About:

For much of history human beings have been enchanted by visions of future paradise, transformation and doom.These visions, their effect on human thought and history, and the periodic attempts to realize them on earth are what I call the utopian-dystopian tradition. This blog is an attempt to understand certain contemporary political ideologies and trends in light of the this tradition.

The visionaries who imagined utopias and dystopias were the first to grapple with technologies and social developments that we are only now forced to fully face in reality: technologies such as artificial intelligence, or genetic engineering. In doing so they were among the first to grapple with the social rather than just the philosophical implications of questions such as what is mind? What is life? What is freedom?  What is the proper relationship to nature?

These thinkers were also trying to grope their way towards solutions to acute social problems of which we are only too familiar: inequality and failed social institutions, social break down and individual isolation. They tried to find answers to deep social questions such as: What is community? What is the state? How far should the state’s power extend? What is the proper relationship of the individual to the community and the state?

In many ways we turn to the utopian-dystopian tradition to understand and act in our own world though we seldom understand that we are doing so. We label intrusive surveillance as “big brother”, social disintegration “Mad Max”, genetically engineered organisms “franken-foods”. We believe in a degree of educational and social equality that would have brought a smile to the lips of many utopian writers, and during the holidays finding ourselves caught up in that most utopian of hopes “peace on earth, and good will towards men”.

Because the utopian-dystopian tradition retains such a powerful hold over the human imagination, and was the first tradition to deal explicitly with certain present and looming trends, people in the 21st century are likely to increasingly turn to that tradition to understand and respond to events.  This blog will explore the nature, promise, and perils of utopian and dystopian thought.

15 comments on “About:

  1. Thanks for signing up for my post. I am interested in how the idea of utopia for Europeans kept moving west as explorers went further afield. Also, the impact of space travel on notions of heaven. You have an interesting remit for your blog.

    • Rick Searle says:

      Hello Barb:

      You have a great blog, so I’m really looking forward to your future posts, and finding the time to read your past posts as well.
      In addition to the usual utopian movements in North America, I am also interested in the utopian imagination of the Spanish clergy in the New World- something I only recently came across. I hope to posts on both of those topics, at some point soon.

      Thanks for signing up.

  2. Thanks for the praise. I did a lot of research on the Jesuit Missiones in Paraguay etc. they were incredible. Also, have you come across the settlement founded by Elizabeth Nietsche, sister of the philosopher, called New Germania – was a complete disaster. As was Darien for the Scots.

    • Rick Searle says:

      No, I knew Nietzche’s sister was a bit of a wack-job, and took the interpretation of his philosophy in an anti-Semitic direction he never would have approved of, as evidenced by his brake with Wagner, but I’d never come across New Germania- Thanks for the lead.

  3. I found out about it from a really shocking photo years ago like a Pieta, of a man holding a dying woman. They were both really skinny, blond, blue eyed, survivors – of sorts – of New Germania. There’s a book on it called Forgotten Fatherland. Elizabeth misled people to emigrate to a swamp, and they never got the money to return home. she was evil.

  4. Angela Trumble says:

    Your blog looks fascinating, can’t wait to have a read! :)

  5. SoundEagle says:

    Hi Rick,

    SoundEagle has just subscribed to your fascinating blog, for which you write convincingly and cogently. Well done!

    Since you like to broach some important, expansive topics along the line of utopia and dystopia, SoundEagle would like to introduce you to http://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2013/02/20/facing-the-noise-music-grey-barriers-and-green-frontiers-of-sound-society-and-environment/, a post which also caters to those who have a deeper passion or concern for history, anthropology, sociology, musicology, philosophy and environmental studies.

    Another post in the “Facing the Noise & Music” series is http://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/facing-the-noise-music-playgrounds-for-biophobic-citizens/, which examines several issues from the perspective of sociology, philosophical anthropology and cultural history.

  6. refinedrandomness says:

    Okay, gotcha…you are a professor, just amazing you are. Very very intuitive, intelligent and fascinating as well. It would be a while, even as a writer myself, to come up with the enjoyable brilliance you offer to pin point and put into words. Thank you again for your response ! ~Ellie

  7. Gene'O says:

    Just followed you by email, because I haven’t been keeping up and I would like to. I ALWAYS enjoy our conversations when I stop by.

    The problem is two-fold:

    1. I follow so many blogs that your posts get lost in my reader and I miss them, and
    2. I get busy managing the social media and forget to stop by.

    I’ve corrected the first with the email follow. I’ll correct the second in the next couple of days by adding you to one of my blogrolls. My blogrolls are like reminders to go and visit blogs I enjoy and see what’s up now and then. Can’t imagine how I’m just now realizing that I haven’t blogrolled your blog.

    Also, followed you with an admin account for my blog Sourcerer – that will help, too. I don’t follow many blogs with that account, mostly just friends :-)

    • Rick Searle says:

      Hey thanks Gene, I was wondering who Sourcerer was.
      I am way too slow on using Twitter, but will definitely check out your blog.

      • Gene'O says:

        LOL, yeah. I had to set up the admin account because about 50 blogs were getting lost in my personal reader, and because I paste in contributors underbylines, and having my own name at the top was confusing.

      • Gene'O says:

        hehe. Just realized you may have been talking about the twitter account. It’s branded that way because I’m trying to build that blog into a multi-contributor blog.

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