The Utopians

I was asked to talk about “Breakthroughs I Would Like to See” and “Changes I Would Like to See.” I changed the title to “Change out of Control,” then to “Utopias I Would Like to See,” and I have changed the title again—but not the subject. I define utopia in the generic sense as simply the ideal society, the best imaginable. The task of describing my utopia has been both simplified and complicated by the fact that the breakthroughs, changes, and utopias I would like to see are all the same, and that my idea of utopia happens to be the same as that of the score of other utopians I am about to mention, all of whom see eye to eye on all essentials.

The surprise of finding consensus among men living so many years and miles apart is a reminder that there is one aspect of the gospel that we all tend to ignore, and that is the credit and recognition belonging to the righteous of other ages, for their zeal and dedication to the cause of Zion. We could call this paper “Holy Men Ye Know Not Of,” referring in particular to the utopian writers who invoked the tradition of man’s past glory (as John Taylor does in his hymn “Adam-ondi-Ahman”), as well as the prophecies of the millennial future, as ample evidence of man’s ability to achieve a better order than the one in which we live.

All ancient civilizations of record were dedicated to the proposition that the earthly order is or should be a faithful reflection of the heavenly. The centers of action were the great ceremonial complexes that dominate the scene throughout antiquity. The ruins and the texts setting forth the rituals and the hymns make it clear that the people had a pretty good idea of what heaven was like and did their best to imitate it. The idea was, we would say, utopian.

Of course reality fell short. But more idealistic souls did not give up. They followed what can be called the “Rekhabite principle,” that is, when the real world became too corrupt for them to endure, the truly pious ones banded together and emigrated, like the Jaredites, to a pure place, “into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter where there never had man been” (Ether 2:5). The motive for emigrating into the wilderness is made clear in many “Rekhabite” writings, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Book of Mormon, where resounding statements of discontent with the way the world has gone are followed by a program for establishing or awaiting a better order of things. Thus spake Enoch, the super-utopian, to his contemporaries: “[The righteous] have . . . met with much evil . . . and have become few and small . . . and have not found any to help [us] even with a word. . . . Sinners have laid their yoke heavily upon us. They have had dominion over us that hated us and smote us; and to those who hated us we have bowed our necks.”1 To the oppressors he says: “You have got by through juggling the books and falsifying reports; that is how you got your power, influence, and wealth.”2 “For these many generations, . . . have they gone astray,” said the Lord to Enoch, “and have denied me, and have sought their own counsels in the dark; and in their own abominations have they devised murder, and have not kept the commandments, which I gave unto their father, Adam” (Moses 6:28). So Enoch went up to found his city of Zion, the first and greatest utopia, where all “were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them” (Moses 7:18).

Among the most ancient of all records is the corpus of lamentation literature, both Egyptian and Mesopotamian, proclaiming the calamities of the times, lamenting lost glories and looking forward to a return of the same under a messianic king.3 Abraham was the first “Hebrew,” or outcast person, in a world of desperate wickedness, a refugee driven from place to place, “looking for a city builded without hands,” as Paul says, “whose ruler and maker was God” (Hebrews 9:11; 11:10).

The great world economic collapses that sent the nations migrating in search of new promised lands from time to time left people everywhere with dim memories of better times—a Golden Age, far away and long ago. It seems to have been particularly strong among those incurable idealists the Greeks. Pindar, the greatest of lyric poets, sees in the great panegyris of the sacred games the attempt to achieve and preserve something of the celestial order of the lost age of the gods, the time from which Hesiod traces the sad decline of mankind into successive ages of silver, bronze, and iron.

Plutarch’s Lycurgus stands at the head of most recommended reading lists on utopia; this is the utopia that serves as a pilot study for all the others, ancient and modern, who follow it in form and substance. Plutarch tells us that later utopians followed his lead, including Plato, the most influential of them all. Lycurgus begins his work in a state on the verge of total collapse: “For there was an intolerable inequality, with swarms of impoverished and helpless people burdening the city while all the wealth had been concentrated in the hands of the few; arrogance, and envy, and crime, and luxury prevailed, and the fundamental cause of this chronic social disease was plutos kai penia, the conjunction of wealth and poverty.”4 Lycurgus, who on the death of his brother became the guardian of his brother’s young son and hence became the strongest man in the state, resorted to drastic remedies, beginning with redistribution of all the land into equal plots, each producing enough to feed a man and his family adequately—and no more! Even more daring was the equalizing of personal property, but Lycurgus was able to do it quickly and effectively simply by abolishing money. He did that very simply by replacing gold and silver with cast iron as a medium of exchange, which he was free to do, since money is only a token. The new money was so inconvenient that people quickly gave it up. This discouraged foreign trade and corruption;5 it meant that luxury items practically vanished, while indispensable commodities were all homemade, and Sparta became renowned for the high quality of the things it produced for use, and the high technical ingenuity displayed in them.6

To counter wealth and luxury, common dining-halls and dormitories were provided, the unfailing mark of every true utopia. The meals were delightful affairs, with fifteen friends at each table exchanging wit and wisdom,7 for friendship and fun are the theme of this utopia.8 The whole society was a school, with no distinction between male and female; dress was uniform, simple and light weight.9 There was a public stigma on bachelors,10 and adultery was unknown.11 For all their vigorous physical regime, “To be a Spartan was to love philosophy more than gymnastics”;12 since “the busy and demanding activity of amassing money had no place at all, there being nothing admirable (azelon) or honorable in wealth,” they had more leisure than any other people. “Dances and songfests, parties, games, and athletics, hunting, and conversation took up their time when they were not on military duty.”13 The conversation, if one knows the Greeks, was no idle chatter, but the discussion of serious things in a lively and often humorous way—and it was never boring. The ideal, Plutarch tells us, was that of a hive of busy and happy bees—a little Zion.14 For their leaders they chose not the swift or the strong, but the wise.15 The well-known grim Spartan military state, says Plutarch, took over only after an earthquake in 464 B.C. and the campaign of Lysander, which for the first time poured gold and silver money into the city.16 Satisfied to remain a city and a people with few wants, they had no ambitions abroad except to secure their way of life at home, which sometimes meant discouraging imperialism in others; but in that their policy was never to bring undue military pressure to bear on a foreign power, which would only make trouble for Sparta by forcing the offending state to feel threatened and to arm itself. When Agesilaeus was wounded in Thebes, a fellow general told him, “This is what you deserve for making the reluctant Thebans go to war and at the same time teaching them how to do it.”17 They refused to strike an enemy when he was down or pursue one who had fled the field, which looks like real nonaggression. Finally, Lycurgus wrote nothing down and would not even allow the laws to be written: Like the laws of Moses, practice should write them on the hearts of the people.18

The wisest of the Greeks was always held to be Solon, the father of democracy. Before Solon, the idea of a democratic state with the people ruling themselves was considered wildly utopian (for example, in the Fürstenspiegel literature), so that Solon as the true father of democracy can be considered the most successful of utopians. He calls his great work the Eunomia, “the proper order of things,” or the way things should be—a better name than utopia for the ideal society. Like the prophets of Israel with whom he was contemporary, Solon begins by describing the world as it is, a dismal picture.

