Wednesday, October 06, 2004


Great online exhibit on utopias.
Utopia is the result of a collaborative effort between two of the world’s great libraries, the Bibliothèque nationale de France and The New York Public Library. It represents the first time that two such institutions have merged their staffs in order to produce a unified exhibition. Materials and topics included in Utopia reflect the strengths of both libraries’ collections, while representing the variety of utopian proposals and experiments in the Western world.
and from deeper in the exhibition...
Probably the "ambiguous utopia" described in Ursula LeGuin’s novel, The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia (1974), is the most appealing utopia I have ever encountered. The form of life depicted in this well-written novel is best described as communal (or communist) anarchism, and I believe that communal anarchism is, on balance, the most attractive form of life that human beings can share. Communal anarchism seeks to foster individual autonomy, self-development, and freedom within the framework of a genuinely communal society. The politics of communal anarchism are radically democratic and significantly decentralized. Economic life and material wealth (though not work) are recognized as having limited and only instrumental value, and contributions are based on ability, distribution on need. The ownership and possession of things and people is rejected, and solidarity or fraternity, and therefore mutuality and reciprocity, are regarded as important as, and as essential to, equality, freedom and justice. At the same time, The Dispossessed does indeed describe an "ambiguous utopia," by which is meant that the society is not merely imperfect in terms of its own ideals, but that the very idea of perfection is both impossible and undesirable. This is due in part to the fact that evolution or change is regarded as inevitable, and in part to the fact that the multiple goods and values which characterize communal anarchism are quite demanding (given the imperfections of human beings), and to some degree conflicting (given the complexities of social life), with the result that unwanted and undesirable consequences are unavoidable, and vigilance and struggle, readjustment, even revolution, is constantly required. - Dan Sabia, University of S. Carolina
Dig around, there is a lot of cool stuff here.

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