A utopia ( ) is a community or society possessing highly desirable or near perfect qualities. The word was coined by Sir Thomas More in Greek for his 1516 book Utopia (in Latin), describing a fictional island society in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt to create an ideal society, and imagined societies portrayed in fiction. It has spawned other concepts, most prominently dystopia.
- Etymology 1
- Ecology 2.1
- Economics 2.2
- Politics and history 2.3
- Religious utopia 2.4
- Science and technology 2.5
- Feminism 2.6
- Utopianism 2.7
- List of utopian literature 3
- Notes 4
- References 5
- External links 6
The word comes from the Greek: οὐ ("not") and τόπος ("place") and means "no-place". The English homophone eutopia, derived from the Greek εὖ ("good" or "well") and τόπος ("place"), means "good place". This, because of the identical English pronunciation of "utopia" and "eutopia", gives rise to a double meaning.
Chronologically, the first recorded utopian proposal is Plato's Republic. Part conversation, part fictional depiction, and part policy proposal, it proposes a categorization of citizens into a rigid class structure of "golden," "silver," "bronze" and "iron" socioeconomic classes. The golden citizens are trained in a rigorous 50-year long educational program to be benign oligarchs, the "philosopher-kings." Plato had stressed this many times in both quotes by him and in his published works, such as The Republic. The wisdom of these rulers will supposedly eliminate poverty and deprivation through fairly distributed resources, though the details on how to do this are unclear. The educational program for the rulers is the central notion of the proposal. It has few laws, no lawyers and rarely sends its citizens to war, but hires mercenaries from among its war-prone neighbors (these mercenaries were deliberately sent into dangerous situations in the hope that the more warlike populations of all surrounding countries will be weeded out, leaving peaceful peoples).
During the 16th century, Thomas More's book Utopia proposed an ideal society of the same name. Some readers, including utopian socialists, have chosen to accept this imaginary society as the realistic blueprint for a working nation, while others have postulated that More intended nothing of the sort. Some maintain the position that More's Utopia functions only on the level of a satire, a work intended to reveal more about the England of his time than about an idealistic society. This interpretation is bolstered by the title of the book and nation, and its apparent confusion between the Greek for "no place" and "good place": "utopia" is a compound of the syllable ou-, meaning "no", and topos, meaning place. But the homophonic prefix eu-, meaning "good," also resonates in the word, with the implication that the perfectly "good place" is really "no place."
Ecological utopian society describes new ways in which society should relate to nature. They react to a perceived widening gap between the modern Western way of living that, allegedly, destroys nature and a more traditional way of living before industrialization, that is regarded by the ecologists to be more in harmony with nature. According to the Dutch philosopher Marius de Geus, ecological utopias could be sources of inspiration for green political movements.
In the novelette Rumfuddle (1973), Jack Vance presents a novel twist on the ecological utopia. The hero in the novel invents paratime travel and becomes effectively the ruler of earth by giving everyone their own alternate-earth wilderness worlds as vacation retreats/suburbs without neighbors. However, he requires them to work during the week cleaning up the original Earth and restoring its pristineness. A typical job is driving a bulldozer that shoves the detritus of industrial civilization through a portal into the oceans of a paratime garbage world.
Particularly in the early 19th century, several utopian ideas arose, often in response to their belief that social disruption was created and caused by the development of commercialism and capitalism. These are often grouped in a greater "utopian socialist" movement, due to their shared characteristics: an egalitarian distribution of goods, frequently with the total abolition of money, and citizens only doing work which they enjoy and which is for the common good, leaving them with ample time for the cultivation of the arts and sciences. One classic example of such a utopia was Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward. Another socialist utopia is William Morris' News from Nowhere, written partially in response to the top-down (bureaucratic) nature of Bellamy's utopia, which Morris criticized. However, as the socialist movement developed it moved away from utopianism; Marx in particular became a harsh critic of earlier socialism he described as utopian. (For more information see the History of Socialism article.) In a utopian society, the economy, concurrent with the ongoing theme, is perfect; there is no inflation, and perfect social and financial equality. However, in 1905 H.G. Wells published A Modern Utopia, which was widely read and admired and provoked much discussion. Also consider Eric Frank Russell's book The Great Explosion (1963) whose last section details an economic and social utopia. This forms the first mention of the idea of Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS).
