|Rajesh Kasturirangan||Jul 3, 2019|
My main post of the week claimed that today’s utopias are tomorrow’s dystopias. It’s not merely a going out of fashion; that happens too - like how flying saucers have been replaced by frisbees in our imagination of alien spaceships (a small but important difference!) - but that what appeals today might well be what repels tomorrow.
Which begs the obvious question: what’s a utopia?
There’s a dictionary definition, but in my book, a utopia is a positive potential future that appears to be achievable in the normal course of human progress. Not that there’s any agreement on what constitutes the normal course of human progress. Some might think that human beings shedding their biological form and merging with computers is normal while others might think it’s impossible. Some might be demoted out of the possible. There might have been a time in the fifties when everyone thought it was only a matter of time before human beings commandeered entire galaxies to do their bidding; now it appears to be a major overestimate.
I don’t care.
As long as that particular future is shared amongst a community, it’s their utopia. Silicon valley bros might have one and Antifa activists might have another. May a thousand futures bloom. They will wilt one day.
Ian Morris has an interesting book on how ethics change with circumstances.
One of my all time favorite essays: Leszek Kolakowski on the death of utopias.
As for the liberal utopia we were all promised:
Meanwhile the death of liberalism is explained (among other things) by Vladimir Putin in this long ranging interview with FT. Warning: you might have to answer some questions before FT lets you read this article. Putin is the longest serving anti-liberal head of state in the world and whether Russia interfered in Brexit and the US election or not, he’s inspired many a nationalist authoritarian. I wonder if he’s thinking of becoming an intellectual after he retires.