Part 1: Bibliographic Entry
Hammer, Espen. “A Utopia for a Dystopian Age.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 26 June 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/26/opinion/a-utopia-for-a-dystopian-age.html.
Part 2: Terminology/Keywords
- Utopias of desire
- The utopias of justice
Part 3: Précis
In the following article, Hammer comments on the utopias of the Western world such as utopias of justice and utopias of technology. The French Revolution is cited to exemplify this vision of utopian social justice along with the Soviet Union’s vision of a promised land. Both examples are failures of this idealized utopia but their visions went hand in hand with this idea of achieving a more perfect equal society. But despite these modern utopias, Hammer argues that the desire for utopias is gone as we live in a world with unconstrained consumerism and materialism. With that being said, this article draws upon a pessimistic tone as it reveals that utopia and technology have disastrous consequences. Additionally, at the heart of this article, is the utopian narrative and agenda and how it focuses on the future and imagination. Modern society relies on thinking and progressing to the future which Hammer points out that it, therefore, cannot do away with “utopian consciousness.” In this day utopias are modeled in ideologies, communism, and marxism to name a few, which show that the idea of a utopia will never quite disappear.
Part 4: Reflection
I agree with the majority of Hammer’s claims as it once again reveals this overarching theme of the danger and impossibility of utopias. This article provides examples of utopian ideologies and examples in history and modern-day to represent the present utopian narrative. Hammer cites Thomas Moore in his article and how he coined utopia to draw a connection to the greek word eutopia, which means “happy place”, to reveal that happiness and perfect places can only be imagined. This understanding of the root of the word utopia helps me to understand where utopia arose from but I would also like to dig deeper to discover and read about Thomas Moore’s book “Utopia”. One thing I don’t quite understand and is Hammer’s statement that nature is the only candidate standing that preoccupies utopian imagination. I would like to learn further as to this connection between nature and utopias and how it shows the future of the utopian story.
Part 5: Quotables
“Precisely that — rocking the boat — has, however, been the underlying aim of the great utopias that have shaped Western culture. It has animated and informed progressive thinking, providing direction and a sense of purpose to struggles for social change and emancipation.”
“The utopias of desire make little sense in a world overrun by cheap entertainment, unbridled consumerism, and narcissistic behavior.”
“Their demand for perfection in all things human is often pitched at such a high level that they come across as aggressive and ultimately destructive.”
“Once utopias are embodied in ideologies, they become dangerous and even deadly.”