Post-Capitalist Utopia

Post-Capitalist Utopia/Dystopia Project

SONY DSC

Alexander Kanoldt, Olevano (1927)

One reoccurring charge against postmodernism and poststructuralism alike is that they are unable to think utopia. As it would seem at least a hundred political theorist have observed—it is hard to organize a politics around cynicism and nihilism, people need something to believe in and work toward, and hence the inability to think utopia is supposed to be precisely why postmodern/poststructuralist theories have failed to transform into easily recognizable political projects. This line of thought has been exemplified by the British philosopher and blogger Mark Fisher. Fisher’s Capitalist Realism. Is There No Alternative? (2009) was inspired by the insight (attributed to Slavoj Žižek and Frederic Jameson) that

it is easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of capitalism.”

This certainly seems plausible and I’ve read a host of thinkers echoing similar sentiments. But I’ll argue this whole line of thinking is wrong. I know that living through the current political administration often feels like we are stuck in a dystopian movie from the 1980s. Nevertheless, at the margins people are in fact dreaming of alternatives to capitalism. Some better and some worse.

In a series of posts on this blog, I’ve been begun by charting the dystopian present. But I’m imagining a short book project (hopefully originating in this series of blog posts) which then goes on to look at the various post-capitalist utopias on offer (everything from Banks’ Culture novels to accelerationism to David Schweickart’s “After Capitalism”), and evaluates the kind of futures they construct.

This idea is still in its early stages (and if you are an interested editor let me know). But for the previous posts read the following:

  1. The Stubborn Persistence of Post-Capitalist Utopia–Introduction: Post-Apocalyptic Capitalism
  2. Dystopia Revisited (Optional, Minor post)
  3. Capitalist Dystopia Part 1–The Janus-face of Capitalism or Is Walmart Utopia?
  4. Capitalist Dystopia Part 2–A Voyage to the Dark Heart of Capitalism or what can Joseph Conrad tell us about commodity fetishism?
  5. Capitalist Dystopia Part 3–Fissures in Paradise: First World Problems or Micro-dystopias, Bullshit Jobs, and the Seeds of Bourgeois Alienation
  6. Capitalist Dystopia Part 4–Racing against the Machine: from the Ends of Sleep to the Ends of Work
  7. The Force of Secrecy: Spoilers, Neo-Liberalism, and “The Force Awakens” (Optional, Minor Post)