The ruin of our state will never come by the doom of Zeus; . . . it is the townsfolk themselves and their false-hearted leaders who would feign destroy our city through wantonness and love of money; . . . they are rich because they yield to the temptation of dishonest courses. . . . They spare neither the treasures of the gods nor the property of the state, and steal like brigands one from another. They pay no heed to the Unshaken rock of holy Justice; . . . our beloved city is rapidly wasted and consumed in those secret deals which are the delight of dishonest men.19

It is the perennial story: “Ye yourselves raised these men to power over you, and have reduced yourselves by this course to a wretched state of servitude. Individually, you are a lot of sly foxes, but collectively, you are a set of simpletons. For ye look to the tongue and the play of a man’s speech and ignore the deed which is done before your very eyes.”20 The trouble is that “no visible limit is set to wealth among men. Even now those among us who have the largest fortune are striving with redoubled energy.” Then Solon, a contemporary of the equally idealistic Lehi, strikes a familiar note: “Wealth comes to mortals by the gifts of the gods. But out of it comes madness, which leads to destruction when Zeus sends this madness as a punishment to men.”21

By way of explaining Solon’s eunomia, we may point out that the greatest of all idealists, Pythagoras, taught that “by the nomos we help each other, and by anomia we make war.” Anomia, the opposite of eunomia, we should note, is the normal scriptural word for unrighteousness or sin. Pythagoras was the most influential of all utopians. Plato quotes him as saying, “The ancients were abler (kreittones) than we and lived nearer to the gods.”22 By a law of natural decline, an entropy from light to dark, birth to death, gods to demons, and heroes to ordinary men, the world has come to its present state. Nevertheless, we are under obligation to realize on earth a copy of that higher order in which all men are brothers. Pythagoras himself went all out to realize such a community. “Friends have all things in common,” he taught, “for friendship is equality.”23 He claimed to have derived his doctrine from Delphi, in other words, by revelation. He organized communities throughout southern Italy, having visited such sacred conventicles throughout the world. All followed austere rules of living, with perfect equality among all members, male and female. All wore white, observed a strict diet and strict chastity, and so on. The communities were super think-tanks, Pythagoras himself being a mental giant without peer whose scientific discoveries and inventions have made him immortal. As might be expected, he and his followers suffered violent persecution and extermination by fire.

Solon’s plan for democratic government also met with fierce resistance: “I was like a wolf at bay between two packs of dogs,”24 he wrote, for the rich denounced his sweeping economic reforms as vehemently as the leaders of the demos resented his moderation. Lehi, Solon’s contemporary, faced with similar greed and corruption, in the end had to take the Rekhabite way and flee from the society that had become dangerous to him and odious to God. Throughout the Book of Mormon, inspired leaders often break off from corrupt states to go out and found their own utopias, living, as Nephi says, “after the manner of happiness” (2 Nephi 5:27). Such separatists were Lehi, Nephi, Mosiah, Alma, and the brother of Jared. The standard text that all but the last were following was that of the great Isaiah.

The three major prophets speak with a single voice when they hold up to us the three pictures on which all utopian enterprises are based: Israel’s blessed past, its glorious future, and the evil present. Isaiah is a master of the art, in which ecstatically lyrical passages describing the world as it could be and some day shall be again alternate with the most harrowing and horrifying pictures of the world as it is. Again and again he shifts from the one to the other to make his point, the powerful emphasis, of course, being on the present state of things: “None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies” (Isaiah 59:4). “Yea, truth faileth; and he that departeth from evil maketh himself a prey” (Isaiah 59:15). He might as well be paraphrasing Solon. And the cause of it? Money: “Woe unto them . . . which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him!” (Isaiah 5:22-23). The princes “have eaten up the vineyard; the spoil of the poor is in your houses” (Isaiah 3:14), “that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless” (Isaiah 10:2). “Every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them” (Isaiah 1:23). But every denunciation is followed by an abrupt shift to a time when the celestial order will be restored to earth, when the lion lies down with the lamb, when beauty and holiness fill the earth and “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9), and when man and animal shall live without enmity and in perfect harmony (see Isaiah 11:6-9; 14:7-16; 35:1-10; 65:25).

We all know Plato’s utopian Republic. In his Laws, when he failed to find the true philosopher-prince in Dionysius of Syracuse, his final solution was that reached by all the others, namely that the great plan has worked in the past and could work now; but for the present it is out of the question. Perhaps, says the Athenian in Plato’s last dialogue, you have seen wicked men growing old and leaving their children’s children in high office, and their success shakes your faith. You have seen crooks become heads of the state, hailed as the great men of their time, and that leads you to conclude that the gods are not responsible for that sort of thing.25 “We must realize,” he says in reply, “that an immortal conflict is going on within us with the gods as our allies”;26 we may not settle for a merely pleasant and moral life or a serene country-club existence. No system or environment will procure happiness unless “the soul is properly qualified to be carried along a holy road to a better place.”27 The realistic appraisal of the present world is what induces the usual encyclopedia articles on utopia to refer us to Messianism and leave us there—no utopia for the present.

It was because the memory of the Golden Age lingered on that the ancients, faced with the immorality and meanness of their own times, resorted to bitter satire. Recall that it was the technique of the prophets to contrast the world as it is and as it should be in passages that are often distinctly satirical. The hopes of Athenian democracy went down the drain with Aristophanes’ Plutus. As he had spoofed Plato’s utopia in the Birds, so in the Plutus he tells it to the Athenians as it is, which is simply that ploutôs (money) is the only power to be reckoned with in the world any more; Zeus himself, since people have deserted religion and morality, goes to find himself a job working for Plutus—the universe has become a vast money market.

The Roman Empire was introduced on a utopian note by Vergil’s fourth Eclogue and Horace’s Carmen Saeculare, but one thing spoiled it all: Horace’s fellow satirists—Persius, Martial, Juvenal—lacking his sweet nature, have given us the one great original contribution of Roman letters, its satire, the damning indictment of a society corrupt from the beginning in its cruel inequalities. The Julians were still in power when Petronius, a close friend of the Emperor and master of his revels, penned the most devastating attack ever written on the obscene excesses of the rich and famous, and the power of money to corrupt and destroy everything it touches. There is no shortage of documents describing the end of classical civilization. Salvian traveled all over the Empire in the fourth century and described city by city what he found there—nothing but greed and violence.

But the worldwide social unrest and corruption that Salvian found produced one genuine utopian reaction in his century. In the rich and licentious city of Alexandria lived the scion of a wealthy family who did not like what he saw around him. While the rulers feared the famous and fickle Alexandrian mob, the youthful Anthony saw that the real danger came not from them: “It is we, on the contrary, who own all the wealth, who are the plunderers of the poor; . . . truth does not exist any more, it is mendacity that rules in the land.” He goes on to picture the most cultivated and wealthy city in the world as nothing but a “den of thieves.”28

So what does he do? He takes the Rekhabite way and goes out into the desert by himself as a hermit; but he soon attracted hosts of followers, and the movement of holy men into the desert was skillfully organized by Anthony’s great contemporary, Pachomius, into well-ordered monasteries, whose profession was to follow Jesus’ instruction to the letter: “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (Matthew 19:21). “You are the children of Israel,” Anthony told his monks.29 In particular they were to think of themselves as following Abraham’s example in fleeing from the wicked world; his quest for the perfect city was to be their quest.30 Nay, even before Abraham they find their example by “transferring” themselves back “to that primeval condition . . . obtained before the Fall [disobedience] (inobedientiam),”31 and even before that to the realms of the angels: “We are acting as hosts to God and all his angels and saints, . . . sharing the company and the great joy of their ministries.”32

