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Nowtopia: Strategic Exodus?



Abstract:  Nowtopia identifies a new basis for a shared experience of class. Specifically, the exodus from wage labor on one side, and the embrace of meaningful, freely chosen and “free” (unpaid) work on the other. A product of three decades of decomposition of the working class, nowtopians are different from “drop-outs” in general, or surplus populations that constitute the necessary “outside” to capital, in their conscious withdrawal from capitalist culture and concerted rejection of the value form. In emergent convivial “nowtopian” communities, largely grounded in unpaid practical work which creatively meets needs such as transportation (the bicycling subculture), food (urban gardening/agriculture), and communication (open-source communities), we see a gradual reversal of the extreme atomization of modern life. While facing the threat of corruption via re-integration into the system, this constellation of practices, if taken together, is an elaborate, decentralized, uncoordinated collective research and development effort exploring a potentially post-capitalist, post-petroleum future.