by Aline Bertolin
‘There must be some kind of way out of here, said the joker to the thief’. Except there isn’t. We all know it; some have known for longer. We stand bewildered before the cusp of a new world once promised to us fading away at the horizon. A world that may be within reach elsewhere, who knows; a unified world some minds and hearts glimpsed, and that perchance still hides in an Einsteinian fifth dimension amidst a warren of other hatching modern truths that we are still striving to decipher and from whose weight we can get no relief. And the thieves, and the jokers, and all the other outcasts seem to have the upper hand in this state of ideological affairs because they have known since jadis that there is no rest for the wicked: the game is rigged, and it has always been. It might be time we listen to them.
Truth and certainty
Science is certainly not answering the paramount questions on this quantic leap we have failed to take. It has become too deeply entrenched in the current ‘nice v. nasty Twitter game’ and its ‘hermetically self-contained, self-referential certainty’. Meanwhile, the portal to that dimension of global solidarity—where supranational and international institutions united would enhance development throughout the globe, development that we are all geared up for—is closing. The inheritance of this quest remains with us, nonetheless: the neuroplasticity and semantics created by the language of snaps and ‘snirks’ of the noosphere, carved by the ‘anxieties of the global’, led us to fear, numbness, and exhaustion, a direction diametrically opposed to the ‘spirit of solidarity (Solidaritätsgeist) promised by globalism; their ways certainly have not spared Science either.
Au contraire, it has plastered it together with all our gnoseological senses, which would have caused Popper’s dismay, and curbed it in a much harder shell than the one envisaged by Max Weber—a shell of virtue-signalling and fear. And that fear disconnected us from each other, and that shell became the equivalent of a platonic cave of over-assumptions. Hiding in our certainties only made us feel even more acutely the ‘solostalgic’ effects of both. If self-absorption and overreaching are what is holding us back from taking that leap, the supplicant question, borrowing the term from coding, is: how did it start, so how can we end it?
Reading the works of fellow social scientists about European ideology being tantamount to the book of revelation of exclusion, an analogy emerges with some neo-Durkheimian tools that are lent powerful new sophistication by Elizabeth Hinton’s ‘social grievances theory’. The effervescent ideas on how, from Europe to the globe, the Judeo-Christian morality—not tradition, for terminology’s sake—is the proto-code deeply rooted into the code of law and ethos by which we live, which thus must answer for the ‘unweaving’ of people from the fabric of contemporary society, could be neatly tied together with some of the causes in Hinton’s depiction of what lit ‘America on Fire’. It gives us the sense, though—and history has seemed to agree—that religious affiliations were rather a pitiful root cause.
While the effects of the ‘discovery doctrine’ are well-documented and deeply-felt by many hearts across the globe, so too is the scapegoatism of blaming religion for historical upheavals. Gender bias, labour un-dignification, racial hierarchisation knotted by a rating of intellectual capital to ethnicities, among the vast spectrum of pain as we now know inflicted on humans by debasing individuals and populations for what they hold dearest in their existential core, seem to be a modus operandi esquisé by Europe. A carrefour of civilisations, as many other geopolitical spaces were from age to age, Europe misappropriated ideas plentifully, and it certainly cannot be denied the position of the epicentre of postmodern ideological mayhem; rather it seemed to have ‘nailed it’—since it was ‘Europeans’ who crucified the Jewish Messiah, and who disenfranchised him and his disciples from their beliefs of communion and universality, putting in motion the whole shebang of religious morale to be spread around the globe, in the same way as one has to admit that Islam started as a countermovement to save Europeans from doing precisely this, just to become their next disenfranchising target.
Approaching Eurocentrism to this end in Social Sciences’ turf, was, therefore, nerve-wrenching. In contemporaneity, all scientific fields seem to share the sense of being cloistered by Science’s own gregarious endogenies, taunted by the reality of postmodern global pain. This is because scientific results stem from the same source of common cravings for logic, cleaved only by the appeal such results may have to peer-reviewing and method; as society now stands, their gratification has been dangling on a fickle flow of likes and shares as much as any other gnoseological reasoning. Thus, unsurprisingly, the closing of the portal to the realm of necessary ideological epiphanies laced by humanism has received a more lucid treatment from fantasy and fiction, in other words, from Art.
