Envisioning Real Utopias

Envisioning Real Utopias by Erik Olin Wright, Verso 2010

Rising inequality of income and power, along with recent convulsions in the finance sector, have made the search for alternatives to unbridled capitalism more urgent than ever. Yet few are attempting this task—most analysts argue that any attempt to rethink our social and economic relations is utopian.

Erik Olin Wright’s major new work is a comprehensive assault on the quietism of contemporary social theory. A systematic reconstruction of the core values and feasible goals for Left theorists and political actors, Envisioning Real Utopias lays the foundations for a set of concrete, emancipatory alternatives to the capitalist system.

Characteristically rigorous and engaging, this book will become a landmark of social thought for the twenty-first century.

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Read Chapter I: Why Real Utopias?

Read Chapter IV: The Socialist Compass

“Hugely rich and stimulating, Envisioning Real Utopias is many books in one: an incisive normative diagnosis of the harms done by capitalism; a masterful synthesis of the best work in political sociology and political economy over the past thirty years; an innovative theoretical framework for conceptualizing both the goals of progressive change and the strategies for their achievement; an inspiring survey of actually existing challenges to capitalism that have arisen within capitalism itself; and a compelling essay on the relation between the desirable, the viable and the achievable. Anyone interested in the future for leftist politics has to read this book.”—ADAM SWIFT, Balliol College, Oxford

“Encyclopedic in its breadth, daunting in its ambition, Envisioning Real Utopias is the culmination of Erik Olin Wright’s revamping of Marxism. Dispensing with ruptural change and laws of history, Wright restores the social to socialism. He keeps alive alternatives to capitalism by exploring real utopias—their internal contradictions, their conditions of existence and, thus, their possible dissemination. Only a thinker of Wright’s genius could sustain such a badly needed political imagination without losing analytical clarity and precision.”—MICHAEL BURAWOY, UC Berkeley