In charting out a prehistory of the “new utopian spirit,” this article explores the utopian afterlives of Étienne de La Boétie's Discourse on Voluntary Servitude. La Boétie's text has exercised an important influence on a number of scholars who have contributed to the critical rethinking of utopia, centrally Miguel Abensour, Pierre Clastres, Gustav Landauer, and Pierre Leroux. By exploring their appropriations of the text, the article aims to understand the contribution La Boétie has made to a critical conception of utopia. This emerges centrally in the understanding of the relationship between desire, friendship, and refusal, particularly when connected to the dialectic of emancipation and the problem of plurality.

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