In an imaginary world, there are perfect places that seem to exist but cannot be found in the real world. Thomas Moore in his book describes this fantasy as Utopia where, he imagines of a community that is self-contained and complex, set up on an island where people share a common cultural way of life. The word originated from Greek phrase ou-topos to mean nowhere, and EU-topos to mean a perfect place. Thus in his description, he talks about an imaginary area that does not seem to exist. In his description of Utopia, Moore refers to a society that projects serial ways of better lives and also satirical in the sense that it gives him the platform to analyze the chaos experienced in the European community.
His book and the idea of Utopia came up during his business trip where he had a discussion with his two friends Giles and Hythloday on whether it is possible for politics to be influenced by philosophy or not. While Moore and Giles were in agreement that it is possible, Hythloday maintained that philosophy and politics were entirely irreconcilable. This led him to talk of Utopia as the best place by describing it characteristically right from its geographical location to religion, politics, war, government, wealth, education, property ownership among many others. This work will, therefore, be a description of a Utopian society as described by Thomas Moore.
In his story, he talks of Utopia as a country where people are engaged and occupied lesser hours compared to other nations. In this, everyone is engaged in doing farming, and they join in doing it willingly. The interest of the people does not lie in fashion, luxury, gold or any other form of wealth accumulation and that greed is unknown to them (Moore, 2009). The theories of farming are acquired from schools and the practical part experienced in their respective fields. Apart from agriculture, both men and women have their specific occupations with the most common trades being masonry, weaving carpentry and spinning. Women were considered to be less reliable than men and therefore, were engaged in trading since it involves less force.
The young boys learned most of their respective duties from their fathers and where someone showed particular interest in other fields, and then arrangements were made for them to pursue their career of choice. Contrary to the European societies the people employed in Utopia work only six hours a day and are not forced to work extra hours. This gives them the chance to spend the rest of the times doing leisure things as well as engaging in other intellectual pursuits. From the definition of the term, it is possible to have an existing society that allows people to work freely and lesser hours, however only in the imaginary world. He disagrees that this can be found in the real world when he looks at the leadership of the European countries where employees and workers are oppressed and made to toil day and night for the benefit of other individuals.
Moore describes the people within Utopia as individuals with no interest in expanding their territories as well as making no alliances with other countries. According to him, they are pacifists and will engage in an armed conflict where necessary. They are determined to achieve even if through the employment of mercenary who will do the actual fight to defeat their enemy(Moore, 2009, p.134). This explains a society that is ready to hire individuals from outside its city to fight on their behalf. Their value is not based on the title of glory, but rather the peace maintained within its people. In his utopian view of societal politics, it is only the capacity to reason that separates men from animals and thus using cunning tricks to save lives of people are considered as acts of a man than love for battle glory.
In his work, he views Utopian society as one ready to follow the inclination of its war through the distribution of propaganda as well as the use of money in hiring and the slow dissension of their enemy. He places a balance of trade through his writing without which how utopians approach war seems impossible. A close analysis of this will reveal the irony behind what is expected of a typical society especially in the European countries where conflicts and war were regularly experienced for various reasons. Besides, maintaining the superpower title was something that was considered relevant by several nations that engaged in battles contrary to the utopian country. In the description of the Utopia as the perfect place or society bearing characteristics that do not seem to exist in the real world Thomas Moore also describes its slavery state whereby he says that slaves are not bought. These are people who commit crimes within the utopian society, or those saved from death condemnations in their countries by people from utopia and also those captured during the battles (Moore, 2009, p.120).
The way in which slaves are treated in this society according to more cannot be compared to that of European slaves where they are made to work day and night for their masters. This is because of the different forms of government where, in utopia, it is formed through the election of delegates to represent diverse communities. The slaves in this Moore’s world of imagination especially the sick are treated with utmost care and that those whose illnesses got worse were advised by the government and religious leaders to accept that they can no longer fulfill their life duties. Also, they are encouraged to start placing their hopes in the afterlife and allow themselves to die. Those in agreement were let to rest during sleep, and those who disagreed were given special treatments and tender care. In the real world people especially the religious leaders are expected to be at the forefront in praying for the sick and giving them hope.
This is however not the case when we get to Utopia. With one of the interpretations of Moore’s idea of utopia being a critique of the European societies, this can indeed be seen as a fantasy where slaves will receive such kind of treatment, unless in the world of imagination. On ownership of property, Moore disagrees with the idea of Hythloday that, prosperity can be achieved only when the concept of private ownership is abolished and that of communal established. He says in his proposal that, a private property makes the majority of the people more wretched to the few individuals, and also it places the few at ease for fear of dissatisfied individuals. In his argument, he refers to Plato who called for the property as the only basis for the ideal city in republican. Moore instead argues that any society that has communal property will not prosper (Moore, 2009, p.73). This is because people will lack the incentives to work because they will depend upon the labor of other individuals.
In his work, he states that failure to have a private property will automatically eliminate the respect for authority, a loss that will increase conflict and bloodshed. The two arguments are base on the fact that one individual narrates from personal experience and the other person from imaginations. Moore thus disagrees with the fact that a society can prosper without having a section of individuals on the higher scale of economy and others on the lower side. According to his imagination, it is impossible to have a good society with people living harmoniously with each other, and without facing challenges.
In conclusion, the descriptions of Utopian society regarding the people’s way of life, government structure, their engagement in war, politics, state of slavery as well as communal or private ownership of property, can be termed as a direct irony of what an ideal society is expected. This brings up the justification of Thomas Moore’s idea that it is only an imaginary place that cannot be found in the real world.
Moore, Thomas. Utopia: On the Best State of a Republic and on the New Island of Utopia. The Floating Press, 2009.