Bread and Roses
An Utopian Survey and Blueprint
I. UTOPIA — THE EVERLASTING DREAM
Throughout the ages, from the earliest times, men of all nations have dreamed of that ‘ideal commonwealth whose inhabitants exist under perfect conditions’. What constitutes ‘perfect con- ditions’ is obviously a matter of personal preferences and preju- dices, but there is a common basis to the visionary dream in all its forms — the increase of human happiness, or, perhaps, more accurately, well-being — the greatest good for the greatest number, whether it is the Golden Age of ancient Greek and Roman mythology, or the confused contemporary dreams of a ‘brave new world’.
Plato’s influence upon the Utopian dream has, of course, been enormous. Re-reading his Republic today it is very strongly brought home to one that not without good reason has he been called ‘the father of Fascism’; his insistence on the State, his disregard for personal freedom, and much in his attitude to women is what we today call ‘Fascist’. Plutarch’s conception of the ideal commonwealth as visualised in his Life of Lycurgus is even more so, Lycurgus being the complete dictator. Thomas Campanella, in the seventeenth century, is, in The City of the Sun , in the same Platonic Fascist tradition. Bacon, contemporary with Campanella, in his New Atlantis was less concerned with government, and saw the progress of science as the basic source of human happiness: whilst Sir Thomas More, over a century earlier than Bacon, owes something to Plato in his conception of government, but had a more human and a broader vision, and it was he who gave to this dream of the Ideal Commonwealth the name of Utopia, from two Greek words meaning Nowhere. In the seventeenth century we get Winstanley’s socialist dream of a commonwealth in which money is abolished along with private ownership, Hobbes’s Leviathan , with the State supreme authority and money its life-blood, Harrington’s Oceana , with its redistribution of landed property, which was a part, though only a part, of Lycurgus’s programme. At the end of the nineteenth century there was Edward Bellamy’s picture of a socialist America in his Looking Backward , and William Morris’s picture of a socialist England in his News from Nowhere , both of them a break with the State conception of government. The twentieth century has given us H. G. Wells’s A Modem Utopia , but this again is in the Platonic tradition; and from the late J. D. Unwin comes, posthumously, and incomplete, a conception of a monarchist new society called Hopousia , a name derived from a Greek word meaning Where. Then we have a kind of blue-print for an English Utopia in Sir Richard Acland’s book, How It Can be Done — which should have been sub-titled, ‘Socialism Without Tears’ — and a tremendous spate of White Papers on post-war reconstruction, and booklets and pamphlets issued in series under such titles as Target for Tomorrow , Oxford Pamphlets on Home Affairs , Re-Building Britain Series , Fabian Research Series , Reconstruction Digests , Changing Britain , Common Wealth Bulletins , Tomorrow Booklets — to mention only a few. ... It is enough to drive one back to the social satires of Swift and Butler — if not right back to Aristophanes !
But satire is unconstructive, and however tedious and limited* the White Papers and blue-prints they are an expression of the old, deep, ineradicable dream. Unfortunately, where those two great Englishmen, Sir Thomas More and William Morris, saw the dream whole, our present-day Planners — to use the current word — concentrate on details, each on his favourite reform — better housing, equal education, pensions for all — a brave new world constructed on the crumbling foundations of the bad old world. And with all this orgy of ’ planning ’ and ‘ reconstruction ’ where, outside, perhaps, of Priestley’s play, They Came to a City , is the authentic vision? Priestley may be basing his vision upon an illusion of the U.S.S.R., but it still remains a vision. Lenin had a vision; the Spanish anarchists during the 1936-8 Civil War had a vision; but in this country, it would seem, Utopia is to be translated into terms of the Beveridge Report and Mr. Churchill’s uninspired programme of ‘houses, jobs, security’ — as though all that human beings needed for happiness was the roof overhead, employment, freedom from want. As though men had abandoned the dream that they came to a city — a free city of the sun. . . . Well might they cry, ‘We asked for a dream, and ye give us a White Paper ! ’
For some time past, now, there has been a murmuring amongst the people, and that ‘ things have got to be different ’ is the general expression of that murmur. ‘We can’t go back to 1939,’ is how Richard Acland defines the attitude of the common people; Priestley protests against the defeatist ‘ We-must-have-changes- but-thcre-won’t-be-any ’ attitude; he himself sees the ‘signposts’ to the needed changes in Acland’s programme. Whether or not the mass of people believe in their hearts that there won’t be any changes — any real changes — I, personally, would not be prepared to say; nor do I believe that Acland’s proposals would give us the real changes. But that a very strong feeling persists, throughout the working-classes and the lower middle-classes, that ‘things have got to be different — somehow ’, seems to meundeniable. The Beveridge Report, with its provision for human beings‘from the womb to the tomb to use the popular derisive phrase concern- ing it, and all the White Papers and blue-prints of the Planners, is the anxious answer to this murmur amongst the common people.
But though the people murmur, the politicians have no vision. The people ask for a brave new world, and they are offered homes — ‘pre-fabricated’, of all ghastly notions — employment, security, all the old make-shifts. For all their talk the politicians are not concerned to rebuild Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land; they have no vision in which they see ‘this green England reborn, waking in the cool of morning with the dew upon it . . . every man in his own sanctuary of the spirit, holding steadily to the whole through the detail.’ They are Planners who, fundamentally, have no plan.
Collect material from far and wide, and sort it all out into neat little heaps — education, housing, public health, social services, the Scott and Uthwatt reports, taxation, ‘the coal problem’, ‘the problem of population’, ‘the economics of peace’; collect it from the Common Wealth people, the Fabians, the Labour Party, the Communists, the British Council, the British Association for Labour Legislation, the London Council for Social Sendee, the Association for Education in Citizenship, the Council for Educational Advance — this, that and the other party, council, society, association — collect it and sort it and summarize it, until you are all but engulfed in it and your head spins, and still it does not make a plan — in the sense that Plato’s Republic , Plutarch’s Sparta under Lycurgus, More’s Utopia , were plans. It no more makes a plan than a heap of leayes makes a tree. It is not even a Paradise on paper. It has no pattern.
‘Modern Utopianism’, writes H. J. Massingham in his The Tree of Life ‘makes no attempt to go outside the terms of reference to the existing order or disorder. The Doctrine of Creation is completely outside it. . . . ’
In this book it is proposed to go outside those terms of reference, and attempt to offer ‘a doctrine of Creation’. It is proposed to hold steadily to the whole through the detail.
Utopia is the everlasting dream of the Good Life in the heart of man.
It is also the sanity, the basic wisdom, in the mind of man under the rubble that civilisation, with its industrialisation and its illusion of progress, has imposed.
‘Things have got to be different.’ We are agreed upon that. In the following chapters we will consider what sort of things, and how they could be different, to the common advantage.
II. THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF UTOPIA
That something is fundamentally wrong with society as we at present know it is evident from recurrent cycles of unemployment between wars, poverty in a world of plenty, and science put to destructive instead of creative uses. The economics of this society are the economics of the mad-house. A ‘New Deal’ in this society consists of throwing fish back into the sea, ploughing wheat back into the land, burning coffee and cotton in order to avoid ‘glutting’ the markets and to keep up the prices. In Eng- land, during the trade boom which followed the last war, before the slump came, there were still a million and a half unemployed. Under the existing system the unemployed can only be fully absorbed in a world at war — that is to say that whereas they cannot be absorbed for creative purposes they can be absorbed for destructive purposes. They can be employed killing and destroying, or in producing the weapons for killing and destroy- ing. If we were confronted with children who, when they were not either smashing windows or collecting stones with which to smash windows, found themselves with nothing to do, we should be very shocked; something must be very wrong with such children, we should say, that they could only occupy themselves destructively. But there might not be anything, fundamentally, wrong with the children; they might simply be lacking in any natural creative outlet, and thus disposed of their energies and passed the time as best they could. Similarly, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with human nature; what is wrong is the shape which civilisation, with all its twistings and turnings — fallaciously called ‘progress’ — has assumed.
Human nature is capable of being incredibly base, stupid, brutal. The end of 1943 in England saw a mob hue-and-cry, the lynch-law mentality rampant, when a man who had never been charged or tried — and a very sick man at that — was released from prison after three years; there was a hanging-in-effigy in a public place, and a demand for the wretched man’s reimprisonment. Soon after this, in a so-called socialist country, 50,000 people turned out to see four men hanged, and after the motor- lorries on which the men had been standing with the nooses round their necks had driven off, leaving them hanging, ‘when it was clear that all four were dead the crowd drew close to the gallows’. Back in the ’thirties a similarly huge crowd thronged an open place just outside Paris to see a man beheaded, standing on the roofs of cars parked all round, as at a race meeting. It is easy to say, with such things in mind, ‘There is no hope for humanity ’, to see it only as incredibly base in the mass, and only isolated individuals as fine. There are pictures on the other side, too — the heroic struggles and sacrifices of peoples for justice and freedom, the stubborn resistance of the unarmed Bardoli peasants against the Bombay government in 1928, the epic struggle of Easter Week in Dublin, 1916, matched only by the epic of the Asturian miners against the government in 1934, the mass risings in the cause of bread and justice in this country in the early nineteenth century, the sway of popular opinion'in 1919 against Churchill’s intervention against the Russian revolution, the heartening incident of the Jolly George , when British dockworkers refused to load munitions intended to be used against the Russian revolutionaries. . . . Human nature in the mass can be base and ugly; but it can also be fine and beautiful.
There is hope for humanity all right: all it needs is to be given a chance — the creative chance. The need is not for palliatives and compromises and reforms, but for a new way of life. Beveridge plans are designed to make life livable for the masses within the system — to avert social revolution. Sir Richard Acland, with his Common Wealth scheme, aims at a form of socialism-without-tears, an attempt at pacifying the capitalist with compensation for his confiscated property — a sort of social appeasement, which will still leave a class system of society, and which offers no new approach to life and no recognition of ‘the soul of man’. Neither Sir William Beveridge nor Sir Richard Acland are likely to take mankind far along the road to Utopia.
No leader can do this; no politician; no one man with any one scheme; nor a hundred men with a hundred schemes. Only the people themselves can find the way — out of the dream in their hearts, out of their impassioned desire for that new world which is only brought about by a new way of living. Impracticable? Within ‘ the terms of reference to the existing order or disorder ’, yes. But Utopia is outside of those terms of reference. Utopia is concerned with the soul of man, and through that recognition the brotherhood of man.
Nobody, perhaps, reads Oscar Wilde’s little book The Soul of Man nowadays, though Robert Ross described it as ‘unique in English literature’. The present writer read it first twenty-five years ago and has just re-read it with intense pleasure. It is an indictment of the social system and a vindication of individualism. Wilde declares, ‘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.’
Wilde was a natural anarchist. He saw all authority as degrad- ing — to those who exercised it and those over whom it is exercised. ‘When it is violently, grossly, and cruelly used’, he maintained, ‘it produces a good effect, by creating, or at any rate bringing out, the spirit of revolt and Individualism that is to kill it. When it is used with a certain amount of kindness, and accompanied by prizes and rewards, it is dreadfully demoralising. People, in that case, are less conscious of the horrible pressure that is being put on them, and so go through their lives in a sort of coarse comfort, like petted animals, without ever realising that they are probably thinking other people’s thoughts, living by other people’s standards, wearing practically what one may call other peoples second-hand clothes, and never being themselves for a single moment. “He who would be free”, says a fine thinker, “ must not conform.” And authority, by bribing people to conform, produces a very gross kind of over-fed barbarism amongst us.’
That ‘coarse comfort, like petted animals’ is exactly the aim of such palliatives as the Beveridge Plan. Wilde saw Individualism as ‘what, through Socialism, we are to attain to. As a natural result the State must give up all idea of government. It must give it up because, as a wise man once said many centuries before Christ, there is such a thing as leaving mankind alone; there is no such thing as governing mankind. All modes of government are failures. . . . High hopes were once formed of democracy; but democracy simply means the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people. It has been found out’.
Wilde’s Utopian conception of the State was a voluntary association for the organisation of labour and the distribution of necessary commodities. The State was to use the machine to make what is useful ; Man was to produce, out of his creativeness, what was beautiful, what gave him joy to make — since all work that is not done with pleasure is ‘morally injurious’. Wilde wanted all unpleasant, uninteresting, ugly work, done by the machine — ‘Machinery must work for us in coal mines, and do all sanitary services, and be the stokers of steamers, and clean the streets, and run messages on wet days, and do anything that is tedious and distressing. At present machinery competes against man. Under proper conditions machinery will serve man. . . . On mechanical slavery, on the slavery of the machine, the future of the world depends.’
(Wilde did not live to see the machine as a colossal and diabolic agent for the destruction of man, raining death and destruction from the skies at the rate of thousands of tons per minute.)
There are two very clearly defined schools of thought on this question of the machine. It is to be regarded as the enemy of civilisation; or as the potential servant of it. William Morris was another artist who was aware of the potentiality for good of the machine. Like Wilde, he visualised it ‘being used freely for releasing people from the more mechanical and repulsive part of necessary labour’, and insisted that it was ‘allowing machines to be our masters and not our servants ’ that brutalised and uglified life. He believed that ‘a state of social order would probably lead at first to a great development of machinery for really useful purposes, because people will still be anxious about getting through the work uecessary to holding society together; but that after a while they will find that there is not so much work to do as they expected, and that then they will have leisure to reconsider the whole subject; and if it seems to them that a certain industry would be carried on more pleasantly as regards the worker, and more effectually as regards the goods, by using hand-work rather than machinery, they will certainly get rid of their machinery, because it will be possible for them to do so. It isn’t possible now; we are not at liberty to do so; we are slaves to the monsters which we have created. And I have a kind of hope that the very elaboration of machinery in a society whose purpose is not the multiplication of labour, as it now is, but the carrying on of a pleasant life, as it would be under social order — that the elaboration of machinery, I say, will lead to the sim- plification of life, and so once more to the limitation of machinery .’