‘Art and epistemology’ makes for an enticing debate, but remaining with the aspect of art being the disavowed voice in logic’s family midst, cast out by epistemological puritanism—like the daughter in Redgrave’s painting, ‘The Outcast’—is just enough to bring ourselves to see its legitimacy in leading the way towards unspeakable truths. In the adaption of Isaac Asimov’s masterpiece, Foundation, Brother Day says ‘art is politics’ sweeter tongue’—but it can also be, and it often is, ‘tangy’. In the comfort of our successful publications and titles, we gave in to the idea of abdicating the freedom to speak about the truth as an essential step into Socratic academic maturity. How truth has become an intangible notion in the mainstream of the social sciences and a perilous move in the material world of politics—as Duncan Trussel so trippily, yet pristinely, described in Midnight Gospel—is another story.
To the outcasts making sense of contemporary times through art, nevertheless, this comfort was not agreed-upon; even less so, and principally, among the economic and societal outcasts stripped from their dignity. Living at the sharp end of this knife, they had to muster wisdom with every small disaster, and, with hearts of glass and minds of stone torn to pieces, face what lay ahead skin to bone; and then to fall, and to crawl, and to break, and to take what they got, and to turn it into honesty.
Science as it stands, relying on applauses, can hardly tap into this ‘real-world’; whereas Popperian truth and critical reasoning are in short supply. Mustering the voices from the field and presenting them to our fragile certainties and numbed senses has been the work of Art.
Eurotribalism, Americanism, and Globalism
In ‘How we kill each other’, a team of data scientists looking into the US Federal Bureau of Investigation succeed in clustering profiles of murder victims across all the states with the aim of discerning more information about the relevant perpetrators. They explored a data set from the FBI Murder Accountability Project, identifying trends in a thirty-five-year period (1980–2014) of murders, looking to build a predictive model of the murderer’s identity based on its correlations to victims’ traits—age, gender, race, and ethnicity—and murder scenes. Grouping victims’ profiles could prove to be useful in identifying, in turn, a murderer’s type for victims. While facing difficulties in achieving this goal, the research results were insightful in confirming some typical depictions of crimes in the US—the mean murder in the prepared data set is a thirty-year-old black male killing a thirty-year-old black male in Los Angeles in 1993, using a handgun—but also revealing different clusters of perpetrators tied to uncalled-for-methods of murder, for instance, women’s prevalent use of personal methods, involving drug overdoses, drowning, suffocation, and fire, going against the expectation of females ‘killing at distance’. The spawn of novelty introduced by this research seemed to have less to do with ‘how’ Americans kill, but ‘how consistently’ Americans kill within certain groups, i.e., in proximity. In all clustered groups, crime seemed to be the result of an outburst against extenuating circumstances specific to that type of crime. And, though a disreputable fact, it is also one of rather universal than domestic interest.
The social grievances in American society studied by Hinton can be pointed to as causes of this consistency in ‘proximity violence’. They have been, moreover, better approached by Art than Science during our unbreathable times. Art has certainly done a better job of giving us hints about the roots of the evil of contemporary violence. Looking at the belt of marginalised people around society, Art has been trying to tell us to grieve together, appealing to our senses and the universality of pain. It has moreover educated us on the remittance of public outcry for the protection of fundamental rights in the history of the US. How guns have been used unswervingly and in deadly ways in this peripheric belt that surrounds the nucleus of entitlement, and in ways that those communities victimise themselves rather than any other group, speaks volumes about ideological global dominance, where the echoes of past Eurocentric ideology can still be heard.
Sapped of all energy and aghast of being praised for their ‘resilience’, the African descendants’ forbearance from acting against unswerving European subjugation was counterbalanced by cultural resistance. It made the continent richer beyond the economical sense, i.e., in flavours and sounds and art that benefited greatly and continuously not only the Americans lato sensu—remembering how the roots of slavery are intertwined with the southern countries of the continent—but Europe as well. Currently, it is not surprising that the advocacy for gun control rises from the population that had suffered by and large from being armed in the peripheries of the US, whereas those entitled to protection inside the belt cannot relate to the danger guns represent. Guns are made to protect their entitlement after all, and the system works, directly or indirectly, as guns are mainly used by outcasts to kill outcasts. The question lying beneath these grounds is how strong the mechanics of exclusion and violence crafted by Europeans centuries ago is still operating and entrapping us in cyclic violence, despite our best efforts as scientists, social engineers, and legal designers suffering together its outcomes.