It was back to utopia. The pattern had already been laid down in Qumran and in the predecessors of Qumran in Egypt, where priestly colleges had flourished from the beginning. The Essenes form a common bond, much discussed and much debated, between such societies in Africa, Asia, and Greece. The resemblances and relationships of such societies lead also to the rich variety of Gnostic sects, which mingled Jewish and Christian elements with those of every other persuasion. Thus the Carpocratians claimed to be following the secret teachings of both Christ and Plato and fell into the common practice of sharing wives as well as property. The Montanist striving for the purity and unworldliness of the early church attracted an enormous following, including even such illustrious names as Tertullian and Augustine. Duchesne has shown how the church became a world church only at the price at giving up its old idealism. But droves of members objected, for the scriptures remained in spite of all; and there never was a time when Christians could not point to them and remind the world that Christ and the apostles had been poor men. The life of Anthony caused a sensation in the West, where Jerome and Ambrose, western saints who had lived in the East, vigorously promoted the new monasticism.

We need not go down the list of utopias that flourished from the fourth century to the present. They were utopian in varying degrees, but all were animated by what they considered the example of Christ and the apostles, and all denounced the horrible injustice and inequality of the world in which they lived. Since the monastic movement began with hermits (monk =monachos, one living alone), and the land was soon swarming with individuals acting on their own, for it was easy for any down-and-outer in the city to put on a robe and take to the road (and who would challenge a holy man?), soon the countryside, villages, and cities were swarming with vagabonds and tramps, gyrovagi, making the rounds of the monasteries and sponging off the hospitality of each in turn. Inevitably, such vagrants ganged up and took what they wanted. To curtail the abuse, Benedict of Nursia composed his famous Benedictine rule, around A.D. 530, and put it into operation at Monte Cassino, which became a real utopia.

The rule required stabilitas loco (one had to stay put), conversatio morum (vows of poverty and chastity), obedientia (obligation to perform useful labors of all kinds), strict rules of admission, but a surprisingly mild ascetic discipline. As an institution, the monastery was bound to universal hospitality, care for the poor, and an educational program for the pueri oblati (“candidates for the priesthood” or “prospective priests”).

Naturally, the ideal order of things declined, and at the beginning of the tenth century, the Cluniac reform aimed at restoring it, particularly to get the monasteries out of the clutches of greedy nobility and bishops. This was followed by another decline, until the clouth of Agnes of Poitou and her husband, the Emperor Henry III, made Cluny independent even of the Pope (Council of Sutri, A.D. 1064).

St. Bernard (A.D. 1095), preaching the first Crusade, began with a lurid and detailed description of the evils into which the search for power and gain had plunged all of Europe, and he not only called for a crusade but insisted that its purpose was the purification of the participants by the trials and dangers of pilgrimage. A product of the movement was the chivalric orders: Templars, Hospitalers, Knights of St. John, Knights of Malta, and so on, which were all secret monastic societies dedicated to the compassionate and idealistic work of protecting and aiding pilgrims to Jerusalem, while living in model communities in strict and saintly brotherhood. As we all know, they soon became very rich and very corrupt.

The next response to the evils of the time was in the great mendicant orders, the Franciscans, Dominicans, and Carmelites, who strove to stay within the obedience of the church but often found it difficult to do so in the ever-renewed insistence of literal-minded brethren on returning to the justice and simplicity of Christianity. The gyrovagi of the early centuries now took advantage of the new wandering life as Fratres Barbati, Laici, Conversi, the Begards, the Tisserands, Humiliati or Artisans of Milan, Pauperes Lombardi, the Guilds, the Mysteries, and so on, all of whom claimed the much publicized poverty of Christ and the apostles as a franchise for their own freebooting gangs and camps of free-love and other such shenanigans. More established societies, sometimes with roots deep in the past, such as the Catharians or New Manichaeans, Paulicians, Bogomils, Albigensians, and Waldensians, continued to preach the one unfailing first article of faith common to all, that Christ and the apostles had no property. There were real saints as well as real rascals among them, but all such irregular persuasions met with the same quick and violent suppression from the rulers; and to counteract their teachings, Pope Gregory IX went to the other extreme and in 1232 introduced the Inquisition.

The most renowned utopian of the Middle Ages was Joachim of Fiore, who became Cistercian Abbot of Corazzo of Sicily in 1177 but later retired to the mountains and was permitted by the Pope to found an order of his own. He taught that there were three ages or stations—of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; the third stage to be reached only after Israel had toiled in the desert and reached in the Millennium the Age of the Spirit, which would dawn in the year 1260. He drew a ground plan for the New Jerusalem and was hailed far and wide, even by some Franciscans and Dominicans, not only as the true prophet of “the Spiritual Men,” but as a true Messiah. We must not forget that such men as Joachim and his followers, sincere seekers after righteousness, are never wholly missing from the stage of history, and they have deserved far more respect and attention than they have received. For they have been downgraded as heretics by Catholic writers and as Catholic by Protestants. The recent best-selling novel The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco, created a sensation by resurrecting this forgotten world, to which it provides an excellent introduction.

John Wycliffe, born in 1328 of illustrious birth but of even more remarkable mental powers, quickly became famous as a scholar, but he spoiled everything by declaring in 1374 that all church property should be nationalized. The Peasant Uprising of 1381 lost him the support of the nobility, but he was protected by the rising citizens of London. In 1383 he attacked the Mendicant orders, which had become altogether too rich and powerful, announcing that the present church was no less than anti-Christ. His followers, the Lollards, preaching that righteousness and materialism simply cannot coexist, would have been completely burnt out of existence had they not gone underground after 1401. The year before the Peasant Uprising, Gerhard Degroot had organized the Brethren of the Common Life, the original Lollards, at Deventer. Youthful members of the Czech nobility studying at Oxford took Wycliffe’s ideas to Bohemia. In the next century, Savonarola led the religious democracy of Florence for three years and ended up at the stake. Luther was caught between two ideals, and his denunciation of the Peasant revolt lost him popular support in 1525.

This takes us in time to the three classic utopians, beginning with Sir Thomas More. His father was a judge in the king’s bench, and, like Wycliffe, Sir Thomas early achieved renown as a prodigy in letters. At his father’s request, he became a successful lawyer, but for all his great acumen and early recognition, he felt the urge to become a Franciscan monk. He gave up the idea only when he saw what wealth and power had done to the order. As an advocate, he became the chief counsel for the merchants of London, who represented the liberal movement of the day, and proved himself a skillful business manager and attorney. In 1504 he was elected to Parliament, and he is recognized as the first man to combine in eminent degree the qualifications of lawyer, businessman, and philosopher—for he was among the great lights of the sixteenth-century Renaissance. But when he opposed a tax demanded by Henry VII, he had to flee the country and went to Flanders. It was there in 1515, at the age of thirty-seven, that he wrote his Utopia.33 It was a smash hit throughout Europe (printed in Louvain in 1516, Basel in 1518, and Paris in 1520). More’s immense ability brought him to the highest offices in the state, but in 1529 he resigned as Lord Chancellor, refusing to bow to the autocratic will of Henry VIII; he was condemned to be tortured and burned, but the sentence was mercifully commuted by his dear friend and patron Henry, to beheading.

