The Utopia Worked by Ideal Human Beings
Making utopia is not an easy task. It is creating entire whole world that does not exist in real. It needs a lot of imagination and thoughts. So, in this extent, Thomas More`s Utopia is distinguished among other works of utopia not only because it is the first creation of utopia but also it provides amazingly high level of details. In this book, the author provides ideal society with underlying moral philosophy and physical institutions. So, reviewing Utopian`s details of ideal society will be meaningful and helpful to construct our future utopia based on current perspective.
2. Geography and Population
The geographical features are very deliberately described in More`s Utopia. Utopia was initially connected with continent but the conquer Utopus, the founder of Utopia, cut the road toward continent to keep Utopia from other nation`s invasion, inadequate customs and traditions. In addition, the surrounding channel of the island is very dangerous because there are many hidden rocks under the water. This makes their enemy hard to navigate when they invade the island. The shape of the island is like moon and its width is about two hundred miles. Utopians enjoy calm sea weather because the island is located in the middle of surrounded land, which protects it from wind. From these factors, it is possible to say that the author described the details of geography that fits into the author`s utopian conditions because Its shape of the land and the location of the cities are set for the optimum governance in advance.
Utopians control population in each city and entire nation. They limit number of household in each a city up to six thousand. Each a household has about ten to twelve adults in it. If a city has too many people, they move the extra people to other cities experiencing shortage in population. For a rare case, if entire island exceeds its population limits, they collect people from over populated region and send them to a colony in a mainland. If natives of new colony resist to live under Utopia`s law, they declare a war against them. Thus, in here, it is possible to know Utopia is a society developed by foreigners not by native of the land and Utopians are justifying themselves for colonizing other peoples land because they improve the world by that. For some extent, this tendency seems to be affected British imperialism of time Utopia was written.
3. Education, Production and Consumption
The education system of Utopia is distinctive from that of other countries. Its educational system is practical and easily adoptable to real field. Every people in Utopia get education. Their main purpose of education is finding proper job based on each individual`s aptitude. At the same time, Utopians care a fiar chance of education and work experience between urban and rural area. So, once a year, every twenty persons of urban area are sent to the rural area to learn farm work. They should stay in rural area at least two years and have to learn farm work from senior citizen who came a year earlier. After they finish their two year period, they move back to the city. Then, the other twenty urban persons fill the vacancy of rural area. Through this exchange of people, Utopia can make every people experience farm work which is relatively harder than urban work. If the citizen wants to live more in rural area, they are permitted to do so.
Agriculture is the most popular job since everyone experiences it at least once by exchanging residence. So, the all Utopians get a second job which is describes as a ‘trade’ in the book. The trade includes jobs such as wool working, linen-making, masonry, metal-work, or carpentry. Through these five jobs, Utopians produces what they need and consume them together. As they consume proper amounts of necessities, there is no scarcity of commodities in Utopia. They work only six hours a day but they do it very efficiently. So, they usually have production surplus and export them to neighbor countries. In Utopia, the only thing lack is iron. So, they imports iron by the money came from their export. When there is money left after trade, they keep it in foreign countries and let them use it until Utopian claims for it.
As well indicated above, Utopians does not give much care to money. As a matter of fact, there is no money in Utopia. This policy is closely related with Utopian`s moral philosophy. Utopians have been supposed to be educated to believe money is evil since their childhood. In Utopia, every commodity is produced and consumed together. If there is a shortage in certain region, they share the extra commodities with another neighbor. Thus there could not be any argument for necessities and Utopians do not feel any demand of money or luxuries, too. Luxuries are only for children who play with it and they give it away when grown up. Plus, Utopians makes necessities such as fork, knife and plate with gold and silver. Even slaves wear gold chains. By inserting such opposite notion into the bottom of the people`s consciousness, they maintain economic harmony and prosperity.
