The Origins of Real Utopias

Crooked Timber, the academic superblog, is having a forum on Envisioning Real Utopias.

“Real utopias” mentioned are: the participatory city budget of Porto Alegre, Wikipedia, Mondragon co-ops, Slow Food, and Fair Trade.

It will be noticed that all these seem to be Western in origin.

Porto Alegre is in Brazil but the “vast majority of the population is of European descent” (wiki) particularly from Germany. Wikipedia is from the US. Mondragon is based on ethnic cooperation among the Basques. Slow Food is a largely European initiative, especially Italian (not surprising given their love of food). Fair Trade was born from European NGOs – typically of Protestant Northern European origin (Mennonite, Dutch, British).

What does this mean? That the West still innovates when it comes to anti-capitalist “real utopias”? That “real utopias” are a distinctly Western preoccupation? That “real utopias” are rather monocultural and not very multicultural? That the world really is largely Eurocentric? Who knows.


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