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.
St. Augustine's famous De Civitate Dei (City of God, 413–26) is frequently cited as a source for Utopia. It was, of course, well known to More. He had delivered a series of lectures on the work, as has been mentioned. The basic plan of Augustine's book is different from the Republic, although Augustine was a devoted admirer of Plato. By the same token, More's work differs in basic concept from Augustine's, though inevitably echoes of Augustine are to be found in More.
The only ancient authors other than Plato who have been mentioned as possibly influencing or suggesting comparison with More are Lycurgus, Cicero, and St. Augustine. Lycurgus is reputed to have dictated a body of laws for ancient Sparta, the best account of which is found in Plutarch. It declared equal possession among the "citizens" — that is, the upper-class members of the community. The "helots," who were in the vast majority, were virtually on the level of slaves. Instead of gold and silver for coins, iron was used. All luxuries were banned, and both men and women were disciplined to endure hardships and were motivated to sacrifice everything for the welfare of the state.
The robed figure wears a trailing magical scarf which allows the player to briefly fly; doing so uses up the scarf's magical charge, represented visually by glowing runes on the scarf. The scarf's runes are recharged by walking, or a variety of other means. Touching glowing symbols scattered throughout the levels lengthens the initially vestigial scarf, allowing the player to remain airborne longer. Larger strips of cloth are present in the levels and can be transformed from a stiff, dull gray to vibrant red by singing near them. Doing so may have effects on the world such as releasing bits of cloth, forming bridges, or levitating the player. This, in turn, allows the player to progress in the level by opening doors or allowing them to reach previously inaccessible areas. The robed figure does not have visible arms to manipulate the game world directly. Along the way, the player encounters flying creatures made of cloth, some of which help the player along. In later levels, the player also encounters hostile creatures made of stone, which upon spotting the player rip off parts of the figure's scarf.
The new Boston of 2000, Julian West discovers, is a city of beauty and grace, with many splendid public buildings, reflecting an undreamed of prosperity; but, more important, it is populated by people who are remarkably healthy and happy. The basic reason for these conditions is that equality has been attained throughout the population. There are no more rich, no more poor.
“ [A] permanent possibility of selfishness arises from the mere fact of having a self, and not from any accidents of education or ill-treatment. And the weakness of all Utopias is this, that they take the greatest difficulty of man and assume it to be overcome, and then give an elaborate account of the overcoming of the smaller ones. They first assume that no man will want more than his share, and then are very ingenious in explaining whether his share will be delivered by motor-car or balloon. ”
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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.
Cicero's De republica (54–52 B.C.) is largely indebted to Plato, not only to the Republic but also to several other Platonic dialogues. Cicero discusses the attributes of various types of government — monarchy, aristocracy, democracy, and dictatorship — but without committing himself to a preference. One point, however, is clear. His concept of an ideal state is one based on reason and justice, where those who possess natural superiority rule over the inferiors.
Thomas More lived from 1477 to 1535. He was convicted of treason and beheaded in 1535 for refusing to accept King Henry VIII as head of the Church of England. Utopia, written in Latin, was published in 1516. It was translated to English by Ralph Robinson in 1551. The translation by Clarence Miller was published by Yale University Press in 2001. [This review is based on the Miller translation.]
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One of the most eccentric features of Erewhonian life is the interpretation of crime and punishment. Illness is treated as a crime. Sentences of varying degrees of severity are pronounced according to the nature and seriousness of the disease. There are no physicians in the country. Those actions which Europeans consider criminal — theft, fraud, embezzlement — are regarded as weaknesses of character deserving sympathy and help, help which is provided through the ministrations of "straighteners."
Each city has not more than 6000 households, each family consisting of between 10 and 16 adults. Thirty households are grouped together and elect a Syphograntus (whom More says is now called a phylarchus). Every ten Syphogranti have an elected Traniborus (more recently called a protophylarchus) ruling over them. The 200 Syphogranti of a city elect a Prince in a secret ballot. The Prince stays for life unless he is deposed or removed for suspicion of tyranny.
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.
Excellent read and great translation for the modern reader. Retranslated from the original Latin, with the Greek translated further into English (i.e. River Nowater), the satire and biting commentary of More comes alive for the modern reader who likely lacks the Greek or Latin language skills of the educated classs of the 16th Century. This translation makes Utopia eminently readable. This edition also includes an extensive commentary and glossary for the reader new to the work.