Utopia By:Thomas More 1516 Type:NF Philosophy
80% : A remarkable book; a doctrine for a radical change in society to improve everyone's lives. The main thing is the foundation of our society is wrong; we need to get rid of the ideas of Money and Property
Review : Amazingly enlightened ideas, clearly presented but not so exciting to read.
Anti-capitalist ideas written 500 years ago. Wow ..Criticising the very fabric of established society 350 years before Henry David Thoreau (see notes) did, 400 years before Marx said "property is theft etc" but then he is supposed to have got his ideas from the Bible and Plato's Republic written 2500 years ago.
meaning : Capitalism sucks ! Get rid of money and we solve a whole lot of the world's problems. It doesn't have to be like this; the workers toiling and the rich leading lives of idle pleasure. In fact we can all work less and all be happier. BUT the Frustration You can't improve things. Only the people in power can change the system, to be part of the power you have to be a person who never expresses reform ideas. I am surprised he doesn't advocate revolution
synopsis : 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 Raphael talks of a visit to England. This enables More to point a few things wrong with England. He said in general the system has distorted ideals so the people suffer. It needs new enlightened ideas in governance , but the system is inherently resistant to new and better ideas.
Raphael explains their system of using capital punishment is wrong and doesn't work. More asks why he doesn't work in government. He replies they wouldn't listen cos his ideas attack the very foundation they are based on. 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.

Book 2 (obviously drawing from Plato's "Republic,") - Raphael tells of his visit to Utopia a communist society without money or property. He describes the society in great detail and through this is able to put forward a large number of alternative ideas. Overall it's seems to be a perfect way of life for mankind. It is much more efficient than capitalism at the same time being completely fair and equal. In this ideal land people only work 6 hours a day, and spend much of their leisure time reading and improving their minds.
More himself says some of the ideas of Utopia seem bizarre, but he would welcome many of them. I guess in this way he is able to put forward a number of ideas whilst not openly admitting to support them.
See also 2. Summary and Full Analysis

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 seems to be saying "you guys are all wrong. You have twisted the Christian religion to fit your evil capitalist society where the average worker suffers a life of poverty. Jesus was a communist, communism is the way to go. Get rid of Money, Property and Pride and we'll solve most of the world's problems straight away."
"but Ugh ! the frustration I can desperately see the need for change, but I can't do anything about it. "

Though not difficult to read : there are a large number of ideas and cos of the political climate at the time a few of them are expressed in a non direct way; so it took me two weeks to do a full analysis .. See also Detailed Conclusions

Thoreau also dismisses capitalism and the very foundations of our society, but he concludes individualism is better than communism cos cooperation doesn't work in practice (p76) see my notes on his book Walden

LINKS :Online text US , UK from The Project Gutenberg .. US Study notes very good summary .. Awerty.com Notes good summary .. see also The Republic - Plato 421 B.C.

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