Real Utopia

Chris Spannos

Published in 2008

By AK Press

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What if we had direct control over our daily lives? What if society’s defining institutions—those encompassing economics, politics, kinship, culture, community, and ecology—were based not on competition, individual ownership, and coercion, but on self-management, equity, solidarity, and diversity? Real Utopia identifies and obliterates the barriers to an egalitarian, bottom-up society, while convincingly outlining how to build it.

Instead of simply declaring “another world is possible,” the writers in this collection engage with what that world would look like, how it would function, and how our commitments to just outcomes is related to the sort of institutions we maintain. Topics include: participatory economics, political vision, education, architecture, artists in a free society, environmentalism, work after capitalism, and poly-culturalism. The catchall phrase here is “participatory society”—one that is directly democratic and seeks institutional solutions to complex sociological and economic questions.

Contributors include: Michael Albert, Barbara Ehrenreich, Steve Shalom, Robin Hahnel, Marie Trigona, Noam Chomsky, Paul Burrows, Justin Podur, Tom Wetzel, Cynthia Peters, Andrej Grubacic, and Mandisi Majavu, among others.

Chris Spannos is an activist, organizer, and anti-capitalist. He is a full-time staff member with the internationally acclaimed ZNet, a web site dedicated to social change, hosting works by many of today’s leading social commentators, organizers, activists, and analysts, with 300,000 users weekly. He resides in Woods Hole, MA.

“This is a spectacular book of ideas—brave, adventurous, intriguing ideas that reclaim perhaps the greatest human asset of all, political imagination, and help us realise once again that another world is indeed possible.”—John Pilger, author of New Rulers of the World and Freedom Next Time

“Chris Spannos has assembled a volume of hard-hitting, thought-provoking essays which address a critical need on the Left: the creation and elaboration of new theory. Whether in agreement or disagreement, readers will be both excited and challenged by the contents of this book. So pick it up right now!”—Bill Fletcher, Jr., Co-founder of the Black Radical Congress and the Center for Labor Renewal, and former President of TransAfrica Forum

“This book captures what’s best in past and most promising in future social practice; no one-size-fits-all miracles but practical suggestions and a huge and warranted display of confidence in peoples’ skills and imagination. It’s a compendium of healthily head-in-clouds [where the air is purer] but feet-on-ground utopias, and it reinforces our belief that the story of human emancipation is far from over.”—Susan George, Board Chair of the Transnational Institute.

“This excellent book fills a huge gap in the thinking and writing about the creation of a better society. It not only outlines how such a society might be organized in theory, but also looks at concrete applications of these ideas around the world, in recent history, and in the U.S., and how we might organize to get there. This book is essential reading for all those who firmly believe that a better world is possible and who want to engage with some of the best ideas and practices for bringing about such a world.”—Gregory Wilpert, author of Changing Venezuela by Taking Power: The Policies of the Chavez Presidency and editor of

“Now that the idea that ‘there is no alternative’ has been challenged by the idea that ‘another world is possible,’ it behooves us to debate what that ‘other world’ could and should be. This book presents a coherent school of thought with provocative answers to that question—answers that go beyond the traditional shibboleths of the left.”—Jeremy Brecher, historian and author of Strike!

“There comes a time in every anarchist’s life when she must decide whether her value system has application in the real world or is simply an ideology of lament. For those not content with the low-mileage of the latter, Real Utopia is an inspiring interim report—collated from the four corners of the Earth—on the evolution of the complex adaptive system we commonly refer to as ‘anarchism’.”—Chris Hannah, Propagandhi