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Anarchist response to being called utopian?

+12 votes
Leading Light commies seem to try their hardest at proving anarchy/ism ain't the way to go, with their most recent claim being that its utopian, especially when it comes to communes/collectives/co-ops and primitivism. What's everyone's response to this? Personally, even if it is utopian, there's no reason not to strive for utopia, no?
asked Oct 26, 2012 by anonymous
I don't see anarchy as utopian (I might see anarchism as utopian though). Here is something perhaps related:

14 Answers

+2 votes
there are two understandings of utopia - one i would call idealist, which is just that everyone is happy all the time (ok, simplification, but for this site it's close enough), and the other (could be called a historical understanding) is of a society where people are *supposed to be* happy all the time (ie a society that is rigidly controlled in the name of the greatest good for all people).

obviously anarchists wouldn't want to be associated with the second (historical) sense of the word. but also many of us are not interested in the idealistic sense of the word either, since there is little evidence that happiness is the most useful or viable indicator for how well a group of people do... but that is a more controversial topic, for sure.
answered Oct 26, 2012 by dot (51,120 points)
+1 vote
as i see it, the term utopy is remarkably implicit against what i understand as anarchy. i don't have a very deep insight of the history and succession of writings adhered to what could be called utopian in its original sense, but as far as i know u.topos are used to describe a cumulus of critics and proposals that originates a more or less specific and ideal, perfect state of things, thus not admitting additions since the time of its inauguration.
i had also hear a bunch tryings of turn the term in an anti.authoritarian voices that would have been more in touch with my feelings but which i disregarded inasmuch i see them as a blended misapprehension. if it said that utopia is a categorical but latent surrender isn't by denying the struggle against uncertainties in favor of the improbable, but rather making an unremitting differentiation between utopia, the static (and so on) future, in order to ferment oneself's attitude and ability of explore non-(and undesirable of being)stablished *relations*, undestanding this term in its very numerous meanings.
for me, in a deep sense, that accusation is empty of meaning, but as i understand that many self-described anarchists —besides enemies of anarchic behavior and its fruits and havocs, have propagated an utopian vision of anarchy, making them synonymous with subtle nuances, this question works as a levering crowbar making more obvious the differences between anarchism and anarchy.

hoping being readable.
answered Oct 27, 2012 by κύων (320 points)
edited Oct 27, 2012 by κύων
Yes, many anarchists are utopian. But commies have no reason to call out others' utopianism. Dictatorship of the Proletariat, anyone?
0 votes
i like what dot said here, and i would add that i think utpoian is often used in the place of idealist.  I think perhaps often when anarchists are called utopian, at least part of the critique is aimed at idealism, that anarchists aspire to "higher" values, and implied in this i think is a proposition as to the content of "human nature", in this case being, that people are "greedy", "mean", "uncaring", "capitalist/authoritarian" by nature.

The critique leveled against anarchist utopianism, though, i think is partially true, because many anarchists i see are "utopian" in the sense that anarchy or communism is something that exists "somewhere else" in the future, not achievable until the glorious revolution wipes away all traces of authority and domination.  There are, as i think should be obvious to many people here, proponents of a totally different conception of what anarchy and anarchism are, that it is lived now, that it is a way of being and relating to each other and to the world/society/authority, the former being informed by a set of values that we as individuals establish, the latter being a state of perpetual or permanent conflict against those.  Bonnano's "anarchist tension" i think is a really good exploration of these things.
answered Nov 6, 2012 by jingles (2,220 points)
edited Nov 7, 2012 by jingles
0 votes
I'd rather be utopian than be complicit in my own entrapment
answered Mar 8, 2013 by freedomtoobey (180 points)
not mutually exclusive, surely?
+7 votes
We're certainly not more utopian than those who think that giving some people god-like levels of hierarchical power will not lead to disaster.
answered Mar 8, 2013 by AutumnLeavesCascade (9,030 points)
0 votes
I often turn it around on folks saying this and suggest:

Utopianism is the belief that things can stay the same and that the world is just and functions on moral certitudes. Capitalists are the utopians.
answered Mar 10, 2013 by dashe (1,020 points)
"try their hardest at proving anarchy/ism ain't the way to go,"
Anarchy isnt a way to go.
The choices are between 1) using violence to achieve your end(s) 2) not using violence to achieve your end(s)

"society" has no choice between "anarchy" and "not anarchy."
"Government," an external, on high, ultimate arbiter which has "authority," the "right to rule," is "in control," does not exist.
+3 votes
Utopianism sounds to me to be a perfectly regimented society where humans are robot-like in their interactions with each other.

The idealism of Anarchy can appear to be quasi-Utopian, in regards to a world where authoritarianism of individuals over other individuals is viewed as unethical. I do not accept the notion that individuals living their own lives without authoritarians, economic hierarchy/class systems, organized religion, nation-states, and other problems is Utopian.

Also, the Leading Light Communist Organization is a Marxist-Leninist-Maoist (MLM aka Maoist) group, so they are definitely opposed to Anarchy/Anarchism/Anarchists. Maoists are big into the Cult of Personality (Bob Avakian, Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin), which among other things they advocate is inherently anti-Anarchist.
answered Mar 11, 2013 by WildAnarchy (4,930 points)
edited Mar 11, 2013 by WildAnarchy
+2 votes
my response is an investigation into what is meant by utopia. in the sense of utopia being a community that is highly desirable for the persons navigating that community, then some anarchists could be called utopian. i would like to live in a community that is anarchistic, that would be desirable to me.

however, in the sense of creating an "ideal" society, i think this has been challenged many times, often in the form of utopias (and dystopias) themselves. ursula leguin's the dispossessed, probably most familiarly for folks here, calls into question the possibility of "utopia". the book is subtitled "an ambiguous utopia" and the anarchistic society portrayed in it is revealed as stagnating, with a portrayal of hope (in my reading) to jostle the anarchists from bureaucracy and . which i interpret as leguin saying that "utopia" either does not exist or must be dynamic. i guess this idea that utopia cannot exist is what many non-anarchists reference when calling anarchy utopian. but perhaps one way of responding would be to take it in stride and say that anarchy is utopian because it is neither progress nor stagnation.

but i would add that anarchy/anarchism is not utopian to me because we do not (as least many of us do not) advocate for a society or community desirable for everyone. we advocate for a not this society, not this civilization. we advocate for existence without coercive authority or nonconsensual hierarchy (except for the case of consensual nonconsent).
answered Sep 28, 2013 by emma (3,930 points)
oh and stab them in the liver with a dagger.
lol emma. i too support the two pronged approach.
0 votes
Some endorse the label such as Kropotkin in 'The conquest of bread' however the problem with the label of utopian is that it suggests an impossible goal, I don't believe any form of anarchy is impossible however I do believe some are more feasible than others.
answered May 2, 2015 by kropotkin45 (180 points)
+3 votes

'Utopia' simply means 'no/not place.' I find it relevant to find out if my interlocutor means:

1. Cannot/Couldn't be a place, ever

2.  Shouldn't be a place, ever

3. Simply a non-place as of now.

In brief, the first presumes far too much about eternal possibility and your imagination and desires; aka, omniscience and omnipresence.

The second seems a pompous bit of moralism (a projection of their imagination and desires posing as 'objectivity') and not much else; meta-morality on top of omniscience and omnipresence.

The third is so open ended as to include the utopia of that avocado-on-sourdough sandwich still two hours away (or the one I ate yesterday) while my mouth waters now; aka pettiness.

All in all, it seems best to ask them what they mean by 'utopian.'


answered Dec 5, 2015 by AmorFati (7,780 points)