More’s Utopia is divided into two parts, the first a vivid account of the present state of the world, followed by the second part, which gives us a better way of doing things. The word utopia, “the place that is not,” has been interpreted by the opposition as synonymous with Never-Never-Land, Cloud-Cuckoo-Land, or any unworkable and crackpot social order. But we must bear in mind that More was a preeminently hard-headed, practical, experienced, common-sense Englishman; and that his work had great appeal among the most influential magnates, merchants, and artisans in the Netherlands, Germany, France, England, and Italy. The thing was really meant to work.

He deals first with general principles to establish guidelines for his utopia. The work takes the form of a dialogue, which begins when More in Antwerp (Lollard country) meets Raphael the sailor, who has spent five years on the Island of Utopia near Brazil. “It seems beyond doubt to me, my dear More,” the sailor Raphael Hytholdaeus begins,

if I would speak frankly, that where private property rules, where money is the measure of all things for everyone, it is virtually impossible for society to flourish under righteous administration. That is, unless one thinks it right and proper that every good thing be owned by immoral people, or that prosperity consists of a few owning everything, albeit the favorite few themselves are not at all happy, while all the others live in abject misery. . . . How much better and nobler the arrangements of the utopians seem to me where everyone has more than enough although nobody has more than another; . . . compare with that the nations of the world which must be constantly inventing new legislation and yet never have good laws; where every individual thinks to own for himself alone what he has earned and the daily accumulation of countless laws is inadequate to keep people safe in their possessions. One must admit that Plato is right; . . . he realized that the only way to cure the evil was by economic equality, which is simply not possible as long as property is privately owned; . . . granted there are ways of improving the situation without abolishing private property, there remains no other cure for the evil.34

He points out that laws limiting ownership, sumptuary laws, laws against corruption in government, and so on—none of these will cure the fatal disease as long as we have private property, which indeed is the disease.

In defending the status quo for the sake of argument, More replies that with things as they are, we must have laws protecting people and their possessions or else live in a state of constant insecurity. Raphael’s reply is that things do not have to be as they are: “If you had ever lived in utopia, you would know that,” he says. Briefly, the utopian order makes the family the center of everything in the twenty-four cities of utopia, the nearest relatives forming groups of about thirty persons. A portion of each family does a pleasant two-year stint of duty on the farm as the family members rotate their activities. For the harvest, everybody goes out to the fields, and the job is done in a single day. Because all work, no one lives a life of drudgery. Everyone has a trade, but the working day is only six hours, relieved by a two-hour break in the middle of the day. No one has the silly idea that unless people work for money, they will not work at all; in fact “money is unknown in utopia.” Everyone producing over-abundance is the rule; but production is carefully controlled at the national level. Every city sends delegates every year to a congress at the capital, so that the whole island operates as one big family.

Throughout the nation, the old-fashioned discipline prevails; “wives serve husbands, children serve elders, and the younger serve the older.” On the farms, each family lives for itself. Religion is a private affair. Government officials are called Father, and every city consists of families, which are as far as possible interrelated. Like Paul, Thomas More insists that philargyria, the desire for more money, is the root of all evil: “Greed, theft, and envy are all caused by fear of not having enough. But utopia always has a super abundance, and people’s time belongs not to the economy but to the free development of the mind, for in that they find the blessings of life.” “Such,” says Raphael, “is not only the best, but the only constitution of society worthy of the name. Elsewhere people speak of the common good but actually work for the private good, for every man knows that he must go hungry if he does not work for himself, no matter how flourishing the society may be or how booming the economy; he must always consider his own well-being before that of others.” In utopia, on the other hand, everyone knows that none will ever be in need as long as the common barns are full. “With everything equally divided among them, no one is poor, . . . thus all are rich.”35 “What greater wealth can there be than a healthy and secure life?” They live after the manner of happiness.

Then More, in the manner of the prophets, reverts to the dark world in which we live:

What kind of justice is it when the nobleman, the banker [goldsmith], the money lender, in short, those who do nothing productive, glory in riches while day laborers, teamsters, blacksmiths, carpenters and field workers, whose work can not be dispensed with for a year, can sweat out a miserable existence at a level below that of beasts of burden? Our animals do not work so long, are better fed and have better security than they do, for our workers are pressed down by the hopelessness of the situation and the expectation of beggary in old age. What they are paid does not cover their daily needs, and to save anything for old age is out of the question. So we find shocking waste, luxury, triviality and vanity [the lives of the rich and famous] on the one side and utter abject misery on the other.36

So as things are, we get the worst of both worlds.

As God loves me, when I consider this, then every modern society seems to me to be nothing but a conspiracy of the rich, who while protesting their interest in the common good pursue their own interests and stop at no trick and deception to secure their ill-gotten possessions, to pay as little as possible for the labor that produces their wealth and so force its makers to accept the nearest thing to nothing. They contrive rules for securing and assuring these tidy profits for the rich in the name of the common good, including of course the poor, and call them laws!37

“But after they have divided among themselves in their insatiable greed all that should go to the society as a whole, they still are not happy.”38 The law can avenge but never hinder the deceptions, thievery, riots, panics, murders, assassinations, poisonings, and so on, all of which spring from one source—money.

The next most famous utopia is Thomas Campanella’s City of the Sun (1602).39 Again we have a youthful prodigy brought up in the highest society of the Renaissance, whose fame at an early age spread far and wide. At fifteen he became a Dominican at Cossenza and was sent all over the country to display his genius in competitive disputation at monasteries and schools, relentlessly attacking Aristotle and earning the implacable hatred of the Jesuits. Medieval heresy was closely tied to social and political reform, and Spanish rule lay heavy on Calabria. Campanella led the monks of his cloister in one of the plots to free his land from the Spanish and set up a theocratic republic. By an interesting coincidence, this was the very Calabria in which Pythagoras’ communities flourished and were cruelly suppressed.

Campanella said that God had chosen him for the task, and such important people as Father Dionysius Ponzio of Nicastro hailed Campanella as an emissary of God, to free the people of the misdeeds of the Minister of the King of Spain, who turned blood to gold as he trod on the poor and weak.40 The monks of the area, more than three hundred Dominicans, Augustinians, and Franciscans, championed Campanella’s project; but two insiders betrayed the whole scheme, and the troops were brought in from Naples for mass arrests and public hangings and burnings. Campanella hid in a shepherd’s hut but was imprisoned in Naples in the following year, 1600, the same year that Giordano Bruno was burned at Rome. When he made a break from the prison, a common boatman refused to lend him his vessel to escape in—meanness was not limited to the rich; Campanella wrote a philosophical poem on the subject, entitled The People:

The People are a capricious and stupid beast that doesn’t know its own strength and bears burdens and blows with patience; . . . it knows not what fear it inspires, or that its masters have prepared a magic potion to stupefy it. What a fantastic situation! The People beating and tying itself up with its own hands; fighting and dying for a few pennies from the King, . . . totally unaware that everything between heaven and earth really belongs to it and stoning to death anyone who would remind it of its rights.41

In addition, Campanella bitterly wrote that he had been incarcerated in fifteen different prisons and been tortured seven times, the last time for forty hours. But he never yielded, and they never got one word out of him. Miraculously healed after six months of sickness, he was thrown into a pit. Fifteen times he was brought to trial. They would ask him, “Where did you learn all these things? Have you got a demon to serve you?” He answered: “To learn what I know I have burned more midnight oil than you have drunk wine.”42

From his dungeon, Campanella became renowned throughout Europe: James I of England and the Popes sought his counsel, especially in astrology, and he corresponded with Gassendi and Caspar Scioppius; his manuscripts were printed in Germany, France, and Italy. When liberal Popes like Paul V and Urban VIII took his part, the Jesuits resorted to stirring up the people to riot against Campanella as a godless heretic and enemy of the church. But so great was his reputation that Richelieu called him to Paris, where the king greeted him with kisses on both cheeks. “I was born to fight three evils,” he wrote, “tyranny, sophistry, and hypocrisy.”