Politics and history
A global utopia of world peace is often seen as one of the possible end results of world history. Within the localized political structures or spheres it presents, "polyculturalism" is the model-based adaptation of possible interactions with different cultures and identities in accordance with the principles of participatory society.
The Soviet writer Ivan Efremov produced, during the "Thaw" period, the science-fiction utopia Andromeda (1957) in which a united humanity communicates with a galaxy-wide Great Circle and develops its technology and culture within a social framework characterized by vigorous competition between alternative philosophies.
The English political philosopher
- Utopia - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2001
- Intentional Communities Directory
- History of 15 Finnish utopian settlements in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe.
- Towards Another Utopia of The City Institute of Urban Design, Bremen, Germany
- Utopias - a learning resource from the British Library
- Utopia of the GOOD An essay on Utopias and their nature.
- Review of Ehud Ben ZVI, Ed. (2006). Utopia and Dystopia in Prophetic Literature. Helsinki: The Finnish Exegetical Society. A collection of articles on the issue of utopia and dystopia.
- The story of Utopias Mumford, Lewis
- Google Map of In Search of Utopia: The Ultimate Paradox
Two Kinds of Utopia, (1912) by Vladimir Lenin. .htm
/00 /oct /1912 /works /lenin /archive .org .marxists www
- Development of Socialism from Utopia to Science (1870?) by Friedrich Engels.
- Ideology and Utopia: an Introduction to the Sociology of Knowledge (1936), by Karl Mannheim, with Louis Wirth and Edward Shils. New York, Harcourt, Brace, 1936. See original, Ideologie Und Utopie, Bonn: Cohen.
- The Principle of Hope (1986), by Ernst Bloch. See original, 1937–41, Das Prinzip Hoffnung.
- Spirit of Utopia (2000), by Ernst Bloch. See original, Geist Der Utopie, 1923.
- Patricia Vieira & Michael Marder, editors (2011) Existential Utopia: New Perspectives on Utopian Thought (London & New York: Continuum) ISBN 1-4411-6921-0
- Clardy, Alan (2012) "Galt's Gulch: Ayn Rand's Utopian Delusion" Utopian Studies 23, 238-262 ISSN 1045-991X
- Kumar, Krishan (1991) Utopianism (Milton Keynes: Open University Press) ISBN 0-335-15361-5
- Frank Manuel & Fritzie Manuel (1979) Utopian Thought in the Western World (Oxford: Blackwell) ISBN 0-674-93185-8
- Hine, Robert V. (1983) California's Utopian Colonies (University of California Press) ISBN 0-520-04885-7
- Kumar, K (1987) Utopia and Anti-utopia in Modern Times (Oxford: Blackwell) ISBN 0-631-16714-5
- Yann Rocher, Théâtres en utopie, Actes Sud, Paris, 2014 (ISBN 978-2-330-03496-2).
- "utopia", Merriam Webster.
- More, Travis; Rohith Vinod (1989)
- Kirk, Andrew G. (2007). Counterculture green: the Whole earth catalog and American environmentalism. University Press of Kansas. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-7006-1545-2.
- Geus, Marius de (1996). Ecologische utopieën- Ecotopia's en het milieudebat. Uitgeverij Jan van Arkel.
- Spannos, Chris (2008-07-05). "What is Real Utopia?". Z Magazine.
