Monday 24 October 2016

Utopia - Thomas More

In 1516, exactly 500 years ago, Sir Thomas More published his “Utopia”, actually a seafarer’s story in which an ideal society is portrayed. Utopia, ancient Greek for “no-place” or nowhere, is a word that stands since then for the society we can only dream about, but which we will never be able to realise. It is worth reading the Utopia, the society vision is surprisingly modern. In Utopia we find equality between all people, education for men and women, six hour working days, distribution of wealth based on needs rather than on power, selection of public officials based on competence and an early vision on social security.

There is yet another reason why the Utopia is so interesting. We have lost the capability of dreaming and imagining. Yet you need a vision if you want to move forward. Whether it is at the political, the economic or the social level, we need new visions on how our society could work in the future. This would also make sense at a more technical level, where we urgently need to improve our urban planning and construct ‘smart cities’, so that our quality of life can become acceptable again. (I believe it is not acceptable today.)

As the first “Utopia” was printed on Dirk Martens’ press in 1516 in my home town Leuven. I can recommend you to come and visit the wonderful Utopia exhibition in the town museum and in the university library (picture).

I refer to my more extensive Dutch blog “Utopia - Thomas More”, written 4 years ago.

No comments: