Utopian Refit: bolo’bolo

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According to the Provisional Schedule in the first English printing of bolo’bolo we should now all be living happily in bolos..., enjoying hospitality everywhere, working some, playing some, sleeping some and not worrying about anything. Nation-states, armies, big companies, 9-to-5 jobs..., etc. should be no more than dim memories... [and there should be] a patchwork of intentional regions (sumi) of maybe ten million inhabitants and the size of Pennsylvania, largely self-sufficient.

The first edition was the 1983 one; the quotation comes from ‘“Apology”, a decade later’, which opens the 1995 edition of p.m.’s communist-anarchist manifesto/utopia and concludes by inviting readers to ‘a rendezvous in the year 2001, to dance on the ruins of the Planetary Work Machine’. A decade past 2001 in turn, nobody seems much in the party mood (and the board game has yet to supplant Monopoly).

All of these boring socio-ecological platitudes that can be found in party platforms. I wanted to dust that off a bit, so I thought, okay, I will invent a utopia. But it isn’t at all a utopia. I know all of those utopias. The way they are written, there is a certain attraction. But I was also greatly fascinated by the roundness, the submergence into other worlds with their own terminologies. I thought: I can sell these things to people a lot better, these wishful notions, if I cloak them as utopias. So then I invented this language. bolo’bolo really means nothing other than communism. It is simply the translation; those are Polynesian sound systems... I want to emphasize that there is not one single idea in this book that is new.

Perhaps that makes it a second order utopia (ou-ou-topia?): a re-envisioning of an alternative social vision, a critique of a critique. Or as a present-day capitalist of a certain bent might say (with irony or without it), it was a rebranding exercise aiming to boost the marketable entertainment value of anti-capitalism, reboot the franchise and reposition it in order to appeal to emerging demographics. (Did they talk remotely like that in 1983...?)

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