Utopia (published in 1516) attempts to offer a practical response to the crises of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries by carefully defining an ideal republic. Utopia focuses on politics and social organization in stark detail. The books begin a conversation between Thomas More and Raphael (Hebrew for 'God has healed '). Raphael is a traveler who has seen much of the world yet is impressed by little of it. Even monsters are hardly worthy of concern. After all, "There is never any shortage of horrible creatures who prey on human beings, snatch away their food, or devour whole populations; but examples of wise social planning are not so easy to find.” (p.40)
Before long, it becomes clear that Raphael offers shrewd analysis of various communities around the globe - and that he finds most of them to be faulty in some way. Even Tudor England offers little in the form of civilization. Raphael illustrates this rebuke by noting that thieves in English society are executed when, instead, they should be pitied and helped. The seizure of land by oligarchs, the maintenance of a wasteful standing army, the practice of gambling and gratuitous ornamentation - all of these social ills lead to a sick society, according to Raphael. Moreover, these ills produce a subjugated people: "you create thieves, and then punish them for stealing.” (p.49)
Of course, Raphael remains an outsider to civilization - despite his wisdom. When More asks if he might serve as counselor to some king, Raphael responds that no king or court would tolerate a counselor who might challenge their strongly (and wrongly) held assumptions. More responds that social reform is a pleasant ideal, but that conservatism is more appro...
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...the control of their oldest male relative" (p. 79). This patriarchy manifests itself in utopian religion where women must admit their sins to their husbands even before attending church. More 's Utopian family represents the state at its smallest level in the individual lives of its citizens. This principal represents the author’s view of governments and monarchies at his time. His beliefs went far beyond his fears.
Utopia, like all fanciful works about public life, is really about the contemporary times of its author. In this way, Utopia is a sort - an ideal community that exists just slightly beyond the world of Thomas More and contemporary readers. This community exists through the communal longing of its readers to create it. Their artifacts - books, speeches, drawings, and the like - allow us to pass from the real to the ideal, even if just for a moment.
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