- Fries, Sylvia, The Urban Idea in Colonial America, Chapters 3 and 5
- Home, Robert, Of Planting and Planning: The Making of British Colonial Cities, 9
- Wilson, Thomas, The Oglethorpe Plan, Chapters 1 and 2
- Robert Paul Sutton, Communal Utopias and the American Experience: Religious Communities (2003) p. 38
- Teuvo Peltoniemi (1984). "Finnish Utopian Settlements in North America". sosiomedia.fi. Retrieved 2008-10-12.
- Tierney, Helen (1999). Women's Studies Encyclopedia. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 1442.
- Noah Berlatsky, "Imagine There's No Gender: The Long History of Feminist Utopian Literature," The Atlantic, April 15, 2013. http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/04/imagine-theres-no-gender-the-long-history-of-feminist-utopian-literature/274993/
- Attebery, p. 13.
- Gaétan Brulotte & John Phillips,Encyclopedia of Erotic Literature, "Science Fiction and Fantasy", CRC Press, 2006, p. 1189, ISBN 1-57958-441-1
- Martha A. Bartter, The Utopian Fantastic, "Momutes", Robin Anne Reid, p.101 ISBN 0-313-31635-X
- Martha A. Bartter, The Utopian Fantastic, "Momutes", Robin Anne Reid, p. 102 ISBN
- Cobham Brewer E. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, Odhams, London, 1932
- Tian, Xiaofei (2010). "From the Eastern Jin through the Early Tang (317–649)". The Cambridge History of Chinese Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 221.
- Berkowitz, Alan J. (2000). Patterns of Disengagement: the Practice and Portrayal of Reclusion in Early Medieval China. Stanford: Stanford University Press. p. 225.
- Longxi, Zhang (2005). Allegoresis: Reading Canonical Literature East and West. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. p. 182.
- Longxi, Zhang (2005). Allegoresis: Reading Canonical Literature East and West. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. pp. 182–183.
- Longxi, Zhang (2005). Allegoresis: Reading Canonical Literature East and West. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. p. 183.
- Gu, Ming Dong (2006). Chinese Theories of Fiction: A Non-Western Narrative System. Albany: State University of New York Press. p. 59.
- Pinheiro, Marilia P. Futre. (2006). Utopia and Utopias: a Study on a Literary Genre in Antiquity. In Authors, Authority and Interpreters in the Ancient Novel. Groningen: Barkhuis. (pp. 147–171). ISBN 907792213X.
- Sullivan, E. D. S. (Ed.). (1983). The Utopian Vision: Seven Essays on the Quincentennial of Sir Thomas More. San Diego, CA: San Diego State University Press
- ^ René-Louis Doyon. (1933). Variations de l'Utopie.
- ^ J. Weinberger. (1976). Science and Rule in Bacon's Utopia: An Introduction to the Reading of the New Atlantis. The American Political Science Review. 70(3): 865–885.
- H.G. Wells, A Modern Utopia, ed. Mark R. Hillegas (Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 1967).
- HiLobrow, "Ursula K. Le Guin" by Joshua Glenn, October 21, 2009 http://hilobrow.com/2009/10/21/hilo-hero-ursula-k-le-guin/
- Dennis Hevesi, "Ernest Callenbach, Author of ‘Ecotopia,’ Dies at 83", The New York Times, April 27, 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/27/books/ernest-callenbach-author-of-ecotopia-dies-at-83.html
- BOOM A Journal of California, "The Boom interview: Kim Stanley Robinson", "Boom" Winter 2013, Vol. 3, No. 4, Interview conducted by Jon Christensen, Jan Goggans, and Ursula K. Heise. http://www.boomcalifornia.com/2014/01/kim-stanley-robinson/
- The Republic (ca. 380 BC) by Plato - one of the earliest conceptions of a utopia.
- Sacred History (4th century BC) by Euhemerus - Describes the rational island paradise of Panchaea
- Tao Hua Yuan (The Peach Blossom Spring) (421 AD) by Tao Yuanming
- Utopia (1516) by Thomas More.
