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Utopie en bevrijding

Voorkant More 'Utopia' Thomas MORE
Utopia (1516)
New York-London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1992, 260 blzn.; A Norton Critial Edition. Revised translation by Robert M. Adams, backgrounds, criticism - Second edition
ISBN: 03 9396 1451

[Over More (1478 - 1535) in het deel About the author van de Coradella Collegiate Bookshelf Edition (2004)]

"He was great friends with Desiderius Erasmus who dedicated his In Praise of Folly to More -- the word "folly" is moria in Greek. Later relations between the two became strained as More was committed to religious orthodoxy while Erasmus sought to test what he saw as entrenched fallacies of Catholic doctrine. More was the author of several lengthy — and at times vicious — treatises attacking religious 'reformers' as diverse as William Tyndale, Christopher St. German, Martin Luther and indeed anyone else who happened to question any area of church doctrine whether it be spiritual (as in the ability of the clergy to remit sin) or temporal, as in the primacy of canon law over common law.
His Chancellorship (1529-32) was distinguished by very little except his persistent pursuit of heretics and their works. The great paradox of More's life being that a man who is regarded today as a libertarian and freethinker was at the same time (as being arguably both) a religious zealot."(1)

[Maar natuurlijk is hij dan geen vrijdenker, maar een dogmatische gelovige. Dus hoe zit het met zijn utopie? waarom schreef hij dan dat boek? Omdat hij zich ook enorm ergerde aan de uitbuiting van de economisch zwakken door de machtige grootgrondbezitters die bouwgrond omzetten in omheinde weidegronden waar ze schapen konden laten grazen en op die manier rijk konden worden van hun wol (het begin van de 'enclosure'-beweging). Volgens de Nederlandse vertaling van dit boek was dat de reden dat hij niet in dienst wilde treden als Geheime Raad van de Koning Henri VIII. Dus misschien nam hij zijn christendom serieus op het vlak van naastenliefde en zo. Dat zou uitzonderlijk zijn. De Introduction daar zegt:]

"More’s earnest character caused him while studying law to aim at the subduing of the flesh, by wearing a hair shirt, taking a log for a pillow, and whipping himself on Fridays. "(2)

"Designedly fantastic in suggestion of details, “Utopia” is the work of a scholar who had read Plato’s “Republic,” and had his fancy quickened after reading Plutarch’s account of Spartan life under Lycurgus."(5-6)

[Een erg vrolijke jongen is het duidelijk niet. Het woord 'genieten' kwam niet in zijn vocabulaire voor waarschijnlijk. Maar goed, nu naar de editie die ik uiteindelijk ben gaan gebruiken.]

(vii) Preface to the Second Edition

"Though small in size and flip­ pant in tone, it is in fact two very heavy books. The first part propounds a set of riddles such as every sincere man who enters public life is bound to ask himself, whether he is living in early-capital ist England, late capital ist America, or any other society dominated by the money-mad and the authority-intoxicated. He must think, What good can I do as an honorable man in a society of power-hungry individuals? What evil will I have to condone as the price of the good I accomplish? And how can I tell when the harm I am doing, by acting as window-dressing for evil, outweighs my potential for good? The second part of Utopia offers a set of no less disturbing questions. For example, Can a community be organized for the benefit of all, and not to satisfy the greed, lust, and appetite for domination of a few? How much repression is a good society justified in exercising in order to retain its goodness? And finally, When we give some persons power in our society (as we must), and appoint others to watch them (as we'd better), who is going to watch the watchers? Can we really stand a society in which everybody watches everybody?"(vii)

[Dat is mooi gezegd. En inderdaad zijn het de vragen - "the classical questions of politi­cal economy and social organization"(vii) - die we ons nog steeds moeten stellen. Dit stukje geeft al een aantal aspecten aan van wat een utopie kan nastreven.]

"As for what answers the author of Utopia provided , we are still in dispute; he was a complex man who understood very well that it is not always safe or politic to speak one's entire mind - even supposing it is ever possible."(vii)

Het boek heeft al in de 16e eeuw enorme invloed gehad. Dat is zo gebleven.

(1) The Text of UTOPIA

De volledige titel zoals hier gegeven:


A Truly Golden Handbook No Less Beneficial Than Entertaining
by the Most Distinguished and Eloquent Author THOMAS MORE
Citizen and Sheriff of the Famous City of London"(3)

(3) Book One

Beschrijving van de situatie en de betrokken personen. De ik-figuur (More zelf blijkt later) in de vertelling ontmoet deze Raphael Hythloday (RH) op een diplomatieke reis via een vriend Peter Giles. RH is filosoof en maakte in die hoedanigheid vele reizen om de wereld te leren kennen.

"Now I intend to relate only what he told us about the manners and laws of Utopians, first explaining the occasion that led him to speak of that commonwealth."(7)

Giles is vol bewondering over het hele verhaal en zegt met goede bedoelingen dat elke koning of andere bestuurder van een land blij zou zijn met hem. RH ziet dat helemaal niet zitten.

"Then I said, "It is clear, my dear Raphael , that you want neither wealth nor power, and indeed I value and revere a man of such a disposition as much as I do the greatest persons in the world. Yet I think if you would devote your time and energy to public affairs, you would do a thing worthy of a generous and philosophical nature, even if you did not much l ike it. (...) you would be an extraordinary counsellor to any king in the world."(14)

RH is dat niet met hem eens.

"In the first place, most princes apply themselves to the arts of war, in which I have neither ability nor interest, instead of to the good arts of peace. They are generally more set on acquiring new kingdoms by hook or by crook than on governing well those that they already have. Moreover, the counsellors of kings are all so wise already that they need no other knowledge (or at least that's the way they see it). At the same time, they approve and even flatter the most absurd statements of favorites through whose influence they seek to stand well with the prince."(8)

[Een fraaie kritiek die ook vandaag de dag nog van toepassing is.]

RH was eens in Engeland.

"It was not long after the revolt of the Cornishmen against the king had been put down, with great slaughter of the poor folk involved in it."(9)

Hij had daar een discussie over de harde en desondanks weinig effectieve aanpak van dieven (die kregen de doodstraf). Zijn standpunt:

"Simple theft is not so great a crime that it ought to cost a man his head, yet no punishment however severe can withhold a man from robbery when he has no other way to eat. (...) Severe and terrible punishments are enacted against theft, when it would be much better to enable every man to earn his own living, instead of being driven to the awful necessity of stealing and then dying for it.'"(10)

"There are a great many noblemen who live idly like drones, off the labors of others, their tenants whom they bleed white by constantly raising their rents."(10)

Het in stand houden van vaste staande legers wordt door RH ook afgewezen als een van de oorzaken van diefstal. Ook de enclosures worden bekritiseerd:

