Utopia, Eden, or Heaven: Unrealistic Ideal Perfection. The USA? Really?
Do we ALL view Utopia the same way?
A garden of Eden
Could we have a garden of Eden here on Earth?
It is possible, but the obstacles to overcome are totally self serving for only a few who decide our fates every day.
a place of ideal perfection, especially in laws, government and social conditions. An impractical scheme for social improvement. (these are excerpts from "The People's Almanac" series of books).
LEADING UTOPIAN THEORIES IN HISTORY #1:
The Republic: created by Plato (circa 370 BC). He was 23 years old when the war between Sparta and Athens ended, leaving Athens in a state of political and economic depletion. This proposed theoretical Utopian society was created for communities of around 5,000 people each.
Political structure: A meritocracy ( a system where the talented are chosen and promoted on the basis of their achievements; leadership is selected on the basis of intellectual criteria). [obviously totally opposite of ours today]
1. Guardians, or rulers: Chosen on the basis of good stock, physique, mind and education. Their justification for 'ruling' is based on the theory (falsehood of course) that God put gold in them, while he put silver in the auxiliaries and iron and copper into the workers..Main virtue is wisdom.
2. Auxiliaries (warriors): Young guardians not yet ready to rule, and others of the guardian class who have a violent, rather than philosophical nature.Main virtue is valor.
3. Workers: Farmers and artisans.
4. Slaves: [no mention as to where the slaves would come from].
Property and distribution of Goods:
1. Guardians and auxiliaries share houses, meals and various goods. Each receives a fixed annual stipend that provides for no luxuries. They are not allowed to possess or even be around gold or silver.
2. The workers (farmers/artisans) are left to work things out for themselves, and find their own legislation as required.
Production: Economy based on agriculture and artisanship. Manual labor is thought of as 'narrowing' and mechanical arts as 'servile'.
Family/Marriage/Sex: A community of spouses and children for the guardians and auxiliaries. No one is to know his own child, nor any child his parents. Only the "best" of both sexes are brought together to have children. If the "worst" have children they are to be put out of sight in secrecy and mystery. There are certain age limits for child bearing, and if children are born other than the prime time period, they are disposed of. *Love takes place between men, but in a temperate manner so that a lover may kiss or embrace his beloved (only as if toward a son), but must "never be overtly suspect of going beyond this". *[notably even before the bible was created homosexuality was fashionable but not in public - but then heterosexual 'display' was also not allowed].
Place for Women: In the guardian class. Men and women share in the same education, in child care, in guardianship of other citizens, and in war. [i don't think they had a 'don't ask - don't tell policy in those days either].
Education and Culture: Children are brought up in a state nursery. They are taken to war as observers to "have their taste of blood, like puppies". As they grow up they learn gymnastics, military training, music, the intellectual and aesthetic disciplines, and finally the mathematical sciences and dialectic (the power of seeing things as a whole). [unfortunately this is lacking in today's society]. At age 35 the best are selected to command at war and in the practical activities of life. At the age of 50 they become full fledged rulers. The arts must conform to ethical standards. Music and poetry are especially subversive and must conform to special "aesthetic rules" that portray only "the image of good". [something that is sorely lacking today].
Leading Utopian theories in history: #2
Name of Utopia: "Utopia" (derived from the Greek word meaning "nowhere". Created by Sir Thomas More (1478-1535). Based on cities of approximately 100,000 inhabitants in each, with uniform and contiguous houses forming a square - 2 miles to a side. Each house with a garden in back and each block competing in the fruitfulness and beauty of their gardens.
Political and Social Structure: Based on family units. Each year every 30 families elect a magistrate called a Syphogrant. Over every 10 Syphogrants is a Tranibor. All 200 Syphogrants elect a Prince of the city from a list of 4 candidates named by the people. This city wide council is elected every year.
Property and Distribution of Goods: There is an integration of agriculture and industry. Everyone does agricultural work for 2 years. Each Farmstead (outside the city limits) is composed of 40 people. Everyone learns a trade which is passed down within the family. The work day is 6 hours long.
Family/Marriage/Sex: Each household is an industrial as well as domestic unit consisting of 10 - 16 members, ruled by a master and a mistress. Great respect and obedience is accorded to older members . [too bad this tradition has not been handed down to our present society] A bride and groom may see each other naked before marriage so neither is saddled with a 'deformed' partner. But, pre-marital sex is a punishable offense [no specification as to what that punishment might be].
Place for Women: Women serve meals. Husbands may chastise their wives. [no reasons that might warrant this chastising is noted]. Women are not barred from priesthood. [simple but effective rules - i suppose that if women had been kept in their proper place in our current society we would not be in this major job deficit today]. (a little humor injected here). L.O.L.
Education and Culture: The crowning pleasure is considered to be the cultivation of the mind. [our society should have adopted this concept]. A general belief in God, but tolerance for all creeds. [now there is a unique concept].
Crime and punishment: It is a serious crime to travel without a passport from the Prince. [no other types of crimes are mentioned]. [noteworthy observation from the past: when all people are treated equal there is little or no need for criminal activity or the massive building of prisons as there is today].
Utopia Theories - Summary and Conclusion.
The following are the remaining theories that you can read in detail, if you so desire, by visiting: Trivia-Library.com. (link provided below)
- "Abbey of Theleme". Created by Francois Rabelais. (1494 - 1553).
