Posts tagged utopia
“There was no revolution too be had on the internet. None at all. The idea that there ever was is false. A big fat lie.
Sure, we thought we saw revolutions start on here. We saw people come together to fight governments, stand up to bullies, bring attention to brutality, to show how corporations are stupid and greedy (we did quite a bit of that last one ourselves, if you remember, dear friends). We watched people fight for justice and against political correctness. We watched huge battles rage. And we thought they were exciting and important.
But we were wrong, we slowly realised. We realised those battles were just a spectacle, a distraction from what was really going on. Because those battles were taking place on a battlefield that didn’t matter. On a battlefield that had no way of making a difference. Because that’s a battlefield we don’t own, and never could. New battlefields built just to keep us occupied.
We used to think we could own it, that we were fighting to build communities for ourselves. That it was ours for the taking. To stake a claim for a place we could control and belong, a fight to make ‘safe spaces’ for ourselves. It was a noble thing to think, that we were fighting for our own spaces, but we were kidding ourselves. We never owned these spaces, we never could. They were never ours to own, never ours to control. Instead we watched our battles turn in to spectator sports, our revolutions turn in to infighting. We watched our new communities dissolve into civil wars. We watched our political activists and community leaders become celebrity brands, our tech-utopian visionaries bow to capital and shareholders.
Without knowing - although somehow always expecting it - we let ourselves become nothing more than the content between adverts. Our battles, our beliefs, our loves - nothing more than the filler before the next ad break. We fought battles that we didn’t need to fight - battles that ripped our solidarity apart and distracted us from the we causes we once believed in - just to create clicks and blinks and eyeballs for the advertising networks. We were nothing more than squatters in a space we wanted to believe we owned, paying our rent by giving ourselves away in the name of capital. Our revolution was a sideshow.
Well, not anymore friends. This has to stop. And it will.”
(via https://pastebin.com/1bHQssPs )
This question has been on my mind for over a year now. In a time that seems to become more dystopian each day, it might be rather normal to yearn for new positive visions. I’m also not very fond of the utopian visions of Silicon Valley’s libertarians (Musk, Brin & Page, Zuckerberg, Kurzweil, etc.). Furthermore, ten years of Merkel here in Germany might play a role. So I’ve been investigating the topic of utopia, read books (fiction and non-fiction), essays, articles, etc. It has been quite easy because of the 500th anniversary of Thomas More’s Utopia, last year. But I’m still finding it hard to answer the question if utopias are what we need right now, and if yes, what kind of utopias. Because the track record of past utopias is not exactly stellar.
“All bureaucracies are to a certain degree utopian, in the sense that they propose an abstract ideal that real human beings can never live up to.”
–David Graeber in “The Utopia of Rules.”
i suspect that cyberspace exists because it is the purest manifestation of the mass (masse) as Jean Beaudrilliard described it. it is a black hole; it absorbs energy and personality and then re-presents it as spectacle. people tend to express their vision of the mass as a kind of imaginary parade of blue-collar workers, their muscle-bound arms raised in defiant salute. sometimes in this vision they are holding wrenches in their hands. anyway, this image has its origins in Marx and it is as Romantic as a dozen long-stemmed red roses. the mass is more like one of those faceless dolls you find in nostalgia-craft shops: limp, cute, and silent. when i say “cute” i am including its macabre and sinister aspects within my definition.
Upon opening A smart Guide to Utopia, the first statement you read claims that cities are the true natural habitat of the human race: “Cities are where we are best, where individuals become communities.” Even if we don’t agree with such a manifesto, it is bold enough to catch our attention and hold our interested while discovering the 111 projects from across Europe presented in the book. Nearly all the projects can be described under the motto of tactical urbanism and bottom-up practices. Each chapter starts with a brief essay — “open your mind” — on the future of the city by a selection of writers and researchers including Ben Hammersley, Maria Popova and Adam Greenfield.