2. Utopia by Thomas More : My Detailed Summary, Full Analysis and Conclusions ..links 1. Book Review and Summary
Summary : Writing in the reign of Henry VIII th at a time when it was not possible to express alternative ideas freely he comes up with this vehicle : the narrator travels to Belgium where he meets Raphael a sailor who tells him of his experiences in an island with a radically alternative system of government and life called Utopia. Through this vehicle he is able to express a number of alternative ideas : Anti-war : Anti-capital punishment : Anti-Capitalist : Anti-Establishment : Democratic Government : Anti-Succesive Monarchy : Religeous Tolerance : Equal Opportunity : Voluntary Euthanasia :

In short
Book 1 there is talk of a visit to England. The visitors observances express that England needs new enlightened ideas in governance
They need to stop capital punishment for theft, deal with poverty, but in general the system has distorted ideals so the people suffer.
The governance needs to change, but the top people are resistant to new and better ideas.
And it's attitude towards treating crime with capital punishment, basically 500 years ago before Tony Blair said it : It's all about being tough on the causes of crime : poverty, lack of opportunity, exploitation by the rich, land access, uncontrolled capitalism, fashion, alcohol and gambling ..."you first make thieves and then punish them ?"
Govern properly : Don't make wars, regulate capitalism and deal with social problems.
Capital Punishment is wrong and illegal and can be replaced by better solutions : the criminal compensates the victim and then does community service until reformed.
About Kings : They are too busy empire building and counting their treasures; so they don't govern properly.
Why he doesn't work in government ? they wouldn't listen cos his ideas attack the very foundation they are based on :
(More was executed cos he refused to accept the Kings new idea of England become independent to the Roman Catholic Church ! the true dangers of public service)
Then suddenly he makes clear his main idea : the fundamental foundations of our society are wrong ie MONEY and PROPERTY, we need to get rid of these ideas before we can have good government , cos they cause the rich poor divide which cause all the problems, it's no use messing around with more laws.
The counter argument .."It won't work"
Well I've seen it let me tell you about it...
The counter argument .."It won't work" .. Well I've seen it let me tell you about it...

Book 2 the story of Utopia. An island with a completely different way of life, where the system of government is almost perfect. (obviously drawing from Plato's "Republic,")
Founded 1700 years ago (in fact could he be refering directly to Platos book as it would be about the same age) ..made into an island, everything is planned for easy defence ..people live in towns doing a trade, but also taking it in turns to do farmwork ..use oxen not horses ..no beer.. no money is used, you take what you need ...give away surplus to other nations ..there is no private property you house swap every 10 years ..everyone helps in the harvest ...towns well planned .. productive gardens .. democratic : the prince is elected ..One vote per family (surely a radical idea considering at that time in England only landowners had the vote).. all have same clothes no fashion .. bureaucrats stop laziness .. 6 hours work per day .. plus study time .. public lectures .. no gamblling .. get a lot done cos everyone is productive unlike our society .. good planning saves labour (e.g. regular maintenance) .. have enough spare labour to mend the roads and often not necesary to work 6 hours so everyone works less and studies more
you live in paternal families and may have to move if your city gets too big also he says you can live where you want (surely this is not possible) .. At the market - bring what you produce, take what you need - no money paid .. cities kept clean as waste is disposed into running water .. 30 familes live around each Chiefs hall and eat together there (-young and old are mixed so that the young don't cause trouble - old served first ) .. plenty of hospitals .. leaders take from the market last .. freedom to travel around the island .. no pubs .. surplus sold to other nations for fair trade, a portion is given to their poor .. not interested in building treasure .. iron is valued more than gold (so gold is used for chamber pots) .. men are not measured by wealth .. reading is important (but everything is in the native language not Greek or Latin) .. practically well educated (not the acaedemic rubbish) .. they know astronomy, and predict the weather, but don't have astrology .. their philosophy : pursue pleasure of the mind and body , but not false pleasures which lead to the hurting of other people ..they believe in God and and afterlife where you are rewarded and punished for this life .. so learning and music are OK, but hunting is bad ! .. very intelligent and open to learning .. he praises Greek learning .. Seems he puts a great deal of importance in learning and is saying that freed from the struggles of capitalism they can learn more... Slaves are 1. convicts 2. and death row convicts they buy from other places and 3. volunteers from other countries .. Voluntary Euthanasia is practised ..marriage is allowed only after 18 for women and 22 for men .. a very serious contract so you get to see your partner naked before you agree and sex outside of it is a serious crime .. husbands have power over their wives .. separation can be agreed but not divorce though you can have a kind of re-marriage .. no make up is used .. crimes are punished by slavery even murder ..people have a laugh, but not at others expense .. good behaviour is applauded; statues are made .. though the leaders are modest .. without property there needs to be few laws and there's no lawyers (More himself trained as a lawyer, was a judge when he wrote Utopia and became the countries chief justice later) .. the legal process is quick cos it's all upto the judge .. they also have a system to govern other countries fairly if requested .. Believe treaties lead to corruption ..More criticises European Christian nations breaking their treaties in the New World + criticism of Papal Church ..they detest war , but can fight well if need to defend themselves or help an oppressed nation or abuse of trade laws in foreign parts or if a nation refused to punish those murdering or harming Utopian citizens - try to minimise bloodshed and don't glory in victory .. try every tactic to reduce bloodshed : try to incite internal rebellion in opposition etc .. send mercenries usually, but will send there own men and women also, but no consription cos that weakens the army .. end war quickly no vengeance nor plunder ..reparation money is taken , but is usually spent in or loaned to the losing nation ..
"Christ and His followers lived by that rule" is he in reality saying that the whole Utopian Communist society is actually following the example of Christ ?
He seems afraid to criticise Christianity so he says they tolerate many religions, but most of them believe in one supreme being and many came over to Christianity anyway .. religious tolerance is important cos otherwise society destroys itself .. but paradoxically people who didn't believe in the afterlife were called "lower than beasts" and superstition and soothsaying was scorned etc (surely this is criticism of another religion ?) .. buried : if you were afraid of dying .. cremated : if you were happy to die ! .. seems to criticise devout religious scholars of England saying the Utopians don't spend a lot of time studying but get on with good deeds .. their priests are very pious and since this is difficult there are few of them (seems to be saying something about the multitude of priests in England) .. priests are elected .. priests don't have any right meddle in the judicial process that's the role of government .. priests run education and focus on teaching good behavior .. sometimes (rarely) there are women priests .. priests can break the law ! as God will punish them .. wise priests marry .. there are few priests .. priests go to war .. each religion prays in the same giant temples ..but perform different rites in private houses .. no confession to priests, instead you confess to the head of your family each season to clear the air of tensions .. worship on the last day of the season .. men and women sit separately in church .. but the old mix with the young to supply good influence .. no sacrifices, but do have incense .. priests wear simple, colouful mystic robes .. in the temple there is deep reverence, hymns and sweet music