"You never have war unless you choose it, and peace is always more to be considered than war. [mijn nadruk] Yet this is not the only circumstance that makes thieving necessary. There is another one, peculiar (as I see it) to the English people alone.'
'What is that?' asked the Cardinal.
'Your sheep,' I replied, 'that used to be so meek and eat so little. Now they are becoming so greedy and wild that they devour men themselves, as I hear. They devastate and pillage fields, houses, and towns. For in whatever parts of the land the sheep yield the softest and most expensive wool, there the nobility and gentry, yes, and even some abbots though otherwise holy men, are not content with the old rents that the land yielded to their predecessors. Living in idleness and luxury, without doing any good to society, no longer satisfies them; they have to do positive evil. For they leave no land free for the plow: they enclose every acre for pasture; they destroy houses and abolish towns, keeping only the churches, and those for sheep-barns. And as if enough of your land were not already wasted on woods and game-preserves, these worthy men turn all human habitations and cultivated fields back to wilderness. Thus one greedy, insatiable glutton, a frightful plague to his native country, may enclose many thousand acres of land with in a single hedge. The tenants are dismissed and compelled, by trickery or brute force or constant harassment, to sell their belongings. By hook or by crook these miserable people - men, women, husbands, wives, orphans, widows, parents with little children, whole families (poor but numerous, since farming requires many hands} - are forced to move out. They leave the only homes familiar to them , and they can find no place to go . Since they cannot afford to wait for a buyer, they sell for a pittance all their household goods, which would not bring much in any case. When that little money is gone (and it's soon spent in wandering from place to place), what remains for them but to steal, and so be hanged - justly, you'd say! - or to wander and beg? And yet if they go tramping, the are jailed as sturdy beggars. They would be glad to work, but they can find no one who will hire them. There is no need for farm labor, in which they have been trained, when there is no land left to be plowed.'"(12)

"'If you do not find a cure for these evils, it is futile to boast of your severity in punishing theft. Your policy may look superficially like justice, but in reality it is neither just nor practical. If you allow young folk to be abominably brought up and their characters corrupted , little by little, from childhood; and if then you punish them as grownups for committing crime to which their early training has incl ined them, what else is this, I ask, but first making them thieves and then punishing them for it?'"(14)

[Dit is dus een fundamentele kritiek op machthebbers en de rijke bovenlaag. Ze denken alleen maar aan zichzelf en zijn totaal niet geïnteresseerd in het welzijn van het volk. Ik vind dat enclosure-fenomeen een van de beste voorbeelden daarvan. Prachtig stuk dit.]

RH verklaart zich met allerlei argumenten tegen de doodstraf.

"If theft carries the same penalty as murder, the thief will be encouraged to kill the victim whom otherwise he would only have robbed."(15)

Straf is nodig bij dat soort vergrijpen, maar RH wil straffen als bij de Polylerits in de buurt van Perzië het geval is: dieven worden in dienst gesteld van de gemeenschap.

"Being contented with the products of their own land, which is by no means unfruitful, they have little to do with any other nation, nor are they much visited. According to their ancient customs, they do not try to enlarge their boundaries ... "(15-16)

[Om maar eens een paar waarden en normen van de Polylerits te noemen: tevreden zijn met wat je hebt, niet expansief zijn.]

"'In their land, whoever is found guilty of theft must make restitution to the owner, not (as elsewhere) to the prince; they think the prince has no more right to the stolen goods than the thief. If the stolen property has disappeared, the value of the thief's property is estimated, and restitution is made from it. All the rest is handed over to the thief's wife and children, while the thief himself is sentenced to hard labor.
'Unless their crimes were compounded with atrocities, thieves are neither imprisoned nor shackled, but go freely and unguarded about their work on public projects. If they shirk and do their jobs slackly, they are not chained, but they are whipped. If they work hard, they are treated without any insults, except that at night after roll call they are locked up in their dormitories. Apart from constant work, they undergo no discomfort in living. As they work for the state, they are decently fed out of the public stores, though arrangements vary from place to place. In some districts they are supported by alms. Unreliable as this support may seem, the Polylerites are so charitable that no way is found more rewarding. In other places, public revenues are set aside for their support, or a special tax is levied; and sometimes they do not do public work, but anyone in need of workmen can go to the market and hire a convict by the day at a set rate, a little less than that for free men. If they are lazy, it is lawful to whip them. Thus they never lack for work, and each one of them brings a little profit into the public treasury beyond the cost of his keep.
'They are all dressed in clothes of the same distinctive color. Their hair is not shaved but trimmed close about the ears, and the tip of one ear is cut off. Their friends are allowed to give them food , drink, or clothing, as long as it is of the proper color; but to give them money is death, both to the giver and to the taker. It is just as serious a crime for any free man to take money from them for any reason whatever; and it is also a capital crime for any of these slaves (as the condemned are called) to carry weapons. In each district of the country they are required to wear a special badge. It is a capital crime to throw away the badge, to go beyond one's own district, or to talk with a slave of another district. Plotting escape is no more secure than escape itself: it is death for any other slave to know of a plot to escape, and slavery for a free man. On the other hand, there are rewards for informers - money for a free man, freedom for a slave, and for both of them pardon and amnesty. Thus it can never be safer for them to persist in a plan of escape than to renounce it."(16)

[Hm, aardige ideeën, maar niet erg consequent van RH: hoe kun je deze doodstraf hier dan wél rechtvaardigen? Evenmin natuurlijk.]

RH maakt het verhaal af en More is onder de indruk van zijn wijsheid. Hij vindt het toch jammer dat RH zich niet beschikbaar wil stellen als advisieur voor koningen etc.

"'Your friend Plato thinks that com­monwealths will become happy only when philosophers become kings or kings become philosophers. No wonder we are so far from happiness when philosophers do not condescend to assist even kings with their counsels.'
'They are not so ill disposed,' Raphael replied, 'but that they would gladly do it; in fact, they have already done it in a great many published books, if the rulers would only read their good advice. But doubtless Plato was right in foreseeing that unless kings became philosophical themselves, they would never take the advice of real philosophers, drenched as they are and infected with false values from boyhood on.'"(20)

Hij geeft wat mogelijke voorbeelden om vervolgens te concluderen dat zijn inzet zinloos zou zijn.

"Finally, suppose I told the French king's council that all this war mongering, by which so many different nations were kept in social tur­moil as a result of one man's connivings , would certainly exhaust his treasury and demoralize his people, and yet very probably in the end come to nothing through some mishap or other. And therefore I would advise the French king to look after his ancestral kingdom, improve it as much as he could, cultivate it in every conceivable way. He should love his people and be loved by them; he should live among them, govern them kindly, and let other kingdoms alone, since his own is big enough, if not too big for him. How do you think, my dear More, the other counsellors would take this speech of mine?'"(22)

[Mooi voorbeelden van de waarden die RH voorstaat.]

"If the judges can be brought to differ, then the clearest matter in the world will be obscured , and the truth itself brought into question."(23)

[Zo maar een mooie uitspraak, voor als je 'rechters' hier wat breder opvat dan in de tekst. Denk aan wetenschappers en het 'debat' over de opwarming van de aarde.]

