See Wikipedia:Utopia (disambiguation) for other meanings of this word
Utopia, in its most common and general meaning, refers to a hypothetical perfect society. It has also been used to describe actual communities founded in attempts to create such a society. The adjective utopian is often used to refer to good but (physically, socially, economically, or politically) impossible proposals, or at least ones that are very difficult to implement.
A utopia can be either idealistic or Wikipedia:practical, but the term has acquired a strong Wikipedia:connotation of optimistic, idealistic, impossible Wikipedia:perfection. The utopia may be usefully contrasted with the undesirable Wikipedia:dystopia (anti-utopia) and the satirical utopia.
Origin of the term Edit
The term Utopia was coined by Wikipedia:Thomas More as the title of his Latin book De Optimo Reipublicae Statu deque Nova Insula Utopia (circa Wikipedia:1516), known more commonly as Utopia. He created the word "utopia" to suggest two Greek neologisms simultaneously: outopia (no place) and eutopia (good place). In this original context, the word carried none of the modern connotations associated with it.
More depicts a rationally organised society, through the narration of an explorer who discovers it - Raphael Hythlodaeus. Utopia is a Wikipedia:republic where all property is held in common. In addition, it has few laws, no Wikipedia:lawyers and rarely sends its citizens to war, but hires mercenaries from among its war-prone neighbours.
It is likely that More, a religious layman who once considered joining the Church as a priest, was inspired by monachal life when he described the workings of his society. More lived during the age when the Wikipedia:Renaissance was beginning to assert itself in England, and the old medieval ideals – including the monastic ideal – were declining. Some of More's ideas reflect a nostalgia for that medieval past. It was an inspiration for the Wikipedia:Reducciones established by the Wikipedia:Jesuits to Wikipedia:Christianize and "Wikipedia:civilize" the Wikipedia:Guaranis.
- Eutopia is a positive utopia, roughly equivalent to the regular use of the word "utopia".
- Wikipedia:Dystopia is a negative utopia.
Particularly in the early nineteenth century, several utopian ideas arose, often in response to the social disruption created by the development of Wikipedia:commercialism and Wikipedia:capitalism. These are often grouped in a greater "utopian socialist" movement, due to their shared characteristics: an Wikipedia:egalitarian distribution of goods, frequently with the total abolition of Wikipedia:money, and citizens only doing work which they enjoy and which is for the Wikipedia:common good, leaving them with ample time for the cultivation of the arts and sciences. One classic example of such an utopia was Wikipedia:Edward Bellamy's Wikipedia:Looking Backward. Another socialist utopia is Wikipedia:William Morris' Wikipedia:News from Nowhere, written partially in response to the top-down (Wikipedia:bureaucratic) nature of Bellamy's utopia, which Morris criticized. However, as time passed and the socialist movement matured, utopianism was discarded. Socialists grounded their ideas firmly in the realities of the age; among the different emerging socialist currents, Wikipedia:Marxism became by far the harshest critic of utopian socialism. (for more information see the Wikipedia:History of Socialism article)
Utopias have also been imagined by the opposite side of the political spectrum. For example, Wikipedia:Robert Heinlein's Wikipedia:The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is an individualistic and Wikipedia:libertarian utopia. Capitalist utopias of this sort are generally based on perfect market economies, in which there is no Wikipedia:market failure—or the issue is never addressed. Some cynics, usually Wikipedia:socialists, see most Wikipedia:economics textbooks as being nothing but stories of Wikipedia:capitalist utopias.
Political and historical utopiasEdit
Wikipedia:Sparta was a militaristic utopia founded by Wikipedia:Lycurgus (though some, especially Athenians, may have thought it was rather a Wikipedia:dystopia). It was a Greek power until its defeat by the Thebans at the Wikipedia:battle of Leuctra.
