Anti Utopian Analysis Essay

How would you convince anti-utopian critics such as Popper, Talmon and Berlin that utopian thinking is not necessarily authoritarian?
There are three primary arguments that show that utopian thought is not necessarily authoritarian. The analysis will start defining key terms, and using Marx and Rousseau to explain the basis of Popper, Talmon and Berlin’s critique. It will then probe the epistemological foundations of their argument. This will lead to the two conclusions: that the anti-utopians themselves are susceptible to authoritarianism, and that is fallacious to claim that any statement can be necessary whilst subscribing to Popperian empiricism. Finally, the analysis will examine different conceptions of utopia, and will conclude that…

There will be other features that are completely omitted, such as Kumar’s writings. This is for two reasons. Firstly, space constraints allow only a limited number of topics to be given the depth of treatment they warrant. Secondly, because empiricism and definitions of utopia are a foundational part of Popper, Talmon and Berlin’s wider critique of utopia, if the validity of these elements can be undermined, then a critique will not need to also examine their wider…

Talmon argues that utopianism assumes an ‘ultimate harmony’ of individual expression and social cohesion. However, he asserts that without coercion, these values cannot in fact be reconciled; no society can hope for both ‘freedom’ and ‘salvation’. Berlin agrees, holding that ‘the necessity of choosing between absolute claims is… an inescapable characteristic of the human condition’. This is why anti-utopian authors believe that utopian thought conforms to the ‘anti-liberal’ aspect of Goodwin and Taylor’s definition of authoritarianism: freedom of choice in life is restricted or completely curtailed in order to achieve social cohesion.A utopia that serves as a useful example of this was conceived by Rousseau. In The Social Contract, he argues that members of an ideal legislature should, after rational consideration, conform to the ‘general will’. This is ‘the balance that remains, when we take away from [individual wills], the pluses and minuses which cancel each other out. For each individual, the general will becomes ‘their own’. Hence, when they obey it, they are obeying themselves. As a result of this, when people are coerced into following the general will, they are being ‘forced to be free’. Another key utopian thinker, Marx, proposes a theory that fulfils all three of Goodwin and Taylor’s criteria for authoritarianism. It holds that…