"They are absolutely wrong when they say that the people's poverty safeguards public peace - experience shows the contrary. Where will you find more squabbling than among beggars? Who is more eager for rev­olution than the man who is most discontented with his present position? Who is more reckless about creating disorders than the man who knows he has nothing to lose and thinks he may have something to gain? If a king is so hated or despised by his subjects that he can rule them only by mistreatment, plundering, confiscation, and pauperization of his people, then he'd do much better to abdicate his throne - for under these circumstances, though he keeps the name of authority, he loses all the majesty of a king. A king has no dignity when he exercises authority over beggars, only when he rules over prosperous and happy subjects."(24)

Dus, nee, het heeft niet zo veel zin om koningen en regeringen te adviseren vanuit dat soort waarden, want ze luisteren toch niet. More spartelt nog tegen: er is een andere aanpak mogelijk.

"Don't give up the ship in a storm because you can not direct the winds. And don't arrogantly force strange ideas on people who you know have set their minds on a different course from yours. You must strive to influence policy indirectly, handle the situation tactfully, and thus what you cannot turn to good , you may at least - to the extent of your powers - make less bad."(26)

RH vindt dat geen goede insteek.

"The only result of this,' he answered, 'will be that while I try to cure others of madness, I'll be raving along with them myself. If I am to speak the truth , I will simply have to talk in the way I have described. For all I know, it may be the business of a philosopher to recite lies, but it isn't mine."(26)

"People who have made up their minds to rush headlong down the opposite road are never pleased with the man who calls them back and tells them they are on the wrong course. But, apart from that, what did I say that could not and should not be said anywhere and everywhere? If we dismiss as out of the question and absurd everything which the perverse customs of men have made to seem unusual , we shall have to set aside most of the commandments of Christ even in a community of Christians.(...)
But preachers, like the crafty fellows they are, have found that men would rather not change their lives to conform to Christ's rule, and so, just as you suggest, they have accommodated his teaching to the way men live, as if it were a leaden yardstick. At least in that way they can get the two things to correspond on one level or another. The only real thing they accomplish that I can see is to make men feel a little more secure in their consciences about doing evil."(26-27)

[Waaraan je ziet dat More inderdaad veel van de beschreven waarden naar voren brengt vanuit die christelijke achtergrond die hij heeft. Hij probeert er dus werkelijk iets mee te doen, in tegenstelling tot veel andere chistenen.]

"How can one individual do any good when he is surrounded by colleagues who would sonner corrupt the best of men than do any reforming of themselves? Either they will seduce you, or, if you keep yourself honest and innocent, you wil l be made a screen for the knavery and madness of others. Influencing policy indirectly! You wouldn't have a chance. (...)
But as a matter of fact, my dear More, to tell you what I really think, as long as you have private property, and as long as cash money is the measure of all things, it is really not possible for a nation to be governed justly or happily. For justice cannot exist where all the best things in life are held by the worst citizens; nor can anyone be happy where property is limited to a few, since those few are always uneasy and the many are utterly wretched (...)
When I consider all these things, I become more sympathetic to Plato and do not wonder that he declined to make laws for any people who refused to share their goods equally. Wisest of men , he easily perceived that the one and only road to the welfare of all lies through the absolute equality of goods. I doubt whether such equal­ity can ever be achieved where property belongs to individual men. However abundant goods may be, when every man tries to get as much as he can for his own exclusive use, a handful of men end up sharing the whole thing, and the rest are left in poverty. The result generally is two sorts of people whose fortunes ought to be interchanged: the rich are rapacious, wicked , and useless, while the poor are unassuming, modest men who work hard, more for the benefit of the public than of them­selves."(27)

[Ik vind dat een prachtig modern antwoord.]

De ik-figuur More kan zich zo'n samenleving niet voorstellen.

"'But I don't see it that way,' I replied. 'It seems to me that men cannot possibly live well where all things are in common. How can there be plenty of commodities where every man stops working? The hope of gain will not spur him on; he will rely on others, and become lazy. If a man is driven by want of something to produce it, and yet cannot legally protect what he has gained, what can follow but continual bloodshed and turmoil, especially when respect for magistrates and their authority has been lost? I for one cannot conceive of authority existing among men who are equal to one another in every respect.'
'I'm not surprised,' said Raphael, 'that you think of it in this way, since you have no idea, or only a false idea, of such a state . But you should have been with me in Utopia, and seen with your own eyes their manners and customs as I did - for I lived there more than five years, and would never have left, if it had not been to make that new world known to others. If you had seen them, you would frankly confess that you had never seen a people so well governed as they are.'"(29)

Utopia is als samenleving ouder dan de onze. Ze leren van elke toevallige bezoeker.

"This willingness to learn, I think, is the really important reason for their being better governed and living more happily than we do, though we are not inferior to them in brains or resources."(30)

More will graag uitgebreid horen van Utopia.

(31) Book Two

The Geography of Utopia

Utopia (voorheen Abraxa) is een halvemaanvormig eiland (atolvormig) ter grootte van Engeland met een grote rustige baai. De toegang tot de baai is moeilijk toegankelijk vanwege riffen en ondiepe pleken. De navigatie daar doorheen is geheim en de schepen van vreemden worden geloodst. Het eiland is gemakkelijk verdedigbaar.

"There are fifty-four cities on the island, all spacious and magnificent, identical in language, customs, institutions, and laws. So far as the location permits, all of them are built on the same plan, and have the same appearance."(32)

[De vraag is natuurlijk waarom ze qua uiterlijk zelfs identiek moeten zijn.]

Jaarlijks is er een overleg van drie vertegenwoordigers ('old and experienced citizens') van alle steden (162 in totaal dus) om zaken van algemeen belang voor het eiland te bespreken.

Elke stad heeft voldoende landbouwgrond. De speciale huizen daar worden bewoond door 40 mannen en vrouwen, elk jaar komen er 20 nieuwe mensen uit de stad terwijl er ook 20 teruggaan na een tweejarig verblijf. De nieuwe mensen leren de landbouw en veeteelt van degenen die blijven. Er werken ook slaven.

"Although they know very well, down to the last detail, how much grain each city and its surrounding district will consume, they produce much more grain and cattle than they need for themselves, and share the surplus with their neighbors."(33)

[De naburige steden of de naburige landen? Het eerste zou vreemd zijn als ze allemaal zo'n surplus produceren.]

Their Cities, Especially Amaurot

Amaurot is de centraal gelegen hoofstad (die volgens de editor nogal aan Londen doet denken).

"The town is surrounded by a thick, high wall, with many towers and bastions. On three sides it is also surrounded by a dry ditch, broad and deep and filled with thorn hedges; on its fourth side the river itself serves as a moat."(34)

[In feite dus ook weer gebouwd op verdedigbaarheid - er zijn wel meer van die opmerkingen die laten zien dat men zich zeer bewust is van een mogelijke vijand.]

"Every ten years, they change houses by lot."(34)

[Er is geen privébezit en ook een huis is niet van iemand.]