A scene from ‘Blackish’ where a number of African Americans refrain from helping a white baby girl lost in the elevator may explain something about the torque of these mechanics. For generations, black men in the Americas were taught not to dare to look, much less to touch, white girls, and changing their disposition on it is not an easy task, and for most, an objectionable one—anyone who sees the scene played so brilliantly with the blushes of comedy will not suspect the punch in the stomach that accompanies it, as the spectator cannot escape its actuality. ‘The Green Mile’ goes deeper into the weeds to explain this. When we confront, on the one hand, the reality of Andre Johnson (Anthony Anderson) in ‘Blackish’, as taught by his ‘pops’ (Lawrence Fishburne), with, on another hand, Ted Lasso’s loveable character Sam Obisanya (Toheeb Jimoh), who is also very close to his father (uncredited in the show), but comes from Nigeria to England, concerning white women, another important point comes out to elucidate the differences on both sides of the Atlantic in how Africans and African descendants interact with gender and race combined. Andre is taught about the ‘swag’ of black males and how to refrain from wasting it on white women; whereas Sam is highly supported by all around him as the love interest of the most empowered female character in the show, Rebecca Walton (Hannah Waddingham), and winds a loving delicate sway over his peers and all over the narrative due to his affable nature. Africans and unrooted African descendants experience differently this combination of gender and race, accrued by geography, since it matters which sides of the Atlantic they may be on. These few examples add shades and textures to the epitomic dialogue between T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) and Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) in the final scenes of ‘Black Panther’, on what could be seen as the consequences of what Europe did to the globe by forcefully uprooting Africans from their natal homes.
Misogyny, Eugenics, and Radical Ecologism
Like in Redgrave’s painting-within-the-painting—where the dubiousness of the biblical story depicted in the picture in the wall, either of Abraham and Hagar and Ishmael or of Christ and the Adulterer, is purposedly ‘left hanging’ in juxtaposition to the paterfamilias power justification to the father to curse his progeny out of his respectable foyer—religion in Europe remains fickle towards the real problem, which has always been the persistent European ways of weaponising ideologies. The farcical blame on Christianity to justify Eurotribalism has in this light been a growing distraction among social scholars.
That Judeo-Christian morality—not tradition, since this idea of an ensemble tradition was antisemitic in its base—has revamped or revived in itself in many echelons, including neo-Nazi ecologism—which certainly is astonishing—should not be concerning in itself: it is the 101 of Kant on moral and ethos. This new ‘bashing’ of religion is another form of European denial, a refusal to take responsibility for its utilisation just like any other ideology Europe has used to justify violence. European tribalism and the game-of-I-shall-pile-up-more-than-my-cousin that Europeans have been playing for centuries answers better for the global roots of evil sprawl through self-righteousness dominance. It crossed the Atlantic and remained in play.
The Atlantic may be a shorter distance to cross, though, in comparison with the extent of the abyssal indifference displayed by other groups within American and European domestic terrains. Women’s rights, for instance, are not on the agenda of international migratory law. Violence against the black community is disbelieved by many, even among equally victimised groups by violence in the United States, such as migrants—Asians or Latinos alike—and survivors of gender-based violence. ‘I can’t believe I am still protesting about this’ has been a common claim in feminist movements that decry Euro-based systems of law that debase women’s rights in both continents, and used in a variety of other manifestations, but the universality of the demands seems to stop with protest posters. The clustering and revindication of exclusion and violence by groups in their separate ways remain great adversaries of universal humanity, which should ultimately bring us all together to solve the indignities at hand. As the SNL sketch on the ‘five-hour empathy drink’ shows us, the fact we all hurt seems an unswallowable truth.
