literary, third issue of utopia? Indeed, one could turn the question aroundand say that we are perfectly free to discuss utopia as a historical and tex-tual or generic issue, but not to complicate it with politics. (In any case,has the word not always been used by some of the most eminent politicalfigures on all sides as an insulting slur on their enemies?)Yet the waning of the utopian idea is a fundamental historical and politi-cal symptom, which deserves diagnosis in its own right—if not somenew and more effective therapy. For one thing, that weakening of thesense of history and of the imagination of historical difference whichcharacterizes postmodernity is, paradoxically, intertwined with the lossof that place beyond all history (or after its end) which we call utopia. Foranother, it is difficult enough to imagine any radical political programmetoday without the conception of systemic otherness, of an alternate soci-ety, which only the idea of utopia seems to keep alive, however feebly.This clearly does not mean that, even if we succeed in reviving utopiaitself, the outlines of a new and effective practical politics for the eraof globalization will at once become visible; but only that we will nevercome to one without it.
Let us begin again, then, with the textual utopias themselves. Here weencounter two alternate possibilities of analysis, which can be desig-nated respectively as the causal and the institutional, or perhaps eventhe diachronic and the synchronic. The first of these has to do withthe utopian world as such; or better and more precisely, with the wayin which this or that ‘root of all evil’ has been eliminated from thatworld. In Thomas More, for example, what every reader famously takesaway—as from Plato, too—is the abolition of private property. This alleg-edly makes both More and Plato precursors of communism. But a closerlook, and an inquiry into the theory of human nature that underpinsboth these assaults on the institution of private property, discloses arather different position: that the root of all evil is to be found in gold ormoney, and that it is greed (as a psychological evil) which needs to besomehow repressed by properly utopian laws and arrangements in orderto arrive at some better and more humane form of life. The question of hierarchy and egalitarianism is, on this interpretation, primed in Moreby the more fundamental question of money. This kind of utopianismhas had a long and illustrious descendency, to Proudhon and Henry