Utopia Theory in History Nowhere England
About the theoretical utopian society Nowhere England devised by William Morris, about the social, political, and economic structure.
Name of Utopia: NOWHERE. England is the locale of the narrative, but "Nowhere" is the world at large in the 21st century.
Who Created: William Morris (1834-1896). Born of an English bourgeois family and educated at Oxford. Interested in medieval art, he 1st had someone build him a medieval-style house, then developed an interest in rediscovering and preserving the old medieval arts and handicrafts. He made a business out of this and learned "the theory and to some extent the practice" of weaving, dyeing, and textile printing. His designs are complex and luxurious. He invented the Morris chair. He became a socialist because he felt that "art cannot have a real life and growth under the present system of commercialism and profit mongering."
Described in: News from Nowhere (1891).
Population: The same as that of England at the end of the 19th century, but spread out.
Physical Layout: "Exquisitely beautiful" architecture expressing a "generosity and abundance of life." A few old buildings are maintaind; the old Parliament buildings are, significantly, used as a storehouse for dung.
Political and Social Structure: No national government. Federation of autonomous communes. Local organs of direct democracy fashioned after the medieval Mote. Great care is taken to allow the minority to express itself. Formally, a narrow majority vote is not winning one, but the minority usually bows to the will of the majority without being coerced. In personal matters everyone does as he pleases. No class distinctions.
Property and Distribution of Goods: No private property or wages. Goods are distributed freely in stores that are often tended by children. To the children, storekeeping is something of a game which also teaches them about the various goods, where products come from and how they are made. Households are private, but visitors are welcome. People refer to one another as "neighbor."
Production: Machinery is used when doing the work by hand would be irksome, but otherwise all production is handcrafted. People work at their own pleasure and for the pleasure they receive from making useful and especially beautiful objects. Work "is a pleasure which we are afraid of losing, not a pain . . . instead of avoiding work, everybody seeks it." Idleness is considered a disease. A new source of energy (anticipating electricity) allows for decentralization of industry.
Family/Marriage/Sex: People often fall in and out of love and contract or end a marriage. There are no divorce courts since there is no property settlement to be disputed, and enforcing a contract that involves passion or sentiment is considered absurd. "We do not deceive ourselves, indeed, or believe we can get rid of all the trouble which besets the dealings between the sexes but we are not so mad as to pile up degradation on that unhappiness by engaging in sordid squabbles about livelihood and position, and the power of tyrannizing over the children."
Place of Women: Neither men nor women tyrannize their mates. Women do "what they can do best, and what they like best," which includes waiting on the men (the justification given is that men are incompetent housekeepers).
Education and Culture: No schools. Formal education is thought of as a concomitant of poverty and the need to cram all learning into a short period. People may best learn by picking up books and acquiring information in their own way when they are so inclined. The formal Christian religion has been replaced by a "living" religion that embraces humanity.
Crime and Punishment: No prisons. People couldn't be happy "if they knew that their neighbors were shut up in a prison." There are no habitual criminals, only the occasional committing of errors. Even murder is not punished, but the violent transgressor atones to the family of the person murdered.
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