Romantic Utopianism

The Scene  |  The Tribe   |   Douglas Powers  |   October 6, 2011, 4:00 pm

We are a lost generation, desperately clinging to anything that feels real, but too afraid to become it ourselves. We are a defeated generation, resigned to the hypocrisy of those before us, who once sang songs of rebellion and now sell them back to us. We are the last generation, a culmination of all previous things, destroyed by the vapidity that surrounds us. The hipster represents the end of Western civilization—a culture so detached and disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new.

Douglas Haddow’s Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization

Not so fast. You are not lost in a sea of personal fragmentation, social virtual irrelevance, or economic meaninglessness, living in a poisoned, dying world of ignorance and symbolic incoherence. The hip ironic cynicism that made everyone’s narcissistic projections of their God-like qualities immune from criticism has turned into a chaotic uncontrollable flow of disconnected emotions. Without a coherent narrative to hold together the constantly changing and inherently unstable perceptions and projections that makes up our conscious experience, everyone is feeling lost.

Watch out! There was another moment like this, not long ago, in the 60’s—a moment of extreme freedom, free from dominating narratives.

Watch out! There was another moment like this, not long ago, in the 60’s—a moment of extreme freedom, free from dominating narratives. A moment of apparent freedom, euphoric! A rush of libido fueled by sex when you feel like it, drugs that freed your inhibitions, music that vibrated deep in your body, and community that seemed to embody new values and meanings. What happened is a cautionary tale that is now wrapped up in nostalgia and decades of dead time in the frantically inspired trenches of capitalism.

What is there to show for all that productive slavery, junk bought and lost, relationships promised and forgotten, coolness put up, and taken down? How much mundanity based on fear can be endured? What happened to that romantic idealism that fueled a worldwide moment of hope for compassion over greed, sharing over self, open space over territorialization, love over hate, and utopianism over limitation. How did corporate fascism, in the guise of ignorant populism and the primitive spirit of individual greed, take over all public and political space?

The youth of the 60′s hit a wall of fear and lost the magic of imagination.

The youth of the 60′s hit a wall of fear and lost the magic of imagination. They bought into buying irrelevant stuff and stocked up on corporate-created fetishes. They bought twelve trillion dollars’ worth of junk that they didn’t even produce, and you are going to pay the price of this reckless freedom and greed. With no sense of social conscience or any concern for future generations, this generation plundered the world’s resources, buying junk that now occupy mountains of landfills, rotting, stinking and polluting our common home.

You should be seriously pissed-off and re-evaluate your own complacent behavior. But no, you are off in some drugged-out haze, trying to get your own piece of the action before everything goes bad, and you know it will. While the youth in the rest of the world are overthrowing their governments, creating political parties, and rallying in the streets, you are texting each other about who is hooking up and where you are going to meet to hang out. Where do you think this is going to end? The mundanity in store for you is worse than your parents’. Theirs was comfortable—remember all that crap they bought. Wake up and learn from the past.

First, you need to deeply look into your own sense of who you are. This moment of chaos and dissatisfaction is not something to fear….

First, you need to deeply look into your own sense of who you are. This moment of chaos and dissatisfaction is not something to fear, it is an opportunity to re-evaluate and suck it up. Stop fooling yourself. Cynicism has become a cultural virus, purposely spread by the forces of greed and death, to disempower the human spirit of hope and community. Don’t buy into it. Cynicism is seductive! It seems to empower you. You are never wrong and don’t have to defend any position. It’s the perfect union between postmodernism and capitalism. You are a social construct that is not responsible, free to be productive for your own benefit, and everyone else better take care of themselves: a new definition of freedom and equality grounded in selfishness and greed that will enslave everyone but the corporate masters—including you.

You’d better be uncomfortable and uncertain. If you’re not, you are living in an illusion that will kill you. The cynical premise that envelops you in apathy will not empower you! It will eventually turn your life into an even more mundane destructiveness than the last generation. Remember that you will not have all that stuff to make you seemingly comfortable. The mistake of the last crew was their loss of the utopian romanticism that embodied a sense of freedom and imagination within a shared world of generosity and inclusion. The fear of the other—based on their own lack of confidence and deep friendships based on shared values and care—overwhelmed their magic moment of light, and they shriveled up into their houses and junk, protecting their profoundly limited sense of possibilities from everyone else. And you are headed in the same direction.

Stop breath. listen. hear, feel the moment for this moment belongs to you for it is yours

Walt 10.06.11, 04:11 PM

Wow, very different from regular posts, and extremely thought provoking. Not sure what I think.

Rosemary (James' mother) 10.11.11, 12:10 PM

the question remains, self-evaluation at the end of the day
is almost always helpful. I may not get the satifactory answer all the time, or any answer at all….but questions remain if I was calm and peaceful today? Did I offend anyone today?
Did I do things in heat of the moment that I might regret at the end of the day or tomorrow?
somehow that seems more important to me than other stuffs that are going on in the world. I pray for peace & harmony among people and nations….and ease of suffering among everyone.
It’s not easy, but I do pray for that…I just have small hands.

clara 10.16.11, 09:35 PM

“How did corporate fascism, in the guise of ignorant populism and the primitive spirit of individual greed, take over all public and political space? ”

Address all complaints to

Milton Friedman
University of Chicago

Hal 10.26.11, 06:54 PM

“The mistake of the last crew was their loss of the utopian romanticism that embodied a sense of freedom and imagination within a shared world of generosity and inclusion. ”

It never did work perfectly. Perhaps at CTTB, close to working but in the general society not so much. There are always freeloaders, slackers and the workaholic type A people.. artists.. musicians poets, what are they doing? CS Lewis likened ti to people in different universes. It’s tough to communicate. It’s like we live in the same universe; but we can’t communicate. It’s as if we didn’t live in the same universe.

A few years ago there was a debt crisis. Lots of people were excluded from their jobs. These people had their dignity removed. It takes time to recover from that. People are very depressed. It’s tough to bounce back when the society you once trusted kicks you in the face.

Hal 10.26.11, 07:18 PM

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