- Histoire du grand et admirable royaume d'Antangil... (1616) by I.D.M.G.T.
- New Atlantis (1627) by Sir Francis Bacon
- A Modern Utopia (1905) by H.G. Wells - A planet that is essentially the double of Earth reconciles progress with political stability through the rule of an open, voluntary élite known as the samurai.
- Walden Two (1948) by B. F. Skinner - A community in which every aspect of living is put to rigorous scientific testing. A professor and his colleagues question the effectiveness of the community started by an eccentric man named T.E. Frazier.
- Childhood's End (1954) by Arthur C. Clarke - Alien beings guide humanity towards a more economically productive and technologically advanced society, allowing humans to broaden their mental capacities.
- The Dispossessed (1974) by Ursula K. Le Guin - The story takes place on an anarcho-syndicalist moon and a capitalist planet. A major theme of the work is the ambiguity between different notions of utopia.
- Ecotopia (1975) by Ernest Callenbach - A small country, consisting of Northern California, Oregon, and Washington, breaks away from the USA in 1980.
- Pacific Edge (1990) by Kim Stanley Robinson - Set in El Modena, California in 2065, the story describes a transformation process from the late twentieth century to an ecologically sane future.
- The Giver (1993) by Lois Lowry - The Giver is a dystopian children's novel by Lois Lowry. It is set in a society which is at first presented as a utopian society and gradually appears more and more dystopian. The novel follows a boy named Jonas through the twelfth year of his life.
List of utopian literature
One way might be a quest for an "earthly paradise"—a place like Shangri-La, hidden in the Tibetan mountains and described by James Hilton in his utopian novel Lost Horizon (1933). Christopher Columbus followed directly in this tradition in his belief that he had found the Garden of Eden when, towards the end of the 15th century, he first encountered the New World and its indigenous inhabitants.
These myths also express some hope that the idyllic state of affairs they describe is not irretrievably and irrevocably lost to mankind, that it can be regained in some way or other.
Schlaraffenland is an analogous German tradition. (See in German WorldHeritage.)
Datong is a traditional Chinese Utopia. The main description of it is found in the Chinese Classic of Rites, in the chapter called "Li Yun" (禮運). Later, Datong and its ideal of 'The World Belongs to Everyone/The World is Held in Common' 'Tianxia weigong/天下为公' 'influenced modern Chinese reformers and revolutionaries, such as Kang Youwei.
The Peach Blossom Spring, a prose written by Tao Yuanming, describes a utopian place. The narrative goes that a fisherman from Wuling sailed upstream a river and came across a beautiful blossoming peach grove and lush green fields covered with blossom petals. Entranced by the beauty, he continued upstream. When he reached the end of the river, he stumbled onto a small grotto. Though narrow at first, he was able to squeeze through the passage and discovered an ethereal utopia, where the people led an ideal existence in harmony with nature. He saw a vast expanse of fertile lands, clear ponds, mulberry trees, bamboo groves, and the like with a community of people of all ages and houses in neat rows. The people explained that their ancestors escaped to this place during the civil unrest of the Qin Dynasty and they themselves had not left since or had contact with anyone from the outside. They had not even heard of the later dynasties of bygone times or the then-current Jin Dynasty. In the story, the community was secluded and unaffected by the troubles of the outside world. The sense of timelessness was also predominant in the story as a perfect utopian community remains unchanged, that is, it had no decline nor the need to improve. Eventually, the Chinese term Peach Blossom Spring (桃花源) came to be synonymous for the concept of utopia.
an imaginary land of idleness and luxury, famous in medieval story, and the subject of more than one poem, one of which, an early translation of a 13th-century French work, is given in Ellis's Specimens of Early English Poets. In this, "the houses were made of barley sugar and cakes, the streets were paved with pastry, and the shops supplied goods for nothing." London has been so called (see Cockney), but Boileau applies the same to Paris.(also Cockaygne, Cokaygne), was CockaigneThe Land of
The Land of Cockaigne
"And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. [...]
