The End of Utopia

Jacoby's Evasive and Unappealing Utopian Vision

American society is rarely content with its present state. Rather, it constantly seeks ways to improve and enhance the current standard of living. Ideally, these changes should be paving the path to a better future, one in which hostility and conflict become practically obsolete and in which humanity can reside with greater unity and peace. Often, such platonic, futuristic societies are labeled "utopian," which Lyman Sargent, in his essay "Utopian Traditions: Themes and Variations," delineates as "generally oppositional, reflecting, at the minimum, frustration with things as they are and the desire for a better life" (1).

However, according to Russell Jacoby in his book The End of Utopia, society has succumbed to more conservative views and strayed far from its founding utopian ideals. He harshly condemns intellectuals on the basis that they have lost grasp of the vigor and innovation that once characterized their objectives. Furthermore, he dubs concepts such as multiculturalism trivial and meaningless in the context of today's society. Although Jacoby does offer limited insight into how the hope and desire for utopia can serve as a robust motor for society's progress, his vision of life...

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