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This chapter examines the ecotopian activist tradition through an exploration of existing literature, within a context of the processes of activism, identity and place…
This chapter examines the ecotopian activist tradition through an exploration of existing literature, within a context of the processes of activism, identity and place which arise from the communitarian impulse. The initial part of the chapter sets out utopian communitarianism into separate phases. Each phase is examined for the exogenous and internalised motivations that compel people in different eras to participate in intentional living projects be they religious, autonomous, or environmental. The chapter develops these themes further by applying Sargisson's study of intentional communities to the discussion. The chapter attempts to ground this discussion within the context of the wider understandings of green utopian practice, such as Barry's ‘Concrete Utopian’ realism or de Geus's ‘utopia of sufficiency’.
Green intentional communities are easily dismissed as irrelevant to wider academic and political debates. In the first instance, they comprise small vanguards, fringes or…
Green intentional communities are easily dismissed as irrelevant to wider academic and political debates. In the first instance, they comprise small vanguards, fringes or minority groups. Surely then they interest only the readers of rarefied anthropological journals or viewers of voyeuristic television shows?1 Secondly, they are part of the green movement, itself often cast (derogatorily,2 positively,3 or otherwise4 as ‘utopian’). Are they not excessively idealist and romantic: wishful day-dreamers? Drawing on the literal meaning of the word utopia, which combines eu (good), ou (non) and topos (place), this chapter explores the idea that green intentional communities are indeed utopias, whereas challenging two common interpretations of that term. The first views it negatively (as unrealistic, unrealisable, excessively wishful thinking) and can be found on the pages of English Dictionaries and in colloquial parlance. The second views utopias as perfectionist: seeking to provide perfect blueprints that map the road to the good life. I shall explore some of the key ways in which these groups perform key utopian functions, suggesting that they are indeed utopian but that their utopianism is deeply imperfect and pragmatic, rooted in the real concerns and material limitations of the now.
The main focus of this chapter is to explore whether ecological utopias are capable of providing a useful contribution to our quest for an ecologically responsible future…
The main focus of this chapter is to explore whether ecological utopias are capable of providing a useful contribution to our quest for an ecologically responsible future and sustainable society, and in what specific ways. I shall develop a model of ecological utopias as a distant point of orientation, or as a ‘navigational compass’. In this model ecotopias may gradually influence the course of concrete decision making in the direction of a future sustainable society. In this context, a strategic issue to be confronted by the green movement is to look for an eco-friendly view on ‘the good life’ and the ‘art of living’. The basic dimensions of a sustainable lifestyle and an utopian inspired ecological ‘art of living’ are that society's focus should be shifted from ‘having’ to ‘being’, and to find a balanced configuration of the vita activa: action, work and labour. It is also vital to find forms of hedonism which are independent of mass consumerism, to relate our material consumption to our ecological footprints in systematic ways, and to cultivate ecological virtues and moral character.