A Whole New World

The History of Utopias

An image of Utopia Ltd., a poster by Dietmar R. Winkler. Source: Library of Congress

Utopia Ltd., a poster by Dietmar R. Winkler. Source: Library of Congress

With so much talk about economic inequality, Rutger Bregman’s book “Utopia for Realists, has been causing a stir. In it, Bregman advocates for a 15-hour workweek, universal basic income, and open borders. Most dismiss Bregman’s “utopia” as delusional.

On this episode of BackStory, Ed, Brian, and Peter explore the history of utopias. From the Oneida’s dream of non-nuclear family structures to the rise and fall of Pullman’s model company town, we look at why the idea of “utopianism” has appealed to so many Americans and to what effect.

Help us shape the show! Have you ever lived in a utopian community? Do you live near one? What do you think the appeal of “utopias” is to Americans today?

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One Comment

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  1. Faelan Blair

    It would be interesting to look at the way the internet shapes how we discuss utopian visions. As an artist, I have run the gamut of working with “micronations” to a full-fledged fictional country (visitfaeland.com).