Plato's Republic, More's Utopia, and Gurney's Dinotopia
Throughout history, mankind has struggled to lead better lives and improve their society for future generations. What do we continuously attempt to improve? What kind of changes are we trying to institute? In other words, what is an ideal society? Many people have very diversified views about a perfect civilization. In Plato's Republic, Sir Thomas More's Utopia, and James Gurney's Dinotopia, three imaginary societies are described, each with its own peculiarities and highlights. Various aspects of the nations described in these three novels, including their respective economies, governments, and social structures, will be compared and contrasted.
A crucial aspect of any society would be its economy. In Utopia, business was conducted chiefly to import iron, and in many cases they traded on credit. The Utopians have no currency, though they trade their goods for gold in order to pay mercenaries in times of war. If one is in need of something, one merely has to inform the head of one's household and he will get it. Their society is arranged so that they reject many material things that our society would consider valuable, such as silver and diamonds. "The Utopians fail to understand why anyone should be so fascinated by the dull gleam of a tiny bit of stone, when he has all the stars in the sky to look at - or how anyone can be silly enough to think himself better than other people, because his clothes are made of finer woolen thread than theirs" (More 89). To minimize the importance of these materials, Utopians make everyday objects out of them, like chamber pots. In Dinotopia, people are given what they require, much like Utopia, although they do not ask for much: as indicated in the Code of Dinotopia, "Rule # 4: Give more, take less." The Republic still utilizes currency as a medium for trade, due to the fact that nearby nations would presumably use money as well. It also applies the use of funds within the country, similar to many other nations in the world today.
Now, we will proceed to the most important part of any human institution - the government. In Utopia, the political hierarchy is based on the household: every city has 6000 households, each containing ten to sixteen adults. For every thirty households, one Styward, or District Counselor, is elected. One Bencheater, or Senior District Counselor, is elected for every ten Stywards. Every town has one mayor, who is elected by secret ballot by the Stywards. Every three days the Bencheaters have a meeting with the mayor to discuss public affairs and, rarely, to settle disputes. There are rules concerning the debate of propositions. For example, "no resolution can be debated on the day that it's first proposed... Otherwise someone's liable to say the first thing that comes into his head, and then start thinking up arguments to justify what he has said, instead of trying to decide...