The subject of utopianism in contemporary political life has experienced a revival of interest in the last few years. One of the most polemical contributions is John Gray’s Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia. One of the greatest benefits of this book is to paint for us an accurate picture of what a contemporary anti-utopian looks like. For Gray’s position, it appears, is that utopian beliefs lead to ridicule at best and totalitarian violence at worst. In this essay I shall argue that this position ignores many nuances of utopian thought that operate today in, among other places, nonviolent movements of political resistance. As a means of critiquing Gray’s pessimism, I refer to two recent works that attempt to tease out this complexity within utopian thought itself: Russell Jacoby’s Future Imperfect: Utopian Thought for an Anti-Utopian Age (2005) and Frederic Jameson’s Archaeologies of the Future: Utopia and other Science Fictions (2005).
Book Review|July 01 2008
What Is Anti-Utopianism? Gray, Jacoby, Jameson
Cultural Politics (2008) 4 (2): 231-248.