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Alan West

Utopia- Book One 2) Enclosure Movement: One of the most quoted bits of Book One is the part about sheep devouring men (37). (Feudal system slowly becoming extinct). The mentioned quote refers to sheep taking over the areas once allotted to serfs (working farmers). Lords would evict families or tear down their houses to make way for pastures to farm sheep (which requires minimal human labor – only a few shepherds). The Topics of Book One: Thieves, Justice, Advisors, Kingship, Viable Economic System Thieves: Wrong to hang thieves; better to eliminate the cause of the need to steal (34). -Those causes include loss of land and work for rural people (37-38), too many unemployed private soldiers and retainers Vice: Vice is the cause of crime- gambling, drinking, sexual vice Justice: Some of Hythloday’s observations on humane and efficient justice will be echoed in Book Two. Appeal to Bible: Commandment says not to kill (40). Counter-productive to execute for theft; it may encourage murder (40). Precedent for punishing productively – Romans punished crime by hard labor (41). Workable solution? Used by Polyerites in Persia - - people who are more interested in their own kingdom than other people’s (41). Raphael lists their method of punishing crime (41-43). Here, thieves repay the value of the theft, and then are put to work for the good of the state – directly or indirectly. The families are not necessarily left impoverished. They (prisioners) wear distinctively coloured clothing and have special haircuts and each has one ear clipped. They can be put to death (as can people that illegally help them) for breaking the rules, such as fleeing, accepting money or touching weapons. On the other hand, obeying the rules and working hard can result in freedom. The Cardinal in the story suggests that it might be tried on those who are already under sentence of death as a probationary measure, and Advisors: As mentioned previously, Book One is partly of a dialogue on the pros and cons of an intellectual becoming an advisor to a King. Important to note that Thomas More did become an advisor to the King and eventually Lord Chancellor. Is the dialogue representing his own assessment of the pros and the cons? On page 31 Peter suggests that Raphael should be an advisor, an opinion shared by More on p.32. Raphael prefers to keep his independence, pointing out on pp.32-3 the potential problems in getting ideas past existing advisors - because of their vanity, desire to keep their positions, conservatism, etc. Kingship: More speaks to Raphael of his suitability as a King’s advisor. It is plausible that this dialogue that More has in the book is concerning his internal struggle over whether he himself should become advisor to the King (Henry VIII). Concerning the kingdom of France, Hythloday discusses hypothetically, but clearly the advice would apply to England too. On p.48 he offers the example of neighbours of the Utopians – the Anchorians – whose King eventually learned to focus on home rather than empire. Concerning the methods that Kings use to increase their wealth – altering the value of money, pretending a war is imminent, fining people for breaking forgotten laws, inventing new laws which people would have to pay to circumvent, and getting the judges on your side in any dispute over money (most important) (49). Typically advisors would argue for a King to be as rich as possible, but Hythlodaeus disagrees, suggesting that a king is supposed to be like a good shepherd, looking after the welfare of his flock – in this case, ensuring the wealth of his subjects rather than his own income (50). Example of financially responsible Kingship – that of some more neighbours of the Utopians: Macarians (51-52). Raphael knows this sort of advice is not welcome to European kings, and, on pages 52-53, More agrees – there is no point trying to convince someone with an argument antithetical to their own. Instead, however, he suggests one should still be an advisor but should water down the ideas, as has happened in Christianity (53-54). Moreover, trying to weasel your way out of supporting things you see as bad is dangerous – you would still be seen as a traitor (54). Plus (a) he might be corrupted or (b) resist corruption but be used (as a person seen as incorruptible) as a front for the abuses of others (54). Quotes Plato on the idea that going out in the rain to try unsuccessfully to have others take shelter simply makes you wet yourself. Better to stay dry in the first place (54). Utopian Economic System: Raphael suggests that the principle of private property is an impediment that stands in the way of optimum prosperity and smooth government (54-55). More objects, saying the lack of opportunity to make wealth would lead to laziness etc. (56). To counter this, Raphael offers the example of Utopia – an ancient country whose inhabitants are willing to learn from others (presumably as opposed One thing noticeable about Utopia’s society is its uniformity and em
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