It is a fundamental disposition of humankind to concoct imaginary Utopias, although their names for such places may differ. The word utopia, which has become the familiar designation for such states, was More's creation. It is inevitable that people, recognizing the manifold stupidities, corruptions, and inequities current in their society, should attempt to devise a better system for people living together. Omar Khayyam voiced the attitude admirably in The Rubaiyat.
The history of utopian literature is extensive, even if we take the term in the strict sense of a detailed description of a nation or commonwealth ordered according to a system which the author proposes as a better way of life than any known to exist, a system that could be instituted if the present one could be cancelled and people could start over. Before More's 1516 Utopia, the number of elaborately designed utopian commonwealths is small. Most of the writings along these lines are brief and many are misty, nostalgic, backward glances at an imagined primitive life in the "Golden Age." There is, of course, no lack of earlier literature criticizing the status quo. The great outpouring of utopian literature, however, came after More; and it cannot be doubted that his work gave great impetus to the movement.
Plato, Republic. In a sense, the utopian genre might be said to begin with Plato’s Republic, in which he sets out his ideal society (famously, no poets were allowed). The Republic sees Socrates debating with a number of other people about the nature of justice and the ideal city-state. The book also discusses various possible forms of government, discussing the advantages and disadvantages of each.
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In the decades immediately preceding Luther's break from the church of Rome, many devout Catholics were vocal in their criticism of practices authorized by the church as well as by the shameful conduct among the clergy. Eventually the critics broke into two groups. Luther and the other leaders of the Reformation, despairing of remodeling the established church with its ingrained fallacies, severed their connections with Rome and declared a new authority. Another party of critics strove for reform within the established church toward which they maintained an absolute loyalty despite its manifest faults. Among them, one of the most articulate and effective writers was Erasmus, More's close friend; and in the same camp, though not expressing his views so vociferously, was More also, whose aspirations toward a more truly Christian way of life are revealed through his plan of Utopia.
(Ho Chi Minh City) Vietnam is known for its lush, emerald green mountains, outstanding cuisine, and welcoming citizens. Here you can explore the Cu Chi Tunnels where Viet Cong soldiers lived and fought, travel by boat through the Mekong Delta, sample world-class pho, or bike through small villages. Students often enjoy a three-day trip to Cambodia from Vietnam to interact with an NGO that educates and trains disadvantaged locals in rural areas for employment in the hospitality industry.
The utopian spirit as we have been discussing it, is revealed through the written words of men who were critical of the world they lived in and dreamers of a better world. What we cannot forget is that there have been many instances of groups of people who believed strongly enough in the possibility of improving their lot to attempt the founding of new communities planned according to their ideal principles. Invariably such an undertaking has required a move from the "old country" that they found intolerable to a new, open territory. For this reason, America of the nineteenth century furnished admirable opportunities, and there were scores of such group settlements throughout the United States and Canada, large and small, successful and abortive. Some of these communities have endured through a good many generations, particularly those with a pronounced strain of pietism: the Mennonites, Amish, and Dunkards.
The name Raphael, though, may have been chosen by More to remind his readers of the archangel Raphael who is mentioned in the Book of Tobit (3:17; 5:4, 16; 6:11, 14, 16, 18; also in chs. 7, 8, 9, 11, 12). In that book the angel guides Tobias and later cures his father of his blindness. While Hythlodaeus may suggest his words are not to be trusted, Raphael meaning (in Hebrew) "God has healed" suggests that Raphael may be opening the eyes of the reader to what is true. The suggestion that More may have agreed with the views of Raphael is given weight by the way he dressed; with "his cloak... hanging carelessly about him"; a style which Roger Ascham reports that More himself was wont to adopt. Furthermore, more recent criticism has questioned the reliability of both Gile's annotations and the character of "More" in the text itself. Claims that the book only subverts Utopia and Hythlodaeus are possibly oversimplistic.