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Re: Utopistics and Democratic Global Commonwealth
by E. Prugovecki
18 March 2003 22:27 UTC
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Title: Re: Utopistics and Democratic Global Commonwealth
I subscribed to the WSN network almost a year ago, at the recommendation of Professor W. Warren Wagar. Since that time I enjoyed reading many of the contributions provided by the small group of WSN subscribers who tend to be very active in this respect, and I also came upon some truly informative contributions. However, I never encountered any discussion of fundamental issues dealing with possible solutions of contemporary crises, nor any meaningful proposals for future actions.

Criticisms of present political circumstances and developments can get a bit tedious after a while when not supported by any constructive suggestions. As one of the "utopists out there" that Gert Kohler is summoning to come forth, I would like to point out that in some of my recent "utopian" writings, available online at
                http://individual.utoronto.ca/prugovecki/ ,

I indicated how Internet has a tremendous potential for bringing about change and advanced forms of participatory democracy. Actually, this fact is being demonstrated daily during the present Iraq crisis by many who use the Internet and e-mail as a tool in trying to affect current events, rather than to merely comment on the present world situation.
For those interested in such "utopian" ideas, I recommend the essay available on the Utopias Forum web site

                    http://www.wfs.org/prugovecki2.htm ,

as well as on the earlier cited web site.

All comments are welcome.

Eduard Prugovecki
Professor Emeritus
University of Toronto


On Tuesday, March 18, 2003, W. W. Wagar wrote:

        I assume that by employing such terms as "lovely," "utopiarama,"
"nice pastime," and "missionary embrace," Gert is having a little fun at
my expense.  I hope he enjoyed himself.

But social science need not lose its scientific soul by using the
knowledge it has acquired of human behavior, including the behavior of
world-systems, to speculate intelligently about ways and means and ends,
in short to apply its data and insights and hypotheses to imagine a better
world that could be achieved in real time under various circumstances
following specific courses of action.  Boswell and Chase-Dunn have done
superb work along these lines, and Wallerstein has written a meditation
on utopistics, his word, not mine.  But no one could accuse contemporary
social science, in the main, of being seriously concerned with the tasks
and goals of world reconstruction.

  If in fact we are living in the era of what proves to be "late
capitalism," in the shadow of imminent environmental, economic, political,
and military cataclysms, I find it incredible--difficult if not impossible
to believe--that the majority of progressive social scientists, including
world-systems researchers, do not turn most of their attention in these
latter days to such tasks and goals.

  Of course we are in good historical company.  From the whole
immense and fertile corpus of the writings of Karl Marx and Friedrich
Engels, I dare say one could not extract more than 25 pages of serious
thought about the contours and parameters of the kind of world they hoped
would replace the world of the 19th Century.  They did not want to repeat
the mistakes of the "utopian socialists," and they did not want to tell a
future classless and free humanity how to live its life.  Only the men and
women of the future itself could and should decide.  Nevertheless, they
could have sketched alternative scenarios, ventured hopeful possibilities,
warned of imaginable pitfalls.  Perhaps if they had, the Stalins and the
commissars in times ahead would have been strangled in their cradles.
Probably not, but we'll never know for sure.

  Meanwhile, I don't think we have even the beginnings of a
consensus on how to get from "here" to "there" or on what "there"
should or might be.  Not even a consensus on the idea that only
democratically guided institutions of planetary governance can disarm
nations, rescue the biosphere, reallocate wealth and resources, and
provide for the well-being of all peoples everywhere.  The world-system
will have to deteriorate much more rapidly and much more catastrophically
before such a consensus can emerge.  I think we may rely on the system to
do its part.  I think it is programmed for self-destruction.  But when
the opportunity arises, will humankind be ready to seize it?  Are
progressive sociologists fully engaged even now in the struggle to help
our species prepare for that Dies Irae?  If not, why not?  Why the open
hostility, even on this network, to the exploration of desirable futures
in the longue duree?

   I do not understand.


On Sun, 16 Mar 2003, g kohler wrote:

> Utopistics and Democratic Global Commonwealth
> Professor Wagar mentioned the lovely words "utopistics" and "democratic
> global commonwealth" in a recent posting. While some of that is already
> discussed in the oeuvres of Boswell and Chase-Dunn, more utopiarama would be
> a nice pastime, while we are waiting for the bombs to drop. For example, how
> would a democratic global commonwealth bring about a massive transition to
> sustainable development? For example, how would the decision-making take
> place? Canada would be a democratic republic in that global commonwealth,
> and so would be USA, Angola, Iraq, and others. Would the democratic
> grassroots of the world (i.e., we) all do the right thing, guided by our
> reason and without any bosses (the no - archy situation)? Or guided by our
> elected representatives? How would the Angolan and Canadian representatives
> make sure that they have a fair hearing vis--vis the Chinese, Indian, and
> U.S.-American brothers and sisters? How could the Canadian representative be
> sure that the chief U.S. representative does not sleep with the chief
> Chinese representative and rule the democratic global commonwealth in a
> missionary or oriental mode of embrace? Any utopists out there?
> Gert

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