The Socialist Register Series

The Socialist Register 2000

Necessary and Unnecessary Utopias

edited by Colin Leys and Leo Panitch  

When mainstream commentators talk about the future, they tend to predict dire doomsday scenarios or spin wild techno-fantasies. In spite of their radically hi-tech edge, these futuristic scenarios usually assume that current social structures will persist. Necessary and Unnecessary Utopias points toward a very different way of thinking about the future. While rejecting schematic blueprints, this book reasserts the need for a bold and revolutionary social imagination, one aimed at saner ways of living and organizing society.

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  • January 2000
  • ISBN: 9780850364873
  • 300 pages
  • $36.00
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About the book

The theme of this volume of the Socialist Register was first conceived in 1995 with the following general question in mind: as we approach the end of the millennium, what is to succeed the first great socialist project that was conceived in Western Europe in the nineteenth century, and variously implemented and frustrated by communism and social democracy in the twentieth? We had no illusions that an answer to this question would be found by cudgelling the brains of however large a number of left-wing intellectuals. But we did think that the time had come to renew the left’s vision and spirit and that the Register could hope to contribute something useful for this purpose. We wanted to break with the legacy of a certain orthodox kind of Marxist thinking which rejected utopian thought as ‘unscientific’ just because it was utopian, ignoring the fact that sustained political struggle is impossible without the hope of a better society that we can, in principle and in outline, imagine. And we particularly felt that in face of the collapse of communism, as well as the rejection by ‘third way’ social democracy of any identification with the socialist project, there was now, especially in the context of the growing crisis of the neo-liberal restoration, an opening as well as a need for imaginative thought.

Capitalism & Alternatives Cultural Studies


Colin Leys

Before coming to Queen’s in 1975 Colin Leys taught at Balliol College, Oxford; Kivukoni College in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda; and the Universities of Sussex, Nairobi, and Sheffield. His work has primarily been on the theory and politics of development, with particular reference to Africa and the UK. His publications include European Politics in Southern Rhodesia; Underdevelopment in Kenya;The Political Economy of Neocolonialism; Politics in Britain; Namibia’s Liberation Struggle: The Two-Edged Sword (with John S. Saul and others); The Rise and Fall of Development Theory; The End of Parliamentary Socialism (with Leo Panitch); and Market Driven-Politics: Neoliberal Democracy and the Public Interest.

Leo Panitch

Leo Panitch was a Distinguished Research Professor, renowned political economist, Marxist theorist and editor of the Socialist Register. He received a B.A. (Hons.) from the University of Manitoba in 1967 and a M.Sc.(Hons.) and PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1968 and 1974, respectively. He was a Lecturer, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor and Professor at Carleton University between 1972 and 1984. He was a Professor of Political Science at York University since 1984. He was the Chair of the Department of Political Science at York from 1988-1994. He was the General Co-editor of State and Economic Life series, U. of T. Press, from 1979 to 1995 and is the Co-founder and a Board Member of Studies in Political Economy. He was also the author of numerous articles and books dealing with political science including The End of Parliamentary Socialism (1997). He was a member of the Movement for an Independent and Socialist Canada, 1973-1975, the Ottawa Committee for Labour Action, 1975-1984, the Canadian Political Science Association, the Committee of Socialist Studies, the Marxist Institute and the Royal Society of Canada. He was an ardent supporter of the Socialist Project.


  • Transcending Pessimism: Rekindling Socialist Imagination (Leo Panitch & Sam Gindin)
  • Minimum Utopia: Ten Theses (Norman Geras)
  • Utopia and its Opposites (Terry Eagleton)
  • On the Necessity of Conceiving the Utopian in a Feminist Fashion (Frigga Haug)
  • Socialized Markets, Not Market Socialism (Diane Elson)
  • The Chimera of the Third Way (Alan Zuege)
  • Other Pleasures: The Attractions Of Post-Consumerism (Kate Soper)
  • Utopian Families (Johanna Brenner)
  • The Centrality of Agriculture: History, Ecology and Feasible Socialism (Colin Duncan)
  • Democratise or Perish: The Health Sciences as a Path for Social Change (Julian Tudor Hart)
  • The Dystopia of our Times: Genetic Technology and Other Afflictions (Varda Burstyn)
  • Warrior Nightmares: Reactionary Populism at the Millennium (Carl Boggs)
  • Outbreaks of Democracy (Ricardo Blaug)
  • Real and Virtual Chiapas: Magic Realism and the Left (Judith Adler Hellman)
  • The Real Meaning of the War Over Kosovo (Peter Gowan)


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