Since the turn of this century, engaged intellectuals have argued for the refunctioning of a utopian process within actually existing politics. While I accept the caveats about utopianism's ineffectiveness or co-optation that are the bedrock of the cold stream of the Marxist tradition (from Marx and Engels to Bloch and Jameson), I nevertheless (with utopians of the Left such as Ruth Levitas) step into the warm stream of a “militant optimism,” in Bloch's words, that aims to set free “the repressed elements of the new, humanized society.” I therefore examine the dialectical tension of the negative and positive hermeneutics of the utopian method (as seen in Jameson and Levitas) and then focus on the early stages of consciousness raising in a utopian process that does not abstractly declare hope but rather concretely educates and activates it (doing so through the examples of Freire's critical pedagogy and Alinsky's community organizing).

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