"Once a year, every group of thirty households elects an official, formerly called the syphogrant, but now called the phylarch. Over every group of ten syphogrants with their households there is another official, once called the tranibor but now known as the head phylarch. All the syphogrants, two hundred in number, are brought together to elect the prince. They take an oath to choose the man they think best qualified; and then by secret ballot they elect the prince from among four men nominated by the people of the four sections of the city. The prince holds office for life, unless he is suspected of aiming at a tyranny. Though the tranibors are elected annually, they are not changed for light or casual reasons. All their other officials hold office for a single year only."(35)

[Uit hoeveel personen bestaan een huishouden? Zie p40 voor uitleg. Is dat als op het land in de omvang van 40 personen? Nee. In voetnoot 2, p39 ziet Adams 'huishouden' en 'familie' als gelijk. De totale werkende bevolking per stad is volgens hem 200 x 30 x 10 = 60.000 personen. Maar hoeveel kinderen waren er per familie? Hoeveel slaven? En tellen de landbewerkers onder die 10 tot 16 volwassenen? De totale bevolking is dan maximaal 54 steden x 6000 huishoudens per stad x 16+4 kinderen / slaven = 6.480.000.]

Bestuurlijk wordt grote moeite gedaan om er voor te zorgen dat er geen kleine facties kunnen ontstaan die hun wil opleggen aan anderen. Belangrijke zaken moeten bijvoorbeeld altijd aan de vergadering van syphogranten worden voorgelegd die het terugkoppelen naar de huishoudens die ze vertegenwoordigen.

[Hoe ga je om met machtshonger? Dat is inderdaad een heel belangrijke kwestie.]

Their Work-Habits

"Besides farm work (which, as I said, everybody performs), each person is taught a particular trade of his own , such as wool-working, linen making, masonry, metal-work, or carpentry. There is no other craft that is practiced by any considerable number of them."(36)

Voetnoot 6 door de editor:

"Among the objects in Utopia that nobody seems to make are glassware, ceramics, books, statuary, horseshoes and harness, wheels, can­dles, armor, arrows, ships, and musical as well as astronomical instruments. Among the "unexplained" professions, which people practice but for which they are never trained, are sailors, judges, doctors, nurses, teachers, miners, musicians, plumbers, bakers, and stewards."(36)

[Ik vraag me af of dat een faire opmerking is: More kon natuurlijk onmogelijk alle beroepen en producten opsommen.]

"Throughout the island people wear, and down through the centuries they have always worn, the same style of clothing, except for the distinction between the sexes, and between married and unmarried persons. Their clothing is attractive, does not hamper bodily movement, and serves for warm as well as cold weather; what is more, each household can make its own."(36-37)

[Dat lijkt populair in alle utopische verhalen waarin gelijkheid belangrijk gevonden wordt: dan moeten de kleren ook gelijk zijn. Er wordt op dat punt dus wel een onderscheid gemaakt tussen mannen en vrouwen. Wonderlijk genoeg ook tussen getrouwde en ongetrouwde mensen. Waarom dat laatste? More's Utopia kent dus een huwelijk.]

"Every person (and this includes women as well as men) learns a second trade, besides agriculture. As the weaker sex, women practice the lighter crafts, such as working in wool or linen; the heavier jobs are assigned to the men."(37)

[Ik hoop dan maar dat met 'the weaker sex' alleen aan spierkracht gedacht wordt, wat misschien redelijk zou zijn.]

"As a rule, the son is trained to his father's craft, for which most feel a natural inclination. But if anyone is attracted to another occupation, he is transferred by adoption into a family practicing the trade he prefers."(37)

[Eerst de term 'huishouden', nu 'familie'. Ik heb nog geen idee hoe die er uitzien. Blijkbaar zijn die ambachten gekoppeld aan een familie. Maar de rol van de familie is betrekkelijk, want iemand kan blijkbaar met gemak geadopteerd worden door een andere.]

"The chief and almost the only business of the syphogrants is to manage matters so that no one sits a round in idleness, and assure that every one works hard at his trade. But no one has to exhaust himself with endless toil from early morning to late at night, as if he were a beast of burden. Such wretchedness, really worse than slavery, is the common lot of workmen in all countries, except Utopia. Of the day's twenty-four hours, the Utopians devote only six to work. They work three hours before noon , when they go to lunch. After lunch they rest for a couple of hours, then go to work for another three hours. Then they have sup­per, and at eight o'clock (counting the first hour after noon as one), they go to bed and sleep eight hours.
The other hours of the day, when they are not working, eating, or sleeping, are left to each man's individual discretion, provided he does not waste them in roistering or sloth , but uses them busily in some occupation that pleases him. Generally these periods are devoted to intellectual activity."(37)

[Hard werken als je werkt, maar niet eindeloos lang werken, dat lijkt me fair. Wel gek dat de rest van de dag desondanks vastligt: iedereen moet even lang slapen, heel grappig; en iedereen moet om vier uur opstaan, en je mag niet luieren of je luidruchtig vermaken. Waarom zou je zoiets willen vastleggen als een regel?More wil blijkbaar voorkomen dat mensen zitten te niksen, dat is niet christelijk. Vandaar ook:]

"After supper, they devote an hour to recreation, in their gardens when the weather is fine, or during winter weather in the common halls where they have their meals. There they either play music or amuse themselves with conversation . They know nothing about gambling with dice, or other such foolish and ruinous games. They do play two games not unlike our own chess."(38)

Die zes uur werk leveren meer dan genoeg op om van te leven. In het Westen werken veel mensen niet en andere mensen houden zich bezig met verspillende activiteiten omdat alles er om geld draait:

"And now consider how few of those who do work are doing really essential things. For where money is the standard of everything, many vain, superfluous trades are bound to be carried on simply to satisfy luxury and licentiousness."(38)

[Ik ben het daar erg mee eens. Het kapitalisme is een verspillend systeem en veel mensen zijn in dat systeem alleen maar bezig met het produceren en verplaatsen van gebakken lucht of van nutteloze producten, ten koste van mens en natuur.
Het zinnetje "In the first place, hardly any of the women, who are a full half of the population, work;" slaat hier niet zoals de editor denkt op de vrouwen van Utopia. De editor zit er in zijn voetnoten af en toe nogal naast, valt me op.
Weinig mensen - de syphogrants bijvoorbeeld - zijn vrijgesteld van werk. Hte gaat hier om mannen en vrouwen. Slechts een paar mogen heel hun tijd aan studie besteden "but only on the recommendation of the priests and through a secret vote of the syphogrants."39 Er zijn dus priesters in Utopia?]

"If any of these scholars disappoints their hopes, - he becomes a workman again. On the other hand, it happens from time to time that a craftsman devotes his leisure so earnestly to study, and makes such progress as a result, that he is relieved of manual labor and promoted to the class of learned men."(39)

[Ook dat lijkt me allemaal verdedigbaar: je moet je positie letterlijk verdienen door je inzet en talenten, je krijgt het niet cadeau.]