An ocean of commonalities in the mistreatment of women in both continents, travestied of freedoms and empowerment, could be added into evidence to speak of the misappraisal of Western women’s ‘privileged’ position in the globe. Looking into some examples brought by streaming shows—our new serialised books—we see how the voices of ‘emancipated’ women in contemporary Europe are still muffled by the tesserae of Eurotribalist morality. In 30 Monedas, Elena suffers all the stereotypical pains of a Balsaquian in rural Spain, fetishised as a divorcee, ostracised, in agonising disbelief and gaslit by her village, only to be saved by the male protagonist; in Britannia, which was supposed to educate us about the druidic force of women and ecologism, the characters fall into the same traps of love affairs and silliness as any teenager in Jane Austen’s novels; and in Romulus, Ilia, who plays exhaustively with manipulation and fire—in the literal sense—surrenders to hysteria in ways that could not be any closer to a Fellini-an character and the Italian drama cliches imparted upon Italian females by genre cinema. Everything old is new again, including misogyny.
In this realm of using fictional history to describe women as these untamed forces of nature, Shadow and Bones, based on the books of Leigh Bardugo, makes an exception in speaking accurately of women’s leeway in past Judaism, which was inherited by ‘true’ Christianity, as the veneration of Mary—another casualty in the European alienation of religions—attests. Alina is the promised link to all cultures, and her willpower among the Grisha, a metaphoric group of Jewish people at the service of the Russian empire, promises to free them from slavery and falsity and bring light to the world, since she is the ‘Sun-summoner’—a reference, perhaps, to the woman clothed with the sun in Christianity. Confronting their distinct traits could help us understand better how the European specialism and skill in hating and oppressing has sprawled around the globe. What Social Sciences can make out of Art in the era of binge-watching remains to be seen.
Let’s not speak falsely
Enlightened by lessons like those, we are left by Art without a shred of doubt that (i) Science has been all but evasive and has tiptoed around the sheer simplicity of hate; (ii) the European haughtiness vis-à-vis the Americas, founded by their progeny, and the globe in a large spectrum of subjects such as gender bias, migration, racism, and climate is peevish, to say the least. Their internal struggle with all those pressing issues is tangible, and religion is not to blame; using a modicum of the counterfactual thinking allowed by Art, we can imagine a world where Europeans had decided to use Confucianism or Asatro as a means to spread their wings, only to realise the results would have hardly been any different.
The very idea of a ‘global hierarchy of races’, albeit barbaric—another curious term born out of European Hellenic condescension—and one that should have fallen sharply down with the downfall of imperialism, remains entrenched in all those discussions, and Christianity has nothing of the sort to display. The same, unsurprisingly, is true of ‘development’, as a goal which is still measured in much the same ways as it was when European tribes fought among themselves, which then leads us to nothing but tautological havoc. It is as if “we don’t get it”.
In the meantime, those who do get it can only look at one another, and can say nothing but “There are many here among us, who feel that life is but a joke, but you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate. So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late”.
 Dylan’s lyrics, one has to note, do not fully convey the reeling effect of ineluctability, surrendering to the no-other-option but to fight within the bulk of indescribable feelings transliterated by Hendrix’s composition.
 See Rosie Holt https://twitter.com/RosieisaHolt/status/1425361886330200066 cf. Marius Ostrowski, “More drama and reality than ever before” in Ideology-Theory-Practice, 23/8/2021.
 Ostrowski, Marius. Ibid.
 ‘Snirk’, a slang term defined by the Urban Dictionary as: “a facial expression combining a sneer and a smirk, appears sarcastic, condescending, and annoyed”. At https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Snirk
 Appadurai, Arjun. “Grassroots Globalization and the Research Imagination” in Public Culture 12(1): 1–19. Duke University Press, 2000.
 After all Popper was in the quest of a better world represented by an open society. Cf. Popper, Karl. In search of a better world: Lectures and essays from thirty years. Routledge, 2012. Cf. also Popper, Karl R. The open society and its enemies. Routledge, 1945.
 See comments by Daniel Davison-Vecchione, at “Dystopia and social theory” in Ideology-Theory-Practice, 18/10/2021, on Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, as quoted translated by Peter Baehr and Gordon C. Wells, London: Penguin Books, 2002.