A modern writer, Mr. Wilfred Wellock, in a thoughtful little booklet, A Mechanistic or a Human Society , takes Morris’s line, and in spite of his admiration of ‘the Golden Age of husbandry and craftsmanship of the pre-industrial era’, acknowledges that ‘ machinery is not in itself evil ; it all depends upon its nature and the uses to which it is put’. He points out that every tool is a machine, and that ‘in cultivating the land man passed from the spade to the plough, first of wood, then of iron, afterwards to the use of oxen and later of horses, and finally to the tractor, first light, then heavy, with many blades. Whether and where a line should be drawn in the use of machinery depends upon many factors, chief of which, in agriculture, e.g. are the nature of soil and the nature of man, both living things capable of rapid dissolution if subjected to wrong treatment. History proves that these two entities, man and soil, thrive and flourish or decay and perish together, that customs and social ends which exploit and degrade the one, exploit and exhaust the other. The spiritual exhaustion of Roman civilisation synchronised with the exhaustion of the soil on which it lived, as the Sahara desert testifies. On the other hand, the non-aggressive Chinese have maintained the fertility of their soil for thousands of years ’.
Mr. Wellock deplores 'the de-humanisation of man by the mechanistic civilisation born of the Industrial Revolution’. He has all of Eric Gill’s love of personalness in work, of work as craftsmanship, and, like Massingham, quotes the village chair- maker as an example of one of our few remaining craftsmen; and he has all of Massingham’s deep love of the English countryside, her homely farmsteads 'which embody the best spirit and con- stitute the glory and the strength of England and all that is solid and abiding in it’. He views with abhorrence the prospect of these farms being replaced by 'big agricultural units fed on chemicals and run by mass-machinery and mass-men’. Wellock wants what he calls ‘the politics of creative living’, as an alter- native to ' power politics ’ ; he visualises a new society which will rest on 'three pillars: the soil, personal functional responsibility, and the acceptance of what are essentially Christian values’. Massingham wants what he calls the Doctrine of Creation as part of daily life, the shadow of the Church upon the fields, so that it becomes ‘the Tree of Life, rooted in the earth but its crown in heaven’. He sees such integration as 'true to the nature of the universe. It is this synthesis,’ he adds, 'religion, nature, craft, husbandry, all in one — we have to rediscover.’
Massingham quotes R. D. Knowles in his book Britain's Problem as asserting, ‘ . . . today the machine has become a thing of terror; it stalks here, and it stalks there; in the field, through the farm, in the office, in the shop, in the factory, in the mine. And wherever it stalks falls a shadow — the shadow of unemployment and under-consumption ’. Commenting on this Massingham points out 'Yet it is not the machine itself which has been responsible for this degradation, since electricity and the internal-combustion engine could and should be of the utmost service in the diffusion of property’, adding that 'It is the machine in combination with a predatory philosophy which has degraded work and finally gone on without it, and this is the work of the economic system which has degraded property and has gone on into a functionless finance’.
Those who regard the machine as the enemy and destroyer of civilisation, maintain that only by de-industrialisation and return to the cultivation of the soil and handcrafts will mankind come to the Good Life. Eric Gill, in attacking the machine as the destroyer of ‘the dignity of labour’, and of the labourer as a person, serving his fellow-men and enjoying the service, because of its creativeness and personalness, acknowledged the fact that civilisation had reached a stage at which it was impossible to put the clock back, but he saw ‘ the decay and eventual disappearance of industrialism ’, as ‘inevitable’, because ‘the motive which sustains it is not man’s vocation to holiness, and holiness is necessarily the ultimate value in human affairs ’. 1 He maintained that the clock of civilisation would run on and down, like the clock of Roman civilisation , 2 and then, with the disappearance of industrialism, work would once more become, as in the Middle Ages, related to art and to happiness, instead of something depersonalised — mechanised — and therefore apart from these things.
Here, then, are two sharply-defined attitudes — Gill’s attitude, endorsed as much by the D. H. Lawrence-ites (‘They talk of the triumph of the machine, But the machine will never triumph’) as by the Aldous Huxley-ites, who find in Brave New World a modern vindication of Rousseau’s ‘noble savage’, the attitude that the machine is wholly evil, and that it will ultimately destroy the civilisation dependent on it, and the attitude maintained by Morris and Wilde, and in recent times by H. J. Massingham and Wilfred Wellock, that, rightly used, the machine could be made to serve and enrich human life.
Aldous Huxley himself does not maintain that the machine is wholly evil. He regards it as harmful and dangerous, because it tends to destroy the creative impulse in human beings, which he regards as ‘the source of man’s most solid, least transitory happiness. The machine robs the majority of human beings of the very possibility of this happiness’. But he insists that it must stay — that as a matter of sheer practicality, at this stage of civilisation, its use cannot be discontinued. ‘The machines must stay; it is obvious. They must stay, even though, used as they are now being used, they inflict on humanity an enormous psychological injury that must, if uncared for, prove mortal. The only remedy is systematic inconsistency.’ There must be, he contends, a de-mechanisation of leisure, so that creative leisure can balance the uncreative hours of mechanical work. But that there can only be this de-mechanisation if the desire for it is created. ‘The vital problem of our age is the problem of recon- ciling manhood with the citizenship of a modern industrialised state.’ In our present mechanised society human beings are only free to live, in the real sense, outside of their working hours — and even then their leisure is devoted to mechanised pleasure for the most part. Huxley recognises that the difficulties of reconciling man’s humanity with his mechanised world are enormously great — ‘But so are the penalties of failure’.
Oscar Wilde, living in a less highly-industrialised age, could afford to be more optimistic. He anticipated a time when ‘while Humanity will be amusing itself, or enjoying cultivated leisure — which, and not labour, is the aim of man — or making beautiful things, or reading beautiful things, or simply contemplating the world with admiration and delight, machinery will be doing all the necessary and unpleasant work’. But this happy state of affairs, Wilde acknowledged, could only exist in a new social order, where the machine, instead of being private property, used competitively for the making of private profit, was the property of all, and used for the common good.
Wilde’s socialism was the easy idealism of a man who had not thought very deeply on sociological issues. He was first and last an artist and an aesthete; he wanted a world in which there would be boundless leisure for the creation and enjoyment of beautiful things; he wanted a society in which the soul of man might have room for expansion to this end ; and he believed in a kind of socialism as the means to this end. Unfortunately socialism is no guarantee that the machine will be used for the service of man, but only for the State. Whether men work on machine belts, in coal-mines, in the stoke-holds of ships, for private employers or the State, is all one so far as the unpleasantness and soullessness of the work itself is concerned, and no socialist or communist manifesto has ever yet protested against the domination of the machine as a destroyer of the Good Life and the Soul of Man, but only against that domination being used for private profit.
It has never been a part of any socialist or communist programme to release man from the machine; these revolutionaries are concerned with the great corporate body of the State, with the ownership of the land and the means of production; they want all the factories hissing and humming in the service of the State; they want the great tractors rolling over the land, and they dismiss as romantic and reactionary any talk of de-industrialisation and return to handcrafts; they don’t want labour personalised and individualised; they want it efficiency-ised and organised; they are passionate devotees of the machine — provided it is not privately owned. It is not too long ago to remember the pride with which the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics hailed the advent of tractors on the collectivised farms ; every Russian film showed peasants waving and cheering the arrival of a tractor, and Russian youth of both sexes grinning from ear to ear with pride and pleasure as they drove the machines into the good earth. Instead of slowing down in the factories, they introduced English and American engineers to show them how to speed-up, and the apex was reached when a frightful system of speeded-up production called Stakhanovism was introduced. Their poetry became Songs of the Machine; operas and ballets were devoted to the glorification of industry; their music reproduced the clangour of the factory machines, with a horrible deliberateness. They made gramophone records of this cacophony, and had their factory poems translated into other tongues, so that workers of other lands might draw inspiration from communist ‘culture’
. . . ‘Social realism’ it was called. Contemporary Russian painting in the ’thirties, when this first began to be talked about was as full of factory scenes as Nazi painting was of Aryan blondes and pictures of the Fuhrer .
Socialism could give us the machine in the service of man, but it will need to be, as Oscar Wilde realised, a socialism divorced from the State; it will need to be the socialism of Utopia (a socialist State is by no means necessarily an ideal commonwealth — witness the U.S.S.R. where in spite of having got rid of the capitalist system there is neither social equality nor freedom) something remote from any form of political orthodoxy, because, as Blake has said, ‘Religion is politics and politics is brotherhood’, and it is a basic principle of Utopia, as the present writer sees it, that the Good Life can only be founded on the brotherhood of man. It is impossible to feel that either Massing- ham or Wellock share the optimism concerning the future of the machine which Wilde expressed in his Soul of Man . Both, whilst acknowledging the uses of the machine, hope for a return to the handcrafts and the affinity between the peasant and the soil, of the pre-industrial era. Wellock has stated specifically that ‘we ought to bring back those fireside arts and handicrafts which once enriched the home-life of our country as nothing has done since ’. He finds a clear-cut definition of the function of machinery impossible, since it must necessarily depend upon the demands of society, but he believes ‘that as the advantages and satisfactions of creative labour are realised, the tendency will be to cut out hundreds of desires and demands which have been artificially stimulated by a profit-making economy, and to concentrate on quality production, and thus more and more to substitute craft for machinery in all directions*. He adds, significantly, that ‘to determine the proper sphere of the machine will be one of the main tasks of the creative revolution*. This is amplified in his book, where he says, ‘Inventions and discoveries which have facilitated good production of the things men need, and improved the quality of human life, have occurred ever since man appeared on the earth, and no doubt will continue to do so*. From this he proceeds to his argument that machinery is not in itself evil, but that our modern civilisation has perverted its uses, so that its evil aspect has gained the ascendant. Massingham perceives in various war-time indications of self-help, and self-acting heroism, the tradition of the old England still living in the ‘shoddy new*. ‘These feelers , he declares, ‘are one with the thrifty use of the hedgerow and the garden, the struggle for an honest loaf against both State and vested interest, the speeding, if not the God-speeding, of the rusty plough. None can be rightly called a return to nature or a return to God, still less to both at once. But they are a means to that end, and the only means. They are the laying of the first stones and in the true English tradition, country-born and intuitively religious, and up to the eighteenth century never radically separated. He sees every authentic English village as a trinity of church-houses-fields,
‘ a microcosm of God-Man-Earth, each in profound and purposed relation to the other*. He seeks, like Adrian Bell, and as Gill sought, the re-integration of man with God, not in the meaningless glib jargon of the church, but as a living reality of daily life, part of the Doctrine of Creation. He asserts that the connection between church and fields has been lost as the connection between work and play has been lost, and ‘it is this synthesis — religion, nature, craft, husbandry, all in one — we have to rediscover*.
In our present competitive world everyone grabs for himself; everyone wants more money, even the comfortably-ofF, even the rich. If a man, particularly a young man, declares that he is not interested in making money he is considered either a hypocrite or a crank. If a young man declares that he is not interested in ‘getting on* he is considered ‘no good*, a person of no initiative or enterprise. To ‘make good* means to ‘make money*. Jesus completely failed to make good. At the age of thirty he threw up a good trade — carpentry — to become a preacher, and for three years lived from hand to mouth, taking no thought for the morrow, and having at times not where to lay his head, and was finally executed, as we know, between a couple of thieves, as an agitator subversive to the State. Any young person, asked what he or she intends to ‘do’ in life, and replying, ‘Just be\ is regarded as lacking in natural ambition — since an ambition to be, in the sense of ‘accepting life simply and naturally and enjoying if, is not considered a natural ambition . . . outside of Utopia. Nobody is ambitious in Utopia; there is no place for ambition in the brotherhood of man. The slogan of the French Revolution serves Utopia well enough — Liberty Egalitt, Fraternite.
But in Utopia these brave words are more than a slogan; they are a reality. As this writer sees it they represent the basic principles of that ‘ideal commonwealth whose inhabitants live under perfect conditions’.
, It is pertinent to consider exactly what is meant by each of these fine words, for we live in an age when words are carelessly used, and are, not infrequently, robbed of all meaning. The word Freedom has a fine ring about it, yet no word is more mis-used today; no word is emptier of true meaning; politicians mouth it as an American chews gum. It has become a political catch-phrase. There is the Atlantic Charter which gives freedom to all peoples, the right to determine their own form of government — but not to India, not to Africa, not to the Arabs. There are the Four Freedoms — or is it Five? — with as little meaning. Whenever a country goes to war it is for its conception of freedom. ‘Your freedom is at stake,’ the governments cry, to the peoples, ‘To arms!’ and the peoples obey, obedience to governments having become a habit of their civilisation. There was never a war yet that was not fought for freedom — or the illusion of it. Yet the world is in chains. Where are the free peoples of the world? Do they exist anywhere outside of Utopia? You who read this — how free are you? You, woman- of-the-house, imprisoned in your life; you, man-in-an-office, imprisoned in your job. You who think yourselves progressive — how free are you? You, chained by moral fears you do not own except secretly in the sleepless nights of your guilt and anxiety, to an unhappy marriage, an unhappy love-affair, to the demands of families and outworn loves — the chains we call ‘loyalties’ and ‘duties’, the chains of conscience and moral upbringing. You whose very lives can be conscripted an it please your government ... all in the cause of what governments call ‘Freedom’.
