Utopia

Utopia

eBook - 2001
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Publisher: Raleigh, NC : Alex Catalogue, 2001.
Characteristics: 1 online resource (69 pages)
Additional Contributors: ebrary, Inc

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susan_findlay
Jul 17, 2017

Surprisingly quick and easy to read given the age of the text (>400 years). Which is as much a compliment to the translator as the original author. Even the translation was done 50+ years ago.

This book is an object lesson in "the more things change, the more they stay the same". It's divided into two books - the first of which describes the problem with life in most parts of Europe (unequal distribution of both resources and opportunity, systems set up to allow the rich to exploit their power to make themselves even richer at everyone else's expense, excessive punishments for "crimes of the poor", etc.) The second book describes a fictional island nation that has found an alternative way of life that is presented as vastly superior and fairer.

It's really quite disturbing how relevant the first book is to today's society. It does not feel dated at all.

The second book has a few issues that remind you of how long ago it was actually written. Despite being a "perfect society", Utopia is still pretty sexist and sees nothing wrong with slave labour. Its methods of dealing with the "human nature breaks communism" issue are pretty harsh, and I don't know that many people would actually want to live in such a bland place. Still, living in a bland place beats getting hanged for stealing bread to feed your kids because you can't find work.

All things considered, it's amazing to me that these ideas were publicized so very long ago and are still so incredibly relevant today.

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