 We use here Gleen Albrecht’s terminology, ‘solostalgia’, to describe the disconnection with the world in what can be our synesthetic experience in it, as well as with the feelings of fruition of this experience, from our reasoning of those experience, in a narrower version of what the author described as the “mismatch between our lived experience of the world, and our ability to conceptualise and comprehend it”. Cf. Albrecth, Glenn. “The age of solastalgia” in The Conversation. August 7, 2012.
 Elizabeth Hinton describes ‘social grievances’ both as the cause for lynching Afro-Americans who were accused of transgressing determined rules, such as “speaking disrespectfully, refusing to step off the sidewalk, using profane language, using an improper title for a white person, arguing with a white man, bumping into a white woman, insulting a white woman, or other social grievances,” anything that ‘offended’ white people and challenged racial hierarchy (pp. 31–32 of Lynching Report PDF)”, as well as the social grievances hold by the black community as reason for the riots and manifestations from the 1960’s to present BLM. Cf. Hinton, Elizabeth. America on Fire: The Untold History of Police Violence and Black Rebellion Since the 1960s. Liveright, 2021.
 Hinton. Idem, particularly Chapter 8 ‘The System’.
 Deleuze, Gilles. La logique du sense. Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit, 1969.
 Here we refer to Popperian concepts and notions again, principally to how he explains the nature of scientific discovery at The Logic of Scientific Discovery. Routledge, 1959.
 Brother Day (Lee Pace) commend his younger clone, Brother Dawn, for looking into an artifact brought by diplomats to the Imperials as a gift and the lack of a certain metal in it as a metaphor to that people need for that specific metal, therefore, an elegant request to the Galactical Empire for trade agreements, thus leading to the phrase: ‘Art is politics’ sweeter tongue’. It is not a directions quotation from the original work of Asimov in the Foundation trilogy; whether is an implication stemming from any other of his writings is unknown.
 ‘Virtue signaling’ and ‘virtue vesting’ have been described in a variety of ways, but ‘Mr. President’ in Midnight Gospel’s pilot shed some light on the notions assuring they are rather democratic: centrists, leftists, rightists, all can use them indistinctly, since the fear of being disliked seems to be the only real motivation behind pro and cons positions, accordingly with Daren Duncan. The dialogue between Mr. President (who has no party) with the Interviewer: “Interviewer: - I know you've gotta be ncredibly busy right now with the zombie apocalypse happening around you./ Mr. President: - Yeah, zombies... I really don't wanna talk about zombies./ Interviewer: - Okay. What about the marijuana protesters?/Mr. President” -Those assholes? -Yeah. - First of all, people don't understand my point of view. - They think somehow I'm anti-pot or anti-legalisation./ Interviewer: - Right./ Mr. President: -I'm not actually "pro" either. - I'm pro human liberty, I'm pro the American system, pro letting people determine their laws./ Interviewer: -Right./ Mr. President: -I don't think this is... -If I had to... -[sniffs] ...have a... You know, if somebody pressed my face to the mirror and said,"Is it gonna be good or bad?" I think it might end up being kinda not so good for people…” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kQWAqjFJS0&t=45s
 Anderson, Jem; Kelly, Justin; Mckeon, Brian. “How we kill each other? FBI Murder Reports, 1980-2014” In Applied Statistics and Visualization for Analytics. George Mason University, Spring 2017.
 Yellow Horse AJ, Kuo K, Seaton EK, Vargas ED. Asian Americans’ Indifference to Black Lives Matter: The Role of Nativity, Belonging and Acknowledgment of Anti-Black Racism. Social Sciences. 2021; 10(5):168. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci10050168
by Sean Seeger
What is the relationship of queer theory to utopianism?
Given their mutual interest in challenging dominant norms, values, and institutions, it may seem obvious that queer theory would share affinities with utopian thought. Determining what precisely these affinities consist in is, however, a less straightforward matter. In order to understand them, we will need to consider the twin careers of queer theory and utopianism over the last few decades.
