All My Unpublished Thoughts

about the possibility of utopia

During the 12 years that I've been on Facebook, I've posted 465 amount of status updates. However, there are several drafts of posts which remain unpublished.

The following is a collection of thoughts that have emerged over the past 20 months of pandemic life.


User thinks about what's normal

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We increasingly wait for a return to “normal life.” But what is normal? Was life abnormal already before the pandemic? Is it “normal” to think about things like well-being, self-improvement and projects? Is it “normal” to work for free, socialise through group chats, emojis and streams of images? For me, all the pandemic has done is closed services we use on a daily basis. It's made us more isolated. I'm skeptical about a greater change. A new normal. I feel anxious about sensing the fomo of others. Of seeing notifications about events user J or K are interested in. I feel anxious about food pics. And of those where people contemplate over sublime landscapes on their vacations. I wonder about the dynamics of social life months spent on Teams and Zoom.


User is in the world, fearing

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Since globalisation really took hold, we've lived in a world increasingly surrounded by threat. Terrorism, new kinds of warfare, unexpected causes of global warming. Despite the reports of different -ologists on how disease could potentially collapse the world economy, most of us never considered the threat of a pandemic. Not to mention its impact on human life. Is a pandemic the last sign that our globalised world need radical acts and regulations? Have we gone so deep into the ways of a world that there is no alternative, escape hatch or white flag to wave? Do we even want to participate in a different world? The Trump presidency, like Brexit, are not only examples of the worlds those in power envision, they seem the likeliest alternatives. COVID-19 has served as a wake up call, a reminder of how dependent we are on each other. Including on ethnonationalists who seemingly no longer live on the periphery.


User seeks for a utopia

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I've seen dreams about an apocalypse, but never one of a utopia. I don't think I've seen a dream about place where I could feel totally content, comfortable and at peace. It's difficult enough to imagine such conditions even when I'm awake. Obviously I want equality in a material and social way. Of course I want global warming and exploitation of nature to end - but does that qualify as a utopia? I wonder, do we ever dream apolitically? If we do, what are those dreams like? Are they ones we share or individual fantasies?


User makes an extra note about utopia

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Reflecting on my last post, I think I have to be more honest. I've never really been excited by utopias and how they are connected with political thinking, or let alone political action. I don't overlook utopias, but I see them more like political ideals or fairytales which can inspire us to act - not dream. That is to say I wouldn't nonetheless mind dreaming about them. Or having the capacity for a utopian imagination.

The issue for me, and all of us, is that they require common ground. Utopias can't be subjective fairytales. They also require creativity similar to that of children who fantasise. Unfortunately neoliberalism has played its part in rationalising made political thinking. Taking a stance and openly communicating it is a calculated move that's lost all imagination and innocence.


User almost shares a memory

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I remember when I was about 6 years old, sitting in my grandfathers old Volvo 240 on the way to our cottage. At that age I was full of questions more so than answers. Not much has changed in that respect. I recall thinking at the time, 'how is it possible to make money with money?' I had no idea about basic economic principles.

My grandfather was a 70 year old pensioner. A WW2 veteran who was able to educate himself despite his working class upbringing and career spent in research management in the paper industry. He not only followed, but kept up with a changing world, scientific research and inventions. It still amazes what he told to me that day when we drove across the fields on the border between Kymi and Päijät-Häme. The way in which he told me about what the future has in store has in store has stuck with me ever since. He told me how very we soon we'll have the possibility of accessing almost any video game, piece of music or film ever produced. He believed in such a future, in the potential of what he had described without mentioning the internet. What the internet was at that very moment before its birth, was a real utopian dream for a blue-eyed 6 year old.


User explores his relationship to digital technology, through digital technology

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Despite there being several reasons to question how digital networks impact our potential for political action, I remain quite ambivalent about it all. About how globalisation and digital connectedness can change the nature of data and information (mis and disinformation), and therefore change the experience world.

What is “the internet” today? What has it become? A communication platform? A resource? In Marxian terms, is it a productive force or part of a superstructure?

Aaron Bastani's manifesto Fully Automated Luxury Communism is one of the most notable sketches of utopias in the post-Marxian tradition. For him, any future form of Communism is made possible by technology, such as automatisation, which has the potential to make renewable energy production a viable solution to, at the very least, slowing down climate change. Or robotisation and its impact on production.

Bastani raises an important notion regarding the nature of Communist society, and how dependent it ultimately is on technological resources. Production obviously needs these resources to organise society and produce basic necessities. There's no direct or immediate transition from working class exploitation to utopia, ie. Communism.

However, the shortcoming of Bastani's proposition is reality itself. We've had access to such resources for over a century, and what have we managed to achieve? His idea of post-scarcity is in fact based on a classic Marxian approach to the relationship between technology and the ideal society. Sure the technology we have today is different, but the conditions are otherwise the same.

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We have tendency, or rather an inability, to think about alternatives to capitalism. It remains the master signifier to so much that's wrong. Why do we have to competition in the “field” of creative “labour?” Why do we find ourselves experiencing a pandemic? Why aren't all identities acknowledged within society, ie. within the very conditions that produced them in the first place? Why we are so tired and hopeless?

These questions seem to relate the problem in Bastani's manifesto: we haven't made a prognosis of contemporary capitalism. We don't really get anywhere by claiming that capitalism is at the root everything that's wrong. In Bastani's case, the issue lies specifically in not fully understanding the role of technologies in our lives, and how the continuous development of these technologies impact us. Even if we manage to eliminate something like resource scarcity, can we free ourselves from living work-centric lives; from consuming and exploit nature; from oppression and discrimination?


User is building a new utopia

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The internet could, and should, create possibilities for global cooperation and collective political action. And of course to some extent in does through movements like Black Lives Matter. But even though we are able to communicate with each other faster than ever before, do understand one another any better than we did 30 years ago? In the context of world history, the internet is still very much in its infancy. It's based on a late 90's ethos, a structure in the vain of a post-Fukuyaman liberal idea of a connected world.

Regardless of their foundational values and conditions for existing, utopias have never thrived throughout history. The most concrete utopian societies ever built were based on mass destruction and propaganda. Chiliasts and Christian millennialists believed that Jesus would return to earth to build the kingdom of heaven at the end of times. As a political theory the idea of a 1000-year reign was originally conceived during the Great Peasants' Revolt in between 1524 to 1525, not by Hitler, who pursued his own deranged version of a utopian. As the world gets polarised and movements like neo-nationalism gain popularity, recognising how someone's utopia is quite often someone else's dystopia becomes increasingly important. I doubt we'll ever see Jesus take up building heaven on earth, but I believe in the possibility of creating conditions for a better world through spaces for utopian thinking.

We know we need a more controlled form of capitalism, new rulebook of global connectedness.



But to be honest, perhaps we all just need to believe in simpler utopias.