Affect and Transformative Ideas
3 Beyond the discursive space of utopia
3Beyond the discursive space of utopia
The prospects for the discursive space of utopia turn upon the socio-historical context(s) in which that space exists. Only in the process of undertaking an exploration of context might the historical significance of movements within the signifier of utopia become evident. Reflecting the continuing ascendency within contemporary social thought of spatiality as an organising metaphor for this idea of context, Stavrakakis has framed this particular issue as being a question about the “space beyond spatiality”;1 about, here, the space beyond the spatiality implied by the figure of utopia. What is, his question asks, the socio-political space – ‘the political’ – in respect of which the discursive space of utopia now operates? The question produces a task of identifying the particular coordinates of socio-historical context which have the potential to propel the normative impulse of utopia beyond, but without nullifying, the important categorising role of the specific interpretations being put forward of that same context. How might the closed-cycle of a snake biting its own tail transform into that of an open-ended spiral? To this end, returning to Lenin, how might the normative impulse of the question ‘what is to be done?’ grow beyond, without necessarily denying, Lenin’s own diagnosis of the Russian political situation in which he lived (that the gulf between a stunted union movement and the individualistic impotence of anarchist activism validated a dictatorship of the proletariat)?
A particular challenge immediately arises in respect of developing insights...
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