I want to move away from calling Solarpunk utopian because a utopia is basically an impossible future, utopia means ‘not a place’ and that’s not what Solarpunk is about, it’s about actually creating a sustainable, real future. A real possible future for everybody.
I support this move. I’ve been mostly using the word optimistic, which can also be a problematic word sometimes but I think it more closely reflects the idea of stories that are about a world where the big problems are solvable, not a world where the big problems are solved.
It always kind of baffles me when people who are critical of solarpunk call it utopian. It doesn’t bother me much when solarpunks do it, because lots of people are just less semantically obsessive than me and I’m not going to try to call anybody out on being enthusiastic with the wrong philosophical vocabulary.
But I don’t understand how people look at a community that says “The world as it exists is basically a dystopia and we are prepared to fight for something less awful” and end up hearing “we will settle for nothing less than narratives about worlds with no systematic problems.”
(Okay actually I do understand, it’s a willful misperception that comes from a habit of aggressive criticism of all new ideas out of a desire to avoid feeling vulnerable.)
Like, here are some words that mean something in the territory of utopian that more closely track to solarpunk’s actual values: Counterculture. Revolutionary. Activist. Pluralist. Post-industrial. Anti-colonial. Socialist. Communist. Post-capitalist.
But if you can call a group utopian by the standard of the hypothetical outcome of their values, I don’t know what group you couldn’t call utopian: virtually every group organized around values holds the position that their beliefs, if executed perfectly, would create the best possible world.