In His Conclusions - The Utopian system is the best .. cos people have no property it's the only one where where people work for everyones good not their own .. people don't have to worry about hunger or anything (the ultimate happiness) .. it's the fairest society/ no inequality .. in other societies the ordinary worker suffers massive exploitation .. the rich twist the laws ..the rich are unhappy aswell .. Get rid of money and we solve a whole lot of the world's problems .. our system is crazy people starve when the rich have food starved .. money is not the cure it's the cause .. Christ knew utopian was best, but we cannot overcome pride, we measure ourselves by how badly others are doing and always want to show off we are doing better than them .. Utopia is super strong and super stable cos their is no ambition or factionalism in society .. OK More says many Utopian ideas seem crazy and he himself can critcise it he won't .. but Utopia has many good things he would like to see in our society.

Full Analysis

Literature experts seem to be much more skilled at interpreting the book than I am see the links, but this is my analysis
Page BOOK 1 ENGLAND : It needs new enlightened ideas in governance

" princes apply themselves more to affairs of war than to the useful arts of peace"
they are generally more set on acquiring new kingdoms, right or wrong, than on governing well those they possess
governance is bad, but advisors can't express their true opinions cos there can be severe penalties if they say the wrong thing, they become conniving Yes Men, so it's diffcult to criticise old ways So Society doesn't get better
England won't accept change for the better"but though they willingly let go all the good things that were among those of former ages, yet if better things are proposed they cover themselves obstinately with this excuse of reverence to past times. I have met with these proud, morose, and absurd judgments of things in many places, particularly once in England."
In England there is Capital Punishment for theft , but still there is so much theft
The punishment is not just and doesn't work
Reasons for Crime

1. Lack of Opportunity- stop crime easily by creating equal opportunity for all, not exploitation by the rich

"There are dreadful punishments enacted against thieves, but it were much better to make such good provisions by which every man might be put in a method how to live, and so be preserved from the fatal necessity of stealing and of dying for it.'
like the returned soldiers being injured they cannot work, but no provision is made for them so they steal
2. Unproductive People : The Rich Exploit the Poor - "There is a great number of noblemen among you, that are themselves as idle as drones, that subsist on other men's labor, on the labor of their tenants, whom, to raise their revenues, they pare to the quick. "
3. Unemployment .. the rich employ people to do frivolous tasks, and sometimes make them redundant, they are not accustomed or good at labouring etc so they steal
4. Maintaining the Military
so long as you have soldiers you have thieves.
I'm not sure if he means the soldiers just steal, or steal cos they are low paid or that the expense of maintaining a standing army creates poverty.... but he does say it creates barbarism....
"and they sometimes seek occasions for making war, that they may train up their soldiers in the art of cutting throats"
standing armies are unnecessary, cos workers fight better in times of war
5. Land Rights ....The Enclosures removing land access "'The increase of pasture,' said I, 'by which your sheep, which are naturally mild, and easily kept in order, may be said now to devour men"
people were turned off the land and had nowhere to go. Sheep need far less labour than the arable farming of before ..so there is unemployment
6. Unregulated Capitalism and rising prices
You would expect the price of sheep to fall, but it is not a perfect market. The owners are rich enough to choose not to sell unless the price is high . This business leads ultimately to a rise in cattle and corn prices. So people cannot afford to eat The Free market is not as efficient as supposed . People rob cos theyb are too proud to beg.
7. Fashion causes people to spend too much money. Just like these days where poor people buy designer labels and then don't have enough money left to feed their children.
8. Alcohol and gambling
"You have also many infamous houses, and, besides those that are known, the taverns and alehouses are no better; add to these, dice, cards, tables, foot-ball, tennis, and quoits, in which money runs fast away; and those that are initiated into them, must in the conclusion betake themselves to robbing for a supply."
The result : "you first make thieves and then punish them ?"

