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Extra resources for The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia
But the revolu‑ tionary impulse rather than its failure was the important factor in that episode, and here one is very much reminded of the Beckettian adage that the lesson of history is that one must fail again and fail better until the conditions are right and one can succeed. Aspects of the past that may have gone awry or can be seen as failures can continue to inform 16 Peter Thompson present-day events and their future. Rather than reject the failures of the past, we need to build on them.
2 Today, however, there is a need to release Bloch’s legacy from the political as well as the philosophical contexts in which it arose. In political terms, the hope that Marxism can be salvaged along the lines that Bloch and Lukács proposed has passed away. It is now widely agreed that a reconstruction of Marxism must be more severe than Bloch realized and may have to conform to intellectual canons to which Bloch himself was not sympathetic. Bloch then easily appears as a utopian who failed to grasp why utopias have to be given up and as a Marxist who lacked the detailed history and economics to provide a powerful frame‑ work for Marxist theory.
Utopia need no longer be conceived of as an ungraspable totality in which various utopian ori‑ entations are allegedly reconciled. It need not remain “the glance from nowhere” or be associated with the metaphysical idea that the true is the whole. Utopia does not reduce to a transcendentalism of the place‑ less infinite. Nor are Germans and Jews necessarily the key to global culture. Utopianism is a much greater tradition in global thought than students of modernist sublime utopianism suggest. A more global utopi‑ anism with a revised ontology could renew the force of Bloch’s work without its limiting and distorting conditions of emergence.