eds. Michael Weber and Kevin Vallier
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“Political theory, from antiquity to the present, has been divided over the relationship between the requirements of justice and the limitations of persons and institutions to meet those requirements. Some theorists hold that a theory of justice should be utopian or idealistic–that the derivation of the correct principles of justice should not take into account human and institutional limitations. Others insist on a realist or non-utopian view, according to which feasibility–facts about what is possible given human and institutional limitations–is a constraint on principles of justice. In recent years, the relationship between the ideal and the real has become the subject of renewed scholarly interest. This anthology aims to represent the contemporary state of this classic debate. By and large, contributors to the volume deny that the choice between realism and idealism is binary. Rather, there is a continuum between realism and idealism that locates these extremes of each view at opposite poles. The contributors, therefore, tend to occupy middle positions, only leaning in the ideal or non-ideal direction. Together, their contributions not only represent a wide array of attractive positions in the new literature on the topic, but also collectively advance how we understand the difference between idealism and realism itself.”
by Miguel Abensour
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“Utopia poses a question. Not simply in the sense of a problem to be resolved and at the same time eliminated . . . but in the sense that, within the economy of the human condition, utopia, the aim of social alterity—of all social otherness—is ceaselessly being reborn, coming back to life despite all the blows rained down upon it, as if human resistance had taken up residence within it.
For the French philosopher Miguel Abensour, the fictional genre of utopia has provided thinkers and artists a fertile ground to explore for the past 500 years, both as a way to imagine new emancipatory practices of shared existence and as a tyrannical imposition of power. Here, Abensour’s project is to examine the idea of utopia in two different but powerful moments in its trajectory: first, utopia’s beginning, when Thomas More sought a path for justice through a world in transformation, and second, when utopia faced its greatest danger, the moment that Walter Benjamin called ‘catastrophe.'”
by Frederic Jameson
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“Fredric Jameson’s pathbreaking essay “An American Utopia” radically questions standard leftist notions of what constitutes an emancipated society. Advocated here are—among other things—universal conscription, the full acknowledgment of envy and resentment as a fundamental challenge to any communist society, and the acceptance that the division between work and leisure cannot be overcome. To create a new world, we must first change the way we envision the world. Jameson’s text is ideally placed to trigger a debate on the alternatives to global capitalism. In addition to Jameson’s essay, the volume includes responses from philosophers and political and cultural analysts, as well as an epilogue from Jameson himself.
Many will be appalled at what they will encounter in these pages—there will be blood! But perhaps one has to spill such (ideological) blood to give the Left a chance.
Contributing are Kim Stanley Robinson, Jodi Dean, Saroj Giri, Agon Hamza, Kojin Karatani, Frank Ruda, Alberto Toscano, Kathi Weeks, and Slavoj Žižek.”