The social revolution of the nineteenth century cannot take its poetry from the past but only from the future…. Proletarian revolutions, like those of the nineteenth century, constantly criticize themselves, constantly interrupt themselves in their own course, return to the apparently accomplished, in order to begin anew; they deride with cruel thoroughness the half-measures, weaknesses, and paltriness of their first attempts, seem to throw down their opponents only so the latter may draw new strength from the earth and rise before them again more gigantic than ever, recoil constantly from the indefinite colossalness of their own goals (Marx, Eighteenth Brumaire).
Utopia can never be prescriptive and is always destined to fail. Despite this seeming negativity, a generative politics can be potentially distilled from the aesthetics of queer failure. Within failure we can locate a kernel of potentiality. I align queer failure with a certain mode of virtuosity that helps the spectator exit from a stale and static lifeworld dominated by the alienation, exploitation and drudgery associated with capitalism or landlordism (Muñoz, Cruising Utopia)
There is, however, a fundamental tension between the terms “utopia” and “demand” that calls for attention. The former points toward the broader social horizon of a future that is always beyond our grasp; the latter directs our attention to the present, to the specific desires that can be named and the definite interests that can be advanced. In this way the paradoxical relationship between tendency and rupture, identification and otherness, and affirming and overcoming that is produced by the utopian form’s efforts to negotiate the relationship between present and future also haunts the utopian demand. With the demand, the dynamic is manifest in the conflict between the speculative ideals of utopias and the pragmatism of demands. It is important to acknowledge the ways in which this fusing of utopianism and demanding could have a dampening effect on each of the practices. Harnessing the speculative imagination to a particular and limited political project risks both stifling the utopian impulse and undermining the assertion of practical political claims making. While recognizing the potential limitations of the utopian demand as a form, I want to consider the ways in which each of the practices might also serve to animate and enhance the other. To function optimally, a utopian demand must negotiate the relationship between the terms in a way that preserves as much as possible the integrity of each of these impulses, while holding them together in a constructive tension. At its best, a utopian demand is not just a hobbling together of tendency and rupture in the form of a perfectly transparent and legible demand and an expression of pure utopian otherness. Instead, the terms can be altered by their relationship.
― Kathi Weeks, The Problem With Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics and Postwork Imaginaries