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Books about Utopia: 19 must reads for 2022

What is your idea of an ideal society? In a utopia, everything is perfect. There is no crime, everyone is happy, and there is no need for money. This type of society seems like a dream, but it is possible to create a utopia.

There are many books that have been written about utopias. In these books, the author describes a perfect society and how it works. Some of these books are fiction, while others are non-fiction.

If you are interested in learning more about utopias, then check out some of these books:

Best Books about Utopia

The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureaucracy by David Graeber, Mike Chamberlain

Where does the desire for endless rules, regulations, and bureaucracy come from? How did we come to spend so much of our time filling out forms? And is it really a cipher for state violence?
 
To answer these questions, the anthropologist David Graeber—one of our most important and provocative thinkers—traces the peculiar and unexpected ways we relate to bureaucracy today, and reveals how it shapes our lives in ways we may not even notice…though he also suggests that there may be something perversely appealing—even romantic—about bureaucracy.
 

City on a Hill: Urban Idealism in America from the Puritans to the Present by Alex Krieger

The first European settlers saw America as a paradise regained. The continent seemed to offer a God-given opportunity to start again and build the perfect community. Those messianic days are gone. But as Alex Krieger argues in City on a Hill, any attempt at deep understanding of how the country has developed must recognize the persistent and dramatic consequences of utopian dreaming. Even as ideals have changed, idealism itself has for better and worse shaped our world of bricks and mortar, macadam, parks, and farmland. As he traces this uniquely American story from the Pilgrims to the “smart city,” Krieger delivers a striking new history of our built environment.

Capitalism on Edge: How Fighting Precarity Can Achieve Radical Change Without Crisis or Utopia (New Directions in Critical Theory) by Albena Azmanova

Azmanova’s new critique of capitalism focuses on the competitive pursuit of profit rather than on forms of ownership and patterns of wealth distribution. She contends that neoliberal capitalism has mutated into a new form―precarity capitalism―marked by the emergence of a precarious multitude. Widespread economic insecurity ails the 99 percent across differences in income, education, and professional occupation; it is the underlying cause of such diverse hardships as work-related stress and chronic unemployment. In response, Azmanova calls for forging a broad alliance of strange bedfellows whose discontent would challenge not only capitalism’s unfair outcomes but also the drive for profit at its core. To achieve this synthesis, progressive forces need to go beyond the old ideological certitudes of, on the left, fighting inequality and, on the right, increasing competition.

Trying Home: The Rise and Fall of an Anarchist Utopia on Puget Sound by Justin Wadland

The true story of an anarchist colony on a remote Puget Sound peninsula, Trying Home traces the history of Home, Washington, from its founding in 1896 to its dissolution amid bitter infighting in 1921.

As a practical experiment in anarchism, Home offered its participants a rare degree of freedom and tolerance in the Gilded Age, but the community also became notorious to the outside world for its open rejection of contemporary values. Using a series of linked narratives, Trying Home reveals the stories of the iconoclastic individuals who lived in Home, among them Lois Waisbrooker, an advocate of women’s rights and free love, who was arrested for her writings after the assassination of President McKinley; Jay Fox, editor of The Agitator, who defended his right to free speech all the way to the Supreme Court; and Donald Vose, a young man who grew up in Home and turned spy for a detective agency.

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Utopias on Puget Sound, 1885-1915 by Charles Pierce LeWarne

Postmaster General James A Farley’s famous toast “to the forty-seven states and the soviet of Washington” introduces and sets the tone for this study of Washington State radicalism. The state’s colorful reputation for radical movements was established in the 1920s and 1930s by free speech fights, strikes, strong labor organizations, and woman suffrage reforms. Charles LeWarne finds the roots of this radicalism in the communitarian experiments of the late nineteenth century.

Through analyses of several of these experiments, LeWarne demonstrates that the influence of a coterie of liberals and radicals centered on Puget Sound in such communities as Home, Burley, Freeland, Equality, and Port Angeles was felt in the state long after the “utopias” they came to colonize had ceased to exist.

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Utopia by Lincoln Child, Scott Brick

Rising out of the stony canyons of Nevada, Utopia is a world on the cutting edge of technology. A theme park attracting 65,000 visitors each day, its dazzling array of robots and futuristic holograms make it a worldwide sensation. But ominous mishaps are beginning to disrupt the once flawless technology. A friendly robot goes haywire, causing panic, and a popular roller coaster malfunctions, nearly killing a teenage rider. Dr. Andrew Warne, the brilliant computer engineer who designed much of the park’s robotics, is summoned from the East Coast to get things back on track. 

On the day Warne arrives, however, Utopia is caught in the grip of something far more sinister. A group of ruthless criminals has infiltrated the park’s computerized infrastructure, giving them complete access to all of Utopia’s attractions and systems. Their communication begins with a simple and dire warning: If their demands are met, none of the 65,000 people in the park that day will ever know they were there; if not, chaos will descend, and every man, woman, and child will become a target. 

