Julia O’Connell Davidson and Neil Howard have just announced a new series of articles on utopian thinking.
Between now and April we will feature a stream of articles as part of our ‘possible futures’ project that consider the freedoms that might lie beyond the limited liberties historically construed through manumission. . .
Some of the articles to be published in this stream will therefore embrace the kind of thinking that is often dismissed as ‘utopian’, ‘unrealistic’, and even irrelevant to the job of liberating the 35 million people said by organisations like Walk Free to be held as ‘modern slaves’. But since freedom is not a ‘thing’ to be defined by the powerful and doled out to the powerless in the proportions they see fit, we would argue that such thinking is necessary and inescapable. As Ernst Bloch famously put it, “The Real is process…the mediation between present, unfinished past, and above all: possible future”. Freedom too is a process, an ethical practice, a collective and a relational endeavour. Pursuing it requires us to keep interrogating systems of domination and exploitation today that reflect intersecting inequalities of race, class, gender, generation and nation in light not merely of the past, but also of possibilities for a better tomorrow. And while no single, short article can take on all of this, we hope that taken together, the articles to follow will help to provoke such interrogation.
None of the articles in the series has yet appeared. But I look forward to their arrival, because today more than ever—in the midst of the most severe crises of capitalism since the 1930s—we need a real debate over freedom and forms of critical thinking that are too-often dismissed as “utopian” or “unrealistic.”