Socialist Utopia (fwd)

glevy at glevy at
Fri Jun 30 08:12:12 MDT 1995

In the description given below by Justin, a new meaning of utopianism is
suggested.  Justin seems to be suggesting that the study of alternative
socialist utopias has *practical* advantages to Marxists today.

Does one attempt, though, to analyze the realities of "socialist"
experiences using the "ideal" of utopia(s)?  While Justin asks important
questions, shouldn't we attempt to answer those questions from a
materialist ("scientific socialist") perspective rather than a
utopian/idealistic perspective?

Certainly, different models of socialism have been developed by
socialists in post-capitalist societies.  Those models, however, are
better understood with reference to the actual historical conditions and
circumstances that they were developed for rather than referring to ideal
models of socialism.  Future revolutionaries will, it is true, also have
to develop practical models for socialism but that task is an inherently
practical rather than a utopian task.

However, I don't want to be accused of trying to halt discussion of this
topic.  So, my suggestion is the following:  let anyone on the list give
a brief outline of a socialist utopia and we can then examine that model
using the "reasonable purposes" that Justin suggests.  Unless we discuss
*specific* utopian visions, we can not really take this discussion much

 On Thu, 29 Jun 1995, Justin Schwartz wrote:

> Reasonable purposes for socialist utopianism isnclude: exploring whether
> certain models of socialist society (planned, market, etc.) might work,
> and what it would take for them to work. That is, to make a case for
> feasinility, or to identify problems with amind to specifying solutions,
> etc. Practically, an important purpose of utopianism of thius sort id to
> have answers when people ask you questions like, What's Your ALternative?
> It Didn't Work In Russia. They will not be impressed by saying, Oh, well,
> the workers will fix it all anyway when they come to it--I can;t be more
> specific than that, That' isn't real persuasive, as we all know,
> practically speaking. Third, although this point is somewhat more
> removed, in facta  good deal more removed right now, the modelling work
> will after all have to be done by a socialist government deciding on
> policy. We might as well start now. Fourth, such work enables us to
> address questions from the practical experience of the worker';s
> movements, e.g., the effectiveness and limits of coops,w hat happened in
> Yugoslavia or the FSU, etc. There are a lot of other reasons as well.

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