He classified his City of the Sun as philosophia realis, practical philosophy. Like Thomas More, he was convinced that it could really work, and it became very popular with the utopians of the 1840s in America. Like More and the prophets, he holds up the two pictures before us, showing us on one hand the world of dispossessed farmers and ragged beggars, kept in place by savage measures to protect the sacredness of property and the power of money. His ideal city was a fortress on a hill with seven walls. It was “neither a republic nor a monarchy,” but one big family divided into groups by generations, with an annual great assembly to coordinate affairs. Campanella constantly refers to monastic orders as his model. There was total equality of sexes and uniformity of dress. Science was the ruling influence; the city was a gigantic museum, with didactic materials posted on all the walls for the instruction of young and old; everywhere one looked one was faced with geometric theorems, star charts, geological and biological specimens, and so on. Astrology was not mystical, but the recognition of the power of numbers to instruct and animate—the cosmic numbers 3, 7, and 12 dominate the structure of the society. The fundamentals of existence are power, wisdom, and love.

In a famous passage he tells how “the Solarians laugh heartily at us with our concern for breeding dogs and horses and our total neglect of the human stock.”43 Education must have the quality of play. Teaching is peripatetic, as all study science on continual fieldtrips. Everybody goes bareheaded and barefooted (as in John Locke’s model school), and all are constantly exercised through games. Everyone must know several trades, and all work is treated as exhilarating exercise: “They make fun of our contempt for working people.” Hopelessly backward people work in the fields, and the lame and the halt are made useful as the managers. No one needs to work more than four hours a day (a Brigham Young idea), and earning one’s lunch is not the beginning and ending of existence as it is, Campanella observes, in his own society, which keeps people slaving sixteen to eighteen hours a day merely to get enough to eat. Agricultural work is one prolonged festival. The people sleep in great dormitories and eat in splendid refectories while being edified with reading or music in the monastic fashion. Food is prescribed by dietitians, and extreme cleanliness with frequent baths is mandatory. There is great concern for personal hygiene, and everybody chews fennel every morning. Men and women dress alike, all in white. No one worries about tomorrow, for all things are held in common and distributed according to need by a council (cf. the law of consecration). There is no need for money or commerce, yet full advantage is taken of technology—the Solarians have ships that move without sails or oars. In conclusion, Campanella invites all to enter his City and “to return to the Golden Age.”

The third great utopian classic is Francis Bacon’s Nova Atlantis (1638).44 Of all our utopians, none was of more illustrious birth than Bacon, nor more justly famed for his brilliance—as we know, he is even credited with having written the works of Shakespeare. At this point it can hardly come as a surprise to learn that he barely escaped ending his life on the scaffold. Again we find an author enjoying a vast reputation in his own time and holding the highest position of power in the state, and yet not being willing to settle for his own comfort and convenience.

Bacon’s New Atlantis is of course an island, a society seeking to avoid contamination from the outer world. The visitors are quarantined and disinfected before being admitted to the city, where they are put up in a hospice like a monastery. When they offer gold to their guide, he indignantly asks, “Do you want me to serve two masters?” Their instructor is a Christian priest whose only desire is brotherly love and the salvation of their souls. “We have come to a land of Angels,” say the visitors, “who appear to us daily and shower us with comforts such as we never dreamed of.”45 Though Bacon was a man of the world if there ever was one, the spirit of his New Atlantis is strongly religious. The guide, delighted that the first question of the visitors is about the kingdom of God, tells them “how a pillar of light appeared over the sea topped by a cross and none could approach it but a boat containing a member of the house of Solomon”;46 the pillar suddenly turned into the starry heavens, and then a small cedar box appeared on the water, containing the Old and the New Testaments and a letter of explanation from Bartholomew, who writes that an angel had commanded him to put the book in the box with the blessing of the Father and the Lord Jesus. There had been other and earlier visitations, bringing the wisdom of Egypt and Athens. The house of Solomon, which was called “the Eye of the Realm,” set the tone for the whole society, which was devoted to “studying and observing the works of the creations of God.” Every twelve years a ship was sent to the outer world to bring back the latest in scientific technological invention and artistic production. The one object of all is “Seeking the Light.”

As in the other utopias, the nation is organized in families. Families of thirty have their yearly family feasts, where the charter is read and the patriarch prays and blesses them all. Naturally there is a general conference of the whole island every year. The ultimate laws of Bensalem (for such the city is called) come from the Cabbala of Moses. God, religion, and marriage are the three great social controls, and the Atlantians, as the most chaste people on earth, are shocked by European morals and customs. The combination of religion and science, which reached such a happy fruition in the seventeenth century, is in full view here, for this religious world is a land of laboratories, observatories, arboriums, elaborate arrangements for experiments in heat, light, air pressure, acoustics, and so on. Science, technology, and general principles are what they are seeking, and the city is adorned by statues of Columbus, Friar Bacon, and every other great discoverer.

The list of utopian writings inspired by the above is a long one, the most important contributions being Hobbes’ Leviathan, Harrington’s Oceana, and Fenelon’s Telemaque. But theorizing about utopia always seems to suggest doing something about it, and the Western world was never without stirrings of utopian movements. Lilburne and the Levellers were rebuffed by Cromwell, even as the German peasants were by Luther; and Lilburne ended up as a Quaker. And that gives us an excuse for jumping over to the New World, to the Ephrata community in Pennsylvania in 1732. The Mennonites, like the Quakers, did better on this side of the water than on the other. George Rapp’s project in New Harmony, Pennsylvania, moved to Indiana, where Robert Owen took it over and founded New Harmony in 1828. His work brought forth lasting results in the first kindergarten, the first trade school, the first free library, and the first public schools in America, all of which have endured until the present administration. The Shakers flourished in eighteen villages in eight states, and Charles Fourier’s Brooke Farm experiment spread to twenty-eight colonies in the 1840s. John Humphrey Noyes made a lasting contribution at Oneida, New York, in the same decade, and when the Mormons left Nauvoo, the place was taken over by Etienne Cabet and his Icarians. Historians have often observed that of all the utopian projects that swarmed in nineteenth-century America, only Mormonism, which they all ridicule as the craziest of all, has flourished.

