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The Idea of Utopia


“Humanity is facing unprecedented crises. Whether it be the prospect of climate catastrophe, massive unemployment and underemployment, or endless war, unless we think in big and innovative ways, a dim future awaits us. However, Bernie Sanders’s candidacy as well as Donald Trump’s victory suggest that Americans are ready for radical change. Although Sanders lost, he came much closer to winning than anyone could have predicted a year ago, and the political Revolution he inspired is bringing more and more people into the streets every day. Meanwhile, Trump was elected even though Wall Street and the billionaire class opposed him, political elites in the Republican and Democratic party opposed him, and the corporate media opposed him. Even if the outcome might be depressing, the fact is, Trump’s was the first truly democratic election in modern American history: it was the people not the Tweedle Dee Tweedle Dum Establishment that decided the winner. The challenge now is to galvanize the American people with a vision of the future that is both practical and sweeping. The sociologist Max Weber famously said, “All historical experience confirms the truth that man would not have attained the possible unless time and again he had reached out for the impossible.” In this 10-week class, we will explore the possibilities of the impossible by reading Thomas More’s UTOPIA, and Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s anti-utopian NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND. It will not be a lecture class but, instead, will be based on a close, interactive reading and analysis of salient passages in the texts. The class will hopefully walk away with the belief that a better future is possible, but also cautious about solutions that might create more harm than good.” — Norman Finkelstein



Thanks to Norman Finkelstein for teaching this class for free and allowing James Green of Gravesend Films to record and publish the classes.


Class 1: March 8th, 2017

Class 2: March 15th, 2017

Class 3: March 22, 2017

Class 4: March 29, 2017

Class 5: April 5, 2017

Class 6: April 12, 2017

Class 7: April 19, 2017

Class 8: April 26, 2017

Class 9: May 3, 2017

Class 10: May 10, 2017

Class 11: May 17, 2017