But what governments call Freedom is not what is understood by that term in Utopia. In the everyday world freedom is liberty to ‘do what you like, as long as you do what you’re told’. In this government-controlled world the only free peoples are a few nomad desert and Arctic tribes ; when they come within reach of civilisation their freedom is imperilled immediately. The Romanies are probably the freest people in the world, but they only remain so by keeping moving; they must always be moving on, beyond reach of the long arm of the law. Where laws begin to operate there is an end of freedom. Natural liberty is a state in which there are no laws, and natural liberty is what, in Utopia, is understood by freedom. To the mind steeped in the traditions of governmental control this immediately suggests nature-red- in-tooth-and-claw, the survival-of-the-fittest, chaos, and all that is popularly understood by anarchy. Natural liberty is subject to natural laws. No man liveth to himself alone : there is the dis- cipline that life itself imposes, and the natural laws of co-operation and mutual aid. ‘All government,’ William Godwin wrote in his Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, ‘corresponds in a certain degree to what the Greeks denominated a tyranny. ... By its very nature a positive institution has a tendency to suspend the elasticity and progress of mind. We should not forget that government is, abstractly taken, an evil, a usurpation upon private judgment and individual conscience of mankind’.
How the Utopians arrange their affairs without the coercion of State and government we will consider later; it is here only necessary to indicate the fundamental principles upon which an Utopian society is based, and a first principle of such a society must be freedom, since only under freedom does Man attain to his true stature, and only in freedom is happiness — that happiness which is what Havelock Ellis calls ‘ the deepest organic satisfaction’ — possible. And endlessly we come back to the profound truth of the assertion of modern psychology, ‘Be happy and you will be good ’. At this point there is always someone to protest, ‘But what about people who find their happiness in anti-social conduct? The Borgias, presumably, were happy when poisoning their'guests, but it was hardly happiness for their victims. Isn’t this where your be-happy-and-you-will-be-good philosophy breaks down?’ The answer to that is that the Borgias may have found pleasure in their poisonings, but not happiness. The criminal is never happy; his conduct is the expression of his fundamental unhappiness. Happy people no more wish to commit homicide than they wish to commit suicide. (It is an interesting and significant psychological fact that suicides very frequently show homicidal tendencies.) Given the ‘perfect conditions’ of Utopia it is reasonable to suppose that there will be no crime, no anti-social conduct, at least within a generation or two. ‘Utopia within our time’ would involve a carrying- over of neuroses from our present deplorable society, nor would the children be immune, since they would have had a bad start. There would be, necessarily, what the communists call ‘the period of transition’, but ultimately society would emerge as good because it was happy — because it was integrated, whole.
The implications of this Utopian freedom are tremendous. In society as we at present know it we have no conception of freedom in the real sense. We consider ourselves ‘free’ if we manage to live our own lives — as we say — in defiance of the conventional moral code; to be indifferent to public opinion we consider great liberty; we count it freedom to swim, somehow, against the tide. Whereas in truth freedom is swimming in whatever direction we choose in a tideless sea, unhampered. In our existing society there is no real freedom even for the most daring, the most rebellious, the most courageous; a certain measure may be had — at a price, which is a contradiction in terms, for the essence of freedom is that it is free.
Only through a passionate, dynamic, desire for real freedom can humanity hope to achieve Utopia. Which is another way of saying, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is within you’. Lin Yutang, in The Importance of Living quotes Bernard Shaw as rightly saying that ‘ the only kind of liberty worth having is the liberty of the oppressed to squeal when hurt and the liberty to remove the conditions which hurt them’. This is true of liberty in our existing society, but in Utopia there are, obviously, no oppressed and thus its freedom is freedom to live in the fullest sense. Liberty to protest against injustice and oppression, and to fight these evils, is a very limited conception of freedom. As the Distributists assert, ‘The right of liberty is not restricted to one particular liberty, to liberty of religion, conscience, action, and so on; it is the right of choice in all things in which the exercise of the choice does not injure the right of choice of others’. The full implications of Utopian freedom we will consider in detail later.
Here, concerned with basic principles, let us consider the nature of this free society — not its structure ; that also will come up for consideration later. The nature of the present system in democratic countries is competitive, because capitalist. In a communist country, in which the abolition of capitalism automatically disposes of competition, the nature of the system is theoretically communistic; in practice, to judge by the only communist regime by which to judge, the U.S.S.R., it becomes bureaucratic, as undemocratic as a Fascist regime, and, with the rise of bureaucracy and a privileged class of intellectuals and state officials, as lacking in the equality — which is the essence of true communism — as a capitalist or a Fascist society. The equality and fraternity of the French revolutionary slogan are essential to a truly free society. Such a society must be classless. It must be communistic in the sense in which the early Christians were communistic — with all things in common ; its basic law cannot be better defined than by the Marxist, ‘From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs ’, but whilst accepting this basic principle of Marxism it radically differs from the Marxist interpretation of communism in its refusal to grant authority to the State. A free society is, in fact, a Stateless society, in which man lives in brotherhood with man, on terms of equality, ungovemed, and with all things in common.
Without “that spirit of the brotherhood of man there can be no equality, no freedom. In a competitive system of society there can obviously be no such fraternal spirit; in such a society the law is each for himself and the survival of the fittest. In an Utopian society the law is the law of mutual aid — of co-operation, that is to say, and brotherhood.
This, perhaps, brings forth the protest that before Utopia can be realised there must be a new spirit in the heart of Man, that there must be a new Golden Age . . . and that the Golden Age is a classical myth, that only in the dreams of idealists has humanity ever lived a life in which it was ‘happy and free, and ungoverned, and at peace’. That the realisation of Utopia calls for a new spirit in the heart of man is true; but that the Golden Age was never historical fact is debatable. H. J. Massingham contends 1 that it existed in the Stone Age before the coming of the Neolithic peoples, and that it exists fragmentarily today amongst ‘primitive communities huddled in Jo odd corners of the world, mostly in the extreme north or south’. He sees it as the heaven that lay about the infancy of the world, destroyed by that organisation of society we call civilisation, with its artificial culture, its industrialisation, its mechanisation. Massingham considers that the perfectability of man, ‘so far from being a Utopian idea, is a practicable achievement’. ‘There is nothing’, he adds, ‘in the raw material of human nature to prevent its realisation. Thus, the theory of modern anthropology that pro- gress consists in the elimination of the “savagery” which lies at the roots of humanity has to be completely reversed.’ The virtues of primitive peoples have been recognised by various travellers and anthropologists. Massingham speaks of ‘The Negrito Semang of the Malay Peninsula as practising’ a perfect Christian communism without being Christians. They have no division of classes or formal authority and yet are described as cheerful, modest, frank and virtuous. He quotes Seligman as saying of the Veddas of Ceylon that they are ‘extremely courteous, merry and truthful’, and Nansen’s finding of Christian communism amongst the Eskimos. After citing numerous other examples of Christian virtues amongst primitive peoples, he says, ‘ In community after community of primitives, whole continents or climates apart, we find the same tale repeated with so little variation as to become monotonous. . . . There runs a kind of Esperanto language of peace and goodwill which the Cave Man bellows through his tusks from the four corners of the world. . . . But when civilisation introduces religious, totemic, class, political, property, or other disciplinary inhibitions, then stresses and disharmonies are set up in the community. . . . The unspoiled primitive combines a beauty, peacefulness and equanimity both of individual disposition and of community life, with an absence of all those social, economic, and political institutions inseparable from civilisation’. He refers in this connection to the ‘undirected, unorganised, unprogressive and uncontaminated life force of human nature’.
. It is this uncontaminated life force deep within human nature that has to be tapped, to be released for the realisation of Utopia.
How is this to be achieved? If there is any concise cut-and- dried answer to so long and broad and deep a question it is perhaps best expressed in the single world — education. Through the re- education of humanity to the conception of a new Golden Age, and the necessity for it. The need is for a renaissance of spiritual values in opposition to the current materialism. It is a task for the teachers and preachers, and under this heading writers and poets should be included, for a poem, or a play, or a book, or a story, may have a greater educative value, yield a brighter spiritual illumination, than any lesson or lecture or sermon; sudden realisation may come from a single sentence of inspired utterance — The Christian Church could greatly serve this needed spiritual renaissance, but it needs first a spiritual renaissance of its own. Bland pink parsons, over-fed and underworked, mouthing platitudes in pulpits to middle-class congregations, have as little relation to Christian inspiration as they have to the pale Galilean himself. The founder of the Christian religion had a message for humanity, and for nearly two thousand years the Church has been failing to pass it on. It has mumbled at the people, and the people have mumbled the orthodox responses, and fine churches have been built and dedicated to Christ, candles have been burnt and incense scattered and fine robes worn, but Jesus of Nazareth walked with fishermen by the sea, and preached from a hillside, under the open sky, and everything he said was very simple, with the profundity of simple things. He bade us love one another, and forgive one another; he bade us love our enemies, and turn the other cheek, and be humble, and without riches, and pointed out that the Kingdom of Heaven is within us.
But the bland pink parsons have come between us and the pale Nazarene; there is no more room for him in the great churches than there was in the inn, and his profound, simple, inspired utterances are lost in all the mumbo-jumbo. The Church has had great power, great influence, but never, ironically enough, in the cause of Christian teaching. It has, nevertheless, immense educative potentiality. But first the priests and ministers, the vicars and deans and bishops and archbishops, all these ‘pro- fessional Christians’, must not merely preach and teach the doctrines of Jesus but themselves lead simple, humble Christian lives. At present the only outstanding practising Christian is a man who does not profess Christianity, the Hindu, Mahatma Gandhi, whose tremendous moral influence over the masses is significant.
If, through our teachers and preachers and writers and poets, humanity can be re-educated to new values — to the conception qf a co-operative instead of a competitive form of society, a con- ception of the real meaning of freedom and brotherhood — the ideal commonwealth, in which men and women live happily, fully, and at peace, becomes practicable along with the perfectability of man. Utopia becomes realisable as man becomes ready for it.
III. UTOPIAN ADMINISTRATION
Having laid it down that the basic principles upon which the ideal commonwealth of Utopia rests are freedom, equality, and brotherhood, and that to secure these principles in practice there can be no centralised government, no State, we can proceed to the consideration of Utopian administration.
Utopia, as Sir Thomas More wrote, is ‘the only commonwealth that truly deserves that name’ because, ‘in all other places it is visible, that while people talk of a commonwealth, every man seeks only his own wealth; but there, where no man has any property, all men zealously pursue the good of the public . . . in other commonwealths every man knows that unless he provides for himself, how flourishing soever the commonwealth may be, he must die of hunger; so that he sees the necessity of preferring his own concerns to the public; but in Utopia, where every man has a right to everything, they all know that if care is taken to keep the public stores full, no private man can want anything; for among them there is no unequal distribution so that no man is poor, none in necessity; and though no man has anything, yet they are all rich. ... *
In order to secure this equal distribution of goods in common, and for the smooth running of the community generally, there has, obviously, to be some form of organisation, and it is both interesting and useful to consider the provision made by the various planners of Utopias.
Plato evolved a highly complex system of government. Fascist that he was, he was all for ‘law and order’, and the masses well and truly organised. There were to be ‘Guardians’, divided into two classes — the ‘Rulers’, who were to have undergone a higher education, and who were to be ‘legislative and deliberative’, and the ‘Auxiliaries’, who were to be executive, and sub- ordinate to the ‘Rulers’; in addition to these two classes of ‘Guardians’ there was a third order in the State — the ‘Craftsmen’, whose function was purely productive.
Plutarch’s ‘ideal commonwealth’ was Sparta under Lycurgus ‘the law-giver’ — and it was a barefaced dictatorship. Whether Lycurgus was real or legendary, or half-real, half-legendary, is for present purposes of no importance. What is of interest is Plutarch’s conception of an ideal State as set forth in his Life of Lycurgus. He admits the controversy connected with the birth, travels, death, of ‘the law-giver*, and concerning the laws attributed to him, but that he himself believed in him, historically, is evidenced by his assertion that he stood ‘in the rank of glory far beyond the founders of all the other Grecian States’.
According to Plutarch, when Lycurgus came to power he consulted die Delphic oracle, and being assured that Apollo promised him that he should establish the most excellent con- stitution in the world he set to work, roping in the support of the nobility for the purpose, in the best Fascist fashion. ‘When matters were ripe he ordered thirty of the principal citizens to appear armed in the market-place by break of day, to strike terror into the heart of such as might desire to oppose him.’ The young king, Charilaus, ruling in partnership with Archelaus at the time, was at first alarmed and fled, but was finally reassured, and agreed to co-operate with Lycurgus — whose first action was to establish a senate of twenty-eight — two of the thirty who had first associated themselves with him having, according to Aristotle, deserted through fear. Plutarch, himself, however, inclined to the belief that twenty-eight senators were appointed in order that, with the two kings, the whole body might consist of thirty members. Plato admired this constitution as a means of keeping in order kings hitherto too imperious and unrestrained, and as highly contributing to the preservation of the State, the senators, says Plutarch, ‘adhering to the kings whenever they saw the people too encroaching, and, on the other hand, supporting the people when the kings attempted to make themselves absolute.
Lycurgus next obtained from Delphi an oracle on behalf of the constitution; it was called the rhetra , or decree. What it decreed was that the people should be divided into classes and tribes, a senate of thirty persons established, including the two kings, and the people occasionally summoned to an assembly. These assemblies were held in the open air, as Lycurgus considered that holding such meetings in fine halls and buildings distracted attention from the business in hand. ‘The people thus assembled had no right to propose any subject of debate, and were only authorised to ratify or reject what might be proposed to them by the senate and kings. 5 (Later kings inserted into the rhetra a clause that ‘If the people attempt to corrupt any law, the senate and chiefs shall retire — that is to say, dissolve the assembly and annul the alterations. It is hardly surprising to read that this government finally degenerated into ‘ an oligarchy, whose power was exercised with such wantonness and violence that it wanted indeed a bridle.)