The Christian and Islamic ideas of Wikipedia:heaven tend to be utopian, especially in their folk-religious forms: inviting speculation about existence free of sin and poverty or any sorrow, beyond the power of death (although "heaven" in Wikipedia:Christian eschatology at least, is more nearly equivalent to life within God Himself, visualized as an earth-like paradise in the sky). In a similar sense, the Buddhist concept of Wikipedia:Nirvana may be thought of as a kind of utopia. Religious utopias, perhaps expansively described as a garden of delights, existence free of worry amid streets paved with gold, in a bliss of enlightenment enjoying nearly godlike powers, are often a reason for perceiving benefit in remaining faithful to a religion, and an incentive for converting new members.
In the Wikipedia:United States during the Wikipedia:Second Great Awakening of the nineteenth century, many radical religious groups formed utopian societies. They sought to form communities where all aspects of people's lives could be governed by their faith. Among the best-known of these utopian societies was the Shaker movement. The largest such movement was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' settlement in Wikipedia:Utah after Wikipedia:1846 (See Wikipedia:Mormon Pioneer).
Scientific and technological utopiasEdit
These are set in the future, when it is believed that advanced Wikipedia:science and Wikipedia:technology will allow utopian living standards; for example, the absence of Wikipedia:death and Wikipedia:suffering; changes in Wikipedia:human nature and the Wikipedia:human condition. In place of the static perfection of a utopia, libertarian transhumanists envision an "extropia", an open, evolving society allowing individuals and voluntary groupings to form the institutions and social forms they prefer.
Opposing this Wikipedia:optimism is the prediction that advanced science and technology will, through deliberate misuse or accident, cause humanity's Wikipedia:extinction. These pessimists advocate precautions over embracement of new technology.
- Wikipedia:Plato's Republic (400 BC) was, at least on one level, a description of a political utopia ruled by an elite of Wikipedia:philosopher kings, conceived by Wikipedia:Plato.
- The City of God (written Wikipedia:413-Wikipedia:426) by Wikipedia:Augustine of Hippo, describes an ideal city, the "eternal" Jerusalem, the archetype of all "Christian" utopias.
- Utopia (Wikipedia:1516) by Wikipedia:Thomas More
- Wikipedia:The Anatomy of Melancholy (Wikipedia:1621) by Robert Burton, a utopian society is described in the preface.
- Wikipedia:The City of the Sun (Wikipedia:1623) by Wikipedia:Tommaso Campanella
- Wikipedia:The New Atlantis (Wikipedia:1627) by Wikipedia:Francis Bacon
- Oceana (Wikipedia:1656) by Wikipedia:James Harrington
- The section in Gulliver's Travels (Wikipedia:1726) by Wikipedia:Jonathan Swift depicting the calm, rational society of the Wikipedia:Houyhnhms, is certainly utopian, but it is meant to contrast with that of the yahoos, who represent the worst that the human race can do.
- Voyage en Icarie (Wikipedia:1840) by Wikipedia:Etienne Cabet
- Wikipedia:Erewhon (Wikipedia:1872) by Wikipedia:Samuel Butler
- Wikipedia:Looking Backward (Wikipedia:1888), by Wikipedia:Edward Bellamy
- Freiland (Wikipedia:1890) by Wikipedia:Theodor Hertzka
- Wikipedia:News from Nowhere (Wikipedia:1891), by Wikipedia:William Morris; see also the Wikipedia:Arts and Crafts Movement founded to put his ideas into practice
- Wikipedia:Utopia, Limited (Wikipedia:1893) is a Wikipedia:Gilbert and Sullivan operetta in which a small island nation reforms itself along British lines, with amusingly utter success.
- A large number of books by Wikipedia:H.G. Wells, including A Modern Utopia (Wikipedia:1905)
- Wikipedia:Aldous Huxley's Wikipedia:Brave New World (Wikipedia:1932) can be considered an example of pseudo-utopian Wikipedia:satire (see also Wikipedia:dystopia). One of his other books, Island (Wikipedia:1962), demonstrates a positive utopia.