Govern properly : Don't make wars, regulate capitalism and deal with social problems
Arguments Against Capital Punishment

The Punishment should fit the crime
You can't have it against theft cos a man's life is more valuable than money. But Stoics argue it's the principle of breaking the law.; they are wrong
Capital Punishment is against the 10 Commandments " God has commanded us not to kill, and shall we kill so easily for a little money? But if one shall say, that by that law we are only forbid to kill any, except when the laws of the land allow of it; upon the same grounds, laws may be made in some cases to allow of adultery and perjury"
We can't break God's law in creating our own, his come first.
Capital Punishment for theft causes murder " ; for if a robber sees that his danger is the same, if he is convicted of theft as if he were guilty of murder, this will naturally incite him to kill the person whom otherwise he would only have robbed, since if the punishment is the same"
Capital Punishment can be replaced by better solutions
Look what other people do; The Romans were good at government, they enslaved lawbreakers, but the Polylerits have a better solution still : "Those that are found guilty of theft among them are bound to make restitution to the owner .....condemned to serve in the public works, but are neither imprisoned, nor chained .....the lists of them are called always at night, .....Those of every division of the country are distinguished by a peculiar mark; ...their cropped ear would betray them. "
If they behave and reform they are eventually freed. (even the Cardinal agrees it's a good idea)
note : he begins by talking about theft, but then seems to proclude CP for all crimes. Maybe the idea of not having it for murder is too radical to express openly
About Kings and Empire Building
Plato thinks that nations will be happy, when either philosophers become kings or kings become philosophers
The princes are so occupied with empire building that they wouldn't listen to logic it would be to radical for them They should stop war as it's cost destroys the homeland and govern their homelands properly
Achorians :they conquered, but found that the trouble of keeping it was equal to that by which it was gained .. Seems to be argument against colonialism and for self-determination
Kings seek more treasure and twist the law to their own advantage. It's almost like the King wants his citizens poor so they are easier to govern!
"And they think it is the prince's interest, that there be as little of this left as may be, as if it were his advantage that his people should have neither riches nor liberty; since these things make them less easy and less willing to submit to a cruel and unjust government; "
NO it's actually easier to govern when the people can see that you are doing a good job.
"a prince ought to take more care of his people's happiness than of his own, as a shepherd is to take more care of his flock than of himself."
They are wrong in thinking poverty makes peolple easier to control instead they make more trouble. Then you are a gaoler more than a King.
"He is an unskilful physician, that cannot cure one disease without casting his patient into another: so he that can find no other way for correcting the errors of his people, but by taking from them the conveniences of life, shows that he knows not what it is to govern a free nation. "
he should stop being lazy, proud, not wrong others, live with his means, better prevent crimes rather than punish them, cheat people with the law,
Macarians : "King, on the day on which he begins to reign, is tied by an oath confirmed by solemn sacrifices, never to have at once above 1,000 pounds of gold in his treasures,"
So he couldn't impoverish the people nor would any other prince bother to invade for this small amount. Also he didn't need to oppress the people to keep control.
The English people suffer cos the government (Kings) wastes so much resources invading foreign places, so doesn't govern at home properly and too much wealth is concentrated in the hands of the King and Nobility.
The Solution concentrate on governing at home and distribute the wealth.
So Why Don't You Become a Kings Advisor ?
But this wisdom is so contary they will not listen. True so you have to go with the flow and try to stop them going really wrong. Don't give up " you should not forsake the ship in a storm because you cannot command the winds"
Is it possible More is having a debate with himself saying they really need to change radically, but should I shout this out or play along pushing gently. Maybe if I write a story I can get the message across like Plato did. Though it's so difficult cos the establishment relies on property and I don't believe in it. But this book is OK except for those who approach will really closed minds. And if they are not open to difficult ideas then they are not open to what most of what Christ taught as well.
The priests have seen this difficulty and so have been crafty twisting the teachings to fit in with the establishment. So it's not a good idea to play along cos they'll twist my ideas aswell. So either people will ignore me or twist what I say to fit the establishment. In reality in court you can't be honest you have to say "yes" to the stupidest things. Instead of stopping the establishment doing bad, it will corrupt you

You can't change society all you can do is take care of yourself
"And this is all the success that I can have in a court, for I must always differ from the rest, and then I shall signify nothing;"
I'm so radical they won't listen
"that as long as there is any property, and while money is the standard of all other things, I cannot think that a nation can be governed either justly or happily"
His Main point : the fundamental foundations of our society are wrong ie MONEY and PROPERTY,
we need to get rid of these ideas before we can have good government
Now our Society is not Fair (just) nor happy. The few rich get everything and the majority suffer in poverty. Until we get rid of Money and property there will be no equality.
The people of Utopia live far far better.
The system of Utopia is far far better
In other societies they try to govern better with more and more laws, but the courts get more and more clogged cos of all these arguments about property.
Plato said "that he resolved not to make any laws for such as would not submit to a community of all things: for so wise a man could not but foresee that the setting all upon a level was the only way to make a nation happy"
Their societies become split in two parts in the most unfair way : The wicked employers who have everything and the workers do all the work and have nothing. So the deserving masses are oppressed
Isn't this what Marx was saying ..."As long as the workers have no control over the means of production there will be trouble... property is theft". Is it not true that in the modern world it's not possible to split the society so clearly in two; many people are both workers and investors ?
Now you could set limits on maximum wealth, and ensure people people don't get into public office for their own interests, and that public office is not sold nor too much work (so that the officers don't need to cheat), but this is just a painkiller for a sick man, but not the cure. Don't try to control the system with so many laws, get rid of the property system.
The Counter Argument
It won't work, people will just be lazy. They won't be motivated, and they will believe other people won't work hard so they'll think "why should I ?". The whole system will collapse , people won't even be able to sell stuff to live.