Parley P. Pratt paints a picture of utopian bliss in a letter to his brother written from Salt Lake City just a year after the arrival of the pioneers: “All is quiet—stillness. No elections, no police reports, no murders, no wars in our little world. . . . No policeman . . . have been on duty to guard us from external or internal dangers.”47 That would get nowhere in the Nielson ratings—what on earth would the people do if they would not die of boredom? Answer: “Here we can cultivate the mind, renew the spirits, invigorate the body, . . . or polish and adorn our race. And here we can receive and extend that pure intelligence which is unmingled with the jargon of mystic Babylon.”48 This qualifies Brother Pratt as a full-blown utopian, and indeed the revelations to the Church back him up: “and all this . . . that every man may improve upon his talent, that every man may gain other talents, yea, even an hundred fold” (D&C 82:18). The “all this” is the law of consecration, by which all is “to be cast into the Lord’s storehouse, to become the common property of the whole church—every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, and doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God” (D&C 82:18-19). This is no pilot study or tentative arrangement: “This order I have appointed to be an everlasting order unto you, and unto your successors, inasmuch as you sin not” (D&C 82:20).

Is it surprising that the words of the revelations and the leaders of the Church should sound so utopian? It is unavoidable. We have seen that the three great utopians were deeply religious and in the end took their teachings from the Bible; and the religious devotion they expressed is surprisingly the same, whether they are Christian or heathen. The constantly emerging utopian movements from the desert sectaries to the present day were all attempts to return to the true order of Israel. I remember the efforts of my friend Clendenning, who took his idealistic order of Aaron out into the deserts of Western Utah, where earlier in the century a society of utopian Jews had founded the Clarion Community. If all such efforts have failed, what of Israel? Moses and the prophets clearly and vividly describe the order God wanted established among men and just as clearly and vividly declare Israel’s total failure to live up to it.

Brother Pratt’s “Mystic Babylon” has ever been the reverse image of utopia. As Satan carefully parodies everything that God does, so he has always offered men a utopia in which “you can have anything in this world” for the one thing the other utopians said turned heaven into hell and made it possible for the world to groan in blood and horror as Satan has wielded “great dominion among men” (Moses 6:15).

I mentioned monasticism as a response to the question, Where is the true Christian society? An answer was imperative back then because the great orating Bishops of the fourth century were promising the world that the victory of the church would bring the Golden Age: church and empire, born together in the time of Caesar Augustus, fused into one would surely bring in the Millennium. Constantine exploited the proposition and zealously performed his part: “The great scaffoldings, acres of painted canvas, firmaments of tapers and torches, fabulous displays of jewels and lavish applications of gilt paint left no one in doubt that the glory of the Lord was round about. Heaven in our Time was not something to be worked for but something to be accepted; not a hope, but a fulfillment, a stupendous miracle.” The great display was no longer mere form but “a reality on a newer and higher level of existence.”49

None endorsed the doctrine more ardently than Augustine, until in the end of his life reality caught up with him and he had to explain that the city of God was after all only spiritual. Let us hark back to Vergil’s fourth Eclogue. It made him a saint in the Middle Ages; for its picture of the coming of the Messianic age, foretold from the beginning, unites the Christian and the pagan world in the shared oracle of the Sibyl—glorified alike in Vergil’s poem and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. More than that, it was picked up by the Founding Fathers and placed on the Great Seal of the new nation; Vergil’s magnus ab integro saeclorum nascitur ordo (“the great line of the centuries begins anew”)50 is indeed the novus ordo seclorum (“the new order of the ages”) of the Great Seal of the United States. In both documents, the heavy emphasis is on the bold new beginning and the return to primal purity. Lycurgus’s first step, says Plutarch, was to recognize that his great society would have to be a whole new system from the ground up; all utopias are brand-new heavens. Vergil’s theme was iam nova progenies caelo demittitur alto,51 a new generation descended from heaven”; and now toto surget gens aurea mundo52—”a new golden race has taken over the world.” If you will look at the back of a dollar bill, you will see added to the picture of the Great Seal, with the words novus ordo seclorum, the upbeat announcement annuit coeptis (“he approves what we have begun”)—with the all-seeing eye on the capstone of an Egyptian pyramid—the ancient hope fulfilled, another new age, another utopia, and all ironically announced on a dollar bill! We proclaim it from the housetops: “Thine alabaster cities gleam undimmed by human tears”—but when? “Beyond the years,”53 to be sure, but for the present it is hail and farewell. Utopia is already past—and it was the dollar that killed it.

Everybody knows about false utopias, here-and-now utopias. The famous Potemkin Village was rigged to last only long enough to pass a quick inspection. Disneyland is more solid, but still only for visitors, and so we must advance to Las Vegas and Hollywood for the more permanent delights and splendors. Finally, with the “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,” we reach that enduring state of blessedness insured by unlimited wealth. The celestial glories of Old World nobility at Versailles or Blenheim were made available at the turn of the century to anyone who had the character, gumption, and vision to make lots of money in the palaces of Newport and the imperial ranches of the West. The American dream was right back on square one. As More put it, the one insuperable obstacle to utopia had become the one indispensable condition to achieving it.

When I was in high school, the most effective rebuttal to Erewhon and Looking Backwards was the all-conquering philosophy of evolution. By an unimpeachable law of nature, the present order is the crowning achievement of a long process of natural selection, and therefore the best of possible worlds. (The doctrine has been revived with renewed fervor in a run of pretentious TV documentaries, by Bronowski, Sagan, and Burke.) I was brought up on the Great Pageant of Progress, the Ascent of Man from the primordial ooze through the beast, the savage, the Egyptians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Middle Ages, the Rennaisance, the modern Enlightened Age, and finally the wonderful World of Tomorrow, where science and technology have removed the inconvenience of anything not made to our specifications—utopia at last! It made a wonderful subject for murals in libraries and schools, but even H. G. Wells saw his dream world turn into a nightmare, a dehumanized hell, a phony utopia. The problem is to popularize such a dream, and now we are assured that it has been done.

“There is nothing wrong with America,” cries the leader, and he proves it by showing us Currier and Ives prints, and especially the heart-warming calendars and magazine covers of Mr. Norman Rockwell. There we find our utopia, as Mr. Wright Morris points out:

In soaring into the past rather than the future, Mr. Rockwell is true to himself and his public, since that is where the true Territory Ahead actually lies. In knowing this he illustrates, with admirable fidelity, the American Land of Heart’s Desire. . . . It was in the past—just yesterday—that there were giants in the earth, dreams in our hearts, love in our homes, religion in our churches, honor in our markets, and a future of such promise that the very thought of it brings an ache to the throat and eyes grow dim.54

This is the art and the world that meets us on the covers and pages of our lesson manuals and in the sentimental talks at conference that take us back to a life on the farm which few of us today have ever known.55

In my youth I heard of nothing but “unlimited opportunities” and “inexhaustible resources”; ours was a Manchester utopia with smoke-blackened skies and a labor market willing to settle for starvation wages in return for employment. Some still call pre-Depression America “the Greatest Civilization the world has ever seen.”

But to claim the prize prematurely is to lose it forever. The economist Daniel Yergin writes of the present situation,

There is an increasing doubt [among economists] that anything at all can be done about anything; . . . if that wisdom is correct, then any “solutions” to poverty become far more difficult and painful; they cannot be financed out of a growth dividend, but only by redistributing what others already have, in turn creating massive social unrest [most utopians did that merely by suggesting such a move]. Before the 1974-1975 minidepression, all financial poverty could have been eliminated at a modest shift of $10-15 billion to the poor from the rest of the community. 15 billion is less than 1.5% of the GNP, about the size of one of the cheaper weapons systems.

Our society has gone out of the way not to do what could be done to solve the problem. Why? A community which can at tolerable expense eliminate human distress but refrains from doing so either must believe that it benefits from unemployment or poverty, or that the poor and unemployed are bad people, or that other more important values will be impaired by attempts to help the lower orders—or all of these statements.

