Utopia (Penguin Classics) by More Thomas

Utopia (Penguin Classics) by More Thomas

Author:More, Thomas [More, Thomas]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9780141392202
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Published: 2012-08-30T00:00:00+00:00

Social Relations

This would seem to be the place to give some account of the forms of social life – how the citizens behave to one another, and their manner of distributing goods. To begin, then, each city is made up of households, consisting for the most part of blood relatives. For the women, once they have grown up and married, transfer to their husbands’ households; male children and grandchildren, on the other hand, remain in the household and are subject to the oldest member, unless he shows signs of senility, in which case the next in order of age takes his place. So as to ensure that the cities are neither under-nor overpopulated, care is taken that each household (there are six thousand of them in each city, leaving aside the rural districts) has no fewer than ten or more than sixteen adults.10 Naturally, there is no way to fix the number of young children. This optimum figure is easily maintained by transferring members from a household with too many to one with too few. But if the numbers in a city exceed the fixed level, the overflow is used to make up the shortfall in under-populated cities. And if it should happen that the total population of the island expands beyond its projected quota, citizens are enrolled from any of the cities and they establish a colony subject to their own laws on the neighbouring mainland, wherever the native population has redundant and untilled land. The natives, should they wish to participate, are included. Freely sharing the same way of life and the same rules of conduct, the two groups easily bond together, much to their mutual profit. For by their enterprise the Utopians make that land which previously seemed poor and barren yield plenty for all. But all those who refuse to live under their laws the Utopians drive out of the territory that they claim, making war on those who resist. For they view it as an entirely just cause for war when those who possess a territory leave it idle and unproductive, denying use and possession to others who, by the law of nature, ought to be fed by it. If by any mischance the population of one city drops so far that it cannot be restored without reducing other cities below strength (something, they say, that has happened only twice in their entire history as the result of a devastating plague), then they make up the numbers by recalling people from the colonies; they would rather allow the colonies to founder than that any of the island cities should be weakened.

But let’s get back to the common life of the citizens. As I said, the oldest male rules each household; wives serve their husbands, children their parents and younger people generally their seniors. Each city is divided up into four equal districts, and in the middle of each district is situated a market place for every kind of commodity; the products of all the households are brought there and stored in warehouses, each commodity in its specific place.


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