utopia 500 years

The Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia Press has just published Utopía 500 Años, which is not just a book that honors Thomas More’s major work but, undoubtedly, one of the main academic contributions launched in the 500th anniversary of a text that discovers a voice and settles it for good in the history of modern ideas.

After months of work calling for, receiving, and evaluating articles sent from different parts of the worlds, we have selected 17 articles revolving around four thematic lines: 1) Utopia: analysis of the work, for which we selected four articles that examine the work as a whole from different perspectives and, mainly, analyze it from plural starting points; 2) Utopic thinking in the context of the history of ideas, where we privilege a historical view of this phenomenon and how it has impacted some specific experiences; three articles are included in this section, which also show how the utopic contribution influenced the experiences that derived from several ideological frameworks; 3) Utopic thinking from utopic and dystopic literary genres, with three contributions having a strong analytical-literary accent; and 4) Validity of utopic thinking, the longest section with a selection of seven articles that comprise sociological, economic, philosophical, political, and legal approaches to a topic that, 500 years after, still has a lot to say.

In short, an essential text for scholars of the history of ideas, humanism in general and Christian humanism in particular, for the lovers of social literature, and for the dreamers of a better world.

I believe that the biggest contribution of this text, and some other activities that are being organized around the world on the 500th anniversary of Utopia, is to pay homage to one of the most representative men of the Renaissance, but, above all, to position the validity of that idea-force called “utopia” in the contemporary debate. This is because, in a world where there are other sheep eating men, glimpsing more humane and humanistic horizons becomes a fundamental task, it becomes thinking for overstepping, because of what Bloch defined as the principle of hope.

Positioning this voice in the contemporary debate means asking ourselves how many utopias from the past are a concrete reality nowadays but, principally, asking ourselves how many peace and justice utopias can be built today for a better future.

In other words, it is about recovering not only the thinker and his text, which is laudable in itself but insufficient. Basically, we would like utopia and utopias (yes, in lower case), heirs somehow of such Utopia, to become the focus in a world that needs to flee pragmatism and immediacy to open up to possible dreams in which —as More said— we could live fairly and rightly.

Pablo Guerra

Full-time professor at the Universidad de la República (Montevideo, Uruguay) and active researcher of the National System of Researchers. Author of numerous scientific articles and books in the areas of solidarity economy, community thinking, sociology of work, and human development, including Socioeconomía de la solidaridad, also edited by Ediciones UCC.