Fredric Jameson’s pathbreaking essay An American Utopia radically questions standard leftist notions of what constitutes an emancipated society. "If," Jameson asks, "business, the professions, religion, even the labor unions (let alone the post office or the Mafia) are inadequate vehicles for dual power, what can then be left in late capitalism as an already organized institution capable of assuming the parallel and ultimately revolutionary role on which alone radical social change depends?"
This is the moment to mention a final candidate, the only subsystem left which can function in so truly revolutionary a fashion. It is a thought that must have first come to me many years ago, inspired by an image by one of our greatest political cartoonists. I think it must have been during the first year of the Eisenhower presidency, if not still during the campaign, when the last vestiges of the New Deal still survived in Truman’s ill-fated campaign for socialized medicine on the English and the Canadian model. Ike, presumably in full military regalia, perches informally on the edge of the desk in the Oval Office and observes conversationally, “Well, if they want socialized medicine, they have only to join the Army as I did.” This is indeed very precisely the strategy I propose, the recipe for a new form of dual power.
Below, we present an excerpt from Jameson's revised and expanded version of the essay included in An American Utopia: Dual Power and the Universal Army, a collection edited by Slavoj Žižek that features responses to Jameson by Jodi Dean, Saroj Giri, Agon Hamza, Kojin Karatani, Kim Stanley Robinson, Frank Ruda, and Kathi Weeks. An American Utopia is currently 50% off. To redeem the discount, click on the link here.
Fredric Jameson's latest work, recently released as An American Utopia (which is currently 50% off), sees the renowned literary critic and theorist grappling with what the social basis for a new utopian project could, or should, be. In it he proposes the idea of a new citizens' army which will form an alternative power structure from the state.
But, this isn't the only time that Jameson has tried to think through this predicament. In this extract from Valences of the Dialectic, Jameson proposes the logistical-might of Walmart as the foundation for a new society.
This is the point at which I wish to propose a model for Utopian analysis that might be taken as a kind of synthesis of these two subjective and objective approaches.