After this Lycurgus proceeded to redivide the lands, ‘For he found a prodigious inequality, the city overcharged with many indigent persons, who had no land, and the wealth centred in the hands of a few. Plutarch does not indicate by what means Lycurgus* 'persuaded' the ' Haves' to give to the 'Have-Nots', cancelling all former divisions of land and making new ones, ‘in such a manner that they might be perfectly equal in their possessions and way of living'. But though he had success with the re-division of the land, when it came to goods he encountered some opposition, and 'perceived that they could not bear to have their goods taken from them’. He therefore set to work upon the currency, as a means of disposing of inequality of possession. He stopped the gold and silver currency and ordered the use of iron money, and ‘ to a great quantity and weight of this he assigned but a small value'. When this became current many kinds of injustice ceased, for 'who would steal or take a bribe, who would defraud or rob, when he could not conceal the booty’. This iron coin was not valid in the rest of Greece, but was ridiculed and despised, 'so that the Spartans had no means of purchasing any foreign or curious wares ; nor did any merchant- ship unload in their harbours. . . . Thus luxury, losing by degrees the means that cherished and supported it, died away of itself; even they who had great possessions had no advantage from them, since they could not be displayed in public, but must lie, useless, in unregarded repositories’. The people, with no outlet for soft indulgence, or the making of luxury goods, concentrated on the excellence of workmanship of their strictly ‘utility’ articles, therefore.
Having settled all that, Lycurgus then introduced a new law forbidding people tp eat at home, or to fatten animals for private consumption. They were all required to eat the same frugal meals in what we should now call ‘communal kitchens’, so that there should be no self-indulgence, ‘for so not only their manners would be corrupted, but their bodies disordered; abandoned to all manner of sensuality and dissoluteness, they would require long sleep, warm baths, and the same indulgence as in perpetual sickness’. Further, since it was illegal to eat at home, anyone coming to the public tables without appetite provoked comment, and was reproached ‘as an intemperate and effeminate person that was sick of the common diet’.
At this point the nobility considered that Lycurgus had gone too far, and proceeded to stone him in the assembly. He fled to a temple, but an angry young man pursued him, and, when Lycurgus turned, struck at him with a stick, and put out an eye. 'Lycurgus then stopped short, and, without giving way to passion, showed the people his eye beat out, and his face streaming with blood.’ The people were then shamed, and, with mob treachery, turned the young man, Alcander, over to Lycurgus . . . who took him home with him and made him his personal servant. The young man was so struck with his master’s ‘mildness and goodness of heart, his strict temperance and indefatigable industry, that he proclaimed it to his friends that Lycurgus was ‘not that proud and severe man he might have been taken for, but, above all others, gentle and engaging in his behaviour.
For a long time this eating in common was observed with great exactness, and even kings were not exempt from it. Lycurgus waged war, also, on any kind of elaborateness or decoration in the home; everything had to be strictly utilitarian.
Plutarch tells us that Lycurgus was short and sententious in his speech. When asked why he did not establish a popular government he replied, ‘Go, and first make a trial of it in thy own family*. He believed in few words and few laws, but those few were far-reaching and the essence of Fascism. The men were required to be manly, the woman womanly, and the young were taught ideals of national ambition and glory in warfare. As to freedom: ‘No man was at liberty to live as he pleased; the city being like one great camp, where all had their stated allowance, and knew their public charge, each man concluding that he was born, not for himself but for his country . . . like bees they acted with one impulse for the common good, and always assembled about their prince.’
Lycurgus filled vacancies in his senate by the selection of worthy men of full threescore years old — they had to be the wisest and best amongst the good and wise. The candidates were elected according to the volume of acclaim from the assembly as they passed through. ‘He that had the most and loudest acclamation was declared duly elected.’
Like the people in Russia today, the Spartans under Lycurgus were not allowed to travel outside of their own country. It was feared that they might ‘contract foreign manners, gain trace of a life of little discipline, and of a different form of government’. Foreigners could not come to Sparta, either, without good reason, ‘for along with foreigners come new subjects for discourse; new discourse produces new opinions ; and from these there necessarily spring new passions and desires, which, like discords in music, would disturb the established government’.
In conclusion Plutarch observes that under the constitution established by Lycurgus, ‘ Sparta continued superior to the rest of Greece, both in its government at home and reputation abroad’. It retained this constitution, according to Plutarch, for five centuries, and during the reign of fourteen successive lings.
Sir Thomas More also favoured the idea of a ‘ Prince ’, whose election was for life, unless he was removed ‘ upon some suspicion of design to enslave the people’. In More’s Utopia each city sent three senators — chosen for their wisdom — to a supreme council in the capital, ‘to consult about their common concerns’.
The jurisdiction of each city was to extend for twenty miles or so, and below the senators there was to be a system of magistrates, elected annually.
A century later we get Sir Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis , with supreme authority vested in a wise and virtuous king ruling a nation ‘compounded of all goodness’. The king of this Utopia ordained that every twelve years — not oftener! — two ships should set out on several voyages, with a mission of three of the fellows or brethreiuof Salamon’s House aboard. (Salamon’s House was an order or society founded by the king, and named after King Solomon, ‘dedicated to the study of the works and creatures of God ... for the finding out of the true nature of things, whereby .God might have the more glory in his workmanship of them, and men the more fruit in their use of them ’.) Their errand being to collect knowledge of the affairs and state of the countries visited, ‘especially of the sciences, arts, manufactures, and inventions of all the world’, and to bring back ‘Books, instruments, and patterns in every kind’. ‘New Atlantis’ was governed by ‘ the father of Salamon’s House ’, whose public appearances were attended with kingly state, but the nature of his government Bacon does not tell us, being vastly more concerned with the wisdom and learning emanating from Salamon’s House, and the island’s enrichment with observatories, laboratories for scientific experiment and invention, and gardens for botanical experiment.
Thomas Campanella, writing in Italy at the same time as Bacon in England, expresses in his Utopian The City of the Sun, a similar preoccupation with natural science, but his conception of government is vastly more complex. Like Plato’s and Plutarch’s it is a Fascist conception. The people of his Utopia have a leader, a supreme authority, ‘head over all, in temporal and spiritual matters’. He is called Hoh, or Metaphysic, and he is assisted by three princes of equal power, Pon, Sin and Mor — in the modern tongue, Power, Wisdom, and Love. Power is supreme in all military matters, and has the control of munitions, fortifications, armories, and so forth. Wisdom is ‘the ruler of the liberal arts, of mechanics, of all sciences, with their magistrates and doctors, and of the discipline of the schools’. There are twelve doctors, all under the control of Wisdom, and they have between them one book which they call Wisdom. They are Astrologus, Cosmographus, Arithmeticus, Geometra, Histriographus, Poeta, Logicus, Rhetor, Grammaticus, Medicus, Physiologus, Politicus, and Moralis. The walls of the City of the Sun, at the dictates of Wisdom, are covered with fine paintings, and expositions of natural phenomena — the stars in their courses, the elements, animals, insects, trees, and flowers. Love attends to the charge of the race, to the education of children, and all domestic matters.
The inhabitants of the City of the Sun have all things in common, not merely material things — including wives — but honours and pleasures, and self-love is replaced by love of the State. The government includes various magistrates representing various duties and virtues — such as Fortitude, Chastity, Liberality, Criminal and Civil Justice, Truth, Kindness, Gratitude, Cheerfulness, Exercise, Sobriety. They are selected for the duties for which, from youth, they have shown the most aptitude. All other officials are chosen by Hoh and his assistants, and ‘ by the teachers of that art over which they are fit to preside. And these teachers know well who is most suited for rule. Certain men are proposed by the magistrates in council . . . and he opposes who knows anything against those brought forward for election, or, if not, speaks in favour of them. But no one attains to the dignity of Hoh except him who knows the histories of the nations, and their customs and sacrifices and law, and their form of government, whether a republic or a monarch. . . . But beyond everything else it is necessary that Hoh should understand metaphysics and theology; that he should know thoroughly the derivations, foundations and demonstrations of all the arts and sciences; the likeness and difference of things ; necessity, fate, and the harmonies of the universe; power, wisdom, and the love of things and of God; the stages of life and its symbols; everything relating to the heavens, the earth and the sea ; and the ideas of God, as much as mortal man can know of Him. He must also be well read in the Prophets and in astrology. And thus they knew long beforehand who will be Hoh. He is not chosen to so great a dignity unless he has attained his thirty-fifth year.'
After this it seems superfluous to add that ‘Hoh is ashamed to be ignorant of any possible thing’. There are councils and assemblies ; the magistrates can be changed if it can be shown that they have failed in their duties, but Hoh and his assistants are never changed, except by arrangement between themselves. ‘All things are in common, and their dispensation is by the authority of the magistrates.’ The individual’s life is completely ordered for him by those in authority — what he shall wear, what he shall eat, how he shall employ his leisure, what games he shall play, even with whom — in the interests of breeding to the advantage of the State — he shall mate. It is specifically stated, ‘the race is managed for the good of the commonwealth and not of private individuals, and the magistrates must be obeyed. . . . The breeding of children has reference to the commonwealth and not to individuals, except in so far as they are constituents of the commonwealth \ The children are brought up by the State, for the State, and ‘male and female breeders of the best natures’ are distributed ‘according to philosophic rules’ — an idea which Plato shares, except that he would make the distribu- tion of beautiful women by lot to avoid jealousy on the part of the men, and any ill-feeling against the magistrates.
It is curious that a man who himself so vehemently resisted authority as did Campanella should have conceived so authoritarian an Utopia. His Civitas Solis ( The City of the Sun ) was written during his twenty-eight years’ imprisonment for his complicity in a conspiracy against Spanish rule in Calabria, but he was in trouble for his rebelliousness long before then. Despite his own rebelliousness, his Utopians were ‘docile’, and devoted to the idea of leadership, and of work as ‘discipline’. He had much in common with Bacon on the scientific side, but even more with Plato in the matter of government.
Seventeenth-century England produced three other ‘Utopias’ after Bacon’s — Gerrard Winstanley’s Platform (The Law of Freedom in a Platform , or True Magistracy Restored) in 1651, Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan in the same year, and James Harrington’s Oceana in 1656. Hobbes and Harrington have in common a belief in private property. Hobbes’s ‘Leviathan’ was the State. He favoured an absolute monarchy as the most suitable form of government, as Bacon did, but there the likeness between the two Utopian conceptions ends, for Hobbes was preoccupied not with science but with money, which he regarded as the blood of the social body. Bernstein calls him ‘the philsopher of State absolutism’ and of ‘order at any price’.
Harrington maintained that the determining element of power in a State was property in general and land in particular, and that the executive power ought not to be vested for any length of time in the same men or class of men, and to this end he worked out in his Oceana — which was England as he would have liked it to be — an elaborate system of vote by ballot and rotation of magistrates and legislators. His Utopian England was a republic of property-owners subject to an agrarian law which was to limit the portion of land held to that yielding a revenue of £3,000. His government was by class-election; ‘Oceana’ was territorially divided up into fifty ‘Tribes’, these into ‘Hundreds’, and these again into ‘Parishes’. There was a ‘popular assembly’ and a Senate; the former had 600 members elected by citizens with less than £100 income, and 450 elected by citizens with over £100 incomes; the Senate consisted of 300 members elected by the poorer voters. The popular assembly could reject clauses in any Bill put forward by the Senate and refer their rejections back to the Senate for reconsideration and a second presentation in a modified form. What was finally agreed upon by the assembly became the law of the land. The people themselves were divided into ‘freemen’ and citizens, and ‘servants’ — a servant could not participate in the government of the commonwealth, because of his economic dependence, that is to say his servitude, but Harrington held that any industrious member of the community could, with application, achieve independence — that is, freedom, and that making certain posts of honour dependent on income was a stimulus to industry. It was his conception of ‘democracy’.
Winstanley had quite different ideas. He was, as Bernstein says, ‘a socialist ahead of his age’, anticipating the contentions of the nineteenth century socialists that great private riches and the private ownership of land mean the exploitation of the many by the few. We are indebted to Bernstein for rescuing Winstanley’s Utopia from the oblivion into which it appears to have fallen. 1 Much has been written on Lilburne and the ‘Levellers’, and on Winstanley and Everard and the ‘Digger Movement’, or ‘True Levellers’, but that Winstanley had a detailed positive programme has been in recent years strangely ignored, yet of it he wrote, ‘Though this Platform be like a piece of Timber rough hewd, yet the discreet workman may take it, and frame a handsome building out of it’.
Winstanley was strongly opposed to any kind of despotic rule. He demanded that ‘all Officers in a true Magistracie of the Commonwealth are to be chosen Officers’, and they were to be chosen newly every year, on the principle that ‘When publique Officers remain long, they will degenerate. . . . Great Offices in a Land and Army have changed the disposition of many sweet- spirited men. Nature tells us that if Water stand long, it corrupts, whereas running water keeps sweet and fit for common use’. He considered that ‘ the original Root of magistracy is common preservation, and it rose first in a private Family’. He saw Adam as the first Governor or Officer. His ‘ Golden Rule ’ of Government was ‘Let the wise help the foolish, and let the strong help the weak’. In every town, city, parish, there was to be a ‘peace- maker* and four different kinds of overseers — overseers to preserve peace, as it were assistants to the peacemaker, overseers for the various trades, overseers for the common storehouses (there being no money in Winstanley’s Utopia, but everyone giving of his labour according to his ability, and taking from the common storehouses in accordance with his need) and general overseers. There were also soldiers, taskmasters, and executioners. Every county had a Judge, and every town its Peacemaker, in addition to the overseers and soldiers, and these together formed the County Senate. For the whole country there was a Parliament, a Commonwealth, a Ministry, a Postmaster, and an Army. Men over sixty automatically became overseers of the general welfare — observance of laws, etc. All other officers were to be elected annually. In time of peace the soldiers were to act as constables. The duty of the postmasters was to provide an Intelligence Service of events, their reports to be sent to the capital for com- pilation into a monthly report to be issued in book form, these books to be distributed to the local postmasters whose duty it was to keep their communities informed of the contents. The duty of the Ministers was to convene meetings of the community members on the weekly day of rest — which it was their duty to ensure was observed. At these meetings the reports on the affairs of the country received by the postmasters were to be read, also sections of the Law of the Land, so that no one might be in ignorance of it, and there were to be, also, lectures and discussions, the subjects to be history, arts, sciences, natural history and no one ... to propound phantastic theories, but only to relate what he has himself ascertained by study and observation.
