Utopias are generally said to be societies in which the political,social and economic troubles hampering its inhabitants has been done away with. Instead the state is there to serve the people and ensure the peacefulness andhappiness of everyone. The word utopia, which means “no place” in Greek, wasfirst used to mean a perfect society in 1516 in the publication of Saint ThomasMore’s story “Utopia”. The story depicted life as it was with its people andsocial institutions on an imaginary island. More’s Utopia gained criticalacclaim and a wide audience.
The term was subsequently used by all prominentsocial thinkers and visionaries to define other concepts of this kind. During the 19th century many attempts were made to actually establishcommunities which followed the beliefs of a utopian society. Most wereexperiments in utopian socialism. Although they differed considerably in theirspecific views, most of them agreed that ideal societies could be createdwithout much difficulty. They felt all that was needed was to have theformation of a few small, cooperative communities made up of their followers.Order now
The comte de Saint-Simon regarded technological progress and large scaleeconomic organization as being the most important keys to the establishment ofthese communities. It was felt that industrial growth was the key to happinessfor people in the future. Another visionary, Fourier, was quite the opposite of Saint-Simon. HeSpoke strongly against the use of industry. His opinion was that agriculturalcommunities would be better suited for this situation.
He favored thesecommunities as he saw them as small, self-sufficient and more importantly, freefrom the restraints that were being imposed by civilization. Experimental societies based on the theories of the utopians were alsoset up in Europe and the Unites States. They included Robert Owen’s cooperativecommunities in New Harmony, lnd. , and New Lanark, Scotland.
Most of these didnot survive long. One of the longer lasting of these communities was the OneidaCommunity. It lasted from 1848 to 1881. By the middle of the 19th century theutopian socialists were beginning to be eclipsed by more militant radicalmovements. These included anarchism and Marxism.
In more modern times, utopianism has more frequently been used tosuggest a naive and impractical approach to reality. Most comes by way ofliterature with stories such as a way to expose modern societies social ills. Some prominent examples of this type of writing include George Orwell’s 1984 andAldous Huxley’s Brave New World”. The places mentioned in those stories were all imaginary. Such a placedoes not exist in the world as we know it today.
Therefore the word imaginarycomes into play. I have heard of places that have experimented with the conceptof a utopian environment but none have truly succeeded. One example is thecommunity in Chicago which George Pullman attempted to control. He attempted tocreate a community in which every person was taken care for, all had adequatehousing, medical attention and so forth. In return everyone would work forPullman’s company. The better he provided for his workers, the better heexpected their attitude towards working for him would be.
Not everything turnedout as planned though. A panic in 1893 lead to Pullman lowering the employeeswages, he did not however lower the employees rent and other charges in thecompany town. This lead to what was called the Pullman strike. The anticipatedutopia had turned into a dystopia. (A dystopia would be the exact opposite of autopia.
) Federal troops arrived on July 4th to try to control the unrest. Rioting broke out and several strikers were killed. It wasn’t until July 10ththat the troops were able to control the situation. The word utopia however does not necessarily have to be used to define asociety. A utopia can also be used to define a certain situation as it isperceived by an individual. A person who feels that their life at the specificpoint in time is perfect or a person who is involved with a certain group ororganization can very well feel that they are living in a utopic way.
Regardless of what others may feel, These people feel content that their choicesare the right ones. These choices are not always the right ones however. Let’s take theexample of the Koresh commune in Waco, Texas. The people who migrated to thisplace did so by their own choice. It was their belief that the ideas on how tolive shared by David Koresh were the right ones. They felt that this was theway that they wanted to live their lives.
The inhabitants disagreed with theways of society and chose to live in a way completely shut off from the rest ofthe world. Meanwhile, to the outside world was well aware that what was goingon in the commune was not right. There were reports of child abuse, and sexualmisconduct. This lead to a stand off between the followers of Koresh and themilitary. Unfortunately that situation got out of hand and there were resultingcasualties. This goes to show how hard one would fight and how much one wouldgibe to be able to achieve that perfect life which is dreamt about by so many.
They went as far as to give their lives. Another example of individuals striving for what they consider to be autopic society for themselves is the formation of different social-political andat times militant groups of different kinds. These kind of things have beenappearing throughout history. Some were successful to a certain degree in theirown right, while others have been complete failures.
Let me say before Icontinue that I am not endorsing the beliefs of any particular group norcondemning others. I will merely try to give a brief over view of what theystood for. One example of these factions was the Black Panther Party. This was agroup of African-Americans that formed in order to try to resolve some of theissues of civil rights for their people.