"From this class of scholars are chosen ambassadors, priests, tranibors, and the prince himself ..."(39)

[In Voetnoot 3 hier zegt Adams:"The apparent democracy of Utopia is sharply limited by this provision;" Dat is zeker waar, de bewoners kunnen wel kiezen , maar alleen uit een selecte groep. Maar de vraag is natuurlijk of dat zo erg is ... ]

"But among the Utopians, where everything has been established according to plan, and the commonwealth is carefully regulated [mijn nadruk], building a brand-new home on a new site is a rate event. They are not only quick to repair damage, but foresighted in preventing it. The result is that their buildings last for a very long time with minimal repairs; and the carpenters and masons sometimes have so little to do, that they are set to hewing timber and cutting stone in case some future need for it should arise."(39-40)

[Dat is wat veel mensen niet willen: dat een samenleving goed gepland en gereguleerd is. Het argument is dan altijd dat dat de menselijke vrijheid aantast.]

Er is ook snel voorzien in de behoeften van de bewoners van Utopia, simpelweg omdat ze zo weinig behoeften hebben.

Social and Business Relations

De huishoudens van de stad bestaan over het algemeen uit bloedverwanten. Vrouwen / dochters trouwen in bij mannen. De zonen en alle kleinkinderen blijven in dat huishouden.. Het gezag blijft bij de oudste ouder.

[Niet per se een man dus, denk je dan, maar zie p41. Desondanks lijkt me dat voor de kinderen die getrouwd zijn en eigen kinderen hebben geen sinecure.]

"To keep the city from becoming too large or too small, they have decreed that there shall be no more than six thousand households in it (exclusive of the surrounding countryside), each family containing between ten and sixteen adults. They do not, of course, try to regulate the number of minor children in a family."(40-41)

[Tien tot zestien volwassenen en een ongelimiteerd aantal kinderen. Dat laatste aantal wordt natuurlijk niet geregeld, zegt More. Daarin is hij echt iemand uit de zestiende eeuw en christen. Maar hoe kun je dan voorkomen dat huishoudens te groot groeien als er sprake is van geboortenbeperking? Dat lijkt me onmogelijk. Maar daar heeft More het volgende op gevonden:]

"The limit on adults is easily observed by transferring individuals from a household with too many into a household with not enough. Likewise if a city has too many people, the extra persons serve to make up a shortage of population in other cities."(41)

[Blijkbaar is dat bloedverwantschap niet zo belangrijk zoals we al eerder zagen bij het vervullen van ambachten. Belangrijke vraag is hier: hoe vrijwillig vertrekt iemand van het ene huishouden naar het andere dan wel van de ene stad naar de andere? Wat met vriendschappen bijvoorbeeld? En wat nu als alle steden overvol raken? Ook dat laatste heeft More overdacht:]

"And if the population throughout the entire island exceeds the quota, then they enroll citizens out of every city and plant a colony under their own laws on the main­ land near them, wherever the natives have plenty of unoccupied and uncultivated land. Those natives who want to live with the Utopian settlers are taken in. When such a merger occurs, the two peoples grad­ually and easily blend together, sharing the same way of life and customs, much to the advantage of both. For by their policies the Utopians make the land yield an abundance for all, which had previously seemed too barren and paltry even to support the natives. But if the natives will not join in living under their laws, the Utopians drive them out of the land they claim for themselves, and if they resist make war on them. The Utopians say it's perfectly justifiable to make war on people who leave their land idle and waste, yet forbid the use of it to others who, by the law of nature, ought to be supported from it."(41)

[Kolonialisme ten top natuurlijk, met ook dat element dat de kolonialisten superieur zijn als volk. Vreemden mogen zich aanpassen of moeten opdonderen. Het idee dat de Utopiërs zich zouden aanpassen aan de leefstijl en de gewoonten van dat vreemde volk komt niet eens in hun hoofd op. Adams zegt in Noot 8 op 41 terecht:"Every imperialism in the world's history has proceeded on the assumption that the "natives" don't know what to do with the land that Prov­idence has unfairly bestowed on them, and that superior races are therefore entitled to take over." ]

Als de steden door een plaag of zo te weinig inwoners zouden krijgen, dan worden Utopiërs teruggehaald uit de koloniën.

[Zouden die mensen daar dan nog zin in hebben? Je bouwt iets op elders en dan zou je vrijwillig terug moeten naar het eiland? Dat is moeilijk voorstelbaar, tenzij iedereen dat eigenlijk wil en met tegenzin in die kolonie zit. Wie bepaalt wie er terug komt en hoe zou dat kunnen worden afgedwongen als iemand niet wil?]

"The oldest of every household, as I said, is the ruler. Wives are subject to their husbands, children to their parents, and generally the younger to their elders."(41)

[Dat is raar. Wat nu als een vrouw ouder is dan haar echtgenoot? Dan is ze de leider en tegelijkertijd onderworpen aan haar man. Ik neem dus aan dat het weer het bekende liedje is, er moet eigenlijk staan: "The oldest man of every household." Niet erg vernieuwend. Verderop inderdaad: Op de markt "the head of each household looks for what he or his family needs".]

Er is genoeg van alles voor iedereen, de hoofden van huishoudens kunnen zonder te betalen meenemen wat ze nodig hebben.

"Why would anyone be suspected of asking for more than is needed, when everyone knows there will never be any shortage? Fear of want, no doubt, makes every living creature greedy and avaricious - and, in addition, man develops these qualities out of pride, pride which glories in putting down others by a superfluous display of possessions. But this kind of vice has no place whatever in the Utopian way of life."(42)

[Geen gezeur over status op basis van uiterlijke kenmerken, geen jaloersmakende praktijken, geen imitatie om er vooral maar bij te horen, het lijkt me een verademing. Een leven zonder schaarste, zo'n leven is mogelijk als je de bevolkingsgroei in toom houdt en een ander economisch systeem volgt zoals hier gebeurt.]

"Fish, meat, and poultry are also brought there from designated places outside the city, where running water can carry away all the blood and refuse. Slaves do the slaughtering and cleaning in these places: citizens are not allowed to do such work. The Utopians feel that slaughtering our fellow-creatures gradually destroys the sense of compassion, which is the finest sentiment of which our human nature is capable. Besides, they don't allow anything dirty or filthy to be brought into the city lest the air become tainted by putrefaction and thus infectious."(42)

[Ik begrijp niet zo waar die slaven vandaan komen? Zijn dat mensen die misdaden begaan hebben zoals bij de Polylerits? Ja, zie p45. Verder zit ook hier weer een gevoel van superioriteit: wij willen onze gevoeligheden sparen en ver weg blijven van stank en vuiligheid, voor die slaven geldt dat blijkbaar niet.]

"Each ward has its own spacious halls, equally distant from one another, and each known by a special name. In these halls live the syphogrants. Thirty families are assigned to each hall, to take their meals in com­mon - fifteen live on one side of the hall, fifteen on the other."(42)

[Dat zijn dan ruimtes voor 30x20=600 mensen, zeg maar. Dat is enorm.]

Elke stad heeft vier ruime en goed geoutilleerde ziekenhuizen aan de rand van de stad. Eerst wordt het voedsel voor de zieken bepaald, de rest gaat naar de hallen, met speciale aandacht voor de prins, de hogepriester, de tranibors, ambassadeurs en vreemde bezoekers.

