Critical Assessment Of Thomas More’s Utopia
Utopia in philosophy is an idea of an ideal country in which people can be equal and live happily. Thomas More’s Utopia was published in 1516. Its full name: ‘The Golden Book, as useful as funny, about the best state system and the new island of Utopia.’ Unlike some ancient utopias, for example, the state of Plato, focusing on social consumption and proclaiming a commonality of consumption, T. More attached primary importance to the search for a fair system of organization of production. The political system of Utopia is imbued with the principles of democracy and is based on the election of all officials. Utopia is a republic governed by elected officials, whom their subjects call ‘fathers”. The main concern of the state is the organization of production and distribution. Along with this, it fights crime, protects the country from aggression and pursues a foreign policy whose goal is to ensure peace. However, this does not prevent the Utopians from providing armed assistance to their friends in the name of protecting justice. All the main ideas of Utopia in one way or another relate to two topics: criticism of the contemporary author of European society and a description of the ideal state on the island of Utopia. This basically corresponds to the division of the entire work into two books.
The main ideas of Utopia:
1. Criticism of feudal and early capitalist society.
Pestilence exposes the parasitism of the aristocracy, clergy, army of servants, hired troops and the unbridled desire of the upper classes for luxury. So, for example, Mor writes ‘With the repeated and careful contemplation of all the currently prosperous states, I can swear an oath that they appear to be nothing more than a conspiracy of the rich, who advocate under the name and sign of the state about their personal benefits.’ Comparing the lack of worries about workers in European countries with Utopia, we can say that the basis of the economy is universal labor service. First of all, it is necessary for everyone to work out a certain period in agriculture: ‘all men and women have one common occupation – agriculture, from which no one has been spared.’ Moreover, the system of labor organization as a universal labor service pursues ‘only one goal: to the extent that social needs allow, to save all citizens from bodily slavery and to give them as much time as possible for spiritual freedom and enlightenment. For this is the happiness of life.’ Being a utopian , Mor believed that the abundance of material wealth could be achieved by the destruction of social parasitism and the system of universal labor service. However, the low level of technology on which the entire economic life of Utopia was based (where manual labor prevailed) would not fully satisfy the needs of even such an “ideal society”, which Thomas dreamed about.
He sees the solution to the problem of crime in the abolition of social contrasts, caring for workers, protecting their land holdings, providing landless jobs, etc. Moore puts forward new ideas that punishment should be re-educated, not frightened; on the proportionality of crime and punishment; on the replacement of the death penalty with forced labor. Mop sharply criticizes the feudal rulers, who see their calling in conquest, and not in public improvement. Moore sees the root of social injustice in private ownership.
2. The ideal social and political system.
On the island of Utopia there is no private property, money circulation, complete equality reigns. The basis of society is a family and work team. Work is obligatory for everyone. All citizens master a craft and take turns in agricultural work, moving to the countryside for two years. In order not to contribute to the development of possessive instincts, families regularly exchange houses. Collectivism is also brought up by the joint meals of citizens. However, the backwardness of the technical base forces Mora to make some compromise with the principle of equality. To perform unpleasant work, Utopians resort to slave labor. True, the number of slaves is not numerous. For example, during public meals, all the dirtiest and laborious work is performed by slaves. Slaves become prisoners of war, citizens of Utopia, convicted of crimes, because the death penalty is prohibited on the island. As a sign of their position, they cut one ear. It mentioned in the book by the phrase “Not so much punished with shackles as encouraged by blows”. Slaves are engaged in such types of labor as slaughtering and flaying livestock, repairing roads, cleaning ditches, cutting trees, transporting firewood, etc. But along with them, some free labor people do the same task.
To sum it up, Utopia is not a work of government or political economy. This is a comparison of the lives of people of European countries with the ideal on the island of Utopia, a living idea of life. After all, it even describes the clothes of residents, their activities and entertainment, the view of cities and temples. Thanks to this, it becomes clear to us what features of this life More wants to highlight the main ideas of his book.
- Томас Мор ‘Утопия’ – основные идеи. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://rushist.com/index.php/literary-articles/2624-tomas-mor-utopiya-osnovnye-idei.
- Утопия и утопизм в философии: что это и его определение. (2018, October 16). Retrieved from https://mystroimmir.ru/filosofiya/utopiya.html.
- More, T., Shabreka, Morgan, Shabreka, Varsha, Varsha, … Arielle. (n.d.). Utopia Introduction Summary and Analysis. Retrieved from https://www.gradesaver.com/utopia/study-guide/summary-introduction.
⚠️ Remember: This essay was written and uploaded by an average student. It does not reflect the quality of papers completed by our expert essay writers. To get a custom and plagiarism-free essay click here.