The Tyranny of Utopia

May 12, 2019

Thomas Moore's famous novel, Utopia, was first printed in 1516.

It was a "little book" in which Moore shared his views on how an ideal society should look on the fictitious island of Utopia. A description through which many believed he projected his own personal expectation of heaven. 


Unfortunately for Thomas Moore, he was able to test how close his own Utopia was to the real thing, rather sooner than he had planned, as he suffered the indignity of having his head cut off by Henry VIII.


However, while his life ended rather sooner than he had planned, through the novel Utopia, he formally started the debate on what heaven would look like? And how it would be structured as a society?

For some, heaven might be a world with no men, for others it might be a world where only vegan meals are served, or perhaps a world in which all other people were forced to agree with and do whatever you said.

What becomes quickly apparent is that one person's heaven has the potential to be another person's hell. And so, unless we are all allotted our own private Utopia, it is likely that heaven may disappoint. A sobering thought, and one that should lead us to recognise that the goal of achieving a complete and uniformed agreement on how best to structure contemporary society, is frankly an unrealistic pursuit. 


Instead, it is clear that rather than work towards creating structures and hierarchies based upon the pursuit of creating a social Utopia, we should instead simply focus all of our energies on providing individual freedom. 


The more free the society, the more freedom enjoyed by individuals to lead the lives they want, the closer we can come to creating our own private Utopia's in the here and now, rather than relying upon the after-life. 

And so, I believe you should always be suspicious of people who wish to censor or control your individual freedoms. While they may wish to do so on the pretext of "the greater good", the reality is that they will most likely have a very different view of Utopia than you. 


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