Utopian Studies 19 (2):233-264 (2008)

Authors
Michael Jenson
University of Colorado Denver
Abstract
A recurrent misconception about the concept of utopia fails to realize fully that its essential endeavor constitutes a speculative act involving the distribution of power and resources. Consequently, utopian desire is closely linked to structures of power and can be manipulated by interests in positions of influence within these structures. It is these connections to the machinations of power that bring utopian visions their potential for social/political influence. However, these same types of links also provide avenues for these conceptions to be cynically influenced in ways that can usurp individual autonomy. The role of power and utopia can be analyzed in the formative process of a specific social structure as well as in their contribution to the conception of a common heritage or history. The " historical perspective" often serves as the foundation for the production of propaganda seeking to capture the imagination of a populace either to instigate positive social change or to legitimize an oppressive regime. Through the lens of Collingwood's philosophy of history, this article investigates the connection that the " historical consciousness" has to the attributes of power and utopia as well as the role that this relationship plays in the formation of a collective mentality. In short, it studies the essential characteristics of the bond between individuals that allows a community or collective to perpetuate itself. It also explores how the attributes of power and utopia can use latent historical perceptions to strengthen the process of ideological integration that underlies any social action or formal structure of authority.
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