The Deceptive Dream-
Mr. Janek Kuchmistrz
LS 812 Business, Science and Religion
November 23, 2011
The Deceptive Dream-
Utopias have existed in many guises:
This seminar examines their historical
development, and whether utopian dreams
In the beginning...
Definition of UTOPIA
an imaginary and indefinitely remote place
often capitalized : a place of ideal perfection
especially in laws, government, and social conditions
an impractical scheme for social improvement
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
Why did we dream of Utopias?
How and when did this idea first ignite the human
Have these dreams died?
Religion invents concepts of Garden of Eden, and
What did this “Heaven” look like?
“... there will be there all that the souls could desire, all
that the eyes could delight in …” (Quran 43:71)
“Eat and drink at ease for that which you have sent forth
(good deeds) in days past!” (Quran 69:24)
“They will be adorned therein with bracelets of gold, and
they will wear green garments of fine silk and heavy
brocade. They will recline therein on raised
thrones. How good [is] the recompense! How beautiful
a couch [is there] to recline on!” (Quran 18:31)
Christian Ideas of Utopia
Concept of New Jerusalem
from Book of Revelations 21:
“And I saw the holy city, the
new Jerusalem, coming down
out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride adorned for
her husband.” (Revelation 21:2
Christian communism described
in the Acts of the Apostles
2:44–45, which speaks of the
early Christians holding “all
Artist: Duncan Long
Where does it begin?
Plato's “The Republic”
Written @380BCE as a Socratic
Created an ideal society ruled
There were 3 classes reflecting the
3 divisions of the soul or 3 parts of
the psyche. Those 3 parts are the
rational, the passionate, and the
3 distinct roles correspond to this:
the Guardians who are rational, the
Auxiliaries who are passionate,
and the artisans, farmers, and
businessmen (Producers) who are
Artist: Raphael- Plato & Aristotle
What is Plato's ideal society?
Plato's premise: In a harmonious One remains for life in the role in
and orderly society, the citizens will which one was born.
perform the tasks for which they
are best suited. Plato's ideal society has been
characterized “as “totalitarian”, with
However, if a Producer tries to all the overtones which that word
become an Auxiliary, or an carries in the aftermath of German
Auxiliary a Guardian, this is fascism in Russian communism.”
something which Plato has his W.G. Runciman pg 37
Socrates denounce as "exceptional “The ruled, in his ideal society, are
wickedness”. W.G. Runciman pg 25 totally dependent for their well-
There is little freedom, as we would being on the decisions of rulers no
define it, in Plato's just society. more answerable to them than a
tyrant would be.” W.G. Runciman pg 39
Next: “Utopia” Invented
Sir Thomas More wrote
“Utopia” in 1516
He was a Catholic Humanist,
saw Humanism as a way to
combine faith and reason.
Considered a work of satire:
subtle criticism of Europe's
political corruption and
His Utopian ideas went well
beyond Catholic orthodoxy!
Artist: Hans Holbein, the Younger
Visiting More's “Utopia”
Marriage not allowed until 18 for
females, 22 for males
Groom and bride are exhibited
naked to each other before
marriage- inspect the goods!
Utopians practice complete
Divorce is allowed. All of this
would shock 16th century
Artist: Sir Thomas More, himself!
Utopians all wear the same “Prince” elected by officials
clothing- grey wool (Stywards and Bencheaters).
Remains for life unless
No private property exists becomes a tyrant.
State controls are More's “Utopia” implies that
extensive: can't travel Utopians behave better than
without documents giving some contemporary
Gold and silver are More's work clearly inspired
despised, jewels for babies the philosophical
development of themes
Utopians avoid war, such as socialism and
consider it idiotic- prefer to communism.
outwit their enemies
Role of “Enlightenment and Romanticism”
Enlightenment was an
rationalism: “the mind's
eye (Reason) could
potentially “see” the
Truth (via) central
precepts, such as
critical rationality and "If I have seen further it is by standing
subjectivism..” Kavanagh 2004 on the shoulders of giants."
