The beginning of our second day in this wonderful Alpine town is marked by two Bristol University academics – Professor Emeritus Ruth Levitas is giving a keynote lecture about utopia chaired by our GESF colleague, Professor Keri Facer. Ruth argues that utopia is the most coherent form of anticipatory thinking and is a method rather than a goal.
By asking questions of ‘What kind of society do we want to see?’ and ‘What kind of society do we want to be?’ Levitas argues for utopia as the way forward. It allows the necessary break with the past and fallacy of thinking the future is like the present. The break with the past refers to the simple fact that we cannot go on as we did until now for obvious reasons: environmental crisis, economic crisis, rising inequalities, concentration of power and the like. The trap of thinking the future is an extension of the present characterises other forms of future studies such as extrapolation. Utopian thinking enables us to make different assumptions and create new visions. It has one foot in the present and the other in future. As a ‘potential future it is an alternative space from which to regard the present’.
She convincingly engaged the audience with arguments about the political, social, cultural and ecological necessity for radical change. By arguing that utopia is a method it encourages us to test out possibilities, in our search for a better life.
Prof. Levitas is still having her talk. But we are saying goodbye for now. Our last picked up message is : ‘Utopias are not goals, they are explorations.’
Susan, Janja, Chris