It is a striking fact that the flourishing of the first wave of queer theory in the 1980s and 90s coincided with the demise of utopianism within wider culture. Theorists from David Harvey to Fredric Jameson have explained this drying up of utopian energy in terms of the turn toward post-Fordism followed by the rise of neoliberalism. Others, such as Ruth Levitas and Slavoj Žižek, have emphasised the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 as key factors in the widely proclaimed ‘death’ of utopia. Meanwhile, in their analyses of the cultural politics of the period, Franco Berardi and Mark Fisher each write of the widespread sense of ‘the cancellation of the future’ as it became increasingly hard to envisage plausible alternatives to capitalism during these decades.
As James Ingram notes, this anti-utopian sense of stagnation meant that critics of the status quo found it necessary to seize on ‘ever thinner, weaker, and vaguer’ utopian moments as the possibility of tangible, real-world change receded from view. Utopianism thus tended to become highly abstract and emptied of content: rather than anticipating a better society or the liberation of specific human energies, the focus of much utopian discourse increasingly became the bare possibility of change itself – the intimation that things might, somehow, someday be otherwise.
A case in point is that of Jameson’s Archaeologies of the Future, where it is suggested that, in light of the failed utopian projects of the twentieth century, ‘the slogan of anti-anti-Utopianism might well offer the best working strategy’ for those on the left today. On this view, rearguard action against the dystopian tendencies of late capitalism, combined with fleeting glimpses of utopian hope found scattered amidst works of literature and popular culture, may be as close to utopia as we are able to come.
This anti-utopian turn was arguably foreshadowed in certain respects by the work of Michel Foucault, who, in response to an interviewer’s question about why he had not sketched a utopia, notoriously replied that ‘to imagine another system is to extend our participation in the present system.’
In their book, The Last Man Takes LSD: Foucault and the End of Revolution, Mitchell Dean and Daniel Zamora show that this outlook was the result of a growing sense of exhaustion with system building, utopian dreaming, and grand visions of the future in the latter half of the twentieth century. In place of revolution, they argue, Foucault proposed a turn toward the self and a focus on micro-political as opposed to systemic change. Foucault’s late masterwork, The History of Sexuality, published in several volumes between 1976 and 1984, is representative of this inward turn. It was also to be one of the main sources of inspiration for what was to become known as queer theory.
In this context, it is worth noting that a related criticism to that levelled by Ingram at the diminished utopianism of the 80s and 90s has also been made of first-wave queer theory. A good example of this is Rosemary Hennessy’s book Profit and Pleasure, in which Hennessy criticises what she sees as the tendency of theorists like Judith Butler and Eve Sedgwick to separate gender and sexuality from capitalism and class. Such an approach is problematic, firstly, because it dehistoricises gender and sexuality by untethering them from the development of capitalism, and, secondly, because it dematerialises them by emphasising their cultural construction while neglecting socioeconomic factors such as the changing nature of wage labour or the origins of the modern family.
Hennessy is one of a number of critics who see queer theory’s way of engaging gender and sexuality as restrictive and as leading to difficulties in situating queer identity and politics in relation to broader social developments. Although they do not generally frame these limitations in terms of a failure of the utopian imagination, a parallel may be drawn between these writers’ critique of queer theory, on the one hand, and critiques of the turn toward micro-politics during the 80s and 90s by commentators like Dean and Zamora, on the other.
Just as utopianism dwindled to little more than a wisp of possibility during the neoliberal era, so first-wave queer theory represents for some of its critics a retreat from large-scale social critique in favour of a preoccupation with individual self-fashioning, leaving it susceptible to commodification and the dilution of its radical potential.
These are serious charges. There are nevertheless a number of replies that queer theorists might make in response to them.
A first would start by noting that, as queer theorists themselves, critics like Hennessy are contributors to the enterprise they find fault with. Insofar as their own class-based analysis of gender and sexuality is successful (as it arguably is), they thereby demonstrate that queer theory is able to encompass economic considerations. Although this does not constitute a defence of earlier theorists, it does help to demonstrate the flexibility of queer theory and the possibility of broadening its scope beyond the categories of gender and sexuality. Queer of color critique, which addresses the intersection of gender, sexuality, and race, has likewise contested some of queer theory’s guiding assumptions and highlighted further blindspots from a position within queer theory itself.