Sir Issac Newton-1676
Artist: Godfrey Kneller, 1689
Many stories with this motif
appeared after “Utopia”
Francis Bacon's “New Atlantis”
Thomas Hobbes “Leviathan”
Swift's “Gulliver's Travels” 1726
Voltaire's “Candide” (1758) is intriguing, in that Utopia is
Cacambo and Voltaire's innocent Candide stumble upon “El
Dorado”, and earthly paradise hidden by high mountains in South
America. But they are not long content...
“If we stay here, we will only be like the others. Yet if we return to
our world with just twelve sheep laden with El Dorado pebbles...”
Where do the “Romantics” take us?
The “Romantics” Romanticism could be “seen
critiqued rationalism, as an extension and
rejecting this vision of life deepening of the
for a more fantastic one. Enlightenment rather than
an alternative philosophy.”
They stressed the
imaginative, the irrational “Romantics presented mental
and creative aspects of pictures of what the world
might be like, instead of
the human mind.
the rationalist picture of
But, the mind is still what the world was like.”
maintained as primordial. Kavanagh 2004 pg. 450
Nationalism & Socialism:
Children of Romanticism?
“Romantics followed...rationalists... (with) optimistic,
progressive, and one might say, innocent visions of the future.”
Jones 1974 states that Romanticism provided an important
philosophical basis for both socialism and nationalism, which
were the two principal forces radically shaping human society in
the late 19th century and continuing through the 20th century.
Romantic literature was influential in resurrecting folk traditions,
music and inspired national feeling. Igor Stravinsky's “The Rite
of Spring” exemplifies this phenomenon.
Romanticism also created ideas of idyllic life- which created
flourishing utopian literature and movements.
Socialism: Divergent paths to paradise
Socialism advocates collective or governmental
ownership and administration of the means of
production and distribution of goods.
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary
Produced TWO principal utopian visions:
Agrarian VS Scientific
Back to the land- Urban and industrial
Progress is exalted
Regimented life in
Simpler life- no real
service of the nation
News From Nowhere (1890)
Written by Englishman
William Morris, founder of
British “Socialist League”
Story about a “William Guest”
waking up in 21st century
England- classic utopian
Society has become
pastoral, bucolic- London has
Everyone works- at whatever
they take pleasure in doing
What does William dream?
A friendly, peaceful Complete “equality”
world of “neighbours”
No money, no crime,
no prisons, no
marriage, no war
no private property
Government does not
exist- no parliaments
Morris's views on Formal Education
"As a rule, they don’t do much
reading, except for a few
story-books, till they are
about fifteen years old; we
don’t encourage early
bookishness: though you
will find some children who
will take to books very
early; which perhaps is not
good for them; but it’s no
use thwarting them;"
“Looking Backward: 2000-1887”
Written by American
lawyer Edward Bellamy, it
was the 3rd bestseller of
First person account of
Julian West, re-awaking in
Boston after a 113yr trance
World transformed by a
simple act- nationalisation
of all means of production,
distribution and property.
What was Bellamy's ideal world?
Private Every citizen All work is
ownership of belongs to an equally
property industrial remunerated
abolished by credit- no$
Individualism organized as “The broad
replaced by one giant shoulders of the
communalism business- nation”- a
“it became the complete
one capitalist” welfare state
Where did this Utopia lead?
Bellamy's vision of the
ideal society resonated
with Marxist ideas
was no longer really
necessary, with the
“Congress” only in
session every 5 yrs.
Individual rights are
subservient to public
The Communist Manifesto 1848
Das Kapital 1867
Karl Marx and
Friedrich Engels were
the key proponents of
a new economic
Marxists believe in
Based upon state
the inevitable victory
control of all property,
of workers in the
production and work
“There goes the theory”
Communism, as actually practiced, was central planning of
all economic activity, restricted mobility of citizens, no free
press, nor free association
Secret Police, state coercion existed on a massive scale
Religious belief was prohibited- a long list can be added!!