The Anthropology of Utopia: Essays on Social Ecology and Community Development by Dan Chodorkoff

How can we avert ecological catastrophe? How can we build community? What is the practical relevance of utopia? These are some of the questions anthropologist Dan Chodorkoff explores in his essays on social ecology and community development. The Anthropology of Utopia surveys alternative ways of life that can help us create an ecological society. The solutions to our crises, Chodorkoff argues, lie within our grasp and in our own communities. Chodorkoff offers a wealth of stimulating practical examples, from both urban and rural communities, drawn from his life-long commitment to community politics, and also offers sober reflections on their lessons and significance for future ecological activism. The Anthropology of Utopia seeks to unite our aspirations and our realities. It is not an academic treatise: it is a call for action. It should be read by anyone who wants to understand and change their community—and the world.

On the Edge of Utopia: Performance and Ritual at Burning Man (Enactments) by Rachel Bowditch

In On the Edge of Utopia, Rachel Bowditch— performer, theatre director, scholar, and Burning Man participant—explores the spectrum of performance and ritual practices within Black Rock City from the everyday to wild spectacle, the profane to the sublime. Bowditch argues that Burning Man can be understood as a contemporary galaxy of happenings, a revival of the ancient Roman Saturnalia, a site for rehearsals of utopia, and a secular pilgrimage. As Burning Man continues to grow, it will create new paradigms for performance, installation art, community, and invented rituals that bridge ancient traditions to the twenty-first century.

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari, Derek Perkins

Yuval Noah Harari’s 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a probing and visionary investigation into today’s most urgent issues as we move into the uncharted territory of the future. As technology advances faster than our understanding of it, hacking becomes a tactic of war, and the world feels more polarized than ever, Harari addresses the challenge of navigating life in the face of constant and disorienting change and raises the important questions we need to ask ourselves in order to survive.

In twenty-one accessible chapters that are both provocative and profound, Harari builds on the ideas explored in his previous books, untangling political, technological, social, and existential issues and offering advice on how to prepare for a very different future from the world we now live in: How can we retain freedom of choice when Big Data is watching us? What will the future workforce look like, and how should we ready ourselves for it? How should we deal with the threat of terrorism? Why is liberal democracy in crisis?

The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia by Ursula K. Le Guin

A physicist from isolated Anarres travels to the mother planet, Urras, in hopes of dissolving the hatred that exists between them

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Tragedy in Mouse Utopia: An Ecological Commentary on Human Utopia by J.R. Vallentyne

In 1968 John B. Calhoun, American behavioral ecologist, introduced eight mice into a technologically designed walled enclosure that fulfilled all the wants and needs of mice except migration in and out. Over a 4½ year period the population exploded into a colony of 2200 mice, and then slowly and inexorably declined to extinction. Deprived of motherly love early in life, and denied access to social roles later in life, young mice grew up without knowing how to behave as mice. This book examines whether a similar fate could be in store for Human Utopia.

Part I compares the suicidal effects of runaway growth in Mouse Utopia to a similar sequence of events in Human Utopia. Part II describes our dependence on the Biosphere. Part III shows how the runaway growth of technology and population is creating havoc in our species and the Biosphere. How an inner life-force symbolized as “the Sorcerer” causes populations to self-destruct by satisfying internal desires beyond their useful times. As the Sorcerer’s apprentices, we have been preparing the ground for a crisis of crises beyond human control. Part IV describes how the Sorcerer works and how to control his destructive traits. Political, spiritual and behavioral opportunities are identified that could be overlooked, misinterpreted or ignored in steering a course toward coevolution of humanity and the Biosphere.

Utopia and Revolution: On the Origins of a Metaphor (INFORMATION AND BEHAVIOR) by Melvin J. Lasky

The most comprehensive study of ideology and utopia since Karl Mannheim’s work of the 1930s, Utopia and Revolution can be understood as turning classical political theory on its head or, perhaps, inside out. Instead of the usual summary of how English radical theologies contributed to the revolutionary process, Lasky shows how such political theology of the mid-seventeenth century became the backbone of the natural history of revolutionary disasters. In a remarkable feat of scholarship in intellectual history, Lasky charts the course of this historic entanglement over some five turbulent centuries of Western history. In so doing, he traces the ideological extension of the human personality through the writings of political theorists, philosophers, poets, and historians.

Classic Philosophy for the Modern Man (Classics for the Modern Man Book 1)by Andrew Lynn

‘What you hold in your hands is a handbook for living: it is an account of how the greatest minds have spoken to us on how to grow and prosper as flesh-and-blood human beings.’Classic Philosophy for the Modern Man is unlike any other philosophy book you may have read. It is inspired by a single concept: that, to thrive in the world, we need ready access to the practical wisdom of our forebears. Classic Philosophy for the Modern Man answers that need by introducing for the general reader the most powerful and enduringly relevant works of great thinkers from around the world.

Walt's Utopia: Disneyland and American Mythmaking by Priscilla Hobbs

The “Happiest Place on Earth” opened in 1955 during a trying time in American life–the Cold War. Disneyland was envisioned as a utopian resort where families could play together and escape the tension of the “real world.” Since its construction, the park has continually been updated to reflect changing American culture.
The park’s themed features are based on familiar Disney stories and American history and folklore. They reflect the hopes of a society trying to understand itself in the wake of World War II. This book takes a fresh look at the park, analyzing its cultural narrative by looking beyond consumerism and corporate marketing to how Disney helped America cope during the Cold War and beyond.

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