. . . Everyone who speaks of any Herb, Plant, Art, or Nature of mankind, is required to speak nothing by imagination, but what he hath found out by his own industry and observation in trial’ — which was a considerable advance on the custom of the times to accept without question whatever was according to Pliny \
These ‘discourses’ were to be held, sometimes, in a foreign language, ‘so that the citizens of the English commonwealth may be able to learn of their neighbours and gain their respect and love’. Winstanley had something in common with Bacon in his contention that ‘to know the secrets of nature, is to know the works of God within the creation, is to know God himself, for God dwells in every visible work or body’. He believed, passionately, in the fundamental principle of the common ownership of the earth; in its ‘free enjoyment’ he saw true commonwealth freedom. He was opposed to all buying and selling, but he held that the buying and selling of land, or the fruits of the land, should be punishable with death. His revolu- tionary ideas concerning money and education we will discuss later; it need only be said here that in the seventeenth century they anticipated Morris and Bellamy in the nineteenth.
Morris’s Utopian community lived according to the law of ‘common consent’. The country was divided up into communes, wards, parishes, divisions with very little to distinguish them, and, ‘In such a district . . . some neighbours think that some- thing ought to be done or undone; a new town-hall built, a clearance of inconvenient houses; or say a stone bridge substituted for some ugly old iron one. . . . Well, at the next ordinary meeting of the neighbours, or Mote, as we call it ... a neighbour proposes the change, and of course if everybody agrees there is an end of discussion, except about details. Equally, if no one backs the proposer — “seconds ” him it used to be called — the matter drops for the time being ; a thing not likely to happen amongst reasonable men, however, as the proposer is sure to have talked it over with others before the Mote. But supposing the affair proposed and seconded, if a few of the neighbours disagree to it . . . they don’t count heads that time, but put off the formal discussion to the next Mote ; and meantime arguments pro and con are flying about, and some get printed, so that everybody knows what is going on; and when the Mote comes to- gether again there is a regular discussion and at last a vote by show of hands. If the division is a close one, the question is again put off for further discussion; if the division is a wide one, the minority are asked if they will yield to the more general opinion, which they often, nay, most commonly do . 1 If they refuse, the question is debated a third time, when, if the minority has not perceptibly grown, they always give way;
. . . they are convinced, not perhaps that their view is the wrong one, but they cannot persuade or force the community to adopt it .’
The decision does not press hardly on the minority because no one is obliged to work on a proposition — such as the building of a new bridge — if he is not in agreement with its being carried out. Morris freely acknowledges ‘the tyranny of a majority’ in society, but points out that all work done is either beneficial or hurtful to every member of society. ‘The man is benefited by the bridge-building if it turns out a good thing, and hurt by it if it turns out a bad one, whether he puts a hand to it or not.’
Morris’s Utopians — significantly — turned the Parliament House of the pre-Utopian era into a dung-market. Morris, like Wilde, was opposed to government in the generally accepted sense. He made no claim to being an anarchist — indeed he dismissed anarchism as ‘impossible’ — but his Utopians, nevertheless, lived according to the anarchist law of mutual aid, of co- operation. He makes his Utopian spokesman declare, ‘A man no more needs an elaborate system of government, with its army, navy, and police, to force him to give way to the will of the majority of his equals , than he wants a similar machinery to make him understand that his head and a stone wall cannot occupy the same space at the same moment.’ As might be expected of so anarchistic a community, there were in Morris’s ‘Nowhere’ no politics. He held politics in contempt. He saw them as a crystallisation of people into parties, ‘ permanently hostile to one another, with different theories as to the build of the universe and the progress of time and the whole thing completely false, a pretence at serious difference of opinion on fundamental issues. If this issue had existed as a reality, he maintained, people so divided ‘ could not have dealt together, bought and sold together, gambled together, cheated other people together, but must have fought whenever they met ; which would not have suited them at all. The game of the master of politics was to cajole or force the public to pay the expense of a luxurious life and exciting amusement for a few cliques of ambitious persons; and the pretence of serious difference of opinion, belied by every action of their lives, was quite good enough for that”. 1 As to relations with foreign nations, the whole system of rival and contending nations which played so great a part in the ‘government of the world of civilisation has disappeared along with the inequality betwixt man and man in society’.
Edward Bellamy, the American author, writing his Looking Backward? two years before Morris’s News from Nowhere , worked out a complicated system of the State control of industry, on the basis of a vast industrial army, to replace government as commonly understood. He placed his Utopia in the year 2000, when the world was a federation of autonomous nations, but looking forward ‘to an eventual unification of the world as one nation!. It was a socialist society of equality and common ownership, with the State as the employer. Dealing with his Utopia from the American angle, Bellamy saw a group of men at Washington directing the industries of the entire nation, and the general of the great industrial army was the President of the United States, ‘or rather the most important function of the presidency is the headship. of the industrial army’. Promotion is from the ranks, as in a military army — ‘through three grades to the officer’s grade, and thence up through the lieutenancies to the captaincy or foremanship, and superintendency or colonel’s rank. Next, with an intervening grade in some of the larger grades, comes the general of the guild, under whose immediate control all the operations of the trade are conducted. This officer is at the head of the national bureau representing his trade, and is responsible for its work to the administration. The general of his guild holds a splendid position, and one which amply satisfies the ambition of most men, but above his rank, which may be compared ... to that of a general of a division or major-general, is that of the chiefs of the ten great departments or groups of allied trades. The chiefs of these ten grand divisions of the industrial army may be compared to your commanders of army corps, or lieutenant-generals, each having from a dozen to a score of generals of separate guilds reporting to him. Above these ten great officers, who form his council, is the general-in-chief, who is the president of the United States. The general-in-chief of the industrial army must have passed through all the grades below him, from the common labourers up\
Promotion is simply according to merit. Generals are chosen from amongst the superintendents by votes from retired members of the guild in question — retiring a^e being forty-five. The elec- tors practise impartiality, allied wi thTcnowledge of the special qualifications called for, and the record of each candidate. By retiring from national service at forty-five the citizens of this Utopia are enabled to devote the rest of their long lives to the pursuit of literary, artistic, scientific, or scholarly interests, to travel and social relaxations. Owing to the better conditions and the freedom from care, forty-five in that Utopia is the equivalent of thirty-five in our world.
Bellamy shared Morris’s belief in the perfectability of man, and crime was practically extinct in his Utopia, though there were still courts of law — but without lawyers — for such offenders against society as remained.
In the twentieth century we get Wells; and a reversion to the Platonic tradition; and the late J. D. Unwin, who, after asserting the need for decentralisation, and that an integrated society can hold together without the State, goes on to outline a system of government complete with ministers, parliament, J.P.’s, and a monarchy. He contends that his ‘Hopousia’ is a State ‘only in so far as it is an organised political “commonwealth. . . . The State exists in the sense that there is an authority that enforces the maintenance of rights; but this “State” is the community, each corporation and profession playing its own separate and definite part. . . . There are no general elections. Parliament is a permanent entity meeting once a year to receive a report concerning the state of affairs during the past year, to consider any particular subject any member may care to raise, and to take such steps as will increase the security, joy, and prosperity of men\ A new Prime Minister is appointed every seven years by the Queen, who selects him from a list of recommendations from a council of ex-Prime Ministers, Heads of Professions and Presidents of Trades.
Despite his anarchistic assertions regarding the State, it is clear that Unwin could not visualise man living harmoniously with man in a free ungoverned society, such as Morris envisaged, any more than, apparently, can the Communists, who for all their talk of the ultimate ‘ withering away of the State ’, according to the Marx-Engels formula, have steadily supported the yearly increasing power of the State in the U.S.S.R. (Let it be here clearly understood that when I refer to ‘ the Communists ’ I mean Stalinists. One who believes in all things in common, the land and the means of production, and that all men should be socially equal, is obviously a communist in the broad sense — one, that is, who believes in common ownership, and who would have believed in ‘from each according to his ability and to each according to his needs 5 even if Marx had never said it, and if Lenin had never lived. There was, after all, the practical living communism of the Early Christians. . . . The Stalinists are apt to behave as though communism was something invented by that ‘eminent Victorian’ Karl Marx.)
H. G. Wells’s Utopian organisation has close reference — on his own admission — to Plato’s. It classifies people into four main classes for political and social purposes: the Poietic, or creative class, the Kinetic class, ‘merging insensibly along the boundary into the less representative constituents of the Poietic group, but distinguished by a more restricted range of imagina- tion’. At one end of the Kinetic class come the intellectuals — the mathematicians and the scholars and scientists, whilst at the other end come the great actors, the popular politicians and preachers.
‘ Between these two extremes is a long and wide region of varieties, into which one would put most of the people who form the reputable workmen, the men of substance, the trustworthy men and women, the pillars of society on earth.’ It sounds, for Utopia, singularly bourgeois — the middle-classes of our present society, the privileged classes of the intellectuals in the U.S.S.R. Between these two classes in the Wellsian scheme come the Dull and the Base. The former are persons of ‘ altogether inadequate imagination . . . the stupid people, the incompetent people, the formal, imitative people . . . they count neither for work nor for distinction in the State’. The Base are the people with no moral sense, and who count, therefore, as ‘an antagonism to the State organisation ’.
Wells visualises a World State, and the Rules of his Modern Utopia ‘ensure a considerable understanding of the importance of poietic activities in the majority of the samurai , in whose hands as a class all the real power of the world resides’. The samurai are an order of ‘voluntary nobility’, like Plato’s ‘Guardians*. Anyone, of any nationality, may qualify for this privileged order. Like Plato’s Guardians, the samurai are to be required to live austerely,- as the price of the honour they enjoy, and in order to weed out the self-indulgent — tobacco and alcohol to be forbidden, and a Rule of Chastity, though not of celibacy, observed. It is all as ethical and disciplinarian as Plato. Mr. Wells does not believe, as Morris and Wilde believed, that there is most freedom where there is least law. He maintains, indeed, that ‘there is no freedom under anarchy’, and speaks of ‘the essential fallacy of the cult called Individualism’, conceiving it as the antithesis of socialism or communism — which in an anarchist-communist society it is not, but on the contrary; but of this more later. Wells finds ‘the final hope of the world in the evolving inter- play of unique individualities’, and sees the State in Utopia as chipping away ‘all those spendthrift liberties that waste liberty’, and through this attaining the maximum of general freedom. The Common Rule, by which his Modern Utopians were to live, was ‘planned to exclude the dull, to be unattractive to the base, and to direct and co-ordinate all sound citizens of good intent’.
In Mr. Wells’s Utopia man is still a long way off perfection; there are still policemen and punishments. Wells does not acknowledge that perfectability of man which Massingham envisages, and which Morris, in his Utopian scheme of things, takes for granted. Wells declares definitely that, ‘In a modern Utopia there will, indeed, be no perfection; in Utopia there must also be friction, conflicts, and waste, but the waste will be enormously less than in our world.’ (Morris, on the other hand, maintained that friction, whether between individuals, socially, politically, or between nations, was due to the lack of freedom in the lives they lived. He protested vehemently against the idea that ‘human nature’ was full of ineradicable Original Sin. He contrasted the human nature of ‘paupers, of slaves, of slave- holders’, with the human nature of ‘wealthy free-men’. He believed, in short, with Robert Browning, ‘Oh, make us happy and you make us good ! ’ His Utopia was to be run on the principle on which A. S. Neill runs the community of his free school — ‘ Not be good and you will be happy, but be happy and you will be good’. Morris makes his Utopian mouth-piece declare, conclusively, ‘Experience shows that it is so’, which is Neill’s own experience in the microcosm of his school.
There, then, are the classic ‘ideal’ commonwealths — Plato’s Republic , Plutarch’s Life of Lycurgus , More’s Utopia , Bacon’s New Atlantis , Campanella’s City of the Sun , Winstanley’s Law of Freedom , Hobbes’s Leviathan , Harrington’s Oceana , Bellamy’s Looking Backward , Morris’s News from Nowhere , and the contemporary contributions from Unwin and Wells. What emerges — from the point of view of conception of government or organisation — from this survey? There is little to choose between the Fascist conceptions of Plato and Plutarch, and Campanella follows directly in that tradition — there are to be guardians, senators, magistrates — in each case a hierarchy of intellectuals, of philo- sophers, or priest-philosophers, and you get the hierarchy again in More, who owes something to Plato, the senators and magis- trates, with a prince at the head. Bacon offers the scientific Utopia and in the matter of government contents himself with a benevolent monarchy. Hobbes wants everyone well and truly governed, ‘order at any price’, and even the socialist, Winstanley, has overseers, judges, constables — officers of all descriptions. In Harrington again comes the insistence on officials — big fleas and lesser fleas; Bellamy favours a kind of industrial militarism, Wells reverts to the Platonic conception of government, and Unwin wants a highly complex State complete with monarchy. Only in Morris’s ‘Nowhere’ do we find any real libertarian spirit, any strong feeling for the freedom of the individual, in the approach to government. (In modern times there has been the glimpse of a free Utopia in James Hilton’s novel, Lost Horizon , but it is a glimpse only, making no claim to being a detailed picture of an ideal commonwealth, any more than Wilde’s treatise on The Soul of Man Under Socialism could be so regarded.)
