The Individualisation of Utopia

From Riots and Political Protest, by Simon Winlow, Steve Hall, Daniel Briggs and James Treadwell, pg 42:

Utopianism did not disappear, but it came to address the libidinal dreams of the individual rather than the political dreams of the collective. Utopia was an individual space in which we were free from the encroachments of authority, free to enjoy as much as possible the short time each individual has on Earth. Life ain’t a rehearsal. It’s a short burst of total self-determination in which we can indulge in pleasurable pursuits and choose only those social obligations that suit us. And the beauty of all this was that one didn’t need to overcome capitalism to get there.

I like this idea a lot, ever since I first encountered it in a fascinating ethnography of weight-lifting which talks about ‘utopic body projects’. 

What interests me at the moment is how this utopic horizon can recede without vanishing. Subjects can overload themselves with demands, orientated towards a utopic horizon, but doing so in a way which leaves them spending large tracts of their lived life triaging, attending to immediate demands as temporal horizons contract. What happens to utopia under these circumstances?

One response to “The Individualisation of Utopia”

  1. Thanks for sharing this idea. It’s interesting that when looked at from an individual perspective utopia looks all very possible but remotely so when you add at least one other.

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