[Hm, toch weer privileges? Mensen eten dus samen in die hallen, thuis eten doet men liever niet. Er is alleen sprake van 'lunch' en 'supper'. Geen ontbijt dus? ]

"In the syphogrant's hall, slaves do all the particularly dirty and heavy work. But planning the meal, as well as preparing and cooking the food, is carried out by the women alone, with each family taking its turn."(43)

[Naast 'huishouden' komt dus ook de term 'familie' voor. Weer de typische rol van slaven en van vrouwen.]

Er is een vaste indeling van de zitplaatsen in de hal, met de mannen met de rug naar de muur en de vrouwen aan de binnenkant zodat die snel weg kunnen als er pijntjes optreden (zoals bij zwangeren).

[Subtiel, hoor. De verderop beschreven indeling lijkt sprekend op wat in de dure kostscholen en universiteiten van Engeland vaak nog gebruikelijk is.]

Kinderen onder de vijf verblijven in de kinderkamer met de kindermeisjes. Elk kind wordt door zijn eigen moeder gevoed, tenzij dat door ziekte of dood niet kan, dan is er een vervangster.

"All other minors, both boys and girls up to the age of marriage, either wait on table, or if not old and strong enough for that, stand by in absolute silence. They eat whatever is handed to them by those sitting at the table, and have no other time set for their meals."(43)

[Nogal streng, lijkt me. En wat als je zeven kinderen hebt?]

"... if there is a church in the district, the priest and his wife sit with the syphogrant, and preside with him."(43)

[Er zijn dus kerken en priesters en die priesters zijn getrouwd.]

"Thus, due respect is paid to seniority, yet the principle of equality is preserved."(44)

[Nou, ik zie toch veel elementen waar die gelijkheid bepaald niet bestaat en de ouderen de dienst uitmaken.]

Travel and Trade in Utopia

Je mag alleen mensen in andere steden of op het land bezoeken met toestemming van syphogrant of tranibor. Wie die toestemming niet heeft wordt gestraf en bij een tweede vergrijp tot slaaf gemaakt. Men reist samen.

[Ik vroeg me al af of je in Utopia ooit alleen kunt zijn. Ik heb de indruk van niet.]

"If they stay more than a day in one place, each man practices his trade there in the shop of the local artisans, by whom he is gladly received."(45)

"Anyone who wants to stroll about and explore the extent of his own district is not prevented, provided he first obtains his father's permission and his wife's consent. But wherever he goes in the countryside, he gets no food until he has completed either a morning's or an afternoon's stint of work."(45)

[Ook hier mag je niet rondwandelen zonder toestemming en niets doen is er niet bij ... ]

"So you see there is no chance to loaf or kill time, no pretext for evad­ing work; no taverns, or alehouses, or brothels; no chances for corrup­tion; no hiding places, no spots for secret meetings. Because they live in the full view of all, they are bound to be either working at their usual trades, or enjoying their leisure in a respectable way. Such a life style must necessarily result in plenty of life's good things, and since they share everything equally, it follows that no one can ever be reduced to poverty or forced to beg."(45)

[Nee, mensen die alleen willen zijn worden gewantrouwd. De sociale controle is dus enorm groot in Utopia. Het idee 'individuele vrijheid' bestaat er niet.]

"After they have accumulated enough for themselves - and this they consider to be a full two-years' store, because next year's crop is always uncertain - then they export their surpluses to other countries."(45)

[Waarvoor ze dus betaling ontvangen. Maar wat moeten ze met dat geld? Dus potten ze goud en zilver en andere edele metalen op.]

"This is the only reason that they keep such an immense treasure at home, as a protection against extreme peril or sudden emergency. They use it above all to hire, at extravagant rates of pay, foreign mercenaries, whom they would much rather risk in battle than their own citizens."(46)

[Toch ook een beetje oorlogszuchtig, die Utopiërs ...]

Their Gold and Silver

"While they eat from pottery dishes and drink from glass cups, well made but inexpensive, their chamberpots and stools - all their humblest vessels, for use in the common halls and private homes - are made of gold and silver. The chains and heavy fetters pf slaves are also made of these metals."(47)

Their Moral Philosophy

"... every child gets an introduction to good literature, and throughout their lives a large part of the people, men and women alike, spend their leisure time in reading."(49)

"Before we came there, the Utopians had never so much as heard about a single one of those philosophers whose names are so celebrated in our part of the world. Yet in music, dialectic, arithmetic, and geom­etry they have found out just about the same things as our great men of the past."(49)

"In matters of moral philosophy, they carry on much the same arguments as we do.(...) They discuss virtue and pleasure, but their chief concern is human happiness, and whether it consists of one thing or many. They seem overly inclined to the view of those who think that all or most human happiness consists of pleasure. And what is more surprising, they seek support for this hedonistic philosophy from their religion, which is serious and strict, indeed, almost stern and forbidding. For they never discuss happiness without joining to their philosophic rationalism the principles of religion . Without these religious principles, they think that philosophy is bound to prove weak and defective in its effort to investigate true happiness."(50)

[Ugh ... Moraal en religie. Alsof je religie nodig hebt om een moraal te hebben ... Mensen hebben een onsterfelijke ziel, er is een god, er is een leven na de dood waar we beloond of gestraft worden voor wat we deden, het bekende christelijke gezever komt in dit boek terug evenals de 'natuurwetten' en zo.]

"Nothing is more humane (and humanity is the virtue most proper to human beings) than to relieve the misery of others, assuage their griefs, and by removing all sadness from their life, to restore them to enjoyment, that is, pleasure. Well, if this is the case, why doesn 't nature equally invite us to do the same thing for ourselves? Either a joyful life (that is, one of pleasure) is a good thing or it isn't. If it isn't, then you should not help anyone to it - indeed, you ought to take it away from everyone you can, as harmful and deadly to them. But if such a life is good, and if we are supposed, indeed obliged, to help others to it, why shouldn't we first of all seek it for ourselves, to whom we owe no less charity than to anyone else? When nature prompts us to be kind to our neighbors, she does not mean that we should be cruel and merciless to ourselves."(51)

[Voor dit 'natuurlijke' principe voor gedrag is dus helemaal geen religie nodig. Wel een definitie van wat 'plezier' dan is en natuurlijk gaat het daar mis, want er wordt onderscheiden tussen echt en onecht, natuurlijk en tegennatuurlijk, plezier en natuurlijk zijn er weer mensen die precies het onderscheid 'kennen' en mensen kunnen dwingen tot het een en tot het afzien van het ander.]

"By pleasure they understand every state or movement of body or mind in which man naturally finds delight. They are right in considering man's appetites natural. By simply following his senses and his right reason a man may discover what is pleasant by nature - it is a delight that does not injure others, that does not preclude a greater pleasure, and that is not followed by pain. But a pleasure which is against nature, and which men call "delightful " only by the emptiest of fictions (as if one could change the real nature of things just by changing their names), does not really make for happiness; in fact they say, it destroys happiness. And the reason is that men whose minds arc filled with false ideas of pleasure have no room left for true and genuine delight. As a matter of fact, there are a great many things which have no sweetness in them, but are mainly or entirely bitter - yet which through the perverse enticements of evil lusts are considered very great pleasures, and even the supreme goals of life.
Among the devotees of this false pleasure the Utopians include those whom I mentioned before, the people who think themselves finer fellows because they wear finer clothes."(52)

En vergelijkbaar: mensen die denken dat ze beter zijn omdat ze meer juwelen hebben of meer geld. Of mensen die geloven in gokken of jagen.

