions and even his own erring nature, so as to enrich the possibilities of the common life (Mumford, 1922: 1). In the 16th century Sir Thomas More, the coiner of this word, was aware of both implications. Lest anyone else should miss them, he elaborated his paradox in a quatrain, which, unfortunately, has sometimes been omitted from English translation of his Utopia. In his little verse he explained that utopia might refer either to the Greek “eutopia”, which means the good place, or to “outopia”, which means no place (Mumford, 1922: 1).

Utopia has long been another name for the unreal and the impossible. As a matter or fact, it is people’s utopias that make the word tolerable to people: the cities and mansions that people dreams of are those in which they finally live. The more that men react upon their environment and make it over after a human pattern, the more continuously do they live in utopia; but when there is a breach between the world of affairs and the over world of utopia, people become conscious of the part that the will-to-utopia has played in people’s lives, and we see world utopia as a separate reality.

Since utopias are typically social and political philosophies about how the world should best be arranged, it is unsurprising that organization has a key place within them. For utopias have typically imagined a society which is either perfectly organized or one which eschews organization in favour of a perfect disorganization where freedom from regular reigns. For whilst organization figures as a guiding thread in terms of utopian political thinking, the arrangement of productive activity is so central to almost any conceivable polity that utopian thinkers have tended to treat it extensively. On the one hand, it means that utopia can be analysed sociologically and politically. On the other hand, it means that people should never forget how intimately utopian thinking is related to human experience and, often, suffering as well as to human imagination. If, as Marx polemically claimed, the aim of philosophy is to change the world, then utopianism can lay fair claim to philosophical success albeit often in ways which were unintended and sometimes horrific (Parker, 2002).

For Arendt, as for Marx and many others, working upon the world is taken to be a defining feature of the human condition. The organization of work is an important issue for utopians, yet it is understood in two rather different ways. It is will explore these by comparing the 18th-century utopian thinking of Fourier and Saint-Simon, who can be thought of as representing these two enduring approaches to work and, consequently, two traditions of envisaging organization within utopia. “Freedom from worry is a form of happiness experienced by the animals”(cited in Parker, 2002: 11), it was Fourier’s emphasis on passional fulfilment, on the flowering of the passions, as Man’s destiny, that made his utopia unusual. He believed the great task of social thought to be to show how work and the desire for pleasure could be reconciled. Whereas some 18th century utopians had been content to remain rather vague about work, Fourier...
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