Even Rousseau, that life-long and impassioned champion of freedom, believed in ‘law and order’. His ideal, as set forth in the Dedication (to the Republic of Geneva) of his essay on ‘The Origin of Inequality ’, in his Social Contract , written in 1754, was of a well-governed democratic State — which for him was his birthplace, the Republic of Geneva itself. He declares in his Dedication that in his ‘researches after the best rules common sense can lay down ’ for the constitution of a government ‘ most in conformity with natural law, and most favourable to society, to the maintenance of public order and to the happiness of individuals’, he was struck at finding them all within the walls of Geneva.
In spite of his devotion to liberty, personal and social, there was nothing anarchistic about Rousseau. He believed in the State, the rightness of State authority, and insisted on the individual’s recognition of that authority and loyalty to it. His ideal of government was ‘ the right of legislation vested in all the citizens’, but not that each man should be at liberty to propose new laws at pleasure, ‘but that this right should belong exclusively to the magistrates; and that even they should use it with so much caution, the people, on its side, be so reserved in giving its consent to such laws, and the promulgation of them be attended with so much solemnity, that before the ^constitution could be upset by them, there might be time enough for all to be convinced, that it is above all the great antiquity of the laws which makes them sacred and venerable, that men soon learn to despise laws which they see daily altered, and that States, by accustoming themselves to neglect their ancient customs under the pretext of improvement, often introduce greater evils than those they endeavour to remove'. He would have regarded as ill-governed a Republic in which the people believed they could dispense with the magistrates, or denied them full authority, imprudently ' keeping to themselves the administration of civil affairs and the execution of their own laws. ‘Such’, he observed, ‘must have been the rude constitution of primitive governments, directly emerging from a state of nature; and this was another of the vices that contributed to the downfall of the Republic of Athens.' He regarded the Romans as ‘a model for all free peoples ', and points the moral of their inability to govern themselves when they had escaped from the oppression of the Tarquins. His attitude was the attitude of all reformists — a gradual acclimatisation to freedom. As he saw it, ‘It is with liberty as it is with those solid and succulent foods, or with those generous wines which are well adapted to nourish and fortify robust constitutions that are used to them, but ruin and intoxicate weak and delicate constitutions to which they are not suited. People once accustomed to masters -are not in a condition to do without them. If they attempt to shake off the yoke, they still more estrange themselves from freedom, as, by mistaking it for an unbridled license to which it is diametrically opposed, they nearly always' manage, by their revolutions, to hand themselves over to seducers, who only make their chains heavier than before'. Which is exactly the argument of the imperialists who declare that the ‘backward ’ peoples they dominate are not ready for self-government, and if given independence would become the prey of warring factions from within or marauding hosts from without. Rousseau was no revolutionary, in spite of his anti-monarchism and his anti-clericalism, and however much he might shock by his religious and moral unorthodoxy; he was a republican, and an impassioned one, at a time when it was politically revolutionary, to be a republican, but in the deeper sense he was a disciplinarian — a fact which occasionally emerges even in the sphere in which he was most radical, the educational sphere. What he sought — and in Geneva found — was a disciplined freedom, a law-abiding liberty, ‘a community in which the individuals, content with sanctioning their laws, and deciding the most important affairs in general assembly, had established honoured tribunals, carefully distinguishing the several departments, and elected year by year some of the most capable and upright of their fellow-citizens to administer justice and govern the State; a community, in short, in which the virtue of the magistrates thus bearing witness to the wisdom of the people, each class reciprocally did the other honour. If in such a case any fatal misunderstandings arose to disturb the public peace, even these intervals of blindness and error would bear the marks of moderation, mutual esteem, and a common respect for the laws; which are sure signs and pledges of a reconciliation as lasting as sincere’. The more he reflected on the civil and political condition of the Republic of Geneva, he declared, the less could he conceive ‘ that the nature of human affairs could admit of a better’. Apart from the excellence of the constitution, the Republic was free of wars and conquerors, its boundaries were fixed, it had no enemies, and it was neither wealthy enough ‘ to be enervated by effeminacy ’ and ‘ the pursuit of frivolous pleasures’, nor poor enough to require assistance from abroad; it was peaceful, happy, and virtuous, ‘a free city situated between several nations, none of which should have any interest in attacking it, while each had an interest in preventing it from being attacked by the others; in short, a Republic which should have nothing to tempt the ambition of its neighbours, but might reasonably depend on their assistance in case of need’. A scrupulous obedience to the laws was the essence of Rousseau’s conception of good government.
There is much, obviously, to be said for a wisely governed democracy, but a great deal more, from the Utopian point of view, for the abolition of the State; just as there is much to be said for the strict, just parent, but even more for the parent who has the wisdom to leave the child to discover the natural discipline that life itself imposes. In the matter of child education Rousseau urged this natural discipline, the authority of things , as opposed to persons , but when it comes to the State he is the complete authoritarian, devoted to law and order and its scrupulous observation, because, like so many, he could not conceive the perfectability of civilised man, though he believed man to be naturally good. He was conscious of the superiority, from the point of view of happiness, of ‘ the noble savage ’, who 4 breathes only peace and liberty’, and ‘desires only to live and be free from labour’, and was acutely conscious of the complexity of civilised life, its drudgery and anxieties, its enslavement to power and reputation and wealth, but he could not conceive of man in society returning to the basic simplicities of natural laws. He refers, in his discourse on inequality, to men such as himself ‘whose passions have destroyed their original simplicity, who can no longer subsist on plants or acorns, or live without laws and magistrates’. For them there must be ‘wise and good princes’ and ‘deserving rulers’, and just laws democratically conceived and administered, and loyally respected. Rousseau regarded it as ‘one of the most important functions of government to prevent extreme inequality of fortunes’. This was to be done ‘ not by taking away wealth from its possessors, but by depriving all men of means to accumulate it; not by building hospitals for the poor, but by securing the citizens from becoming poor’. He maintained that a wise administration could prevent the evils of inequality, and that ‘wherever men love their country, respect the laws, and live simply, little remains to be done in order to make them happy’. He declared, roundly, that ‘when the State is dissolved, the abuse of government, whatever it is, bears the common name of anarchy ’ . . . that dreaded word, that had to wait for Proudhon to give new meaning to. (Godwin, in his Enquiry , some forty years after Rousseau, advocated the abolition of the State, and all laws and courts, and maintained that society, divided up into small communities, had no need of government, but did not use the word anarchism or anarchy.)
Man’s passion for being governed might be described as the chief neurosis of civilisation. . . . From Plato down to Rousseau there is this preoccupation with the State, in one form or another. It is not until we reach the end of the eighteenth century and William Godwin that we get any conception of man ungoverned and free.
And that Utopia must be the stateless society of the anarchist ideal, a free and ungoverned society living according to the natural law of mutual aid, the present writer is convinced. And that it must be communist-anarchist. As to whether in practice this works out as anarcho-syndicalism, or along the lines of Morris’s Utopian idea of Motes for the discussion of local affairs, would depend upon the degree of industrialisation maintained. Morris’s Utopia was de-industrialised, a condition made possible by the abolition of the use of force, and by the simplification of the life of the people generally. Where competition and the profit- motive is abolished there is no need of — or indeed point in — intense manufacture, and, therefore, of manufacturing districts. There is thus a dispersal of population; the towns and cities invade the country — and bring new life to it, and there is general social readjustment, not difficult amongst free and classless people living according to the natural law of mutual aid.
Morris’s idea is not impracticable; on the other hand he was writing in the nineteenth century, and the world has become a good deal more mechanistic since then. In planning his Utopia, Morris had not to consider a civilisation in which figured radio, cinemas, aeroplanes, and high-speed mechanical transport of all kinds. He had not to contend with a generation that has grown up with the radio and cinema as part of its education. His world was simple, despite the Industrial Revolution, compared with that which confronts any one planning a Utopia in the middle of the twentieth century, and in the midst of the chaos of the second world-war. Morris had only the Industrial Revolution to contend with when considering ‘ the fallacy of progress ’ ; the present-day planners of Utopias have to contend with a still greater revolution — the revolution represented by the radio, the cinema, and aerial transport at two hundred and more miles an hour.
Ideally, there are no radios, cinemas, aeroplanes, motor- cars, speed-boats, in Utopia, any more than there are tanks, submarines, bombers ; but if we are considering ‘ possible worlds ’ we have to face the fact that de-industrialisation — at least to the extent to which Morris dreamed of it — has become impossible, even in a stateless, non-capitalistic society. The writer on modern Utopias must go forward from the machine-age; he cannot go back. Morris, writing in the nineteenth century, placed his Utopia somewhere late in the twentieth century. (He refers to ‘the crude ideas of the first half of the twentieth century’.) He did not make his society go back to the pre-industrial Revolution era, but he had his people, by changing the system, and their way of living, modify their degree of industrialisation. The modern Utopia-maker has a great deal more to modify, because civilisation today is a great deal more complex. Its organisation, therefore, will be necessarily more complex — even in Utopia. Since it would not be possible to de-industrialise to anything like the extent to which Morris dreamed, therefore, even with a revolutionised system and way of life, a more complex form of organisation than he envisaged would be called for, and in an anarchist society anarcho-syndicalism would probably best solve the problem.
This form of organisation would mean that the men and women in every trade, industry, profession — for of course brain- workers, intellectuals, artists would have their syndicates like the manual workers — and the agricultural workers, would not merely be organised in their respective syndicates in the way in which workers are at present organised in their respective trade unions, but would own the fields, factories and workshops in which they laboured — the miners would own the mines, the agrarian workers the land, the factory workers the industry in which they operated, and so on. The farms would be collectivised; the transport system would be controlled by the transport syndicate.
But at this point we can leave theorising and go direct to the Spanish anarcho-syndicalist experiment of 1936 and study the theory in practice. In about three months, Gaston Laval tells us, in his useful report, Social Reconstruction in Spain , 1 throughout the province of Aragon most of the villages became organised agrarian collectives. The local authorities were replaced by revolutionary anti-fascist committees whose first step was to summon an assembly of all the inhabitants of the locality to decide what was to be done for the common good. Groups were organised to gather in the crop and thresh it. ‘Collective work, Laval writes, ‘began spontaneously. Then as this wheat could not be given to anyone in particular without being unfair to all, it was put under the control of a local committee, for th£ use of all the inhabitants, either for consumption or for the purpose of exchange of manufactured goods, such as clothes, boots, etc., for those who were most in need.’ The land was divided into zones, and groups of workers were formed, each group with its delegate. The delegates met twice a week with the councillor of agriculture and stock breeding — so as to co- ordinate all the different activities — to decide such matters as whether certain fields should be ploughed, or whether the next task should be the pruning of the vines or the olive-trees, or the sowing of beetroots. Groups were chosen to attend to the work decided upon, and went, if necessary, from one zone to another.
In Aragon 75 per cent of the small proprietors were responsive to the new order, and those who were not were not coerced. Consumers’ tickets for industrial products were issued for these non-co-operators in the same way as for the collectivists . . . very different tactics from those employed by the Bolsheviks of the October Revolution; Lenin’s coercion of the peasants was a major blunder, and ultimately resulted in one of the most frightful famines in history.
On the industrial side — in Alcoy, in September, 1936, the textile syndicate ‘officially took possession of forty-one cloth factories, eight underwear factories, ten spinning mills, four dyeing plants, four finishing mills, twenty-four flock mills, and of eleven rag warehouses, which composed the whole organisation of the weaving industry of Alcoy. This committee under- took the whole business of production. Its organisation was on federal lines — conducted both from above and below — pressure from below, direction from above. Each factory committee was composed of a delegate from each branch, and this same representation was found in the directive committee of the syndicate. The whole organisation rested on this method of division of labour. The factory committees were elected in meetings held in the factories, and were composed of clerical as well as manual workers.
GastOn Laval investigated numerous other industries and found them successfully organised in the same manner. He concludes his report, ‘At the time of writing — twenty thousand workers in Alcoy are conducting production by means of their unions, and proving that industry can do much better without capitalists, without share-holders, and without employers, whose rivalries prevent the most rational use of raw material and of human effort. They have demonstrated that everything goes much better without government intervention \
The socialisation of the wood industry in Cuenca, and the collectivisation of transport in Barcelona, afford further examples of what can be achieved along these co-operative lines. Restaurants, theatres, cinemas, public health services, were all collectivised in syndicates. The Sanitary Syndicate in Catalonia functioned so successfully that ‘ no peasant cut off in a mountain village lacked the attention of the doctor in the nearest village, nor of the nearest general clinic in the case of a more serious illness, and in the event of dangerous cases, transport by ambu- lance to the nearest hospital’.
Had the experiment been allowed to develop Spain might have shown the whole Western world a new and happier way of life. As it was, it survived long enough for an exciting indication of ‘possible worlds’ — a practical, workable alternative to centralisation of government and control generally.
It is interesting to compare what Gaston Laval reports of local committees and discussion in Aragon regarding the crops, etc., with what Morris writes on ‘how matters are managed’ in his Utopia. He makes his Utopian observe, in a discussion on politics, ‘as a rule, the immediate outcome shows which opinion on a given subject is the right one; it is a matter of fact, not of speculation. For instance, it is clearly not easy to knock up a political party on the question as to whether haymaking shall begin this week or next, when all men agree that it must at latest begin the week after next, and when any man can go down into the fields himself and see whether the seeds are ripe enough for the cutting’.