“No other civilization has permitted the calculus of self-interest so to dominate its culture,” writes the eminent economist and historian Robert L. Heilbroner. “It has transmogrified greed and philistinism into social virtues, and subordinated all values to commercial values.”56 This is exactly what Thomas More said: “What has heretofore passed as unjust, . . . they have turned upside down, and in fact proclaimed it publicly and by law to be nothing less than justice itself.”57 And that is exactly what Ivan Boesky proclaimed when he recently commended “healthy greed” as a high virtue to a college audience.58 The complete inversion of the utopian ideal is reached when success itself becomes synonymous with money. And what is the end result? The old familiar pictures. A citizen of New York writes,

You have to be on the alert constantly to sense when somebody nearby is out of place, waiting, looking, ready to pounce. You have to clutch your handbag up close, ready to fight for it should that become necessary. You have to put three locks on your door, plus a burglarproof chain. You have to avoid the subways, night or day, and don’t smile at strangers on the bus.59

Still the writer is determined to hang on: “I can’t accept a life-style that makes us wary of community or civility, where human beings have to take on the attributes of jungle animals in order to protect themselves, in order to live.” Foreigners coming to this same city from Eastern Europe hail it as an earthly paradise, a utopia; which only goes to show that anyone can adjust to anything. But our writer objects: “Something inside of me says that I will die if I accommodate to this way of living.”

Is this an exaggeration? Every day walking to school I pass a number of signs on the south side of the campus that read, “For your safety do not walk in this area alone after dark.” This is the Zion to which we have become accustomed for the sake of the economy. It is the same fantastic situation as that confronting all the utopians.

The trouble is that it is all too convenient. Its great power is that it enables you to cheat. Let us with Shakespeare’s Timon cast a backwards glance at Athens: “Let me look back upon thee. O thou wall, that girdest in those wolves! . . . Bankrupts, hold fast; rather than render back, out with your knives, and cut your trusters’ throats! Bound servants, steal! Large-handed robbers your grave masters are, and pill [steal] by law!”60

Timon harks back to his lost utopian Athens: “Religion to the gods, peace, justice, truth, domestic awe, night-rest, and neighbourhood, instruction, manners, mysteries, and trades, degrees, observances, customs and laws”; only to have it swept away by greed: “Decline to your confounding contraries, and yet confusion live! Plagues, incident to men, your potent and infectious fevers heap on Athens, ripe for stroke!”61 So spoke the prophets to other cities, “ripe in iniquity” and ready to be swept away (see 1 Nephi 17:35). Timon’s whole argument is that money creates values that do not exist, “confounded contraries,” and thus gives us a completely phony world.

The most unique and concise utopian text we have is 4 Nephi in the Book of Mormon. We should all know the familiar passages, some of which were read at the last general conference; what is interesting is how and why such a highly desirable state of affairs should have been abandoned and come to an end. The process is put before us with vivid clarity in the Book of Mormon itself, as I summed it up in a recent talk in Salt Lake City.62

We begin with a society in which “they had all things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor” (4 Nephi 1:3), “and surely there could not be a happier people” (4 Nephi 1:16), in other words, utopia. (1) The first step in the decline came when things were privatized, and “they did have their goods and their substance no more common among them” (4 Nephi 1:25). (2) Next they became ethnicized, as the Lamanite children “were taught to hate the children of Nephi” and vice versa (4 Nephi 1:39). (3) Next they gloried in “their exceeding riches” and made them the measure of success—the old pride was back (4 Nephi 1:43). As a result, (4) they became “divided into classes” (4 Nephi 1:26) and next (5) formed clubs, combinations, consortiums, and secret societies to promote their interests, as (6) a fever of business activity and acquisition seized everyone (4 Nephi 1:46). Fourth Nephi ends at this point, but Mormon and Moroni carry on. (7) Thinking was nationalized as each side faced the old traditional enemy, but then (8) the central government and its controls were eliminated, and the society became regionalized and tribalized; (9) in all the confusion and insecurity that followed, the world became terrorized by robber bands, and the people regretted their hasty action in abolishing the federal government. Fear of the Lamanites brought on by their own guilt forced them to become (10) militarized on the national level again and to put destruction on a more efficient footing as the entire population became (11) polarized along traditional lines, each side with but one objective, to exterminate the enemy, the sole cause of all evil in the world. When ignorant armies clashed in all-out battles and campaigns, both were (12) pulverized, the one obliterated, the other completely shattered.

This is all repeated (as we are reminded again and again) specifically for our benefit, and we are also told the manner in which we may participate in the final step when the wicked are swept from the land, consumed as stubble, and become extinct—that is, (13) vaporized.

The great question with which all utopians deal is, Can the mere convenience that makes money such a useful device continue indefinitely to outweigh the horrendous and growing burden of evil that it imposes on the human race and that ultimately brings its dependents to ruin? Plato is right, wrote More; all systems fail because of private property. Christians try to dodge the teachings of Christ, unwilling to adapt themselves to them.63 And he pronounces the common dictum of the other devout utopians: “Christ recommended a communal way of life, which is still practiced among the communities of the true Christians.”64 More concludes his great work with his strongest argument: “The rational recognition of one’s own best interests or else the example of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, who in his great wisdom must well have known what is best, and in his grace would only counsel what he knew was best, [should assure that] the world would long ere now have readily embraced the laws of that state were they not opposed by a single monster, the parent and original of all pestilence—superbia,”65 the pride of the world.

Here is what all the great utopians have in common:

1. They were not losers with axes to grind but the most successful and respected men of their times.

2. They were preeminently practical men of the world, with far more experience in leadership and organization than their critics.

3. All attempted to implement the setting up of societies that they believed had existed among men in the past and would again in the future.

4. Whether Jew, heathen, or Christian, all thought of their utopias as religious societies, and they preached both religious tolerance and the cultivation of faith.

5. Yet all, in spite of all the great esteem in which they and their works were held, were persecuted by the powers that be, and few escaped violent death.

6. All suffered disillusionment in their own day; their communities were either violently destroyed or went underground.

7. They taught that the object of life was joy, and none of them either displayed or recommended stern puritanical judgments. Their utopias were liberal and easygoing.

8. The advantage of technology and its possibilities for bettering the human condition were first fully realized by the utopians.

9. They all realized that joy is to be found only in the active mind—the glory of man is intelligence, and knowledge is the stuff on which the mind feeds.

10. Science, art, scholarship, philosophy, literature were all cultivated together as the principal activity of the citizens. There is quite enough there to keep us all busy even without the urgent imperative of getting lunch. It is because of this that what appears to us as a disturbing uniformity in dress, housing, and so on, presents no problem but rather removes obstacles to the proper studies of mankind.

11. The joy derived from the senses—beautiful surroundings and impressions—and from the vigorous exercise of our physical as well as our mental faculties is never neglected.

12. Goods of “secondary intent” (Campanella uses the expression)—clothing, housing, food, medicaments, transportation, etc.—are essential to assist in carrying on the more serious work of the mind and body, but they never become primary, in other words, their own excuse for being, as is the case with us, where to make and market such goods fulfills the measure of one’s existence.