And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. [...]
And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; [...] And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man."
Arcadia, e.g. in Sir Philip Sidney's prose romance The Old Arcadia (1580). Originally a region in the Peloponnesus, Arcadia became a synonym for any rural area that serves as a pastoral setting, as a locus amoenus ("delightful place"):
Plutarch, the Greek historian and biographer of the 1st century, dealt with the blissful and mythic past of the humanity.
Golden Age The Greek poet Hesiod, around the 8th century BC, in his compilation of the mythological tradition (the poem Works and Days), explained that, prior to the present era, there were four other progressively more perfect ones, the oldest of which was the Golden Age.
These myths of the earliest stage of humankind have been referred to by various cultures, societies, and religions:
These mythical or religious archetypes are inscribed in many cultures, and resurge with special vitality when people are in difficult and critical times. However, the projection of the myth does not take place towards the remote past, but either towards the future or towards distant and fictional places, imagining that at some time in the future, at some point in space, or beyond death, there must exist the possibility of living happily.
In many cultures, societies, and religions, there is some myth or memory of a distant past when humankind lived in a primitive and simple state, but at the same time one of perfect happiness and fulfillment. In those days, the various myths tell us, there was an instinctive harmony between humanity and nature. People's needs were few and their desires limited. Both were easily satisfied by the abundance provided by nature. Accordingly, there were no motives whatsoever for war or oppression. Nor was there any need for hard and painful work. Humans were simple and pious, and felt themselves close to the gods. According to one anthropological theory, hunter-gatherers were the original affluent society.
Utopian single-gender worlds or single-sex societies have long been one of the primary ways to explore implications of gender and gender-differences. In speculative fiction, female-only worlds have been imagined to come about by the action of disease that wipes out men, along with the development of technological or mystical method that allow female parthenogenic reproduction. Charlotte Perkins Gilman's 1915 novel approaches this type of separate society. Many feminist utopias pondering separatism were written in the 1970s, as a response to the Lesbian separatist movement; examples include Joanna Russ's The Female Man and Suzy McKee Charnas's Walk to the End of the World and Motherlines. Utopias imagined by male authors have often included equality between sexes, rather than separation, although as noted Bellamy's strategy includes a certain amount of "separate but equal". The use of female-only worlds allows the exploration of female independence and freedom from patriarchy. The societies may not necessarily be lesbian, or sexual at all — a famous early sexless example being Herland (1915) by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Charlene Ball writes in Women's Studies Encyclopedia that use of speculative fiction to explore gender roles in future societies has been more common in the United States compared to Europe and elsewhere, although such efforts as Gert Brantenberg's Egalia's Daughters and Christa Wolf's portrayal of the land of Colchis in her Medea: Voices are certainly as influential and famous as any of the American feminist utopias.
 "William Marston's Wonder Woman comics of the 1940s featured Paradise Island, a matriarchal all-female community of peace, loving submission, bondage, and giant space kangaroos." In
Utopias have been used to explore the ramifications of gender's being either a societal construct, or a biologically "hard-wired" imperative, or some mix of the two. Socialist and economic utopias have tended to take the "woman question" seriously, and often to offer some form of equality between the sexes as part and parcel of their vision, whether this be by addressing misogyny, reorganizing society along separatist lines, creating a certain kind of androgynous equality that ignores gender, or in some other manner. For example, Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward (1887) responded, progressively for his day, to the contemporary women's suffrage and women's rights movements, which he supported, by incorporating the equality of women and men into his utopian world's structure, albeit by consigning women to a separate sphere of light industrial activity (due to women's lesser physical strength), and making various exceptions for them in order to make room (and praise) for motherhood. One of the earlier feminist utopias that imagines complete separatism is Charlotte Perkins Gilman's Herland (1915).
Opposing this sustainability.
