Paradise Dreamed

Paradise Dreamed

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Ever since Berliners breached their wall, bringing down with it the whole edifice of state socialism, pundits have been proclaiming the death of Utopia. But, as this book shows, communism is by no means the only fruit of utopian thought. All modern political institutions, including the American democracy and the European Community, have rootes in Utopia. Indeed, many familiar objects and ideas, fron cornflakes to Central Park, from birth control to the Panama Canal, were first imagined or enacted in Utopia. Today, the adjective utopian connotes impracticality, but this book reveals how utopians, far from being idle dreamers, have succeeded in changing the world in ways both trivial and profound. Tracing utopian ideas from their origins in Greek myths of the Golden Age to the most recent feminist utopias, the authors explore the ways utopian pioneers have grappled, in fiction and in fact, with political and social problems which exercise us today: equality, nationalism, the welfare state, sex and marriage.
The gallery of utopians includes Thomas More, Henry VIII's Lord Chancellor and Catholic saint, who first gave Utopia its name; Francis Bacon another Lord Chancellor, whose "New Atlantis" paved the way for science to reshape the world; Denis Diderot, the french philosopher who dreamed of free love in Tahiti; the marquis de sade, whose sadism was just one aspect of a utopia of radical sexual equality; Edward Bellamy, the small town journalist who envisaged a socialist utopia complete with American Express Gold Card; Ebenezer Howard, the English stenographer, whose legacy is Welwyn Garden City; Mother Anne Lee, daughter of a Manchester blacksmith who founded the Shaker faith, the only religon to be based on the equal status of men and women; William Morris, who created the first post-industrialist, ecological utopia; and B.F. Skinner, the Harvard psychologist, whose behaviourist utopia, "Walden Two", was the hippy bible of the 1960s. The modern age has been characterised by utopian social experimentation on a grand scale: French revolutionaries, the Founding Fathers, Marx, Lenin, Mao and Pol Pot all drew explicitly or implicitly on utopian sources.
But, while terrible crimes have been perpetuated in the name of Utopia, utopians have also bequeathed us many of the things we value the most.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 154 x 236 x 36mm | 680.39g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • 8pp illustrations
  • 0747512930
  • 9780747512936

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