4. Governance and Legal System
Utopian`s governance system is similar with democratic society. Once a year, there is an election for choosing officials who represent each a group of thirty households from a town. These men are called syphogrant also known as phylarch. Then there is also an election for officials among the group of ten syphogrants once a year. They are called tranibor same as head phylarch. Then finally among the every group of two hundred syphogrants in the entire nation, they elect the governor. The work period of governor is entire life unless he is not suspected as a tyranny.
There is similar institution with modern congress too. Every other day, tranibor meets governor to consult with state matters and this meeting is called senate. In the senate chamber, every tranbor can bring two syphogrants to discuss public matters together. For the rules of Utopia, all public matters should be discussed for three times in senate chamber and the new issues just brought in a day should be dealt with next meeting to prevent sudden irrational decision.
The law of Utopia exists but it is simple and straightforward. Utopians think that law should be simple enough to remember easily and practice. There is no lawyer because every person in Utopia is law expert. That means there are few laws enough to remember. So every Utopians tell his excuses to the judge directly as if he said to lawyer during the trials. So to sum up the governance and legal system of Utopia, its structure is designed to supervise each other parties and in terms of law, it could be said the law is easily accessible and opened to everyone. This kind of system seems to be possible because Utopia is constructed based on simple moral values and humanity. Otherwise, it would need lots of laws as much as contemporary society.
5. Social Relations
The life of Utopians such as marriage, social status, and foreign relations will be dealt with in this section. In Utopia, men are not allowed to be married until twenty two and women are not allowed until eighteen. The interesting thing of their marriage ritual is that a man and a woman see each other`s naked body when they choose their marriage partner. They keep this customs because a divorce is not easy matter in Utopia so, each part of the marriage should be prudent for their future sexual pleasure. However ironically, the pre-marriage sexual intercourse is not allowed though it is the most credible way to check each party`s compatibility of sexual satisfaction.
Although Utopians set higher standard on humanity and morality, they have slave system as well as the other countries. However Utopia`s slavery system is little bit different from that of others. Slaves do relatively hard and dirty job such as slaughter or butcher that Utopians do not want to do. Slaves are treated almost equal as citizens unless they make serious problems. If there is a difference, they do trivial chores, dirty and dangerous jobs. Above all, the most distinctive point of Utopian slavery system from others is that slavery status is not inherited to sons or daughters of slave. The slavery is not inherited but it is acquired during a one`s lifetime. Therefore, most slaves in Utopia were formal criminals or foreigners who volunteered to be slave in Utopia. In addition, as the slave status is acquired by individual, there are also chances to be free. Those forgiveness highly depends on one`s reputation and its decision is made by vote of people in town.
Religion is very significant factors of life in human world. So, Utopians took considerable care to this issue and concluded that without religious principles and moral philosophy, the true happiness of life could not be found. (561) Their moral philosophy does not require superficial form of works. It pursues fundamental virtue of nature and this tendency is directly reflected to their social customs and consumption patterns which are very frugal and abstinent. So they let people believe whatever god they like and gave space to worship their god. They built small number of church but it is big enough to satisfy demands of Utopians. In the church, they pray for each different god people believe. They have also a priest, too. The priests teach children and young people. Their role is close to officials rather than representative of certain religion. They should be qualified for extra ordinary virtues so the number of priests in Utopia is very low.
Among the so many things that should be concerned for building harmonious Utopia, Thomas More provided almost every detailed aspect of human life in Utopia. He argued the injustice of private property and the pursuit of public interest which he calls commonwealth in his work. It is very harmonious and perfect world with less disputes and much happiness; although it seems less convincing and seems to be far from realization in physical world we are living in, because his core concept of Utopia is heavily relying on human morality. The world would be perfect if all the human beings are noble and considerate for the others as much as like people described in Utopia but it is the only ideal human archetype that we should follow to be like, not really what we are. However still, More`s Utopia has great significance and it is worth to keep thinking over and over, because we cannot deny any utopia human dreams cannot escape from ideals. Thus, it can be said Thomas More`s utopian thought gives insight to us for building more realistic and feasible utopian society.
More, Thomas. Utopia. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965.