A Case for Utopia
‘A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing. And when Humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail. Progress is the realisation of Utopias.’ – Oscar Wilde
The concept of utopia dates back as far as 1000 BC, when The Epic of Gilgamesh described an Eden-like paradise free of strife and pain. Of course, this depiction has been remodelled thousands of time – thinkers as varied as Plato, Ovid, and Francis Bacon have tried to imagine the perfect civilisation. However, it was not until the publication of Thomas More’s Utopia that the term itself was first used. The term comes Greek and means ‘no-place’; however, it also refers to the identically pronounced Greek work, Eutopia, which means ‘Good place’.
Clearly, even in the 16th Century there was scepticism towards the possibility of creating paradise on earth; yet, it has never stopped visionaries from writing and imagining models. The late 19th and early 20th Century saw a huge rise in utopian ideology with famous texts such as Samuel Butler’s Erewhon and H.G. Wells’ A Modern Utopia; however, up until this time utopias were based upon political and sociological models, and hardly seemed likely to affect the status-quo.
More recently there has been a shift in utopian thinking. Visions such as Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia suggest that utopia can only be achieved by a shift in collective consciousness towards a more egalitarian and responsible mentality. These modern utopians believe that individuals must change their attitude towards civilisation in order to achieve a society approaching utopian heights.
Of course, such a change is slower and perhaps even more difficult to envisage; but, at the same time, it could be closer than ever. The onus is now on the individual, and with more people than ever asking questions and seeking inner calm, perhaps we’re finally entering a state of readiness.
Published: July 1st, 2014