Roberto Foa and Thomas Meaney in The Utopian:
Are you a utopian?
In a way, I consider myself a utopian. There’s a book I’ve started to write — I’m not sure I’m ever going to finish it — about the historical tension between messianism and utopianism. And it is an attack on messianism. Because I would argue that too many problems of the last two thousand years or so are due to messianism. A messiah has a great vision, usually of redemption. Messianism requires following a leader. It requires pulling everybody into the scheme of a leader. Whereas utopianism basically consists in co-opting people to build things together. There is no overall, overarching scheme.
But the historical difficulty of utopianism is precisely that it doesn’t have a messiah, or a similarly overarching, emotionally powerful actor. So that the tension between utopianism and messianism is frequently to the unfair advantage of the messianic. I believe more and more that if we can have utopian movements we’ll do better than if we have messianic movements.