13. Money and private property are the insuperable obstacles to the achievement of utopia. The two are inseparable because the idea that there is no limit to what money can represent is necessary to implement the equally outrageous idea that there is no limit to what an individual can own. The relationship is succinctly stated in a formula propounded by one of awesome authority in the very beginning, in the first utopia, where he cast the long, dark shadow ahead with those ominous words: “You can have anything in this world for money.”

Were all of these shrewd, experienced, and concerned observers being simplistic in unanimously tracing the root of all evil to money? Well, make a list of some of those evils that today as never before threaten the whole world with dissolution—drugs; pornography; terrorism; nuclear armaments; fraud; corruption; soldiers of fortune; corporate outrages; opportunistic preachers; pollution of air, water, food, and information; acid rain; extinction of species; and so on. Which of these does not have big money as the driving force behind it? The drive for power and gain is the soil in which they all flourish.

Enoch, Abraham, and Moses all sought against frightful opposition to restore the order that alone offers happiness to earth’s inhabitants. Their program is renewed in full force in the law of consecration. To consecrate is to set aside, to dedicate to a particular purpose; what has been dedicated is no longer at the donor’s disposal.66 Happily, the Latter-day Saints have agreed to consecrate here and now everything with which they have been blessed in order to establish on earth Zion, which is the perfect utopia. For those who have enlisted in the project there can be no turning back, hedging, or rationalizing, for God is not mocked, and to rewrite the contract after accepting it is to put one’s self into the power of Satan. What they are seeking is to be “equal in the bonds of heavenly things, yea, and earthly things also” (D&C 78:5), to “stand independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world . . . under the council and direction of the Holy One” (D&C 78:14, 16). That is the utopia to which we now are committed.

*This transcript is taken from the Sphere of Influence Lecture Series address on November 6, 1986, at Brigham Young University.

1. Hugh W. Nibley, Enoch the Prophet (Provo: BYU, 1976), 76-85, first appearing in a Pearl of Great Price Symposium; reprinted in CWHN 2:209-10.

2. Ibid.; in CWHN 2:215.

3. For a general treatment, see August Freiherrn Von Gall, Basileia tou Theou (Heidelberg: Winter, 1926).

4. Plutarch, Lycurgus VIII, 1.

5. Ibid., IX, 1-3.

6. Ibid., IX, 4.

7. Ibid., XII, 2.

8. Ibid., XII, 1.

9. Ibid., XIV, 2, 4.

10. Ibid., XV, 1.

11. Ibid., XV, 9.

12. Ibid., XX.

13. Ibid., XIV, 2, 4.

14. Ibid., XXV, 3.

15. Ibid., XVI, 5.

16. Ibid., XXX, 1.

17. Ibid., XIII, 5-6.

18. Ibid., XIII, 1, 3.

19. Ivan M. Linforth, Solon the Athenian (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1919), 140-45. This is a collection of all known texts attributable to Solon; Nibley translation, in part.

20. Ibid., 145.

21. Ibid., 169.

22. Plato, Philebus 16C.

23. Diogenes Laertius, Pythagoras VIII, 10.

24. Linforth, Solon the Athenian, 139.

25. Plato, Laws 899D-900A.

26. Ibid., 906A.

27. Ibid., 904D-904E.

28. Anthony, Sermo de Vanitate Mundi et de Resurrectione Mortuorum, in PG 40:962, 986.

29. Anthony, Epistolae VII, 5-7, and Epistolae Viginti I, in PG 40:994-1001.

30. Anthony, Epistolae Viginti I, in PG 40:999-1000, and Epistolae VII, 6, in PG 40:977.

31. Anthony, Epistolae Viginti I, in PG 40:1001.

32. Ibid., 5, in PG 40:1010.

33. Thomas More, Utopia, tr. Robert M. Adams, 2 vols. (London, Yale University Press, 1964).

34. Ibid., 2:88.

35. Ibid.; cf. Jacob 2:17.

36. Ibid., 2:88-89.

37. Ibid., 2:89.

38. Ibid.

39. Translations of More, Campanella, and Bacon are easy to find. A Scolar Press Facsimile of the first edition of Utopia (Louvain, 1516) has been reprinted (Menston, England: Scolar Press, 1971), with a title page in the utopian language and script.

40. Cf. Luigi Firpo, ed., sonnet 123 in Tutte le opere de Tommaso Campanella, 2 vols. (Italy: Mondadori, 1954), 1:252, lxvi (preface); cf. Nino Valeri, Tommaso Campanella, profili no. 115 (Rome: Formiggini, 1931).

41. Ibid., see “Della Plebe,” no. 33, 1:97.

42. Cf. Ibid., xxiii-iv, lxxii-v (preface); “Al carcere,” no. 60, 1:129; and “Lamentevole orazione profetale dal profondo della fossa dova stava incarcerato,” no. 72, 1:141. Cf. Romano Amerio, Campanella: I maestri del pensiero (Brescia, Italy: La Scuola, 1947).

43. Thomae Campanellae, “Appendix Political,” Civitas Solis, Idea Republicae Philosophicae (Francofurti: Emmelli, 1623); cf. original Italian version, in Tommaso Campanella, La cittî del sole: dialogo poetico, tr. Daniel J. Donno (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), 36-37.

44. Nova Atlantis Fragmentorum alterum per Franciscum Baconum baronum de Verulano (London: Haviland, 1638).

45. Cf. Basil Montagu, The Works of Lord Bacon, 16 vols. (London: Pickering, 1825), 2:334.

46. Ibid., 335-37.

47. Brigham Young Manuscript History (August 23, 1848): 57; MS 11:24.

48. Ibid.

49. Hugh Nibley, “The Unsolved Loyalty Problem,” WPQ 6 (December 1953): 641-43.

50. Vergil, Eclogue IV, 5.

51. Ibid., IV, line 7.

52. Ibid., line 9.

53. Katherine Lee Bates, “America the Beautiful,” Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1985), no. 338.

54. Wright Morris, “Norman Rockwell’s America,” Atlantic Monthly (December 1957): 136, 138.

55. Ibid., 136: “We might say that Mr. Rockwell’s special triumph is in the conviction his countrymen share that the mythical world he evokes actually exists. This cloudland of nostalgia seems to loom higher and higher on the horizon, as the horizon itself, the world of actual experience, disappears from view, . . . leaving the drab world of commonplace facts and sensations behind.”

56. See Leonard Silk’s New York Times book review of Robert L. Heilbroner, Business Civilization in Decline (New York: Norton, 1976).

57. More, Utopia, 1:25.

58. Mariann Caprino, “Healthy Greed Was Boesky’s Undoing,” reported in Salt Lake Tribune (20 November 1986): D9.

59. Carolyn Lewis, “The Beasts in the Jungle,” Newsweek (19 January 1981): 8.

60. William Shakespeare, Timon of Athens, act IV, scene 1, much like the real Athens of Aristophanes’ Plutus.

61. Ibid.

62. See above, “Law of Consecration,” pages 422-86.

63. More, Utopia, 1:29.

64. Ibid., 2:79.

65. Ibid., 2:90.

66. TPJS 127: “When we consecrate our property to the Lord it is to administer to the wants of the poor and needy, for this is the law of God; it is not for the benefit of the rich, those who have no need; . . . now for a man to consecrate his property . . . to the Lord, is nothing more nor less than to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the widow and fatherless, the sick and afflicted, and do all he can to administer to their relief.”