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What does ‘freedom’ mean? The historical study of slavery shows that liberation in the form of manumission never propelled former slaves to the freedom enjoyed by slaveholders. Full and equal citizenship, or socially recognised personhood, continued to be denied to African Americans following their emancipation from chattel slavery, as were reparations for slavery and economic justice. In the Americas, the ‘liberty’ envisaged by abolition’s rich, white, and male architects remained perfectly compatible with the persistence of gross racial, gender, and class inequalities. Today, the ‘freedom’ proposed by many anti-slavery activists and their political or business allies is little different. Legal freedom from the dominion of an individual employer, creditor, ‘trafficker’, or husband is meaningless without independent access to the means of life and full and equal social and political rights, including freedom of locomotion within and across borders.

There is no doubt that it is preferable to be included in than excluded from the game that allocates access to material resources and social privileges. It is better to be exploited than discarded as entirely extraneous to social and economic life; it is also better to be protected against disease, starvation, and ignorance by hierarchical forms of social protection than to be counted as not worth protecting at all. But if we are committed to overcoming domination in all its guises, we have to want more. Read on...

My own private basic income

One person’s experience becoming a business owner shows how our economy is based on luck rather than merit and how it rewards people who own stuff rather than people who do stuff.

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Is it utopian to argue for open borders?

Thousands of migrants in Europe are prisoners of border controls. They ask, 'are we not human?' Is it utopian to answer yes, and that we need to open the borders?

‘Utopia for Realists?’ - a review

‘If we can get enough people to read this, the world will start to become a better place’. High praise indeed. But can the book live up to it?

Stopping the border deaths: towards freedom of migration for all

Deaths at international borders are one of humanity’s gravest failures in recent history. The ideas of open borders and ‘no border’ can inspire action towards change.

The inseparability of capitalism, racism, and imprisonment: an interview with Dennis Childs

The prison industrial complex and the mass incarceration of people of colour in America are the children of chattel slavery, and the 13th amendment acted as midwife.

Sex work, utopia, and what we can learn from prison abolitionism

Groups calling for the abolition of prostitution are not, despite what they might think, following in the best traditions of abolitionism. To merit the title they must strive for far more transformative reform.

Confronting the brutal reality: how to teach the legacy of transatlantic slavery

The British curriculum sanitises the history of slavery by isolating it as an aberration of evil. Slavery built the west. Acknowledging that is the first step to undoing its damage.

Black ‘archival’ pain: the blurring of Black pasts and a Black present

Incessant Black death across American ‘history’ reveals an open-ended archive of anti-Black state violence. Black people keep dying, and while past and present differ they simultaneously blur.

The purposes and powers of utopia

Neoliberalism is a utopian vision based on a ‘world without poverty’. What if we imagine a world in which the problem is not poverty but wealth?

Moral economy: a different way of thinking about the future

The current economic system has ‘wealth extraction’ masquerading as ‘wealth creation’ to the long-term detriment of everybody, even the super rich. New thinking is needed.

The practical necessity of utopian thinking

BTS editors introduce their series on utopia, arguing that only by striving for utopia can we hope to move beyond the limited liberties that are commonly mistaken for freedom.

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