H. G. Wells’ book, A Modern Utopia was published in 1905. This book seems to be unique for two reasons. As Wells tells us, it is told from the point of view of "a whitish plump man" that he calls the "Voice" (1). This allows the book to be what Wells calls, "a sort of shot-silk texture between philosophical discussion on the one hand and imaginative narrative on the other" because the Utopia that we visit in the story is the one inside the mind of the "Voice" or the narrator (ix). He (the Voice) is talking to a friend, a botanist that continues with him on his journeys, about utopian thought when suddenly these two men have been transported past Sirius to Utopia, the Voice’s ideal planet that is exactly the mirror of Earth, from geology to each individual person. Sometimes the narrator describes what is actually going on around them, what they are actually doing in Utopia, but more often he talks about what he thinks Utopia should be like, and the reader must interpret this as how this Utopia is, since this Utopia itself is in his imagination.
The plot is this: the two men find themselves on this new planet by a feat of imagination. They find a coin on the ground, which pays for the inn at which they stay for a few nights. They speak to a man who dislikes the government and prefers Nature and simplicity. Because they are running out of money, the two men go to the Public Office to try and find work, where they are fingerprinted. The fingerprints surprisingly identify an existing citizen of Utopia, the record of the men’s duplicate. Because of the confusion, the men are shipped to a toy-carving factory in Lucerne, where, because the authorities figure out that they have doubles...
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...es not appear in any utopian visions of the ancients, and thus marks this world different from those of antiquity.
This brings up an interesting question; since this world is based on capitalism, is it attainable from our present capitalist society? Why or Why not? Is it possible to have a capitalist utopia?
The Voice’s double argues that wealth is not power. Is this true? Could it be true under different circumstances?
This Utopia is also a global, World State. Is this feasible? Is this necessary?
This Utopia proclaims itself imperfect. Is this an oxymoron? Is a society that admits room for improvement a Utopia?
The ruling class of this Utopia, the Samurai, is a voluntary ruling class. What problems would this involve? What problems would it solve?
Wells, H. G. A Modern Utopia. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1967.
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