(*unedited text)

Utopia 737

I’m currently in the business of utopia and now even literally sitting in the wings of it. I‘m flying between Moscow and Berlin, doing what mankind coundn’t barely imagine until recently. I’m traveling high above the clouds between the two main capitals of utopian practices in the 20th century in Europe, the one being Fascism the other Communisim.

Anti-gravitational laws transgressing airplanes seem to have little to do with the ideological and social engeneering called Fascism and Communisim. But both defied basic human rights, basic common sense and basic social laws. May be it is due to the thin air up here, but I name fascism and communism in the same breath and call them utopian. “Nationalsozialismus” is a term that combines nationalism and socialism, suggesting that once own nation comes first with a certain obnoxious way of social arrogance and exclusivity. Nationalism and socialism are utopian in nature. When confronted with feudalism and imperial domination and colononialism, nationalism can also be looked at as a liberatory force. But when such utopian teleology becomes expansionist and repressive the effects can be disastrous.

Lenin was a fierce intelligent critic of imperialism before he himself embodied utopian dreams with power and decision making force. He understood that imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism and that nations area all in competition with each other for markets and resources. Lenin warned agiant the hypocrisis of nationalsim within sociallism already in the first decade of the last century, 20 yeares earlier before national socialilsm became such a powerful destructive force. Hitlerism was utiopian in nature and practice since they were striving for new men, (a pure Arian race Übermensch) and a thousand year lasting Reich, spanning all over Europe and beyond. Like a Ferdinand Linee he wanted to recategorize and police nature.

Lenin himself wasn’t any less utopian. His internationalism and fight for the independence of each nation (see his texts – they really are astonishing) was soon abandoned into a higher stage of a dialecitcal processes of soviet making which in practice meant empre building. The Soviet empire was based on Karl Marx (he studied in Berlin) and lasted much longer then the National Socialism. Marxism is not only an analytical device to understand and humand and social production but also an utopian and teleological machine that strives for and predicts world domination as the ultimate state of mankind defying as well social gravitation forces. We are now asked to fasten seatbelts and are in decent to Berlin.

Today, I’m again in the air flying from Berlin to London, London was the place Marx spent most of his time in libraries, save from the prosecution of repressive German censors. In London Marx was to study the production system called capitalism with all its many effects. This German in colonial Great Britain was fascinated by captialsm and wanted to have the highest stage of industrial production as a base for socialism and communism. It is mostly ignored that Marx demanded advanced industrial production as an indispensable condition for socialism, the reason why Russia in the first half of the XXth century embarked on one of the most vehemnt industrialisation process in the world embracing Fordism which in Russian was named “Kord”. Marx, the thinker would have been fascinated to fly in airplanes and read about the current conflicts of airbus with its current nationalist spin. In these days, Airbus, this wonderful company of gigantic dimenions is in free fall over national quireling and its incapacity to make purely technical, and industrial-logical decisions. Marx and Lenin understood that in defying gravitational forces of any kind, technolgogies are instrumental and indispensable. Educational, economic and social ingeneering had been central to turn utopia into practice. (We are setting down again and I have to fasten my seatbelts)

I just made it through the clearly defined channels of barriers, closed cirquit camera, metal detectors, chemical swatches, standard setups for airport security. I passed escalotros, elevators, walked on horrizonal mechanical runways and took the conductorless fully-automatited shuttle train to the satellite boarding area where I purchased some tea using a bank card that withdraws money from my NY account, something I can see in the evening on my computer screen when banking online. Doesn’t it that all sound like an utiopina landscape if we see it through the eyes of Lenin? Or even more so through the spectre of Karl Marx? But the 19th century wasn’t any better when it comes to control and what they call “security” today. Lenin himself is quoted saying “Trust is good, control is better” initiating a century in which control, social engeneering and human selection become a lethal and systematic (utopian/distopian) idustrialized art.

As alluded earlier, our environment is already an utopian landscape with people walking around in pacemakers, artificial organs and any other prosthetic device. My seat belts are on and I’m arriving in a new destination, Scotland, for an yet another exhibition, contributing my share to global warming with a specific number of emission output per passenger. Flown in water from France is waiting for me at the reception desk. I need it and sum up quickly: Utopia is not a business for the future but one of the past. We have lived through and are still living in the middle of our utopian projections of the past that are producing more and more distopian results on all levels. Therefore it is “utopian” - in the classically euphemistic sense of the word - to ask for self-sustainabilty and leave our formarly utopian highways behind. We have to get off our motorized vehicles and flying jets and start looking at bicycles as the ultimate utopian machine it already was in the 19th century bringing mass mobility without much expense. The bicycle amidst many others is a wonderful example of self-sustainability, the only “utopian goal” I see worth aspiriing for. On a side note, bicycles would also help us cure obeisity, working down the sedimentation of our body energy for which there seems to be no scarcity in the countries that use and waste resources the most freely.