"Taking such relish in the sight of death , even if it's only beasts, reveals, in the opinion of the Utopians, a cruel disposition. Or if he isn't cruel to start with, the hunter quickly becomes so through the constant practice of such brutal pleasures."(54)

"They distinguish several different classes of true pleasure, some being pleasures of the mind and others pleasures of the body. Those of the mind are knowledge and the delight which rises from contemplating the truth , also the gratification of looking back on a well-spent life and the unquestioning hope of happiness to come.
Pleasures of the body they also divide into two classes. The first is that which fills the senses with immediate delight. Sometimes this happens when organs that have been weakened by natural heat are restored with food and drink; sometimes it happens when we eliminate some excess in the body, as when we move our bowels, generate children , or relieve an itch somewhere by rubbing or scratching it."(54)

[Seks is er alleen om iets uit te scheiden waardoor we kinderen kunnen voortbrengen. Dat 'plezier' is dan blijkbaar beperkt tot de 'male body'. Een heel beperkte kijk op seks dus.]

Muziek hoort ook bij die geneugten. En gezond zijn met name ook.

"Beauty, strength , and agility, as special and pleasant gifts of nature, they joyfully accept. The pleasures of sound, sight, and smell they also accept as the special seasonings of life, recognizing that nature intended these delights to be the particular province of man.(...) But in all their pleasures, the Utopians observe this rule, that the lesser pleasure must not interfere with a greater, and that no pleasure shall carry pain with it as a consequence. If a plea­sure is false, they think it will inevitably lead to pain."(56)

Their Delight in Learning

Is groot, dat is duidelijk.


"Most of their slaves are either their own former citizens, enslaved for some heinous offense, or else men of other nations who were condemned to death in their own land. Most are of the latter sort. Sometimes the Utopians buy them at a very modest rate, more often they ask for them, get them for nothing, and bring them home in considerable numbers. Both kinds of slaves are kept constantly at work, and are always fettered . The Utopians deal with their own people more harshly than with others, feeling that their crimes are worse and deserve stricter punishment because, as it is argued, they had an excellent education and the best of moral training, yet still couldn't be restrained from wrong­ doing. A third class of slaves consists of hardworking penniless drudges from other nations who voluntarily choose to become slaves in Utopia."(59)

[Dat als antwoord op bovenstaande vraag.]

Care of the Sick and Dying

Zieken worden goed verzorgd, zo werd boven al beschreven.

"But if the disease is not only incurable, but excruciatingly and continually painful, then the priests and public officials come and urge the invalid not to endure such agony any longer. They remind him that he is now unfit for any of life's duties, a burden to himself and to others; he has really outlived his own death. They tell him he should not let the disease prey on him any longer, but now that life is simply torture and the world a mere prison cell, he should not hesitate to free himself, or to let others free him, from the rack of living. This would be a wise act, they say, since for him death puts an end, not to pleasure, but to agony. In addition, he would be obeying the advice of the priests, who are the interpreters of God's will; which ensures that it will be a holy and a pious act.
Those who have been persuaded by these arguments either starve themselves to death or take a potion which puts them painlessly to sleep, and frees them from life without any sensation of dying. But they never force this step on a man against his will; nor, if he decides against it, do they lessen their care of him."(60)

[Mooi, dit verhaal over de mogelijkheid en wenselijkheid van euthanasie. Daar kunnen we vandaag de dag nog van leren.]

Marriage Customs

"Women do not marry till they are eighteen, nor men till they are twenty-two. Premarital intercourse, if discovered and proved, brings severe punishment on both man and woman, and the guilty parties are forbid­den to marry during their whole lives, unless the prince, by his pardon, alleviates the sentence. In addition both the father and mother of the household where the offense occurred suffer public disgrace for having been remiss in their duty . The reason they punish this offense so severely is that they suppose few people would join in married love -with confinement to a single partner, and all the petty annoyances that married life involves - unless they were strictly restrained from a life of promis­cuity."(60-61)

[Nog even afgezien van dat er meer is dan 'intercourse' - mogen alle andere seksuele dingen wel? : blijkbaar is seks de beloning voor alle frustraties die een huwelijk met zich mee brengt. Niemand zou nog trouwen als hij of zij al eerder seks zou mogen hebben, is dus het argument. Wat zegt dat wel neit over het huwelijk?]

Potentiële partners mogen elkaar eerst naakt zien, zodat ze achteraf niet verrast worden door lichamelijke afwijkingen die ze gaan haten.

"Not all people are so wise as to concern themselves solely with character; even the wise appreciate physical beauty, as a supplement to a good disposition."(61)

[Grappige opmerking. ]

"There is extra reason for them to be careful, because in that part of the world, they are the only people who practice monogamy. Their marriages are seldom terminated except by death, though they do allow divorce for adultery or for intolerably difficult behavior. A husband or wife who is an aggrieved party to such a divorce is granted permission by the senate to remarry, but the guilty party is considered disreputable and perma­nently forbidden to take another mate."(61)

"It happens occasionally that a married couple cannot get along, and have both found other persons with whom they hope to live more harmoniously. After getting the approval of the senate, they may then sep­arate by mutual consent and contract new marriages. But such divorces are allowed only after the senators and their wives have carefully investigated the case. They allow divorce only very reluctantly because they know that husbands and wives will find it hard to settle down together if each has in mind that another new relation is easily available."(62)

[Weer een andere manier om mensen in een huwelijk te houden.]

"They punish adulterers with the strictest form of slavery.(...) But a second conviction of adultery is punished by death."(62)

[En blijkbaar is dat hard nodig ...]

Punishments, Legal Procedures, and Customs

"No other crimes carry fixed penalties; the senate sets specific penalties for each particular misdeed, as it is considered atrocious or venial. Husbands chastise their wives and parents their children, unless the offense is so serious that public punishment seems to be in the public interest."(62)

[Ja, en natuurlijk kastijden de echtgenotes ook hun man ... o nee ... Zoals gewoonlijk is de man de baas. En hebben kinderen ook nog enige rechten?]

"Slaves, moreover, are permanent and visible reminders that crime does not pay. If the slaves rebel against their con­dition, then, like savage beasts which neither bars nor chains can tame, they are put instantly to death. But if they are patient, they are not left altogether without hope. When subdued by long hardships, if they show by their behavior that they regret the crime more than the punishment, their slavery is lightened or remitted altogether, sometimes by the prince's pardon, sometimes by popular vote."(62)

"A man who tries to seduce a woman is subject to the same penalties as if he had actually done it."(62)

[Gelukkig doen alleen mannen zoiets stoms ... More kan zich bepaalde zaken bij vrouwen blijkbaar niet voorstellen.]