NO ! I have seen it and it worked in Utopia

Rubbish, Europe has a lot of experience in government they can't be better than ours

Well tough titty they have been going longer ! and they are clever people !, but we are closed minded, that's why are better than us

Alright tell us all about it....

Page BOOK 2 UTOPIA : The Ideal Governance
description of island and strange system of government
There is an island called Utopia founded by Utopus, which has a very good system of government
(Countryside Life)
Most people live in towns but take it in turns to live and work in the farmhouses for 2 years. There they live in a group of 40 so that 20 come back each year
He's obviously saying people prefer to live in towns, he makes the point country life is hard labour
use oxen so not many horses
No beer, but do drink wine, cider, water etc
usually they grow surplus food which they give away to other nations
If the farm needs something from the town, they are given it, they don't pay anything
Of Their Towns blah blah blah,
- house swap every 10 years : there is no private property : so any man can enter any house anytime
state is 1700 years old usually people live in the towns
OF THEIR MAGISTRATES "Thirty families choose every year a magistrate"
- seems an open tribal democracy and jjust system even the Prince is elected, secret ballot, secret meetings are banned, a lot of "safety checks" in the system. Note it must have been radically democratic at the time when in England only landowners could vote not everyman. See how he sidesteps the issue of womens votes or women magistrates. He doesn't say only men have the vote, but since there is only 1 vote per family and he makes it clear that the oldest man is head of the family this is the implication.
- everyone can do farmwork and has a trade aswell (women aswell as men), usually you follow your parents, but you can move to another family if you want something different.
bureacrats go around making sure you are not idle nor overworking
no gambling
- share work fairly, 6 hours a day then lectures, no people are idle like women !, priests, rich people, able bodied beggars, etc
in our society ...
1. many people are not working
2. many workers are employed in things which are not of real service
"for we, who measure all things by money, give rise to many trades that are both vain and superfluous "
- Intelligentsia -those showing management potential are excused work so long as they study well.
- Highly organised so efficient e.g. they maintain the buildings well, so that there are never any big repair costs.
- garments - basic hardwearing work clothes, covered by fancier natural coloured woolen when they are in public
"And thus, since they are all employed in some useful labour, and since they content themselves with fewer things, it falls out that there is a great abundance of all things among them;
- cos efficient people have time to mend the highways
- If there isn't much work they think it's good to study more
- live in paternal family house
- but no town can have more than 6000 families, no family can have more than 16 peole or less than 10 - to do this big families give some kids to smaller families !
So No Freedom in where you live : you have to live with your family and if your city get's too big your whole family maybe forced to move
This sounds like a big deal to me !
sometimes colonise in a friendly way - people recalled to re-populate home in times of plague etc
How do they decide who is a Utopian citizen and who is a foreigner ?
4 quarters of town surround the market place
At the market - bring what you produce, take what you need - no money paid
people don't take too much cos - no fear of need -nor need to show off
but take something like books CDs etc Everyone will say they want one whether they really read it or not ... need someway to control demand cos supply cannot be limitless ..surely
- kill animals and dispose of other fillth in running water
- "nor do they suffer anything that is foul or unclean to be brought within their towns, lest the air should be infected by ill-smells, which might prejudice their health. "
- chief lives in a hall with 15 families either side
Hospitals - each town has 4 large ones. Plenty of over-capacity in case of large infections
after all families and hospitals, then leader and strangers etc help themselves at the market
It is a little confusing as to whether he means they go first , but surely the leaders helping themselves first would be against his principles.
EATING At lunch and dinner everyone eats with chief
- under 5's sit with the nurses
- over 5's serve or stand around
- young and old are mixed so that the young don't cause trouble
- old served first
- old are repected but not overly they, give short lecture before dinner and listen to the young during it
- always have music and perfume , always end with fruit
- country people eat at home
- can travel freely around the island with passport if not busy
- "There are no taverns, no alehouses, nor stews ... nor any other occasions of corrupting each other"
- each town sends 3 men to the great council each year
- they decide on sending stuff from towns that have plenty to those lacking
- keep enough supplies in reserve for 2 years, then export the surplus at fair trade giving a seventh to the poor
- now they are so rich they just take IOUs (bonds) from towns (not individuals, so very secure), which they only bother to call in to help another nation
- They value things according to their use not their scarcity. but for them iron is more valuable than gold cos iron you need, gold you don't really
- So unless they need gold in times of war they use it as chamber pots, so distributed evenly not guarded by the prince, or they use golden chains to mark slaves ..so gold is devalued
- so when pompous ambassadors visit they were mistaken for slaves
"strange we serve men cos they have more useless metal than another man"
Utopians spend their spare time reading and so improving - lots of practical knowledge
(not in Greek or Latin but in their native tongue), so there is none of that acadaemic bollocks we have in our schools
"But for the cheat of divining by the stars, by their oppositions or conjunctions, it has not so much as entered into their thoughts." -obviously he doesn't like astrology !
- These are their religious principles:- be good be happy V complex discussion. Says they admire both those who pursue their own pleasure and those who give up their own desires in order to help others. When you do this you lose, but then gain, cos you have the feeling from helping someone and a sense of security that you in turn will be helped when you need it. Plus get big payback in Heaven. Natural pleasure is fine, but avoid hurting others or deceiving themselves. E.g pursuing material things ...clothes, having people bow to you etc
- false pleasures - hunting, in fowling, or gaming,
- fair enough you can enjoy watching dogs run, but not seeing them kill
- "They look on the desire of the bloodshed, even of beasts, as a mark of a mind that is already corrupted with cruelty, or that at least, by too frequent returns of so brutal a pleasure, must degenerate into it."
- false pleasures warp your logic
- mind pleasure - learning
- body pleasure - freeing from pain and satisfying the appetite - food, drink and sex
- body pleasure - music
- body pleasure - good health
- mind pleasure - a clear conscience
They know what they are doing and do a good job e.g. move forest near to rivers for convenience
They are very intelligent and open to learning..Seems he puts a great deal of importance in learning and is saying that freed fro the struggles of capitalism they can learn more.
- is ambivolent about Romans
- praises Greek - Plato's and some of Aristotle's works: I had also Theophrastus on Plants, Aristophanes, Homer, Euripides, and Sophocles of Aldus's edition; and for historians, Thucydides, Herodotus, and Herodian.
slaves are :
  1. native convicts only, not their sons - given the hardest work cos they have had the advantages of a Utopian upbringing so should know better
  2. or death row convicts they buy from other places
  3. volunteer slaves made up of the poor from neighbouring countries.. well treated free to go
Euthanasia the elders (priests and magistrates) encourage the painfully ill people to suicide to free them from their pain. Not forced and receive honorourable burial.
- Age is 18 for women and 22 for men - Sex before marriage is a severe offennce, cos they see self control as vital to the stability to society. If you can't control yourself before marriage then you won't be able to control yourself inside marriage and the very fabric of society would fall apart
shown your partner naked before marriage is agreed
Surely if a virgin sees an aked man she wouldn't want to get married, cos she would be afraid of his willy ?
NO Divorce nor polygamy
except for adultery which is a serious crime
Separation can be agreed, but is debated seriously by the elders and a kind of marriage to other partners allowed
Husbands have power to correct their wives
other crimes are punished by slavery even murder, but if you refuse to co-operate you maybe killed
