In the first place, is change desirable? Does change involve growth or decline, progress or decay; should it be welcomed or resisted? Some have turned their faces firmly against change in the name of tradition and continuity. But this has meant anything from a simple wish to remain faithful to the past to an acceptance of natural change or the desire to return to a kind of earlier golden age. Such traditionalist views, however, became increasingly unfashionable as the modern idea of progress took root. This implies that human history is marked by an advance in knowledge and the achievement of ever higher levels of civilization: all change is for the good. Nevertheless, even if change is to be welcomed, what form should it take? This has usually been posed as a choice between two contrasting notions of change: reform or revolution. Whether they are reformist or revolutionary, projects of social or political change have tended to be based on a model of a desired future society. The most radical such projects have looked, ultimately, to the construction of a perfect society, a utopia. But what is utopianism, and which political doctrines have utopian characteristics? More importantly, is utopian thinking vital for the success of any progressive political project, or is it a recipe for repression or even totalitarianism?
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