"They think it a sign of a weak and sluggish character to neglect one's natural beauty, but they consider cosmetics a detestable affectation . From experience they have learned that no physical beauty recommends a wife to her husband so effectually as truthfulness and integrity. Though quite a few men are captured by beauty alone, none are held except by virtue and compliance."(63)

[Hier wordt schoonheid weer te gemakkelijk aan vrouwen gekoppeld.]

"In Utopia any man who campaigns too eagerly for a public office is sure to fail of that one, and of all others as well. As a rule, they live together harmoniously, and the public officials are never arrogant or unapproachable. Instead, they are called "fathers, " and that is the way they behave."(63)

[De bereikbaarheid van bestuurders lijkt me niet gemakkelijk, gezien het grote aantal mensen dat er in een stad woont. En 'fathers'? Dus alleen mannen komen in die ambten terecht? Dat zal ongetwijfeld wel weer zo zijn in die tijd.]

"They think it is better for each man to plead his own case, and say the same thing to the judge that he would tell his lawyer."(63)

[Mooi als iemand dat kan. Maar wat als iemand niet zo goed uit zijn woorden kan komen of zo?]

Foreign Relations

"But in that new world which is scarcely removed from ours by geography so far as it is by customs and life style, nobody trusts treaties. The greater the formalities, the more numerous and solemn the oaths, the sooner the treaty will be broken. The rulers will find some defect in the wording of it, which often enough they deliberately inserted themselves, so that they're never at a loss for a pretext. No treaty can be made so strong and explicit that a government will not be able to worm out of it, breaking in the process both the treaty and its own word."(65)

[Goed gezien van die Utopiërs. En zo is het nog steeds.]


"They despise war as an activity fit only for beasts, yet practiced more by man than by any other creature. Unlike almost every other people in the world, they think nothing so inglorious as the glory won in battle. Yet on certain fixed days , both men and women alike carry on vigorous military training, so they will be fit to fight should the need arise. They go to war only for good reasons; among these are the protection of their own land, the protection of their friends from an invading army, and the liberation of an oppressed people from tyranny and servitude."(66)

[Hier zijn mannen en vrouwen wel gelijk.]

"Just as no man is forced into a foreign war against his will, so women are allowed to accompany their men on military service if they want to - not only not forbidden, but encouraged and praised for doing so. They place each woman alongside her husband in the line of battle; and in addition they place around him all of a man's children, kinsmen , and blood- or marriage-relations, so that those who by nature have most reason to help one another may be closest at hand for mutual aid."(70)


"There are different forms of religion throughout the island, and in each particular city as well. Some worship as a god the sun, others the moon, and still others one of the planets. There are some who worship a man of past ages who was conspicuous either for virtue or glory; they consider him not only a god but the supreme god. Most of the Utopians, however, and among these all the wisest, believe nothing of the sort: they believe in a single power, unknown, eternal, infinite, inexplicable, far beyond the grasp of the human mind, and diffused throughout the universe, not physically, but in influence. Him they call father, and to him alone they attribute the origin, increase, progress, change, and end of all visible things; they do not offer divine honors to any other."(72-73)

"For it is one of their oldest institutions that no man's religion, as such, shall be held against him."(74)

"On the other hand, he

[Utopus, de stichter van Utopia] was quite sure that it was arrogant folly for anyone to enforce conformity with his own beliefs by means of threats or violence."(74)

"Fortune-telling and other vain forms of superstitious divination, such as other people take very seriously, they consider ridiculous and contemptible. But they venerate miracles which occur without the help of nature, considering them direct and visible manifestations of the divine power."(76)

"There is no subject on which they are more careful of jumping to conclusions than this matter of religion.(...)
Their priests are men of great holiness, and therefore very few. In each city, there are no more than thirteen, one for each church. The high priest is, of course, in authority over all the others. Priests are elected , j ust like all other officials, by secret popular vote, in order to avoid partisan feeling. After election they are ordained by the college of priests."(77-78)

"Their chief functions are to preside over divine worship, decree religious rites, and act as censors of public morality. For a man to be summoned before them, and scolded for not living an honorable life, is considered a great disgrace. As the duty of the priests is simply to counsel and advise, so correcting and punishing offenders is the duty of the prince and the other officials, though the priests may and do exclude from divine service persons whom they find to be extraordinarily wicked. Hardly any punishment is more dreaded than this; the man who is excommun­icated incurs great disgrace and is tortured by the fear of damnation. Not even his body is safe for long, for unless he quickly convinces the priests of his repentance, he will be seized and punished by the senate for impiety.
The priests are entrusted with teaching the children and young peo­ple. Instruction in good manners and pure morals is considered just as important as the accumulation of learning."(78)

[Iedereen MOET dus religieus en vroom zijn, iedereen is dus onderworpen aan de morele opvattingen van priesters, kinderen worden er mee geïndoctrineerd, elke burger die niet meedoet wordt buitengesloten en gestraft, de priesters werken samen met de publieke bestuurders om iedereen in het gareel te krijgen. Wat een akelige wereld. Waarom zouden priesters meer verstand van moraal hebben dan welke willekeurige zwerver onder de brug? Waarom is er geen scheiding tussen kerk en staat? Waarom is er hoe dan ook religie?]

"Women are not debarred from the priesthood, but only a widow of advanced years is ever chosen, and it doesn't happen often. Except for women who are priests themselves, the wives of priests are the most important women in the whole country.
No official in Utopia is more honored than the priest. Even if one of them commits a crime, he is not brought into a court of law, but left to God and his own conscience."(78)

[Priesters staan nog boven de wet ook.]

"For if children were trusted to the care of the other children, they might spend in childish foolery the time they should devote to developing a religious fear of the gods, which is the greatest and almost the only incitement to virtue."(80)

[Wat een onzin. Letterlijk religieuze bangmakerij om mensen op het rechte pad te houden. Alsof dat de enige manier is om mensen deugdzaam te maken. Moraal en deugdzaamheid hebben de religie niet nodig. Integendeel zelfs.]

"Now here I'd like to see anyone try to compare this justice of the Utopians with the so-called justice that prevails among other peoples­ among whom let me perish if I can discover the slightest scrap of justice or fairness. What kind of justice is it when a nobleman or a goldsmith or a moneylender, or someone else who makes his living by doing either nothing at all or something completely useless to the public, gets to live a life of l uxury and grandeur? In the meantime, a laborer, a carter, a carpenter, or a farmer works so hard and so constantly that even a beast of burden would perish under the load; and this work of theirs is so necessary that no commonwealth could survive a year without it. Yet they earn so meager a living and lead such miserable lives that a beast of burden would really be better off."(82)

[Prachtige kritiek. En nog steeds waar, op een bepaalde manier.]

(87) Backgrounds

Allerlei klassieke teksten die More waarschijnlijk kende en die vooruitlopen op de thema's die hij aansnijdt. Kritieken op zijn werk van wat auteurs, etc.

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