It's OK to laugh at fools, but not to point out peoples physical faults
Make-up is forbidden - "no beauty recommends a wife so much to her husband as the probity of her life and her obedience"
statues : show examples and encourage good behaviour
elders are modest even the prince doesn't have a crown
laws are few and simple : so everyone can understand them
Cos the laws are simple everyone knows them "They have no lawyers among them, for they consider them as a sort of people whose profession it is to disguise matters and to wrest the laws," instead of putting their confidence in their councellor they put their trust in the judge and the whole process moves forward a lot quicker.
More himself trained as a lawyer, was a judge when he wrote Utopia and became the countries chief justice later
some neighbouring countries request governance by Utopia : this is done in such a fashion to avoid corruption. Magistrates are sent for 5 years each only, so there is no point in bribing them and they don't have time to form local polical affiliations (which could corrupt their justice)
No treaties with other nations, believe a commitment to justice is enough. Believe treaties lead to corruption.
Moore gives a speech about European Christian nations ! seeming anti-papist. How they break their treaties in the New World cos they are deliberately ambiguous so it's easy to find loopholes.
There are two types of justice one for the commoners and one for the princes !
humanity is all one thing,
treaties lead to false assumptions "a man who has never injured us is called our enemy"
"kindness and good nature unite men more effectually"
Detest war, but are well prepared. Will fight if an innocent nation is oppressed even offensively , also fight if people abuse the trading laws in foreign parts. Stronger cos twisting the law is a more serious offence.
but themselves if they were cheated on are more likely to stop trading with that nation than go to war, cos fraud doesn't really hurt them cos they aren't capitalist
Would go to war if a nation refused to punish those murdering or harming Utopian citizens
Ashamed of winning a war
It's like owning something, but knowing that you paid too much for it
are much happier if they achieve victory without making war ..believe compassion is a very special human virtue animals don't have
In war try to bribe oppositions citizens to hand over their own leaders
They think such treacherous methods are kind to their enemies citizens cos it stops bloodshed and they probably didn't want a war in the first place
Also try to ahieve internal rebellion
other nations owe them lots of money so it's easy for them to hire mercenaries
Zapolets - a nation of mercenries who'll change sides for a penny. But sqander there earnings on luxuries.
no conscription cos sending people who don't want to fight weakens the army
In their army often the whole family goes together
attack the leaders of the opposition first again to minimise bloodshed
no vengeance nor plunder, reparation money is taken , but is usually spent in or loaned to the losing nation, but do pay mercenries with reparation money
seems to say if they suspect they are going to be attacked they attack first so the battle is fought on foreign soil.
many different tolerated, but mostly people believe in one supreme being
"many of them came over to our religion"
It's a little ambiguous (maybe deliberately so), but I think he is saying Christ lived as a communist
"I shall not determine whether this proceeded from any secret inspiration of God, or whether it was because it seemed so favourable to that community of goods, which is an opinion so particular as well as so dear to them; since they perceived that Christ and His followers lived by that rule, and that it was still kept up in some communities among the sincerest sort of Christians."
punishment of religions was not accepted (Utopus law) as this quarreling would divide society (the previous society had been easily conquered cos they had been busy fighting themselves over religion) and in the end fighting over religion would put people off religion altogether.
BUT Utopus severely criticised people who didn't believe in an afterlife, and who believe life is governed by chance ... "they are lower than beasts" !
cos if you don't believe in the afterlife you have no incentive to obey laws
they tolerate people like this as they are free to believe anything , but they will never be promoted
"be cured of those mad opinions "
Does he's seriously mean this ? or is he just been politically correct at a time when it was absolutely unthinkable to question Christianity. I suppose so cos that's the one thing that would destroy any book, they would cut his head off as a heretic.
- others : "think that the souls of beasts are immortal, though far inferior to the dignity of the human soul" this is OK he says, so they think people should be happy to die
If someone dies who is afraid of dying they are sad for him not because he's going to heaven, but cos God will be saddened by his attitude and they bury the body.
For other people who undersatnd they are going to heaven, they are serious but happy and they burn the body.
They believe the dead spirits are around them protecting them and seeing all their misdeeds.
Superstition and soothsaying was scorned.surely this breaks the rule about criticising other religions though they sometimes see the miracles caused by God !
many don't study religion, but work tirelessly doing good deeds
I assume he's taking the piss out of Tudor Monks wasting all their time studying and thinking they are holier for it ?
Of these some live chaste unmarried, eating no meat
others less holy are less chaste, but are regarded as wiser
"They would indeed laugh at any man who, from the principles of reason, would prefer an unmarried state to a married, or a life of labour to an easy life, .....(apart from these religious men)"
is he playing safe again ?
- "Their priests are men of eminent piety, and therefore they are but few, " again he's taking the piss. England at that time must have had many priests , so he regarded most of them lowly and unpious
priests are elected for preventing of factions
"all that is incumbent on them is only to exhort and admonish the people" seems he thought English priests we are over-reaching themselves telling people what to do, the law was upto the government
priests run education "yet they do not take so much care of instructing them in letters", he believes in teaching good behaviour
begin young cos it's important for the stability of society for people to have good values
- "The wives of their priests are the most extraordinary women of the whole country; sometimes the women themselves are made priests " Wow, wow, wow !, what an extraordinary suggestion to tuck away 500 years ago
- priests are highly repected and not punished if they break laws as this is left to God (it's not a big deal he says)
reinterates again there are few priests as this helps keep up the quality
" Nor are the priests in greater veneration among them than they are among their neighbouring nations, as you may imagine by that which I think gives occasion for it. "
a swipe at the Italian Popes expecting the English King to Kowtow to them ?
reinterates again that priests are sent to war Is this a swipe at priests , who stir up war and then stay safely away from the battle fields ?
They pray that it ends peacefully, and try to stop vengeance attacks and unnessary bloodshed
"The first and the last day of the month, and of the year, is a festival; they measure their months by the course of the moon, and their years by the course of the sun"
Why does he say this. Is he saying "they are the same as us so Utopia is possible in England" ? Seems he is saying they worship on the last day of the season only, he doesn't mention Sundays at all
have few temples
so the ones that they have are massive
each religion does prays in the same temple and there are no images in the temples, but they perform their different rites in private houses More was writing at a time when England was Catholic, I don't know if sects were springing up or if there were non-Catholics in other countries he knew. I guess he's saying "no sect is superior to another they are just different"
Each season you confess to the head of your family so discontents in families are removed
He understands that secrets and stuff causes disruptive tensions in the home, but why the need to confess in such a formal way ? Surely a culture of open talking is better ?
"In the temples the two sexes are separated"
again he insists that the old and young intermingle, so that the young don't cause trouble ?
They don't think animal sacrifices are appropriate
"They burn incense and other sweet odours, and have a great number of wax lights during their worship, "
people wear white in the temple
priests wear coloured bird feathers (the order of which has some secret meaning)
the people throw themselves on the ground in front of the priest then move on to sing hymns with amazing music
afterwards, "they rise up, go home to dinner, and spend the rest of the day in diversion or military exercises."