They felt it was only right that theyas people had the freedom that was given to others. They wanted the power todetermine the destiny of the black community. They also felt that it was up tothe government to provide employment or a guaranteed income for all of thepeople. The panthers also sought restitution for the slavery of their ancestors. These are a few of the demands that were put forth by the Black Panthers. Although many Americans at that time considered these demands to be excessive,the Black Panthers saw them as just.
One could say that a society in whichtheir demands were met could be considered a utopia. At least in the eyes ofthe Black Panthers. Another example that I can think of is the formation of the Nazis inGermany. The Nazis lead by Adolph Hitler also sought to get what they feltwould be the right thing for their people. Few would argue though that theirviews were misguided though.
They felt that the Aryan People were superior tothe others. And with that in mind, they embarked on what they hoped would be aplan towards world domination. During World War II, the Nazis appeared to beindestructible. They conquered many territories and with that brought a terrorto many people of Europe. Perhaps the most notorious result of these actionswas the attempted genocide of the Jewish People.
Nazis saw them as inferiorpeople and therefore considered them expendable. The Nazis saw their actions asa way to preserve the type of world they felt was the right one. A utopia isnot always what the majority sees as perfect, at times it is merely the beliefsshared by a certain group or individual. They sought their utopia, and millionsof Jewish people were killed as a result. Everyday life can also reflect one’s own pursuit of the perfect life.
We see it everyday in a variety of ways. Yet we don’t necessarily think ofthese events, happenings and life decisions in these terms. It can be from themost life changing decision we make, to the most mundane occurrences. Thestruggles of humans throughout the world reflect this. A person working at a factory, at an office or anywhere for that matterworks hard because they want to earn as much money as they possibly can. Theyknow that this money can be used for a variety of purposes that they hope willmake their lives easier, happier and overall better.
Maybe they’ll be able tosend their children to college. Perhaps a new car or a brand new wardrobe willmake them feel complete. Maybe they will acquire a certain prestige they desireeither from their economic or social status. People in general basically doeverything they do to reach a goal in life. It is viewed as the final stop in aseries of steps that lead to the end. The end being the place where one wins.
Almost like a life-sized game of chutes and ladders. They seek their ownprivate utopia. This holds true for families all over the United States andthroughout the world. Even as I think about this, I’m living my life trying to reach a pointwhere I may be happy.
There are things in my wildest fantasies that would makemy life perfect in my eyes. For starters, I’m writing this paper. Hopefully this will get me adecent grade. If I also get good grades on all my other classes this semesterand for the rest of the time that I attend Roosevelt University I should receivemy degree. With a degree in hand I’ll go out into the job market in search of aplace to work.
If and when I settle down with a company I intend to start tosave some money. With this money I hope to do a number of things. I want to pay off alldebt that I’ve acquired for educational purposes. I would like to treat myselfto a semi-new automobile.
Doesn’t have to be the most luxurious car in theworld, but one that isn’t in constant need of repair as is my current one is. Iwould like to save a little bundle on the side to be used as a down payment fora home. White picket fence, doghouse for rusty, the whole kit and caboodle. I’ve always dreamt of having a house that I could call my own.
No one to tellme how I have to keep the place. By then I think it may be time to settle down. Perhaps I’d ask thewoman of my dreams (if not, my current girlfriend will do. ) to be my lawfullywedded wife.
And in these turbulent times, maybe the marriage would even be ahappy one. And if the Lord allows, I might even father a few little kids. In my house, I’d love to have a large screen t. v. and a laser discplayer as I am a movie fanatic.
A great big leather lazyboy in front of the t. v. would also be required. Electronic gizmos of all shapes and sizes wouldsurround me. Then as my children grew older, I’d hope to be able to provide them withthe opportunity to receive a college education, as this is key to success. Tosee them go on to do well for themselves would make me very proud.
By then I would start to contemplate retirement. I’d hope to have anice little nest egg stashed away so that I may live comfortably for the rest ofmy life. I hope to grow old peacefully, and as gruesome as this may sound, Ihope that when my time does come, I die in my sleep. Never felling a thing. I know that many of the things I just mentioned may never happen. Manyof my wishes are just that, wishful thinking.
It is just a concept of a type oflife I would like to live. Real or not. But after all, its MY private utopia. Plus we must remember that utopias in these times in their most technicaldefinition do not exist.
They are merely ideas and concepts of the world as manwould wish it were. Being a man in this world of ours, I have my wishes too.Category: Philosophy