There is another passage in Rabelais's Gargantua that is cited among the celebrated Renaissance descriptions of an idealized society; namely, the section called the "Abbeye of Thélème." The society portrayed is confined to a monastery that is regulated in an original and thoroughly unconventional manner. All of the members are happy because, being exempt from any kind of restrictions or regimentation, they are at liberty to pursue their inclinations and encouraged to develop their special talents to their full potential. Among the unconventional monastic features are: the absence of bells to regulate a schedule of activities, the wearing of attractive clothes of varied colors and styles, and — most unconventional — the integration of male and female initiates. Finally, the members of the community are free to leave it at will and also to marry. The whole idea, which at first strikes the reader as one of Rabelais's absurd jests, is discovered to express a fundamental feature of Rabelais's serious philosophy. What he is saying is that people are, by nature, good and, if given free scope and encouraged to live full lives, will develop into healthy and bright creatures, full of grace.
Sir Francis Bacon, New Atlantis. Although he never completed it, this utopian novel by one of the great philosophers of the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras is well worth reading. It was published posthumously in 1627 and outlines a perfect society, Bensalem (its name suggesting Jerusalem) founded on peace, enlightenment, and public spirit. Available in Three Early Modern Utopias Thomas More: Utopia / Francis Bacon: New Atlantis / Henry Neville: The Isle of Pines (Oxford World’s Classics) along with More’s Utopia and another early utopian novel, Henry Neville’s The Isle of Pines.
Samuel Butler, Erewhon. This hugely inventive 1872 satire by the author of the anti-Victorian novel The Way of All Flesh is perhaps more accurately described as ‘anti-utopian’, though it follows the utopian narrative structure. The fictional land of Erewhon – almost ‘nowhere’ backwards – is the setting for this novel. Among the things satirised by Butler in this book is the rise of the machines, which Butler argues will evolve at an ever-faster rate – along the lines of Darwinian evolution – until the machines eventually overtake humans.
The film depicts the life in the futuristic and idyllic utopian society where wealthy people live very comfortable lives. Carefree life of one of those citizens - Freder Fredersen, comes to an end when he discovers that below the residences of the wealthy is located an underground world of the poor who work their entire life on maintaining the machinery that makes the Utopian civilization on the ground functioning. He becomes involved in the attempt of the underground leaders to unite the two societies, bringing equality among two classes.
For students wishing to understand fully the extent of interest in the creation of imaginary commonwealths and fascination over accounts by mariners of remote regions, certain other works of fiction not precisely utopian ought to be examined. Examples are: Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Voltaire's Candide (especially the Eldorado episode), Samuel Johnson's Rasselas, Henry David Thoreau's Walden, Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Blithedale Romance, and Herman Melville's Typee.
The Millennium: A Comedy of the Year 2000 by Upton Sinclair. A novel in which capitalism finds its zenith with the construction of The Pleasure Palace. During the grand opening of this, an explosion kills everybody in the world except eleven of the people at the Pleasure Palace. The survivors struggle to rebuild their lives by creating a capitalistic society. After that fails, they create a successful utopian society "The Cooperative Commonwealth," and live happily forever after..
The history of utopian literature from the mid-seventeenth century to the present cannot be treated in detail here, since there are more than 50 works that ought to be included in such a study. A brief survey will have to suffice for present purposes. A few of the better known and more influential works will be analyzed briefly and classified according to the main directions of development of the theme.
The study of human society as foreseen by Bellamy is contrasted at every turn with the institutions, customs, and mores of the late nineteenth century. Actually, more than half of the space in the book is devoted to the analysis of Bellamy's own time, which is a scathing denunciation of that society, often in eloquent language. In William Morris's News from Nowhere (first published in serial form in 1890, then in book form in 1891), the author, well known for his involvement in the Pre-Raphaelite movement and for the establishment of the Kelmscott Press, offers his vision of a bright future for England. The narrator of the novel goes to bed in his home in a London suburb one night in 1890, but when he wakes he finds himself in strange surroundings. The people he meets talk about events that occurred in the year 2001 as though they were past history.
Utopians are tolerant of differing views on religion and "on no other subject are they more cautious about making rash pronouncements than on matters concerning religion." (122) However, they scorn unbelievers in any deity or afterlife, and "do not even include in the category of human beings" nor "count him as one of their citizens" if he "should sink so far below the dignity of human nature as to think that the soul dies with the body or that the world is ruled by mere chance and not by prudence." (119) "For who can doubt that someone who has nothing to fear but the law and no hope of anything beyond bodily existence would strive to evade the public laws of his country by secret chicanery or to break them by force in order to satisfy his own personal greed?" (119) "He is universally looked down on as a lazy and spineless character." (119) In fact, "a religious fear of the heavenly beings" is "the greatest and practically the only incitement to virtue." (127)
Demolition Man is a utopian, science fiction, an action film directed by Marco Brambilla, starring Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes. It follows the adventures of two late 20th century convicts (wrongfully sentenced ex-cop and a super criminal) who were transported to the futuristic dystopian society. There, they became involved in the power struggle between utopian evil ruler, guerilla anarchist group and the violent ambitions of the 20th-century crime lord.