Now, I realize that I missed somehow the point on the subject I was invited to write: utopian paedagogy. I’m inclined to throw this school bag out of the window the same way I have just done it with the concept of utopia for which I wouldn’t reserve much of a little a, or should I say little u. Utopia is in essence a paedagogical proejct and therefore also something we are already done with without ever getting over it, getting through with it. Marx and Lenin as well as Hitler tried to educate the masses, the workers and soldiers. Lenin wrote pamphlets for the liberation of women from the “debilitating sclavery of house work” (Lenin himself) and sounded like a radical feminist 60 years later in San Francisco. But his real goal was to “educate”them and gain them for the revolutionary process and defacto factor work, demandng that they hand over their children to collectdive education from early on. Hitler too developed an elaborate systsem of youth groups working kids hard from early on so that they turned their parents in if they observed them listening radio by the BBC or making critical comments at evening dinner. Any utopian project comes with a pedagocial front: it is not by accident that the modern school and university system developed in Europe was quintessentially a nationalist project, creating national university, national literature, national languages and national sport teams. Germany was with Humboldt, Herder and the Grimm brothers the front runner in the formation of a national education system which anticipated and tried to force national unificaton that was realized only more then half a century later in the early 1870s. This means that nationalism, sociailism and Nationalsozialismus had their own pedagogical utopia, and we are still today dealing with the consequences. By the way, these paedagogical programms were necessary so that workers from one European coutnry could go and kill workers from another European country in order to let a thin margin of people decide who should rule over which colony and exploit other workers in which annexation. (Lenin has very accurate things to say about this process). On the purely paedagogical level my “utopian” project consists to work through the still ruling utpian demands of the past that have come to be counter productive, repressive, national- and Eurocentric and worse.

On the technological front any development is also ‘revolutionizing” education and we can already download university classes from around the world. Several of the big Ivey league school in the USA, including MIT are offerenig their classes on line already even for free. In this process there is also an utopian pedagogical screenplay at work even though it is not formalized but we do all remember Steve Jobs and Bill Gates covetting and courting the educational market. There is barely a classroom without labtops or other technologies. And I’m not even talking about what goes on in the mind of people who google the hell out of the net and see Wikipedia as the gold standard of information brokering. Have they have seen a library for longer then 30 minutes from inside? Do we need another pedagogical utopia for these quick-fingered kids who now get first literate on their thumbs working tiny intelligent mobile devices? Again, my “utopian project” consists in the understanding of what goes with this new technological spectrum in the field of education.

Last but not least, I want to remind you of one utopian project concerning the quarrel over national languages – a fight that has been won by English as the international lingua franca: Esperanto. This endeavor was meant to escape the mass of many national languages to create yet another language to compete with. Esperanto has more or less failed since only bricoleurs and hobby linguists are studying it. It’s psydo-neutrality is basically Eurocentric in nature with little excursions into other language groups. We shouldn’t forget that the entire educational system is a system of utopian grandeur mixed with national(ist) prerogatives. I works and doesn’t work, it has failed and is still failing. (if we have multiple genocides in Euoprea within a single century and x-millions killed in wars and concentration camps – something can be assumed not to have worked, isn’t it?)

My “utopia” consists in propagating a need to rethink, to analize, to unlearn our past educational utopias and make them the topos of our current and future paedagocial challenges so that distopia (and not utopia) becomes a thing of the past. We ought not to fall out of touch with given needs for an ever more complex society. This too means to deal with the distopian effects and structures lived and forced upon us utopian models have left us with. Our science is quite omnipotent and yet we might lose a race against nature, against, the enviroment, against the self-preserving aspects of life precisely because we have become so good, educated - copyrighting even plants so that they don’t reproduce without the paid d’accord by Montesanto.

Isn’t the atomic bomb, the airplane, the industrialisation in general and anything else of that scale the product of a failed as well as a succeeded educational paedagogical utopia? I’m sitting here at this airport forever, my computer battery empty and some sheets of my own hand writing I can’t read anymore: the computer erased, effaced or unlearned my handwriting.

Rainer Ganahl, March 2007