How to Think Like a UtopianHistorians in the News
tags: Rutger Bregman, social reform, Utopianism
“It’s important that you have some idea of where you want to go, some kind of dream,” says Rutger Bregman, 33, a Dutch historian and author who has written about utopian thinking. Don’t underestimate the power of outlandish ideas. Throughout history, many significant milestones — democracy, the abolition of slavery, equal rights for men and women — began as utopian dreams. “It always starts with people who are first dismissed as unreasonable and unrealistic,” Bregman says.
To engage in utopian thinking, you can’t be myopically focused on the present. There’s nothing inherent about our current political, economic and social realities; people made these systems and can make them anew. To envision something novel, read more history and less news. A sensationalistic daily news cycle can constrict your ability to see the world as anything but dangerous, violent and mean. “There’s nothing as anti-utopian as the product that we call the news,” Bregman says. Let your interests be expansive. Read philosophy and psychology. Look around and think, It doesn’t have to be this way. “Take something like poverty; why does it exist?” he says. “We’ve heard things like ‘the poor will always be with us,’ but is that really true?” What if poverty weren’t taken as a given? Sometimes it helps to imagine what future historians will make of us. What will they see? How will they judge us?
Utopianism doesn’t require you to be optimistic. In fact, that kind of “don’t worry, everything will work out” view can lead to complacency. Instead, be hopeful in a way that moves you toward action.
comments powered by Disqus
- Justice Jackson's Questioning in Voting Rights Case Shows History Won't be Left to Court's Right Wing
- The "Stolen Babies" of Fascist Spain Seek the Truth
- What Lizzo Can Teach the Right about History
- Law Professor Unearths Murder Cases from Jim Crow Era
- This Conservative Thinks TPUSA is a Dangerous Turn Toward Campus McCarthyism
- Patty Limerick Speaks on Her Dismissal from CU's Center of the American West
- New Archaeology of Lost Crops Shows the Reign of Corn Wasn't Inevitable
- Shortlist for Cundill History Prize Released
- Mireya Loza's History of Farm Work Will Shape Equity in Agriculture Industry
- Joyce Reynolds Transformed History of Imperial Rome