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Re: Utopistics and Democratic Global Commonwealth
by g kohler
18 March 2003 22:28 UTC
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Albert Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge. I
think that is true for social praxis as well. Therefore, I agree with Warren
99%, except with his first sentence (see below).

P.S. there is a chapter on "Global Utopia: Green and Red" in the
Kohler-Tausch book (Global Keynesianism, 2002), in which I am trying to sell
two utopian ideas - (1) equal wage for work of equal value globally (i.e.,
irrespective of geographical location); (2) transformation
(re-industrialization) of the world economy toward a sustainable energy base
and toward sustainable production and consumption patterns, and all that as
the engine of a sustained global-Keynesian boom. To my mind, it is, indeed,
nice to embrace such lovely utopiaramas with a bit of missionary
zeal and to forget the wet blanket of empiricism now and then.

----- Original Message -----
From: <wwagar@binghamton.edu>
To: "g kohler" <kohlerg@3web.net>
Cc: <wsn@csf.colorado.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, March 18, 2003 2:52 PM
Subject: Re: Utopistics and Democratic Global Commonwealth

> 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.
> Warren

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