A second reply would be to point out that some queer theorists have been concerned with capitalism and class since the inception of the field in the early 1980s. To take one prominent example, John D’Emilio was producing groundbreaking analysis of socioeconomic factors in the formation of queer subjectivity in articles such as ‘Capitalism and Gay Identity’ as early as 1983. In the following decade, Lisa Duggan analysed the depoliticisation of gay identity in articles like ‘The New Homonormativity: The Sexual Politics of Neoliberalism.’
The main contention of D’Emilio’s ‘Capitalism and Gay Identity’ is that ‘only when individuals began to make their living through wage labor, instead of as parts of an interdependent family unit, was it possible for homosexual desire to coalesce into a personal identity – an identity based on the ability to remain outside the heterosexual family and to construct a personal life based on attraction to one’s own sex.’ This, in turn, ‘made possible the formation of urban communities of lesbians and gay men and, more recently, of a politics based on a sexual identity.’
D’Emilio’s account of the origin of gay identity is not deterministic: he does not claim that an alteration in economic life caused gay identity to come into existence. Rather, his argument is that until specific historical conditions arose there was no ‘social space’ for such an identity to occupy. D’Emilio shows that while same-sex desire is present in the historical record prior to the nineteenth century, homosexuality as an identity – as a way of being and of relating to others – is not. As even this brief sketch hopefully illustrates, D’Emilio’s work provides a prima facie reason to think that queer theory need not neglect economic considerations.
A third reply to critics of queer theory’s limited political scope would be to reconsider some of its foundational texts. Reflecting on her classic study Gender Trouble a decade on from its original publication, Butler commented that ‘the aim of the text was to open up the field of possibility for gender without dictating which kinds of possibilities ought to be realized.’ The possibilities in question have to do with ways of performing gender, and the scope for subversion of established gender roles and styles. It is true, as Hennessy argues, that both Gender Trouble and its sequel, Bodies that Matter, focus almost exclusively on gender and sexuality and that neither offers anything like a systematic analysis of their relationship to capitalism or class. Whether this constitutes as decisive a shortcoming as Hennessy believes is less clear, however.
‘One might wonder,’ Butler writes, ‘what use “opening up possibilities” finally is, but no one who has understood what it is to live in the social world as what is “impossible,” illegible, unrealizable, unreal, and illegitimate is likely to pose that question.’ This is a suggestive observation that may point to a way of reappraising not only Gender Trouble but Butler’s work more generally. While taking the invalidation of certain ways of performing gender as its ostensible focus, the remark registers a concern with illegibility and illegitimacy that has continued to inform Butler’s work.
In her books Precarious Life and Notes toward a Performative Theory of Assembly, Butler incorporates economic marginalisation into her analysis and provides an insightful account of the condition of precarity, which she defines as differential exposure to economic insecurity, violence, and forced migration. In light of these and other works, it has become possible to identify a persisting preoccupation on Butler’s part with the ways in which social value and legitimacy are assigned to or withheld from different groups, whether on the basis of gender, sexuality, race, class, immigration status, or some combination of these.
The examples of D’Emilio and Butler serve to illustrate the social and political reach of queer theory. Recent years, however, have seen the rise of a more overtly utopian style of queer theory. Work in this vein explicitly repudiates the anti-utopianism of the neoliberal era and is influenced as much by traditions of radical queer activism and historical events such as the Compton’s Cafeteria riot and Stonewall as by Foucault’s History of Sexuality.
Published in 2009, José Esteban Muñoz’s Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity, an important example of queer of color critique, articulates a hopeful, future-oriented alternative to what Muñoz sees as the resignation and political timidity of queer culture since the turn of the millennium.
Distinguishing between LGBT pragmatism and queer utopianism, Muñoz argues that in focusing on objectives like gay marriage or securing the right of trans people to serve in the military, the queer community has lost sight of the utopian aspirations that inspired activists of the 1960s and 70s. For Muñoz, the aim of queer politics ought to be nothing less than the achievement of a world no longer structured by heteronormativity or white supremacy, however remote such a goal may appear from our present dystopian vantage. Even if Cruising Utopia does not offer the kind of concrete detail required to realise such a project, it is clearly a long way from the micro-political tinkering associated with queer theory by some of its critics.
