Chapter 6: The politics of hope: Utopia as an exercise in social imagination
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The notion 'utopia' in the common usage of the term includes such elements as: (1) improvement of the human condition by human effort; and (2) attainability of a final stage of improvement. Soniewicka criticises the idea of utopia in this meaning by highlighting the danger of transforming a utopia into an ideology. After rejecting the idea of utopia as a final stage of human perfection, she analyses the idea of utopia by means of a method introduced by Paul Ricä"ur and further developed by Levitas. Three main functions of utopia described by Ricä"ur – escape, critique, and reconstruction – can be useful in exercising social imagination. Building on this assumption, Soniewicka illustrates the idea of practising utopia by the example of a Polish anti-communist artistic movement called the Orange Alternative, which embodies the idea of prefigurative acts of social change.