Page His Conclusions
"In all other places it is visible that, while people talk of a commonwealth, every man only seeks his own wealth; but there, where no man has any property, all men zealously pursue the good of the public, "
"no man has anything, yet they are all rich"

Their society has equity and justice
In other societies there is so much injustice peolple who contribute nothing are rich and the vital and hardworkingn working men live worse than beasts
The rich try to pay the working man low wages and use laws to exploit them, that's our justice !
Other governments are a conspiracy of the rich
they, "preserve all that they have so ill-acquired, and then, that they may engage the poor to toil and labour for them at as low rates as possible"
but still they are not as happy as Utopians
Get rid of money and we solve a whole lot of the world's problems
"the use as well as the desire of money being extinguished, much anxiety and great occasions of mischief is cut off with it, and who does not see that the frauds, thefts, robberies, quarrels, tumults, contentions, seditions, murders, treacheries, and witchcrafts, which are, indeed, rather punished than restrained by the seventies of law, would all fall off, if money were not any more valued by the world? "
There is no need for famine- even in bad years the rich have enough grain hoarded, for everyone to eat
surely the rich know there is more happiness in feeling you will always be secure whatever than and having a vast surplus in the bank today.
I think what he means is under capitalism there is insecurity cos there is always the possiblity something could go wrong like the bank going bust and you end up at the bottom, wheras in Utopia it doesn't matter what happens
Pride : stops us being like the Utopians. Cos pride makes us feel better cos we can see that other people are worse of than us and we can get more stuff to show them that !
"This is that infernal serpent that creeps into the breasts of mortals"
Utopia will always be stable : "they having rooted out of the minds of their people all the seeds, both of ambition and faction, there is no danger of any commotions at home"
The end of Raphael's story...
the narrator says ...many ways in Utopia seemed absurd, but out of respect didn't criticise

"I cannot perfectly agree to everything he has related. However, there are many things in the commonwealth of Utopia that I rather wish, than hope, to see followed in our governments. "

My Comments
Wow this bloke is clever, not just in formulating the ideas expressed, but in a time when you weren't free to express alternative ideas freely in devizing a way of writing them so that they could be published and he could still remain alive. He seems to have a debate in the text on how to bring new ideas into society, and makes it clear that such advisors are either ignored or their concepts twisted so to fit in with the establishment, just like the priests twist the bible; so maybe the idea of putting the ideas in a book is a way around these problems.

