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The Essential Ellen Willis$
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Ellen Willis and Nona Willis Aronowitz

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780816681204

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816681204.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MINNESOTA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.minnesota.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MNSO for personal use.date: 18 May 2022

Ghosts, Fantasies, and Hope

Ghosts, Fantasies, and Hope

(p.444) Ghosts, Fantasies, and Hope
The Essential Ellen Willis

Nona Willis Aronowitz

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter considers the utopian dimension of politics and Russell Jacoby’s views on utopianism. In his two two books, Picture Imperfect and The End of Utopia, Jacoby traces the assumptions of today’s anti-utopian consensus to the 1930s and 1940s, when liberal intellectuals such as Karl Popper, Hannah Arendt, and Isaiah Berlin linked Nazism and communism under the rubric of totalitarianism, whose essential characteristic, they argued, was the rejection of liberal pluralism for a monolithic ideology. In the post-communist world, Jacoby contends that the equation of utopia with death has become conventional wisdom across the political board. He distinguishes between two categories of utopianism: the dominant “blueprint” tradition, exemplified by Thomas More’s eponymous no place or Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, and the dissident strain he calls “iconoclastic” utopianism, whose concern is challenging the limits of the existing social order and expanding the boundaries of imagination rather than planning the perfect society.

Keywords:   politics, Russell Jacoby, utopianism, Picture Imperfect, The End of Utopia, Nazism, communism, totalitarianism, pluralism, utopia

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