Stalinism: “Rigid authoritarianism, widespread use of
terror, and often emphasis on Russian nationalism”
Undisputed Leader of Soviet
Union after Trotsky fled,
Famous for his “Five Year
Plans”, “Collectivism”, and
“Great Purges” of suspected
Established communism post
WWII in many nations
Could Communism be a Utopia?
Created states that Reality of central planning
did succeed in greatly meant poor or non-
improving education, existent consumer goods
medical care, life Pace of improvement in
expectancy standard of living slower
than capitalist West
Limited success in
Virtually all human rights
bettering economic lost
“Soviet communism didn't just collapse.
It vanished as if it had been a bad dream”
Berlin Wall fell on Thursday
Nov. 9 1989.
Why? Many reasons. A
sociological and economic
collapse- couldn't provide
necessities for citizens. Even
Cuba now moving to private
“Socialism is certain to
prove...the road NOT to
freedom, but to
means seems definitely to
belong to the world of utopias”
Hayek “The Road to Serfdom” 1944
Religious Utopia- Why?
“ Religion is the sigh of the oppressed
creature, the heart of a heartless
world, just as it is the spirit of a
spiritless situation. It is the opium of
the people. The abolition of religion
as the illusory happiness of the
people is required for their real
happiness. The demand to give up
the illusion about its condition is the
demand to give up a condition
which needs illusions.”
Karl Marx, Critique of Hegel’s
Philosophy of Right 1843
Photo: Pope John Paul II..slayer of
Religious Utopias- New Jerusalem on Earth
Many religious groups
arose in tumultuous
late 18th and early 19th
century that created
Even at Sointula in BC
The Shakers- A Celibate Utopia
Founder was English,
Anne Lee, in 1770
Had a vision of Adam and
Eve in carnal intercourse in
a Manchester jail
Convinced that “lust was
the true source of sin”
She and 7 others
immigrated to America in
Photo: Can't be Ann Lee, died in 1784!!
United Society of Believers
in Christ's Second Appearance
Celibacy was a key aspect, “Utilize ecstatic religious activities
crucial control mechanism both to sublimate troublesome
sexual impulses and to
Carefully planned group life transform the character of
was attractive to many believers”
At peak (1837-50) over 6000 “Shaker celibacy made possible
members in 60 communities system which gave women a
degree of equality leadership
Provided inspiration to wide that even the most militant
variety of social reformers socialist advocates of women's
from Robert Owen to rights were unable or unwilling
Friedrich Engels and others. to achieve in practice”
Foster “Religion and Sexuality” 1981
Why were they called Shakers?
The Shakers can be seen to
be one of the 1st “back to the
Statistics show that
stereotype of supposed
Shaker rural origins opposed
fact that many individuals
were born in New York City
proper or in Brooklyn
They were economically
successful- a refuge from
Artist: Currier and Ives, 1835
How to get to Utopia?
Which Way to Heaven?
Reverend Billy Graham tells of a time early in his ministry
when he arrived in a small town to preach a sermon.
Wanting to mail a letter, he asked a young boy where the
post office was.
When the boy had told him, Dr. Graham thanked him and
said, "If you'll come to the Baptist Church this evening, you
can hear me telling everyone how to get to heaven."
The boy replied, "I don't think I'll be there... You don't even
know your way to the post office."
What happened to all these Utopias?
Is it possible we've learned something in the
last 200 years?
Distrust any vendors of utopian dreams!
So much suffering caused by chasing utopian
dreams- World Wars, Stalinism, Khmer Rouge,
Cultural Revolution- the list is long...
Perhaps cultural evolution has occurred in our
Utopias have metamorphosed into Dystopias
Does humanity still have these