Perhaps it may be objected, ‘All this may work well enough for the organisation of agriculture and industry, but if there is no central government how is taxation to be imposed for social service and the upkeep of armies and navies? Are you going to have army and navy syndicates, and to whom will people pay their taxes?’
Such questions indicate an inability to think other than in terms of the existing order. In Utopia there is no taxation — even under a rational system of society that was not fully Utopian taxation could be abolished. The anarcho-syndicalist experi- ment in Catalonia succeeded in abolishing taxation to some extent; in some districts it even dispensed with money. But we will consider the whole question of money and exchange in a later chapter.
Obviously Utopia can only exist in an Utopian world; it is an affair of the brotherhood of man, not of one nation or race. Morris, writing of his socialist England, and Bellamy of his socialist America, visualised their Utopias in a changed world, nQt isolated amidst the old order of civilisation. And in a world living in the spirit of the brotherhood of man, a world without frontiers or governments, to what end would there be armies and navies? More, in his Utopia , wrote, Tn France there is yet a more pestiferous sort of people, for the whole country is full of soldiers, still kept up in time of peace; if such a state of a nation can be called a peace; and these are kept in pay upon the same account that you plead for those idle retainers about noblemen; this being a maxim of those pretended statesmen that it is necessary, for public safety, to have a good body of veteran soldiers ever in readiness.’ Armies and navies exist for the protection of governments and States and their pos- sessions; wars are fought between the Haves and the Havenots, for the balance of power between States, for the domination — for purposes of money and power — of one nation by another; in a world in which governments and frontiers have been swept away war is automatically abolished. Morris, in his essay, How We Live and How We Might Live , defined war as competition between nations — competition for world-markets — and saw our present system as ‘based on a state of perpetual war’. War is the antithesis of mutual aid. It is, in Morris’s words, ‘pursuing your own advantage at the cost of someone else’s’. In the world as it is today, its whole civilisation based on competition, the struggle for world-markets, it is inevitable. Even a non-capitalistic country like the U.S.S.R. has found it inevitable — because it is isolated in a capitalistic world, and because, too, in spite of being non-capitalistic it is still imperialistic.
Imperialist interests constitute the prime cause of war. Or, to put it more simply, in the words of the eighteenth century American Quaker, John Woolman, ‘the seeds of war have nourishment in our possessions’. We have already cited the anthropological research of H. J. Massingham, in his The Golden Age , to disprove the popular contention that primitive man is ‘savage’. If further authority is needed, apart from the authori- ties Mr. Massingham himself quotes, there are such other dis- tinguished authorities as Gerald Heard, in his Source of Civilisa- tion, Verrier Elwin, in his Leaves from the Jungle, Dr. R. L. Worrall, in his Footsteps of War, Karl Kautsky, in his Ethics and the Materialist Conception of History, W. J. Perry, in his The Growth of Civilisation, Elliot Smith, in his Human History, to name only a few, all of whose observations and researches bear witness to the anthropological fact that man only becomes war-like as he becomes ‘civilised’ and acquires possessions. As Dr. Worrall points out, civilisation produces wealth, and wealth produces property, and property produces the power of a ruling class. ‘The story of warfare’, he writes, ‘is that of the increasingly violent behaviour of ruling groups, doubtless stimulated by a variety of causes once it had become organised. The institution of private property, so often associated in its beginnings with rulers, the very fact itself of possessing power and desiring more, have doubtless played important parts in accentuating this form of behaviour. In the case of the later warrior aristocracies, there is no doubt that these two incentives have been potent. Fear of rivals has also played an important part in the process; so, also, the army itself, once in existence, has produced a profound effect upon all those who have come into close touch with it.’
In an admirable essay on ‘Colonial Peoples and Civilisation’ in ‘a study of Empire’ entitled, Why Were They Proud?, the writer points out that ‘Civilised man, only too clearly, has taken the offensive against both his less civilised brother and the animal world; and if there be any truth in the theories so admirably developed in Kropotkin’s Mutual Aid, it is the acquisitive aggressor who stands in more danger of extermination than his prey, provided only that his victims maintain a social consciousness and can act as a group for group interests! . . . Already it is clear that Western civilisation, the most acquisitive, the most aggressive of cultures, is a force destructive of itself. The seeds of its own decay, like the dragon’s teeth, have brought forth their crop of armed men. War — unemployment — economic slumps; such are the fruits of our labours’. The writer includes Japan as among the influences of Western civilisation, being part of that hybrid culture — with the worst aspects of Western ‘civilisation’ in its make-up — which dominates the Asia of today.
In Utopia, the absence of private property — which includes the absence of imperialist possessions— disposes of the necessity for war. Perhaps, you will protest, ‘ But what about civil wars — such as the recent Spanish civil war? Wars of conflicting political ideologies?’ Such wars could not happen in Utopia because, as has been indicated, there are no politics in Utopia, no States, no governments, no frontiers; the Spanish war was a struggle for power between opposing political parties, the anti-Fascist forces, the Republicans, Communists, Anarchists, the indepen- dent Marxists (the P.O.U.M.), against the forces of the Church and State and private property as represented by General Franco and his followers. To approve of the achievements of the anarchists in that struggle is not to admire the tactics through which they were achieved — the tactics of violence. What was achieved through violence in that struggle was overthrown by violence, within two years. The tactics of non-violent resistance to the Nationalist forces might have taken longer — the tactics, that is to say, of non-co-operation, of what might at first have the appearance of acceptance of defeat — but might well have had more lasting results ; they certainly could not have been more disastrous than the tactics of violence, the doing of wrong — in the sense of killing and destruction — that good might come.
Supposing, for the sake of argument, that we are contem- plating an isolated Utopia in an imperfect world, or an Utopian world in the transitional stage in which there are still anti- social beings in sufficient number to form a formidable opposition to the ideal commonwealth — the Utopians, with their ethics of the brotherhood of man, would not resort to violence. They would refuse co-operation with any aggressor to the point of death; they would oppose the enemy from within, with every means short of bloodshed within their power, and in the end theirs would be the victory — because it is profoundly true that when the strong have devoured each other ‘ the meek shall inherit the earth ’, however incredible that may seem to the purely materialist conception of living. In Utopia, where education is something more than scholarship, even in the transitional stages the majority would know this, and dispense with the technique of homicide as a relic of the old bad barbarian days before ‘the change’.
That there should be imperialism in the Utopian conception of living is as unthinkable as that there should be war, because imperialism is opposed to the whole principle of the brotherhood of man. The Utopians have no Atlantic Charters which make glib promises of freedom and the right of self-government to all peoples whilst reserving the right to maintain dominion over millions of coloured people in the interests of exploiting their labour and their land. The Utopians do not subscribe to the humbug of dominating other races for their ‘ own good ’, because of their ‘inability to rule themselves’; they have no sense of ‘trustee-ship’ and the ‘White Man’s Burden’, no sense of any superiority in the possession of a white skin. They do not pay lip-service to the brotherhood of man; they live it.
The abolition of frontiers and nationalisms, the acknowledg- ment of the brotherhood of man, united in the one human race, would still leave national characteristics of temperament, physi- ology, language, art, architecture, food, mode of life, clothes — variety in the human race is not disposed of by disposing of national rivalries, antagonisms, prejudices; and without these impedimenta to good relations the people of different countries will be a great deal more interesting to each other and free to gain from each other's cultures. In whatever country one hap- pens to have been born, whatever language one speaks, what- ever the colour of one’s skin, hair, eyes, whatever God one believes in, or whether one belives in none, we are, as Morris says, ‘all bent on the same enterprise, making the most of our lives \
At present living presents innumerable problems — in short, ‘the problem of life is to live’; but in the Utopian world in which men and women are free, living co-operatively, no one coercing, or robbing, or exploiting anyone else, living presents no major problems, and the small inevitable problems of human relationships are — with the new spirit in the heart of man, and the rationality of the world in which he lives — readily soluble.
It is not necessary, in the Utopian world, that every country should order its affairs along the same lines, any more than it is necessary that all housewives should run their homes along the same lines. What is essential is the basic principle of the brotherhood of man — with all that that implies of a non-capitalistic, non-imperialist, and, on the positive side, co-operative society in each country. What suits the temperament of one country will not in every case suit another. There may well be breeds of people whose idea of Utopia is freedom to lie in the sun and have the bananas fall ripe into their laps, and who prefer to go naked and unashamed and live in rushhuts. Why should they be required to conform to Western ideas of civilisation? And though the complexity of Western civilisation calls for. some organisation for harmonious living, some communities may prefer the figurehead of a king or prince or president, or some form of democratic government; some people like a disciplined and ordered existence, to be well and truly governed — given an acceptance of the principle of the brotherhood of man it is immaterial what form of organisation the people of different countries choose, though it seems likely that as men and women developed in real freedom and the spirit of mutual aid, the idea of any centralised government, however democratic, would cease to appeal. Centralised government need not prevent social equality, but it is open to the risk of developing into a bureaucracy, and the beginning of bureaucracy is an end of freedom . 1 **
The present writer inclines towards the anarcho-syndicalist conception of organisation because it has been demonstrated that it is workable in this complex modern civilisation, workable, that is, for the common good, whereas William Morris’s conception might well involve a degree of de-industrialisation im- possible in a world whose complexities Morris himself had not foreseen. Discussing the general principles of an anarcho- syndicalist system to replace centralised government, Herbert Read, in his The Philosophy of Anarchism , 2 points out that something in the nature of a parliament of industry to adjust mutual relations between the various collectives and to decide on general questions of policy will be necessary, adding ‘but this parliament will be in no sense an administrative or executive body. It will form a kind' of industrial diplomatic service, adjusting relations and preserving peace, but possessing no legislative powers and no privileged status. There might also be a corresponding body to represent the interests of the consumers, and to arrange questions of price and distribution with the collectives.
It is interesting to compare this with Kropotkin’s conception (in his Memoirs of a Revolutionist ) of a new society of equals ‘composed of a multitude of associations, federated for all the purposes which require federation; trade federations for production of all sorts — agricultural, industrial, intellectual, artistic; communes for consumption, making provision for dwellings, gas works, supplies of food, sanitary arrangements, etc.; federations of communes amongst themselves, and federations of communes with trade organisations ; and finally, wider groups covering the country, or several countries, composed of men who collaborate for the satisfaction of such economic, intellectual, artistic, and moral needs as are not limited to a given territory. All these will combine directly, by means of free agreements between them, just as the railway companies or the postal departments of various countries co-operate now, without having a central railway or postal government, even though the former are actuated by merely egoistic aims, and the latter belong to different and often hostile States. . . . There will be full freedom for the development of new forms of production, invention, and organisation; individual initiative will be en- couraged, and the tendency towards uniformity and centralisation will be discouraged’.
He adds what is important in an ideal commonwealth — ‘Moreover, this society will not be crystallised into certain unchangeable forms, but will continually modify its aspect, because it will be a living, evolving organism; no need of government will be felt, because free agreement and federation can take its place in all those functions which governments consider as theirs at the present time, and because, the causes of conflict being reduced in number, those conflicts which may still arise can be submitted to arbitration.’
Kropotkin’s great work, Mutual Aid , was — is — a challenge to the dogma of the struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest. In the introduction to the recently-published Pelican edition of this work — which has become a classic — it is suggested that ‘this book may yet help to make an epoch’. Certainly any new form of human society must be based on this natural law if it is to bring man anywhere near Utopia. Only through this natural law is real freedom, equality, and brotherhood possible. Outside of it is the chaos of perpetual struggle, perpetual war — a destroying of civilisation from within.
Before we leave this question of the government, or, more accurately, the organisation of the ideal commonwealth, other aspects of social life must be considered — aspects which are either government-controlled at present or would be so controlled in Utopia,
Let us take first the question of social services — hospitals, medical service, old age pensions. (The question of schools, maternity clinics, creches, will be dealt with in' the chapters on education, woman, and the child.)
In Utopia, where there is no private enterprise and no charity, it follows that all hospitals are publicly owned. There is a hospitals’ syndicate in the same way that there is an entertainments’ syndicate (in which all the cinemas and theatres would be organised). The Sanitary Syndicate operating in Catalonia during the two years of the anarcho-syndicalist regime has already been mentioned. Medical aid was everywhere socialised and made freely available to all; this socialisation included the services of midwives and nurses, and dispensaries were set up in every village. In Utopia, of course, the standard of the people’s health is much higher than under the old bad class-system of society. For one thing there is no such thing as malnutrition in Utopia, and no such thing as slums or over-crowding.
Then, also, there is a more intelligent attitude to food; the teaching of food-values is part of the education in the schools. The Utopians fully understand what is meant by a ‘balanced’ meal, and appreciate its value, and therefore they do not eat the wrong foods — foods which ruin their digestions and tempers. Whether anyone is a vegetarian or not, or a teetotaller or not, is purely a matter of personal preference, but in general the Utopians eat little meat, and they know the use, without the abuse, of wine and good home-brewed ale. Campanella makes his Utopians ‘observe the difference between useful and harmful foods, and for this they employ the science of medicine. They always change their food. First they eat flesh, then fish, then afterwards they go back to flesh, and nature is never incommoded or weakened’. Two meals a day was the average for adult people, except the old, who had three, and growing youth was allowed four. In addition to fish and flesh they ate butter, honey, cheese, ‘garden herbs, and vegetables of all kinds’. As regards drinking, they were ‘extremely moderate’ — that is to say wine was never given to children under ten, ‘unless the state of their health demands it’. After ten years old the children took wine diluted with water, and the women also always took it diluted, ‘but the old men of fifty and upwards use little or no water’. In the summer they lived largely on fruits, and in the autumn they ate grapes, ‘since they are given by God to remove melancholy and sadness’, and in this way, by eating the most healthy things, according to the time of the year, they lived generally to be a hundred years old, but often reached two hundred.
