When considering the foundation of a society it is hard not to find a complex political structure. In the case of Thomas More’s Utopian island it is a civilization built on the idea that there is no private property where the sharing and rotation of goods, land, trades, and skills takes place. These are characteristics of a communist society. Communism is found in many utopian societies because the idea of having absolute equality is very appealing to many groups of people and since utopia is an ideal society it would have all the traits that are idolized for example prosperity, security, and equality to name a few.
The way More portrays it, the society functions because each of the citizens is content with the way things are and wanted harmony and unity with each other and their surroundings. In order for this to be realistic, the average human being would need to renounce their personal greed and desire to be above another person and the value of property would have to be mutually defined. The problem lies in our attempts to replicate the ideal.
Communism is a common aspect of many theoretical utopian societies. Even in modern pop culture the idea of a perfect society is seen often where the distribution of goods, commodities and land are even and just. In many cases communism is presented as a desirable societal trait possibly because the effects of dramatic inequality due to status, race, gender, ethnicity, and wealth are seen in almost every society around the world. Inequality and division can cause unspeakable pain to many individuals making the perfectly equal community seem that much better.
Part of why communism is idolized and found in many utopian societies could also lie in religious backgrounds like the example set in the city of Enoch. This was a perfect city where everyone had equal wealth and privileges and was in fact so perfect that the whole city was translated into heaven. Particularly in times of war the idea of attainable unity can bring hope and passion to the general public making the idea of a utopia a common occurrence with More’s communism at its core.
Many attempts at utopian society are unsuccessful because of the actions of an intelligent and ravenous few. Communism is a mutual trait of the ideal utopian society because it has the capacity to create a perfect community but materialism of individuals can render it deadly to the commonwealth. That is not to say it is entirely void. Some of the philosophies of communism like equal distribution of rights are at the heart of important documents like the Magna Carta, and the Declaration of Independence.
However our modern societies are still definitely not equal because of a progressive social hierarchy developed by uneven distributions of wealth because of private property. When we try to create this equal and ideal society we often fail because of the presence of personal greed. More’s portrayal of a communist society would likely not function because of this. Would the people be willing to live in perfect harmony with each other particularly with others of different belief systems? Would everyone conform to the conventional society? More’s Utopia relies on the cooperation of the people within it and the society can only last as long as that cooperation is in place.
The idea of a perfect society is remarkably desirable because of the safety and equality of the community, so much so that in unsuccessful cases like that of communist Russia, many citizens were willing to give up their freedom of choice to try and create that ideal. In Utah when the pioneers first came it was a communist society where the people were tended to based on their needs. More’s representation of a perfect civilization is ideal, except perhaps for the slavery part, but unfortunately in most societies each individual has different ideals and philosophies and not everyone gets along.
Not everyone shares the same political and ethical ideas meaning More’s communist society may not be a sustainable political structure particularly because privacy is nonexistent. In More’s society there is still division and competition wherein the desire to be better than another man still exists and can lead to abuse of power. The only way More’s utopia would work would be if the society could prevent division of the nation because of contrasting religious beliefs. In historical societies religious discrimination and political inequality played a significant part in the downfall of great empires like Rome.
In order for the Utopian society to completely work each member of the society would have to put aside their personal desire to be better or have more than another and be content with their given portion. But who is to decide what is equal, and who is to decide what items or tokens are of equal worth? A horse and a cow have different uses but which is of greater value? In Utopia they had a Prince and the locally appointed leadership that would decide but in our current society not many people agree on leadership and even though here in America we have elected officials and representatives and delegates, how many people agree with our leaders?
How many people would do exactly what the President or local officials suggest or loudly declare must be done on an individual level? If a good leader is selected with local leaders that everyone would willingly follow down to the distribution on an individual level More’s Utopia could be sustainable. However, a government that is founded on equality will always have issues as long as people continue to compare what they have with the possessions of others.
The leaders would have to be in sync with ideas on the education of the people on what is morally right (like More described) and a unified organization of said leadership and more religious tolerance. Each citizen would have to be satisfied with their given land, wealth, employment, and stature in the society and would need to be willing to change any one of the above within a ten year period and coexist with people of opposing religious ideals.
Any of the previously mentioned is rare to come across even in the best of centuries in human history. I do think that if education was relatively unified and there was no need for theft because the distribution of food was even like in More’s Utopia the world would be the better for it. However the differences in religion and the separation of classes through slavery would enable More’s society to last only as long as the cooperation of the people which is unstable where division exists.