The present article is divided into three parts. The first discusses the nature of utopias and their hypothetical anti-type, dystopias, and also disaster scenarios that are sometimes assimilated to dystopias, with reference also to the idea of post-utopia. An argument is made for the continuity of the utopian impulse, even in an age when brutal wars and forms of oppression have caused many to lose faith in any form of collectivity. Representations of social breakdown and its apparent opposite, totalitarian rigidity, tend to privilege the very individualism that the utopian vision aspires to overcome. The second part looks at examples of each of these types drawn from classical Greek and Roman literature, with a view to seeing how utopias were conceived at a time before the emergence of the modern ideology of the pre-social self. Finally, the third part examines several stories from the collection A People’s Future of the United States
which imagine life in the near future. While most illustrate the failure of confidence in the social that has encouraged the intuition that a utopian future is passé, one, it is suggested, reconceives the relation between the individual and the social in a way that points to the renewed possibility of the utopian.
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