Paralysing Cynicism

There is a point where healthy essential scepticism slips into paralysing cynicism; where the complete absence of utopian thinking becomes a dystopia itself.

We are right to doubt that we ever will or indeed ever should arrive at Utopia but we are deluded and vulnerable if we fail to recognise the hard-earned utopian fragments all around us.

“We can do all manner of once-impossible things online while simultaneously being told, in the real world, we cannot take care of the most basic societal needs. We have 21st century technologies and 18th century political establishments. Something is rotten in the body politic and it will take more than snake-oil tonics to cure it.”

“Whilst mainstream architecture is more extravagant and bizarre than ever, the sense that it is for everyone has been greatly diminished. Always a mirror to the political climate, architecture is largely there to contain rather than liberate us, demanding our obedience rather than serving us and helping us to better ourselves.”

A common observation is that all utopias are dystopias but the opposite is also true; all dystopias have utopias for a privileged few. In dire times, we are wise to ask, “Who benefits from this?” just as much as we should ask “What are you selling?” of those evangelising about the future.

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Utopian dreams that became architectural nightmares

(Thomas) More intended his imaginary ethnography to critique the status quo by presenting a radical alternative. It was, in More’s words, “a fiction whereby the truth, as if smeared with honey, might a little more pleasantly slide into men’s minds”.

This is a quote from a great article I came by today on twitter. It’s about the dangers of looking at Utopia not as a direction (as Steve Lambert recommends in my last post) but as a final destination. I highly recommend reading it.


The article mentions Biosphere 2, which is just making a comeback into news headlines, because on May 19-21, 2016 ‘500 Young Leaders will Join Experts to Focus on Solving World’s Biggest Environmental Challenges‘ right there at that amazing place.
(Reminder to my future self: make a post about Terraforming )

So many events in honor the 500ths birthday of Thomas More’s Utopia! Here’s another one also mentioned in the article: The first London Design Biennale: The World re-imagines the World – Utopia by Design

By the way, best way to celebrate might be to read the actual book, you can do that here:
Open Utopia – This edition of Utopia is open: open to use, open to copying, open to modification.