Fundamental Oppositions: Utopia and the Individual
Is utopia fundamentally at odds with the needs, desires, and liberty of the individual? For most of the history of utopian theory and practice, the answer has been a resounding yes. From Plato’s Callipolis to Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia, utopia has required that the individual surrender her autonomy for the “common good.” While modern individualists look at this surrender with loathing, utopian thinkers see the abandonment of selfish personal desires as necessary for the good of the whole. While Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World as, among other things, a satire of the classical utopia, the statement “when the individual feels, the community reels”1 is one with which many utopian theorists would agree, implicitly, if not explicitly.