A very different but no less utopian form of queer theory is found in The Xenofeminist Manifesto, originally published online in 2015 and authored by a collective of six authors working under the name Laboria Cuboniks. Characterised by Emily Jones as ‘a feminist ethics for the technomaterial world’, xenofeminism is a queer technofeminism committed to trans liberation and gender abolition, by which is meant the construction of ‘a society where traits currently assembled under the rubric of gender, no longer furnish a grid for the asymmetric operation of power.’
The ethos of the manifesto is well captured by its subtitle: ‘a politics for alienation’. Those seeking radical change must embrace ‘alienation’ through the recognition that nothing is natural. While acknowledging the cultural construction of gender, the manifesto insists that materiality and biology must likewise not be taken as givens: they can be intervened in through surgery, hormone therapies, and alterations to the built environment. As experiments in free and open-source medicine on the part of feminists, gender hacktivists, and trans DIY-HRT forums demonstrate, technologies so far captured by capital may yet be repurposed as part of an anti-capitalist, anti-patriarchal project in which ‘women, queers, and the gender non-conforming play an unparalleled role.’
Written in a self-consciously hyperbolic style and blending promethean rhetoric with quasi-science fictional projections of post-capitalist emancipation, The Xenofeminist Manifesto is as exhilarating as it is wildly ambitious.
What, then, is the relationship of queer theory to utopianism? Based on our brief consideration of some of queer theory’s more utopian elements, it is reasonable to draw two provisional conclusions: that queer theory may have more in common with utopian thought than is often assumed, and that there are signs of a more explicit utopian turn taking place within queer theory today. It remains to be seen how far the latter will inform future queer politics.
My thanks to Daniel Davison-Vecchione for his helpful feedback on an earlier draft of this essay.
 See David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007); and Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1991).
 See Ruth Levitas, The Concept of Utopia, 2nd edn. (Oxfordshire: Peter Lang, 2011), pp. ix–xv; and Slavoj Žižek, In Defense of Lost Causes (London: Verso, 2008).
 See Franco Berardi, After the Future, eds. Gary Genosko and Nicholas Thoburn (Edinburgh and Oakland, Baltimore: AK Press, 2011); and Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism (London: Zero, 2009).
 James D. Ingram, Introduction, Political Uses of Utopia: New Marxist, Anarchist, and Radical Democratic Perspectives, eds. S. D. Chrostowska and James D. Ingram (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016), p. xvi.
 Fredric Jameson, Archaeologies of the Future: The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions (London: Verso, 2007), xvi.
 Michel Foucault, ‘Revolutionary Action: Until Now,’ in Language, Counter-Memory and Practice, ed. Donald F. Bouchard (New York: Cornell University Press, 1977), p. 230.
 Mitchell Dean and Daniel Zamora, The Last Man Takes LSD: Foucault and the End of Revolution (London: Verso, 2021).
 Rosemary Hennessy, Profit and Pleasure: Sexual Identities in Late Capitalism, 2nd edn. (New York: Routledge, 2017).
 Related issues have been raised about queer theory by James Penney in After Queer Theory: The Limits of Sexual Politics (London: Pluto, 2014), which makes the case for the need for a critical return to Marxism on the part of queer theorists.
 John D’Emilio, ‘Capitalism and Gay Identity’, in The Gay and Lesbian Studies Reader, eds. Michele Aina, Barale, David M. Halperin, and Henry Abelove (New York: Routledge, 1993), pp. 467–476.
 Lisa Duggan, ‘The New Homonormativity: The Sexual Politics of Neoliberalism,’ in Materializing Democracy: Toward a Revitalized Cultural Politics, eds. Dana D. Nelson and Russ Castronovo (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2002), pp. 175–194.
 D’Emilio, p. 470.
 Judith Butler, Preface, Gender Trouble, 2nd edn. (New York: Routledge, 1999), pp. vii–viii.
 Butler, p. viii.
 Judith Butler, Precarious Life (London: Verso, 2004) and Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015).
 Emily Jones, ‘Feminist Technologies and Post-Capitalism: Defining and Reflecting Upon Xenofeminism,’ Feminist Review, Vol. 123, Issue. 1 (2019), p. 127.
 Laboria Cuboniks, The Xenofeminist Manifesto (London: Verso, 2018), p. 55.
 Cuboniks, p. 17.