- Wikipedia:Islandia (Wikipedia:1942), by Wikipedia:Austin Tappan Wright
- Wikipedia:B. F. Skinner's Wikipedia:Walden Two (Wikipedia:1948)
- Wikipedia:The Cloud of Magellan (Wikipedia:1955) by Wikipedia:Stanislaw Lem
- Wikipedia:Andromeda Nebula (Wikipedia:1957) is a classic communist utopia by Wikipedia:Ivan Efremov
- Wikipedia:Star Trek (Wikipedia:1966) Wikipedia:science fiction television series by Wikipedia:Gene Roddenberry
- Wikipedia:The Dispossessed (Wikipedia:1974), a Wikipedia:science fiction novel by Wikipedia:Ursula K. Le Guin, is sometimes said to represent one of the few modern revivals of the utopian genre, though it is notable that one of the major themes of the work is the ambiguity of different notions of utopia. Le Guin presents a utopian world in which ditches do need digging, and sewers need unblocking — this drudgery is divided among all adults, and is contrasted, in the language of the utopia, with their everyday, more satisfying work.
- Wikipedia:Woman on the Edge of Time (Wikipedia:1976) by Wikipedia:Marge Piercy is a feminist Wikipedia:science fiction novel in which the protagonist must act to win the utopian future over an alternative, dystopian, one.
- Wikipedia:Ecotopia (novel) (Wikipedia:1975) by Wikipedia:Ernest Callenbach
- The Wikipedia:Three Californias Trilogy (especially The Pacific Edge (Wikipedia:1990)) and the Wikipedia:Mars trilogy by Wikipedia:Kim Stanley Robinson
- Wikipedia:The Giver (Wikipedia:1993), a novel by Wikipedia:Lois Lowry, depicts a "perfect" society of the far future whose elimination of war, disease, fear, &c. comes at the inherent price of the repression of human emotions, individuality and free will.
- most of the stories in Wikipedia:Future Primitive - The New Ecotopias (Wikipedia:1994), edited by Wikipedia:Kim Stanley Robinson
- The Hedonistic Imperative (Wikipedia:1996), an Wikipedia:online Wikipedia:manifesto by Wikipedia:David Pearce, outlines how Wikipedia:genetic engineering and Wikipedia:nanotechnology will abolish Wikipedia:suffering in all Wikipedia:sentient life.
- The Kin of Ata Are Waiting for You (Wikipedia:1997) by Wikipedia:Dorothy Bryant
- Wikipedia:The Matrix (Wikipedia:1999), a film by the Wikipedia:Wachowski brothers, describes a Wikipedia:virtual reality controlled by Wikipedia:artificial intelligence such as Wikipedia:Agent Smith. Smith says that the first Matrix was a utopia, but humans disbelieved and rejected it because they "define their reality through misery and suffering." Therefore, the Matrix was redesigned to simulate human civilization with all its suffering.
- Wikipedia:Equilibrium (Wikipedia:2002), is a film and describes a future in which feelings are forbidden.
- Wikipedia:Ensaio sobre a Lucidez ("Treatise on Lucidity") by Wikipedia:José Saramago (Wikipedia:2004), describes a city where there is 83% of blank votes at an election.
- Wikipedia:Utopian and dystopian fiction
- El Dorado
- Wikipedia:Heterotopia - physical locale set apart from traditional public life where rules and expectations are suspended, often to address moments of crisis or deviance, developed by Wikipedia:Michel Foucault
- Wikipedia:Omnitopia - convergence of the Latin omnis for "all" or "universal[ly]" and the Greek topos for "place" (deriving from koinos topos for "common place") - an experience of place as the convergence of multiple spaces such that each individual "location" appears as a manifestation of the whole.
- Wikipedia:Utopia Planitia
- Wikipedia:Utopian socialism
- Wikipedia:Regional planning
- Wikipedia:Urban planning
- Full text of Thomas More's Utopia from Wikipedia:Project Gutenberg
- Utopia - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, 2001
- Utopia - Definition and History of the Term - The New Encyclopaedia Britannica
- Society for Utopian Studies is the Main Page for the Society for Utopian Studies, an international, interdisciplinary association devoted to the study of utopianism in all its forms, with a particular emphasis on literary and experimental utopias.
- The Abolitionist Society is dedicated to the elimination of suffering through science