Incriminatory utopias: Utopian visions creating scapegoats

Thesis Eleven:072551362210984 (forthcoming)


Many utopian visions operate by scapegoating an Otherness. They blame an ‘enemy’ for an unbearable, dystopian current reality, holding the ‘enemy’ responsible for it or for obstructing the passage to a desired, new reality. Then they exclude this ‘enemy’. Despite the renewed interest in utopias, such utopian frames remain theoretically neglected or, worse, they are considered typical of the logical structure of utopianism. This paper aims to show that this issue merits a different political-philosophical attention. We begin with operations of utopian predicates in the relevant scholarship and distinguish them from the operations of the term ‘incriminatory’ that we are introducing. We term incriminatory the kind of utopian frame whose future-oriented, idealized and desired image is constructed in and through an incriminated ‘Other’. We indicate the re-conceptualizing merits of this new term and then we discuss the affirmative utopianism that does not incriminate a specific Other. Our main argument, which we deploy contra Yannis Stavrakakis’s position, is that utopias are not unavoidably or inherently incriminatory.

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References found in this work

The Principle of Hope.Ernst Bloch - 1988 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 23 (3):177-180.
In Defense of Utopia.Lyman Tower Sargent - 2006 - Diogenes 53 (1):11-17.
Redeeming Redemption: The Utopian Dimension of Critical Social Theory.Maeve Cooke - 2004 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 30 (4):413-429.

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