Buckminster Fuller presented a theoretical basis for technological utopianism and set out to develop a variety of technologies ranging from maps to designs for cars and houses which might lead to the development of such a utopia.
Scientific and technological utopias are set in the future, when it is believed that advanced science and technology will allow utopian living standards; for example, the absence of death and suffering; changes in human nature and the human condition. Technology has affected the way humans have lived to such an extent that normal functions, like sleep, eating or even reproduction, have been replaced by artificial means. Other examples include a society where humans have struck a balance with technology and it is merely used to enhance the human living condition (e.g. Star Trek). In place of the static perfection of a utopia, libertarian transhumanists envision an "extropia", an open, evolving society allowing individuals and voluntary groupings to form the institutions and social forms they prefer.
Science and technology
The Book of Revelation in the Christian Bible depicts a hypothetical time in the future after Satan and evil are defeated. One interpretation of the text is that it depicts Heaven on Earth, or a new Earth without sin. The details of this hypothetical new Earth, where God and Jesus rule, is not made clear, although it is implied to be similar to the biblical Garden of Eden. Some theological philosophers believe that heaven will not be a physical realm, but instead an incorporeal place for souls.
In the United States and Europe during the Oneida Community, founded by John Humphrey Noyes in Oneida, New York, was a utopian religious commune that lasted from 1848 to 1881. Although this utopian experiment is better known today for its manufacture of Oneida silverware, it was one of the longest-running communes in American history. The Amana Colonies were communal settlements in Iowa, started by radical German pietists, which lasted from 1855 to 1932. The Amana Corporation, manufacturer of refrigerators and household appliances, was originally started by the group. Other examples are Fountain Grove, Riker's Holy City and other Californian utopian colonies between 1855 and 1955 (Hine), as well as Sointula in British Columbia, Canada. The Amish and Hutterites can also be considered an attempt towards religious utopia. A wide variety of intentional communities with some type of faith-based ideas have also started across the world.
The Jewish, Christian, and Islamic ideas of the Garden of Eden and Heaven may be interpreted as forms of utopianism, especially in their folk religious forms. Such religious utopias are often described as "gardens of delight", implying an existence free from worry in a state of bliss or enlightenment. They postulate freedom from sin, pain, poverty, and death, and often assume communion with beings such as angels or the houri. In a similar sense, the Hindu concept of moksha and the Buddhist concept of nirvana may be thought of as a kind of utopia. However, in Hinduism or Buddhism, utopia is not a place but a state of mind. a belief that if one is able to practice meditation without continuous stream of thoughts, one is able to reach enlightenment. This enlightenment promises exit from the cycle of life and death, relating back to the concept of utopia.
Religious utopias can be intra-religious or inter-religious. The inter-religious utopia borders on a concept like polyculturalism and is not deemed possible in the near future or the near-far future. Fledgling theories are generally canceled as impossible, but the ideology of God and religion used in inter-religious utopia is commonly stated by many people as their view of God. In more extended theories it goes up to the level of different religious leaders setting aside their differences and accepting harmony, peace and understanding to unite all religions within one another, thereby forming a utopian religion or a religion of humans with God any type of force that reigned before the birth of the universe. Religion and God are used as a self-motivating factor for people to believe in and raise themselves out of difficult situations. Intra-religious utopias are based on religious ideals, and are to date those most commonly found in human society. Their members are usually required to follow and believe in the particular religious tradition that established the utopia. Some permit non-believers or non-adherents to take up residence within them; others (such as the community at Qumran) do not.
Intentional communities were organized and built all over the world with the hope of making a more perfect way of living together. However, many of these new small communities failed, but some are growing like the Twelve Tribes Communities that started in the United States and have grown to many tribes around the world.
The communes of the 1960s in the United States were often an attempt to greatly improve the way humans live together in communities. The back to the land movements and hippies inspired many to try to live in peace and harmony on farms, remote areas, and to set up new types of governance.