He was one of the guys at the top, he wasn't really suffering, he could have kept his mouth shut and not taken any risks. But no, he demonstrates a great care and compassion for mankind and the common man. Seems he sincerely wanted to make the world a better place, but he was frustated that the system was somehow locked into itself and impossible to change.

His Main point : the fundamental foundations of our society are wrong ie MONEY and PROPERTY, we need to get rid of these ideas before we can have good government . It seems incredible that anti-capitalism seems a modern idea, but that he understood the problem 500 years ago.

Frustration Is this the work of a man trapped by circumstance ? He hates Capital Punishment, but he has to execute people in his role as judge. He supports reform of the Catholic Church even women priests, whilst at the same time he sees the powers twist the Church to their own advantage. He'd like to speak out against all of this and more , but he can't if he did he'd be kicked out of his positions and lose any influence for the good he has.

His ideas seem to be clearly expressed and well argued. Modern day Right wingers and Capital Punishment supporters would do well to read this 500 year old work in order to reflect on their opinions. It's amazing 500 years before Tony Blair said it "It's all about being tough on the causes of crime "

His Ideas in Modern Society : He cautiously expresses more enlightened ideas most which seem normal to us, but which must have seemed very radical at the time..e.g. votes to non-landowners, a non successionist monarchy, keeping the place clean, religious tolerance, remarriage after divorce, priests are elected, women priests, Voluntary Euthanasia, no lawyers, that wealth is about quality of life not money : etc.
Though some things are just too radical to say openly, you can have any religion you want, but people who didn't believe in the afterlife were called "lower than beasts" (I can't agree with his statement that you have to believe in the after life, cos if you don't you have no incentive to obey laws; you should be good cos that's how society functions everyone is good to everyone else, not because they are afraid of payback in an afterlife)
And some things seem not enlightened at all e.g. "husbands have power over their wives". Maybe he doesn't really support these statements, but I guess if he said otherwise he would have been called a heretic and the book couldn't have been published at all .

Since he wrote them a large number of the ideas he championed have come into various societies, from open democracy in the UK, to the ending of successive monarchies in many countries and to the communist system in 30% of the world. Other of his ideas have not yet been accepted .. .. slavery for punishment (well Siberia was slave labour), no peace treaties, abolition of beer. And a few of his ideas seem ridiculous and backwards... no make-up for women, no fashion, "husbands have power over their wives", the deep respect for marriage with no sex outside it
In some ways we have gone backwards. He advocated a society with few laws so there was no need for lawyers, whilst we have ever increasing numbers of laws and lawyers. His system of justice was quick, our's is ever slower.
Also a number of paradoxes ..you do get the death sentence for some crimes, you have to live with your family so no real freedom in where you live., there is religious tolerance, but people who didn't belive in the afterlife were considered worse than beasts.

Some of the ideas have been rendered impractical by technology .. better transport means people can live in the countryside, .. you need a standing army cos someone has to maintain the equipment, the technology is changing all the time and they have to be trained to use it and the soldiers need to be ready quickly.

Most societies have remained capitalist, but have a welfare system which provides a safety net that stops the poor starving. Though the difference in wealth levels does seem to create enormous tensions ... crime etc.

Class: Equality and the classless society : Again it seems incredible that he as a man of wealth and privilege with a circle of noble friends, doesn't waffle on about nobility, but expresses that all men are equal, leaders should be modest and not dress in jewels etc. And that he shows such concern for the common man. He points out though that even the richest man himself is never secure in a capitalist society.

On The Church : My guess is that More doesn't have much sympathy for the clerics of England he seems to question there goodness, the shear number employed in an unproductive activity, habit of studying so much, custom of teaching classics instead of basic morals, not marrying, taking confession, starting wars, meddling in the law, stirring up religeous hatred, wearing fancy clothes etc He seems to want religion to be pure to the bible ; is that why he doesn't want any animal sacrifices or images in the church ?

At a time when England had not yet switched from Roman Catholism to Protestant, and he was eventually executed for refusing to convert I am surprised that it seems has no problem with expressing a number of ideas which the Catholic faith doesn't accept e.g. euthanasia, married priests . Indeed it's also strange ,that he shows good arguments against Capital Punishment yet at the time he must have been executing people in his role as a judge and later when he was actually head of the judiciary.
"that no man ought to be punished for his religion", maybe More saw how religious squabbling was weaking society and he himself understood they were worshipping the same God anyway and it was OK to worship him in different ways. Interesting when talking about funerals he forgets thaat their society has many religions and just talks of God. You don't do anything wrong cos you will be punished in heaven and your ancestors are spying on you as well ! The Utopians ponder about whether they can have real priests cos their's don't have authority from Rome, but tentatively decide they don't need this support from Rome. (surprisingly he as a Catholic has no problem with this, is it possible he is a Catholic, but anti-papist ? Strangely he himself was executed when the King broke with Rome and More refused to convert). Yet the next thing he says is that it is wrong for the priests to speak to the priest privately .. surely this is a criticism of the Catholic practice of confession. The idea of women priests has only recently been accepted and the idea of electing priests has not been accepted yet. It seems quite important though he doesn't dwell upon it that the whole idea of Utopia and it's communist society comes from the bible "Christ and His followers lived by that rule", maybe it's too controversial to say .."this whole capitalist society is selfish and anti-Christian .. you guys have twisted the bible to say that capitalism is OK ..NO it's fundamentally wrong, you guys are living an un-Christian life !

