Home pageTHE SURRE(GION)ALIST MANIFESTOChapter 2.- The Politics of the Imagination
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Documents published in this section
Wednesday 7 February 2007
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-1- The Imagination in Power
The General Strike of May 1968 in Paris was a landmark in radical history. It is known in large part for the fact that it diverged from the expected. It is also known for its inspiring slogans: "Take your desires for realities"; "It is forbidden to forbid"; "Be realistic, demand the impossible." Most of these slogans seem little more than radical nostalgia a generation later. But I would argue that one of these slogans has been realized-totally and absolutely-in the decades since the revolt.
The one successful aspiration of May ’68: "L’imagination au pouvoir!"—"Power to the imagination!" (...)

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Wednesday 7 February 2007
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-2- Does Money Grow on Trees?
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At the last National Greens Conference, a delegate told me that he couldn’t understand all this talk about being against capitalism. "How could anyone be against capitalism?" he asked. "You have to make a living somehow!" The delegate, an intelligent person and a graduate of a major university (no necessary connection implied), had never encountered the idea that capitalism could perhaps be a historical phenomenon, or that any other mode of economic organization might be possible.
Another delegate, perhaps trying to absolve us from any lingering guilt-feelings about, as they (...)

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Wednesday 7 February 2007
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-3- In a Bad Place
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The highest aspirations of the imagination are called utopia. But utopia is just as much the enemy of the imagination, and is our own Nemesis. We live in the shadow of a terrifying utopia. And we must search the shadows for those other utopias that have been eclipsed.
Civilization has its feet firmly planted in the reality of domination, and its head firmly planted in the utopian imaginary. We must pull up both by their roots. The dominant utopia is the utopia of Progress, of the conquest of nature, of the rationalization of society. It is a utopia of infinite powers of (...)

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Wednesday 7 February 2007
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-4- Words from Green Lips
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We sometimes look to the past for hints of what this awakening might mean. For example, we discover that in 1871 the people of Paris awoke to a rather radically utopian idea. They decided to abolish capitalism and the state. They undertook the creation of a free municipality, which they called the Paris Commune. The Commune is one of the most numinous episodes in the history of revolution, and in the history of the imagination. In its few short weeks of existence, it opened up possibilities that remain an inspiration well over a century later: possibilities of freedom, of (...)

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