I am pro-Utopianism and prefiguration.
Condescension towards utopianism is not only poetically impoverished but also a tactical mistake, because it limits the Left’s ability to implement a socialist programme upon taking power.
This means reviving the utopian socialist tradition that has for far too long been marginalized by the ‘scientific socialism’ of Marxism
What was a nuanced critique of utopian socialism in Marx’s hands became a bludgeon wielded by his epigones who scorned post-revolutionary proposals as frivolous ‘recipes for the cookshops of the future’.
By the twentieth century, the utopian socialist tradition was in retreat. George Orwell – every conservative’s favourite socialist – excoriated vegetarians and sandals to expunge the Left of effeminate ridiculousness
So what is utopian socialism? Good question. That's kind of the point of the node club. But so what do I know so far?
Historically there is this kind of contrast between utopian socialism and scientific socialism and as far as I understand, Marx and Engels were proponents of what they called scientific socialism, which is something more grounded in reality of the present day.
I think (although someone has said otherwise here recently to me, need to confirm) that they were against utopian socialism, or they had their critiques of it, at least.
Utopian socialism being more about thinking along the lines of the future. Of how would a future socialist society look. They have this famous phrase against producing recipes for the cookshops of the future. They didn't want to do that. They just wanted to focus on the present day. That's a very rudimentary understanding, and I'm sure it's more nuanced than that.
Personally, I think we do need these recipes for the cook shops of the future. We need to prefigure the way that which we want the world to be and in order to do that, we kind of need to think about the way that we want the future to be.
(That's an interesting question, actually, what's the distinction between prefiguration and the ideas in utopian socialism?)
The other thing to add here is that I feel there's quite a nice link between speculative fiction and science fiction and thinking about future societies. So there's a nice link there between utopian socialism and speculative fiction, which obviously I'm a fan of.