Seems to imply everyone gets education, so in general seems there is Equal Opportunity in the society. Why does he say that priests can break the law.. is it cos he thought the authorities were abusing the law against priests ? The priests go to war ..is he saying "they don't stir up war and then stay at home "?
Why does he come up with this idea of confessing to the head of your family instead of the priest. Was he again concerned about the priests having too much power and meddling in other peoples affairs ?
He thinks the family structure is important and that the heads of the family should be respected and the elders supply good influence over the young. Is he saying don't ignore your kids or they are more likely to go wrong ? He sees fashion as a problem in society, peoples desire to show off makes them waste money on clothes in Utopia everyone wears simple clothes in everyday life and white for church. Is that to stop them showing off in their Sunday best. The simple but colourful secretly ordered bird feather robes adds an air of mystism (or could be a refernce to Red Indians ?)

England : Not only is capitalism bad, but the system in England is one of the worst examples and the governance has evolved so it is resistant to positive improvements governance : advisors won't accept new ideas cos then they feel they look stupid So Society doesn't get betterl

Communism : Everyone thinks that Marx and Engels are the founders of modern communism, but More clearly laid the formula 400 years before them. We can see under capitalism people are motivated firstly out of starvation and then continually .. you can never have enough. But he is saying under capitalism suffereing is enivitable there will always be someone at the bottom. Where in Utopia you cannot fall and the bottom under capitalism will always be far lower that under Utopia cos it's so inherently inefficient and wasteful. OK then why does it not seem to work in practice. Why are the communist countries not the richest and happiest ?
Plenty : In Utopia at the market - bring what you produce, take what you need - no money paid .. people don't take too much cos - no fear of need -nor need to show off , OK I can believe this for clothes, but take something like books CDs etc Everyone will say they want one whether they really read it or not ... need someway to control demand cos supply cannot be limitless ..surely
He says Utopia is super strong and super stable cos their is no ambition or factionalism in society, but surely this also means there is no motivation to find more efficient ways and no competition to test new theories. He claims the absence of money removes a vast amount of problems such as the need for many laws, but surely a difficult is the amount of organisation need by government, whilst capitalism is a largely self-organising system.

The idyllic Utopian society is one of plenty, where people only work 6 hours a day and spend their leisure time reading and improving their minds. It is of course strange that the nearest real system to the fictional Utopia must have been The Communist Soviet Union a society that we would regard as particularly unsucessful. Why wasn't it more like the idyllic Utopia ? It had equality, no property, largely no money, slavery for punishment (well Siberia was slave labour), high levels of education, it didn't have a large wasteful church. It of course had a lot of waste cos of mammoth defence spending (but actually defence spending under capitalism and communism shouldn't be any different) , inequality between party members and non-members (are human being naturally too selfish), alcoholism (vodka) .

criticism : The idea of a perfect society sounds too good to be true and More must have been aware of this he even qualifies the story at the end saying "many of the ways seem absurd". As you read the text there are a number of times when you think "that just wouldn't work", e.g. if the Utopians gladly give away their surplus, then surely they always have to live in subsistance in order to feed the rest of the world. Surely other nations would just stay in bed and let the Utopians provide ?
- if there is no property what if you wwant a bigger workshop ?
- you have no incentive to maintain your property if you house swap
- Surely Utopia is not a free society iit is a totalitarian state; everyone must confrom. Imagine if one guy said in my spare time I am going to do/make things e.g. Do magic tricks. He could say "I'll show you this trick if you give me a shoulder massage". Look how demand can never be satisfied create more products and you create more demand. Before you know it 500 people have done the same thing and instead of trading favours, they start using money.

Why doesn't it work in Practice : His main point is that capitalism generates rich people, and cos they are rich others don't have their fair share and can be very poor. Could it be in practice that Capitalism the overall wealth is just so much more huge that there is enough for the rich to be rich and the poor to have quite a reasonable level. (like in the UK there is no real prospect of people starving)
My experience tells me we can't say that Capitalism is better than communism, sure West Germany was much richer than East Germany, but the standards of living in most capitalist West African countries are lower than East Germany's. So communism can be better than the worst of capitalism.

Usually communist countries had no surplus to give away. why not . Could it be that competition under capitalism, and economies of trade makes things more productive. Does greed and money provide a kind of grease that causes new ideas and technology to flow thro the system more quickly ?

Thoreau also dismisses capitalism and the very foundations of our society, but even though he was writing also before state communism had been tried out he concludes individualism is better than communism cos cooperation doesn't work in practice (p76) see my notes on his book Walden

Capitalists proved right : It's a pity that after More put so much thought and work into expressing the ideas, it appears that those people who said that there is no need to change from the capitalist system and didn't want to put the effort into thinking about alternatives appear to be have proved right, but I sincerely like More and Thoreau believe that there are major problems in our traditional capitalist way of life and that in due course we will adopt a much fairer and efficient way of life so that today will seem like the Stone Age. see My Future Culture Page, see notes about Walden by Henry David Thoreau, a book written in a similar vein 350 years after Utopia.

LINKS : Back to the Utopia 1. Book Review and Summary
Online text US , UK from The Project Gutenberg .. US Study notes very good summary .. Awerty.com Notes good summary
The Republic - Plato 421 B.C.

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