DRAFT: "Slouching Towards Utopia": Reply to Social Science-History Association Commenters
We had a panel on "Slouching Towards Utopia" at last fall's SSHA conference. My discussants & oþers þus gave me a present of inestimable value, a treasure for all time. It was 15F outside: Chicago...
We had a panel on "Slouching Towards Utopia" at last fall's SSHA conference. My discussants & oþers þus gave me a present of inestimable value, a treasure for all time. It was 15F outside: Chicago. I am finally happy with my response to discussants…
I blush at the extremely high praise that the commenters give my book Slouching Towards Utopia: The Economic History of the 20th Century <https://www.amazon.com/dp/0465019595>. And I am over the moon at how seriously they take it, and my less-than-adequate attempt to find a framework that we can use to productively think more deeply and insightfully into the global political economy history of the years 1870-2010. It is a treasure of inestimable value that these four have given me, and that other people have given me as well.
Jari Eloranta said, during the session, that "in some parts of the globe...utopia is already here, and yet in others very, very far..." I disagree. In my view, utopia is for everyone, or it is not. Marlowe's Tamburlaine at his exaltation, riding in triumph though Persepolis and crowing how it is passing brave to be a king is not a utopian scene. Half a mile from where I live in prosperous and smug liberal Berkeley, California, there are people living in cardboard boxes.
That simply should not be: the hard problem should have been given human fecundity and resource limitations, baking a sufficiently large economic pie so that everyone could have enough. The problems of slicing and tasting the pie—of equitably distributing it, and utilizing our wealth to live wisely and well, were supposed to be more straightforward problems. They are not. The Biggest Fact of my 1870-2010 20th century is that it is the century in which the prospect that humanity could achieve any past proposed utopia became clear. The second Biggest Fact is that as of 2010 we could only claim that we had slouched towards that particular Bethlehem.
Too much was said for me to comment on it all, so let me just comment on one or two things from each of my four discussants:
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