Literary Utopian Societies
“The vision of one century is often the reality of the next…” (Nelson 108). Throughout time, great minds have constructed their own visions of utopia. Through the study of utopias, one finds that these “perfect” societies have many flaws. For example, most utopias tend to have an authoritarian nature (Manuel 3). Also, another obvious imperfection found in the majority of utopias is that of a faulty social class system (Thomas 94). But one must realized that the flaws found in utopian societies serve a specific purpose. These faults are used to indicate problems in contemporary society (Eurich 5, Targowski 1). Over the years, utopian societies have been beneficial in setting improved standards for society. By pointing out the faults of society, improvement is the most likely next step. Citizens should take advantage of utopian literature in order to better future societal conditions (Nelson 104). Because it is impossible to create a perfect society in which everyone’s needs can be met, society must analyze utopias in order to improve their existing environment.
Plato’s Republic was the first “true” work considered to be utopian literature. In fact, the Republic influenced almost all later text written on the subject of utopia (Manuel 7). Although the Republic was one of the most influential works in utopian literature, the society that it represented also had many obvious flaws. First, Plato’s utopia had a distinct class system (Morely iii, Bloom xiii). The privileged class that ruled the society also enforced censorship in order to keep control over the Republic (Manuel 5). To perform all of the lowly tasks of the society, a system of slavery was enforced (Manuel 9). In addition, different forms of propaganda were used to keep the citizens in check (Manuel 5, Bloom xiv). The political and economic systems, in which the wealthy class controlled all the funds, were extremely restrictive (Mumford 4, Bloom xiii). With the society being in opposition to change, it would have obviously failed. A static society, in which propaganda is used to promote the State, disrupts the creative thinking process. And, without the creative thinking process, intellectual growth as a whole also slows (Mumford 4, Benz 3).
Yet another famous Utopian society that appears to thrive on the surface is that of Sir Thomas More’s Utopia. More’s society was similar to Plato’s Republic in many ways (Will 1). The State, in More’s Utopia, controlled the masses through the use of propaganda just as in Plato’s Republic (Adams 154). Speaking out against the State was made an unthinkable action (Adams 253). The government of More’s Utopia was so centralized, that it was unable to adapt to changes and face problems (Mumford 4). This Utopia turned out to have a number of underlying problems.
Aldous Huxley’s a Brave New World was another utopia with many imperfections. In the novel, the characters living in utopia were under complete control of the...