Utopia has a more playful tone than one might think. While More's world is illustrating whatever point he is trying to get across, he is having fun engaging in creating his own world, as is demonstrated in the way he phrases "Then let me implore you, my dear Raphael,' said I, 'describe that island [Utopia] to us!"(Getty 323). He also says "When Raphael had finished his story, I was left thinking that quite a few of the laws and customs he had described as existing among the Utopians were really absurd." This demonstrates that he realizes his world is bizarre, and wants others to realize how out of place it was in their society. More is quite anxious to create his world, and pieces it together in great detail, taking pleasure in what makes world different from our own. However, he wants the reader to take his story seriously, which is why he bases it in reality, saying it is a part of the “New World.” This being the parts of America and its surrounding islands discovered by Amerigo Vespucci in 1497.
The extraordinary efficiency of the entire business structure is explained in part by superior management, as has been said, but also partly because they have eliminated several costly and time-consuming activities, freeing the citizens for more productive work. There is no army, no navy, no police force; there are no lawyers, bankers, or salesmen.
These statements occur near the end of Book 1, which began, after some preliminaries, with a conversation about the justice of the death penalty for theft. (In an endnote on page 145, Miller tells of a report from 1587 that "in the reign of Henry VIII alone 72,000 thieves and vagabonds were hanged.") Hythloday believes that theft is a necessary consequence of personal property. Unstated but evident is that he believes also that personal property is not only a sufficient condition for theft (which makes theft a necessary consequence of it), but also a necessary condition for theft (which makes theft contingent upon it). Removing personal property, then, removes the possibility of theft, he believes: with the unexamined assumption that you cannot steal what you already own in common with everyone else. But of course you can: you take it and keep it for yourself so no one else can use it, taking what belongs to everyone, and not sharing it with anyone. Only the coercion of others, through established law or otherwise, can alter this. But then you are back to the existence of theft and social restraints to admonish and respond to it.
The optimistic views which the author held regarding the inevitable progress of human society were somewhat undermined by the events of World War I, as is demonstrated in his later writings. He came to question whether or not scientific progress would always achieve social improvement. His warning of the possibility of developing mind control through blatant advertising and through drugs is prophetic.
Yet, the puzzle is that some of the practices and institutions of the Utopians, such as the ease of divorce, euthanasia and both married priests and female priests, seem to be polar opposites of More's beliefs and the teachings of the Catholic Church of which he was a devout member. Another often cited apparent contradiction is that of the religious tolerance of Utopia contrasted with his persecution of Protestants as Lord Chancellor. Similarly, the criticism of lawyers comes from a writer who, as Lord Chancellor, was arguably the most influential lawyer in England. It can be answered, however, that as a pagan society Utopians had the best ethics that could be reached through reason alone, or that More changed from his early life to his later when he was Lord Chancellor.[8]
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