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New Left Review 48, November-December 2007


Poulod Borojerdi on Fredric Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future. Magisterial summation of a lifetime’s engagement with Utopia as literary form and political programme.

POULOD BOROJERDI

RATTLING THE BARS

The shock waves released by the fall of the Soviet Union have not left Utopia untouched. Although the disappearance of the Second World might have been expected to undermine the quest for imagined alternatives, it seems that just the opposite has been true. The decade and a half that has transpired since the triumph of capitalism has witnessed an unexpected Utopian revival, the term resurfacing across a range of approaches and disciplines. Russell Jacoby’s Picture Imperfect (2005), a sequel to The End of Utopia (1999), aims to revive an ‘iconoclastic utopianism’ that would draw on a Judaic strain in Western Marxism—Bloch, Benjamin and Adorno—as the basis for a new oppositional politics. David Harvey’s Spaces of Hope (2000) proposes a ‘dialectical utopianism’ that will connect ‘the sentiments of the Manifesto with those expressed in the Declaration of Human Rights’. One could add the idiosyncratic call of Roberto Mangabeira Unger for a ‘motivated, sustained and cumulative tinkering with the arrangements of society’ (most recently in Democracy Realized), and the ‘Real Utopias’ series, edited by Erik Olin Wright, bringing together redistributive schemes in the spirit of the Tobin Tax and John Roemer’s voucher socialism. Thus far, however, the new Utopian production has lacked a concomitant theoretical codification of the genre as such.

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