American Utopia: Literature, Society, and the Human Use of Human Beings

1st Edition

Peter Swirski

Routledge
April 1, 2019 Forthcoming
Reference - 256 Pages - 15 B/W Illustrations
ISBN 9780367144340 - CAT# K410619

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Summary

From the Black Tuesday to the White House, from Plato to Robert Nozick, from Eugene Debs to Richard Nixon, from Peter Cornelis Plockhoy to the hippie communes of the Sixties, from universal basic income to utopian basic income, from proverbial wisdom to multilevel selection, from Big Data to paleomorality, from Prisoner’s Dilemma to social-engineering Israeli kindergartens, from time travel to gene engineering, from the pretzel logic of meritocracy to de-aggressing humanity, American Utopia maps the pitfalls and windfalls of social reform in the name of the human use of human beings.

         Interrogating the assumptions behind four outré utopias by Thomas M. Disch, Bernard Malamud, Kurt Vonnegut, and Margaret Atwood, it interrogates the assumptions that have historically been central to the utopian project. Whence the seeds of social discontent? Whence our taste for egoism and altruism? For waging war and waging peace? Can we bioengineer human nature to specifications? Should we? Who makes better guardians: humans or machines? And who will guard the guardians?

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