- "Christianopolis". Created by Johann Valentin Andrea (1586 - 1654).
- "The Commonwealth. Created by Gerrard Winstanley (1609 - 1652).
- "Harmony". Created by Charles Fourier ( 1772 - 1837).
- "Icaria". Created by Etienne Cabet (1788 - 1837).
- "Nowhere England". Created by William Morris (1834 - 1896).
- "United States of America in 2000". Created by Edward Bellamy (1850 -1898).
- "Pala". Created by Aldous Huxley (1894 - 1963).
- "Shangri-la". Created by James Hilton (1900 - 1954).
The purpose of these (my) articles is to show that the dreams of a Utopian society is not a new concept, but an age old desire to live a more pleasant and meaningful existence than we do. These theories for a Utopian society are merely the result of the unrest in the times of their creation.
The earliest writing referencing a utopia was from the religious view point with its mythical "Garden of Eden" story. Although this concept can never become reality on this planet it is the hope of finding that Garden of Eden, after death, that sustains mankind's belief in the myths of the past.
The closest thing to the possibility of creating a society that would provide even an iota of this illusive "Utopia" was the theory of Edward Bellamy ( 1850 - 1898). He was, of course, a New Englander (like myself). Born in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts. His father was a baptist minister. His mother was a Calvinist (a theoretical system of John Calvin (c1570) and his followers, marked by the strong emphasis on the sovereignty of God, the depravity of mankind, and the doctrine of predestination). Her father, Benjamin Putnam, had also been a Baptist minister, but had to withdraw from the ministry in Salem, Mass., following objections of him becoming a Freemason (a major fraternal organization that has certain secret rituals).
He attended Union College, but did not graduate. He studied law, but left the practice for a brief period of journalism in New York and Springfield, Mass. He left journalism and devoted himself to literature, writing both short stories and novels. He married Emma Sanderson in 1882 and they had 2 children: Paul (1884) and Marion (1886).
He was a cousin of Francis Bellamy, who was most famous for creating the Pledge of Allegiance.
His novel: "Working Backward" is one of the most remarkable books ever published in America, and the third largest best seller of its time, after "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and "Ben Hur: A tale of the Christ".
In his book, main character Julian West, an upper class man form 1887, awakes in the year 2000 from a hypnotic trance and finds himself in a socialist Utopia. The book influenced a large number of intellectuals, and appears by title in many of the major Marxist writings of the day.
According to Fromme, " it was one of the few books ever published that created, almost immediately on its appearance, a political mass movement". "Bellamy Club" sprang up all over the U.S. for discussing and propagating the books ideas. This political movement came to be know as "nationalism". Several hundred additional Utopian novels were published in the United States from 1889 - 1900 due to the popularity of "Looking Backward".
Edward Bellamy died from tuberculosis at his childhood home in Chicopee, Mass in 1898, at the age of 48.
His theory of Utopia was named:
United States of America (in the year 2000), as described in his book: "Looking Backwards". [these are excerpts from "The People's Almanac" series of books].
Political and Social Structure:
A single syndicate represents the people, and is "to be conducted in the common interest for the common profit...the nation is to be organized as one great business corporation...the final monopoly." As such, it competes with other countries organized in the same way. This super corporation, modeled on the military, is a gigantic hierarchy based on merit and accomplishment. At the head is the President, commander-in-chief of the "industrial army." Under him are the 10 major generals of the 10 industrial departments, and under them, the generals of the various trades. Finally, within each trade we find lieutenants, captains, colonels, foremen, and superintendents.A Gerontocracy: The President is elected, but only those over 45 (the retirement age) can vote.
Property and Distribution of Goods:
Guaranteed annual income of $4,000.00 (in 1887 dollars). Each citizen receives a yearly credit card for this amount and can spend it as he wished. He can retire at age 33, on half-income, if he chooses. Sample shops display all purchasable goods, even in small towns.. When an order is taken, it is sent to a central warehouse which dispatches the goods to the buyer's home by pneumatic tube. Service labor can be hired from the state. If someone wants to publish a book, he can pay for it out of his "credit" account and receive royalties. A group can start a magazine or newspaper by guaranteeing the support of an editor out of its members' own "credit" accounts. No wages, trade, or money, per se.
Everyone between 21 and 45 is a government employee. For 3 years each person works where the state determines he is needed. (with the exception of the military which would remain on a voluntary basis). After that he may study the trade of his choosing in a national school. More arduous and less attractive work is made acceptable by its having shorter hours. Even though there are no wages, the factories have piecework in order to gauge individual merit for the annual regarding of the labor army. Consumer petitions play a part in determining what is produced.
Candor, restraint, and absence of artificiality are the rule. Marriage is not compromised by obligations to parents. [vague, but apparently not as sanctimoniously viewed as it is today and does not discount same sex marriages].
After 45, one lives a leisurely existence that includes travel, special vocations, hobbies, attending sports events. Or if one wishes, one can stay home and have music and sermons piped in. [perhaps in anticipation of the radio, t.v., and other modern inventions].
My final comments:
This is the closest thing to a workable creation of a Utopian society we could ever imagine - if we could overcome the evil-embedded need for greed and power that seems to be a permanent affliction of the human condition. Oh, yes, and once and for all - permanently separate church from state. Or better yet, permanently replace all organized religions with personalized gnostic spirituality.
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© 2010 d.william