Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Look at More’s Utopia

Thomas More’s Utopia work published in 1516 describes an imaginary place in some Atlantic Island in which the people live under some sort of ideal socialist structured regime. Such society is organized in a way that everything is arranged as uniformly and predictable as possible. Its residents are hard working and everyone produces for the common good of the whole community. All the goods and services produced are distributed evenly and fairly among its people. The land has no currency and its residents have no desire or the need to accumulate wealth.

In Utopia there is no crime, no robberies, no competition and everyone is a winner. They have at hand just about anything they need in order to have a decent life. They wear basically the same style clothes and their houses are constructed the same way. In Utopia there is no such a thing as privately owned property and everything belongs to the state. They share everything they produce and are happy with the system and the way it works. All activities there are monitored to ensure that every single resident is a contributor but also to ensure that people get their fair share of whatever they produce.

Utopia is portrayed as some sort of paradisiacal place or a heaven on earth. It is a society which everyone is happy because there are no social conflicts as one helps each other out. At first sight, this concept sounds like the kind of scenario many of us would envision ourselves in and a solution for the world problems. No corruption, no poverty, no crime, no hanger and a safe haven for the children who would grow without the influence of drugs or crime. I can also see why people would not be under stress in such lifestyle. All of that sounds fantastic and may falsely lead us to believe that it is a perfect scenario which would be beneficial to all people.

In a way I believe it is, however, that system also presents some imperfections which could pose a threat to mankind. It would basically make us alienated and locked inside a box. First of all, it inhibits imagination and creativity, as people would just accept the ordinary as normal and act mostly like robots in a production line. They would not have any motivation to grow and become outstanding in something. There would be no competition and people would not be tempted to try doing things differently because they would not have any advantages and the motivation for doing so.

I can imagine that the only factor which make Utopian resident happy and satisfied is the fact that they have never being in a position of making comparisons. This is all they have experienced in life and it works for them not just because this is a great system but because one becomes alienated and do not think that there is any other way of doing things.

I can see how such a scenario would fulfill some kind of higher purpose for certain individuals. That may be a place in which they would have the chance to detach themselves from the reality of this world and from the earthly influences and invest part of their time into some divine objective. I think of Utopia as being a very restricted religious community of some sort.

I do not think that the Utopia concept would be achievable by any means just because we operate differently as human beings. Some people are inevitably more productive than others and we work in different pace. Consequently results are going to be impacted.

Apparently there is no such a thing as conflict in Utopia. However that is one of the most important aspects of a free society. It has been that way from beginning of times and nothing will change that. In a free society like ours we encourage creativity. And that is the water divider between the rich and the poor. It makes us excel in the arts and incite us to solve problems in many different ways.

Paradoxically, as some humans develop themselves and build a higher life they naturally distance themselves from the least privileged ones. Such separation is inevitable but it compounds into a chain reaction of social problems. Despite of certain inconveniences of living in a free society I would not change for the idea of a perfect place such as Utopia. It sounds like an extremely boring place to be at even though it could present certain advantages.

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