In an essay "Of Cannibals," Montaigne gives an account of a primitive tribe of South American Indians; while treating their life style in toto, he pays special attention to their choice of leaders, their mode of warfare, and their treatment of captives. This work is a notable contribution to the vogue of fictionalized travel literature, which includes, in addition to More's Utopia, such works as Robinson Crusoe and Gulliver's Travels and a host of major and minor later documents. Montaigne's philosophical approach to his subject is revealed in his repeated pointing of contrasts between those simple Indians and "civilized" Europeans with their mechanical progress, their gunpowder, and their Christianity. In almost every instance, civilization comes off second best in matters of rational behavior and especially where man's humanity to man is concerned.
In the treatment of education, Campanella reveals himself as a seventeenth-century thinker, placing great emphasis on the study of the sciences, all of the sciences. He has a plan for spreading information on all branches of knowledge through pictures displayed throughout the city on walls and in corridors of public buildings — visual aids to education for persons of all ages. Their leaders believe that the advancement of scientific knowledge is the principal key to the betterment of the race. The report claims that those people have developed not only the telescope but also such modern inventions as power-propelled ships and flying machines.
Money has been outlawed, but a substitute means of transacting personal business has been devised. Every individual is given a monthly allowance in the form of a credit card, a kind of punch card, to record his expenditures. This method permits individuals to exercise judgment and taste in the way they like to live. Some will set a better table than others, some acquire a larger house, some will travel extensively, but everyone's allowance is the same.
Sir Thomas More was a Londoner from birth. He was born in 1478 in the last flowering of the late Middle Ages Roman Catholic world of that distant day. More was a brilliant student who studied at Oxford and at the law courts of Lincoln Inn. More rose high and became Lord Chancellor of England under Henry VIII. All was well with Sir Thomas as he served King and Country as lawyer, judge, diplomat, Steward of Oxford and Cambridge, pious Christian layperson and author. His book "Utopia" has become a deserved classic of satire.
Denis Diderot's Supplement to Bougainville's "Voyage" (1772) is a prime example of the eighteenth-century vogue of primitivism which was spurred by Rousseau's thesis of the "noble savage" and which generated such novels as St. Pierre's Paul and Virginia and Chateaubriand's Atala. Diderot's book makes a case for the simple, natural ways of a South Sea Island culture as reported by Bougainville, a French explorer. The central portion of the story presents an imaginary dialogue between a French chaplain and a native of Tahiti (Orou) in which a comparison is made between the customs and institutions of Europe and those of Tahiti. The way of life of the islanders is eloquently defended, and that of the Europeans discredited. According to the Tahitian, man's natural instincts, which are equated with the laws of nature, are interpreted as justifying complete freedom in sexual relations. Their observance of community property is defended as minimizing personal conflicts and legal entanglements and promoting a general concern for the welfare of the community as a whole.
There is, of course, nothing new in all of this program, nothing fantastic such as Huxley's "Hatchery and Conditioning Centre." The reader, while he cringes at the horror, keeps repeating to himself, "It can't happen here." Nevertheless, Orwell compels us to recognize not only Nazi devices but also certain telltale symptoms in our own social and political practices that cannot help but undermine our complacency.
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.
Christianopolis by the German Johann Valentin Andreae likewise resembles Utopia in many respects. It is presented as told by one who was shipwrecked on a distant island whose capital city was Christianopolis. The citizens there use no money or own no property; thus all are on an equal basis economically and socially. Houses, furniture, food, and clothing are provided by the state without any discrimination. Men are married at 24, women at 18. Children are under their parents' care until they are of school age. After that they are reared by the community. Housekeeping arrangements are adequate but somewhat spartan. Husbands share in cooking, washing dishes, and making clothes.
Equality for all mankind is not a realistic goal in Wells's view. That, he believes, would mean a loss of individuality, and individuality is an inherent requirement of human nature. Similarly, competition is necessary to a thriving society. Taking what he considers a practical position, he sees the new society as divided into four classes of persons which he calls poietic, kinetic, dull, and base. There is a leader caste, called Samurai, which is drawn primarily from the poietic group, though some from the kinetic class may qualify. Persons who volunteer for Samurai membership must meet stringent requirements, both physical and mental; and they must pledge to conform to the rules of the caste, which forbid eating meat, smoking, drinking, gambling, and participation in public sports or entertainments. The Samurai furnish the World State with its administrators, legislators, lawyers, doctors, and other leaders. Furthermore, they are the only voters in the commonwealth. The male members of the Samurai are encouraged to marry women of comparable qualifications, and they are encouraged to produce children with the aim of improving the quality of the population. The lower classes of citizens, the dull witted, the criminals, and the deformed are exiled from society and prevented from childbearing.