Tuesday 23.5.2023. / 20.00 / MULTIMEDIJALNI INSTITUT – MaMa / PANEL

From Benjamin to Bensaid: The Utopian Potentials of Politics?

Stathis Kouvelakis: The Time of History, the Time of Politics, the Time of Strategy



Tijana Okić: All that Exists Cannot be True: Strategic Utopia in the Epoch of the Depoliticisation of the Masses and Ecological Disasters

Historically taken, great utopias have appeared either on the eve or after catastrophic or apocalyptic events, wars, plunders, plagues, social upheavals, crises or revolutions. In other words, after the world around us was collapsing or had totally lost its foundations.

In essence, inspired by what is probably the first philosophical utopia, namely, Plato’s Republic, all utopias since have in one form or another criticised private property and aimed at its suppression. Some, as Bacon did in New Atlantis subordinated everything to knowledge and others, like Campanella, to nature. From Moore and Campanella to the utopian socialists, utopias have always been described as isolated, hidden or distant places– and as such always reactions against the powers. The dominant topos was that of place or even institutions. In this sense, Marxist authors as diverse as Fredric Jameson, Perry Anderson or Pierre Macherey all write that utopias always come in a double form: „existential and institutional”. The existential moment is peculiar to all utopian thinking and implies a feeling or a recognition that something is not right and thus has to be changed.

By contrast, utopias which have arisen from the horrors and fragmentations of the twentieth century are predominantly utopias of time. It is from this contradiction between space and time that I want to pose the question of the meaning of what Daniel Bensaïd calls „strategic utopianism “. I want to read strategic utopianism trying to locate it in what is perhaps the least expected of all places of Bensaïd’s thought: that of the historical judgment. How, I want to ask, are we to understand Bensaïd’s claim that „judgment is not the seizing of a truth, but a social relation?“ (Bensaid, 1999, Qui est le Juge, p. 215).

This question opens several other levels of discussion given that we are living in the period when, on the one hand, the levels of inherited wealth and property are reaching those of the XIX century while, on the other, time and space are reaching the point of absolute capitalist collision at the point of extinction. What then is the role of strategic utopia and how does the “judgment as a social relation” help us think in a world long deprived of any foundations, governed by anti or post-foundationalist thought and the absence of a political project committed to “strategic utopia”?

Tijana Okić is a philosopher with interest in historiography. She holds PhD in Philosophy from the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa. She is one of the editors of a volume dedicated to the memory of the Yugoslav women’s antifascist movement of WWII, entitled The Lost Revolution: Women’s Antifascist Front between Myth and Forgetting (Sarajevo, Crvena, 2016). She is a long-standing militant of the Commission for the Abolition of Debt. Her work and translations have been published in domestic and international journals and translated into Portuguese and Spanish.


Frieder Otto Wolf: Why radical emancipation seems utopian today – and what we should do about it

The crisis of Marxism has damaged the idea of radical emancipation in a profound way. Understanding and overcoming it is a pre-condition for re-opening an effective debate – even in the dimensions of feminism, the struggle for overcoming dependency, or in overcoming the ecological crises. Especially the issue of overcoming the modern state is central here. Making use of Marx’s double breakthrough in the critique of political economy and towards a critique of politics can help to unblock the situation – especially by fully understanding the multiple ways in which a radical politcs of liberation has to refer back to the multiple structures of modern domination it is enganged to overcome.

Frieder Otto Wolf taught philosophy and carried out political research at the University of the Sarre in Saarbrücken, at Freie Universität Berlin, at the University of Coimbra in Portugal, and at the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin. In 2007 he has been given the position of a honorary professor of philosophy. Since 2014 he has been a fellow of the research institute of the Rosa-Luxemburg-Foundation.


Moderated by: Leonardo Kovačević





The photo of Daniel Bensaid was taken from here and adjusted, in accordance with the CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license.