I introduced and moderated a panel with Julian Oliver and Tobias Revell
What is the origin and function of utopias in human societies, and what can we make of its ‘dystopian counterpart’? Are utopianism and dystopianism something for our times or have they become obsolete? Who are the actors producing and promoting utopian and dystopian ideas? How important is to imagine and debate different potential futures? What lessons from the past can we use to predict new visions of the future? Do we need to create new narratives to better understand our past and present, and to construct a future based on self-mastery rather than on fake happiness and perfection? In literature, as in politics, utopia and dystopia are linked, they are two sides of the same coin. Not all utopias can be trusted, and not all dystopias imply a commitment towards the creation of a better future. Our consumer society has become so obsessed with perfection, and so commodified that it has ceased to strive for self knowledge. To overcome the superficiality of mass culture, and to make people think more clearly for themselves, we need rational, realistic and straightforward arguments, meaningful tools to build a realistic future, not a perfect one. This session aims to challenge the dichotomy of utopia and dystopia, and it opens up a space for the discussion of alternatives.