Tried out reddit today, and I think it may represent as significant of a change to internet usage habits as did. I’m tempted to rave about it because I haven’t found a single thing I wanted to do that was missing, though the site is quite simple. I’ll refrain from raving because I don’t trust people who do.

Anyway, I came across two interesting essays through that site: No work and no play, and Back to utopia. Both touch on issues of utopia, but present rather opposite opinions.

“No work and no play” is about the costs of Europeans’ state-mandated longer vacations and other worker-friendly circumstances; the author concludes,

"The less work that gets done, the less work there is to do. Helping some people get off the labor treadmill can keep many people from ever getting on the treadmill at all."

I’ve thought quite a bit about the effects of wide-spread automation in the work-place, and inasmuch as replacing people with machines puts people out of work in the short term, this essay discusses the same issues. My thoughts on this are a topic for another time, but in short I think that while a little automation/vaction/etc. has the negative effects so many people say it does, a lot of automation etc. would be a globally positive thing.

“Back to utopia” by Joshua Glenn is about the potential value of writers’ visions of utopia in understanding our political, social, and economic world today, and in thinking about what we’d like it to look like in the future. To borrow a quote from my very own LiveJournal, while reviewing Huxley’s Brave New World I said, “I’ve wished I could read a piece of fiction depicting a different society, without it screaming on every page how wrong the differences are. … I think Huxley at least gave [Brave New World’s] society half a chance at speaking for itself.” But this essayist expresses my point of view much better while paraphrasing Fredric Jameson:

"The ability of utopian narratives in particular, and science fiction in general, to break the paralyzing spell of the quotidian has less to do with its content than with its form ... It requires a tremendous effort to imagine a daily life that is politically, economically, socially, and psychologically truly different from our own."

Call me anti-anti-utopian.