In More’s Utopia both dinner and supper began with the reading of a lecture on morality, meals being taken communally in large halls. Dinner was a meal to be disposed of as quickly as possible, but supper was to be lingered over, since there was nothing but sleep to be considered after it. They never supped without music, and fruit was always served after meat; perfumes were burned and perfumes and sweet waters sprinkled, ‘ in short, they want nothing that may cheer up their spirits; they give themselves a large allowance that way, and indulge themselves in all such pleasures as are attended with no inconvenience’. It would seem certain, therefore, that they drank wine.
Morris, we know, liked to drink with his meals, and considered water ‘unsuitable’, and good red wine flows as freely in his Utopia as in G. K. Chesterton’s poems. His workmen at the roadside have wine and game-pie in their luncheon-baskets. No doubt spring-water and raw fruit and vegetables would have been healthier, but the Utopian enjoys life, and who would wish for longevity at the price of enjoyment? Those joyless people who seem to spend their lives going round looking for things not to do — not smoking, not drinking alcoholic drinks, not indulging their sexual desires — have no place in the Utopian scheme of things. There are people who have no taste for nicotine, and others unfortunate enough to have no taste for wines — though it is doubtful whether this is indeed a matter of palate but, rather, a matter of inhibition, and in Utopia, where living is all joyous, there is no such inhibition, any more than there is drunkenness. In Utopia the people understand very well what Voltaire meant when he urged, ‘Use, do not abuse; neither abstinence nor excess maketh a man happy’.
The Utopians understand dietetics and physiology, and so know what liberties they can take with their digestive systems. They manage to be healthy without being food-faddists. (There comes to mind a picture in an American magazine of a weedy little man being examined by a doctor, who is saying to him, ‘If I were you I should lay off the health-foods for a bit!’) Gobbett, it may be remembered, maintained a robust physique on a diet that consisted mainly of bread and meat and ale; he declared emphatically, ‘No garden stuff!’ Which proves nothing except that given a good constitution it is possible to break all the rules with impunity. There is this vigorous picture of Cobbett, and thqre are dyspeptic looking people who exist on ‘garden stuff’, coarse bran, concoctions called ‘oat-biks’ or something of the kind, and the whole, as likely as not, washed down with ‘ pip-and-peel water’, or a dandelion coffee or herb tea, all of which may be excessively healthy — and excessively is probably the key-word — but which no one could call gay.
And the Utopians are nothing if not gay. They are gay in their work and in their leisure; gay in their religion and gay in love; gay in their attire and in their homes; they drink gaily and eat gaily, recognising fully that, as Llewelyn Powys asserted, ‘To pour out water from a jug, to break bread, to open a bottle of wine, are lordly offices ’.
They are long-lived because they do not wear themselves out, as people quite literally do in our present conditions of living, with the wear and tear of too much work and the wrong kind of work — that is to say useless work, done only for the profit-motive, or uncreative work, or mechanical or unpleasant work which could be alleviated by a proper division of labour and an intelligent use of the machine — and with worry over making money, and the strain of ‘re-creations’ which in fact are misnamed since they do not re-create. The Utopians, too, eat and drink sensibly on the whole, live and work under healthy conditions, and possess a natural zest for life; their attitude is that it matters less how long you live than how much, and so, ceasing to worry, they retain their youth for a long time, and do not whittle their years away.
Utopia has little use for hospitals. In the Utopian world it is only a matter of time — of the transition period from the bad old times to the ideal conditions — before the scourges of tuberculosis, cancer, venereal disease, influenza, and the com- mon cold, die out, because the healthy organism is not suscep- tible to disease . 1 * * The Utopians achieve health not merely because of healthier living conditions and rational ideas about fopd and recreation, but because happiness is also a contributory factor to health, as it is to the preservation of youth. It is not only our unhealthy living conditions today — too many hours devoted to indoor work, too much indoor 4 recreation ’, ignorance concerning food-values — that are conducive to ill-health today, but our mental conditions; illness, today, is escape from responsibility for many people. 44 It is enough to make one ill!” we say when we are worried and over- worked, and if the con- ditions of strain continue we do, in fact, become ill; we break down, as a machine breaks down, lacking oil, or misused. We may call it being 4 run down’, or a 'nervous breakdown’, but the truth is that our unconscious has found a way out for us, an escape from the strain and difficulties. That is why the 'nervous breakdown’ is so seldom found amongst working-class people; they can’t afford it; it is an essentially middle and upper-class luxury. The nervous breakdown is unknown in Utopia, for the good reason that there is no psychological need for it.
Beyond the transition period in Utopia the aged present no problem, for they have grown old in a healthy life and instead of being frail and infirm are active members of the community — if not as vigorous as in their youth — to the end. They are not at three-score years and ten worn out with a life-time of drudgery, or, on the other hand, self-destroyed by a flabby parasitic existence and a gross self-indulgence. What we call ‘social services' are needed in our world because of the lack of mutual aid in society itself. Our hospitals, alms-houses, sana- toria, our infirmaries and workhouses and pensions schemes, are society’s apologies for man’s inhumanity to man. Where there is love — in the real sense of brotherhood — there is no need for charity. Charity is merely the cold substitute for love. As Blake said —
‘ Mercy could be no more If there was nobody poor.’
Finally, in this matter of the organisation of affairs in Utopia we must consider the part played by two very powerful factors in life as we know it today — the press and the radio, whose influence is such that they may be considered as an integral part of the machinery of government.
In Utopia, of course, as there is no centralised government there are no newspapers with any political axes to grind, and newspapers are what their name implies, papers devoted to news, in which is included news of new books and plays, con- certs, films, art exhibitions, or any other diversion. There is no news of divorces, rapes, murders, thefts. So far as the first is concerned the Utopians do not consider that the arrangement of their private lives calls for any legal regulations, or that domestic re-arrangements are of the slightest interest to anyone outside of the persons concerned. Such crimes as rape, murder, theft, belong to the transitional period carried over from the pre- ceding Dark Ages of injustice and each against all, but when they occur, which is very rarely, and decreasingly, those guilty of them are regarded as either mentally deranged or in some way psychologically maladjusted to society, and are treated as sick people, not as criminals, and sick people are not considered news. The Utopians have delicacy in such matters.
The Utopian press has no power of any kind. It carries no advertising — for the good reason that there is no such racket in Utopia, since there is no competition. It has no policy nar- rower than the imparting of news and the ventilating of views. All publications and newspapers are controlled by a syndicate of editors, writers, printers, and the syndicate periodically takes a concensus of popular opinion and produces what is called for — news-sheets, literary reviews, magazines devoted to articles and fiction, others devoted to public opinion on every aspect of social life, industrial, artistic, education, domestic. The newspaper as we know it does not exist.
Bellamy visualised a number of papers and periodicals supported by the subscriptions of groups of people who demanded them, and who elected editors. 'Supposing some of my neighbours or myself think we ought to have a newspaper reflecting our opinions and devoted especially to our locality, trade, or profession, we go about among the people till we get the names of such a number that their annual subscriptions will meet the cost of the paper, which is little or big according to the largeness of the constituency.’
Actually the arrangements the Utopians make concerning the production and distribution of their newspapers and periodicals are unimportant; the important thing is that freed from private ownership and government control the press as a propaganda machine ceases to exist — its unscrupulousness, vulgarity, sensationalism, become part of the fading history of the Dark Ages of private enterprise and competitiveness, and the corruption inseparable from these things.
The radio syndicate in Utopia broadcasts news, when it is found that there is a strong feeling that the mass of people want to hear the day to day news as well as read it in their daily news-sheets, but for the most part better uses are found for radio, such as the relaying of concerts and interesting talks. The broadest possible consensus of public opinion is taken from time to time as to what is wanted and what not wanted. The radio in Utopia is not the social nuisance it is in our world. No Utopian would dream of allowing his radio to disturb the peace of his neighbours; he would consider such conduct barbarian, anti-social, and calling for curative treatment.
The Utopians have been educated to a strong social sense; they have discovered how to live harmoniously together; they have learned the value of mutual considerateness, and look back in amazement and horror on the days when each lived for himself, grabbing what he could, and when existence was a freely acknowledged 'struggle’. Freed from the artificialities of governments Utopian humanity has reverted to the natural law of co-operation, and each has become aware of his oneness with each.
IV. EDUCATION AND THE CHILD IN UTOPIA
Reference was made in the previous chapter to a transitional period in Utopia during which time there would be an un- avoidable carry-over — of neuroses and false values and prejudices — from the bad old days of competitive life. This implies a gradual re-education of the older generation, and some new form of education for the generation that would grow up under the changed conditions. It is necessary to consider, therefore, what we mean, ideally, by education.
At present what we understand by education is the acquisition of knowledge — book-learning — scholarship; we mean examinations and degrees; we mean culture. Where we go wrong, of course, is in the confusing of education with culture. We assume that an educated person — that is to say a person who has received a good deal of schooling — is a cultured person, and that a person we recognise as cultured is necessarily an educated person, and then, upsetting this assumption we come up against the fact that the ability to pass examinations and acquire degrees, whilst constituting education as we understand it, does not necessarily constitute culture, and that the cultured person may be, in fact very oft£n is, quite uneducated in any sense of having received a good deal of schooling. Shakespeare, A. S. Neill has reminded us , 1 had ‘little Latin and less Greek’, and Einstein appears to have displayed no brilliance at school. Education, as we at present understand it, is a putting in; we are con- sidered educated according to the amount of knowledge crammed into us, and the more years devoted to this stuffing with facts the better we are considered to be educated — the fallacy of which is self-evident. Our young men and women come down from their universities full of learning, but what really do they know — of any real value in the business of living ? 2 ‘“Educated” men,’ says A. S. Neill , 3 ‘are not more moral or more intelligent than other men; ten men from the Miners’ Union would be as intelligent as ten men from the National Union of Teachers on a committee appointed to deal with an important subject — say — the prevention of war or the reform of our criminal code. If subjects were not taught in schools university training would confine itself to real practical subjects in law and medicine and science. Outside of the professions an academic training is useless, possibly dangerous .* 1 Neill himself, who is an M.A., declares that there are a thousand classics he has never read, that he knows nothing of the Old Masters in painting, and nothing of botany, astronomy, logic, or Greek history. He observes that Charlie Chaplin, Stalin, Einstein, are effective in their several spheres without necessarily being able to pass the London Matric. ...
Neill does not deny the importance of education; on the contrary he asserts that it is all-important, that it is every- thing, but by education he understands creation, not learning. He insists that education is a drawing out, not a putting in; not an absorption of facts, but a release of creative energy.
Long before the modern ‘free school' idea developed through the application of the theories of A. S. Neill and Bertrand Russell — who learned much from Neill, as Neill did from Homer Lane — William Morris saw the futility of the orthodox educational system. He makes the Utopian who does all the explaining in his News from Nowhere protest that he does not see how the word ‘school’ can have anything to do with children. There can be a school of hearing, he says, or a school of painting . . . and as to the word ‘education’, he knows that it must come from the Latin educere , meaning to lead out , but as commonly used ‘I have never met anybody who could give me a clear explanation of what it means’. Morris made it clear that he had no use for education in the sense of a system of teaching. Schools disappeared along with the Houses of Parliament in his Utopia, but the children all knew, from an early age, a great many things; they could all swim and ride, cook, mow, carpenter, thatch, and as to book-learning, ‘ Most children, seeing books lying about, manage to read by the time they are four years old’, and they picked up other languages, Welsh, Irish, French, German, from their elders sometimes even before they could read. As a rule the children did little reading, except for a few storybooks, till they were about fifteen. ‘We don’t encourage bookishness/ Morris makes his Utopian mouthpiece explain, ‘though you will find some children who will take to books early; which perhaps is not good for them; but it’s no use thwarting them; and very often it doesn’t last long with them, and they find their level before they are twenty years old. You see, children are mostly given to imitating their elders, and when they see most people about them engaged in genuinely amusing work, like house-building and street-paving, and gardening, and the like, that is what they want to be doing; so I don’t think,’ he concludes, ‘that we need fear having too many book-learned men.’
Morris realised, in short, that true education is creativeness — release into happy creative activity according to temperament and ability. He saw that the whole theory of so-called education was ‘to shove a little information into a child, even if it were by means of torture, and accompanied by twaddle which it was well known was of no use’, and this theory expounded by Morris in the nineteenth century still holds today. Everything which Morris wrote of the futility of enforced school-subjects could have been written by A. S. Neill today. Morris regarded the thrusting of children into schools when they reached a certain age, and regardless of their varying faculties and dispositions, as damaging, an ignoring of mental and bodily growth which only the rebellious in spirit could survive. In Utopia, where the children are allowed to develop freely and naturally, to learn by doing, all information ‘lies ready to each one’s hand when his own inclinations impel him to seek it’, and thus people have time to grow, and acquire in due course only that informa- tion which can serve their development as human beings, which is of real use to them in the business of living. In his essay How We Live and How We Might Live , Morris speaks of * educating people to a sense of their real capacities as men’. He does not enter into any details, either there or in his Utopia, as to how the information people will seek when they are ready for it shall be made available; it is rather loosely implied that there will always be people available to whom those in search of technical knowledge — how to weave or thatch, for example, or bookish knowledge, such as history or literature — will be able to turn, and there are references to libraries. In his News from Nowhere Oxford had ‘reverted’ from eighteenth century ‘commercialism ’ to being a centre of ‘real learning — knowledge cultivated for its own sake — the Art of Knowledge, in short’. But on the whole books were held to be secondary to physical activity. Impatiently dismissing her grandfather’s preoccupation with books, a young girl protests that ‘It is the world we live in which interests us; the world of which we are a part’. Books, she declares, ‘were well enough for times when intelligent people had but little else in which they could take pleasure’.
That is sound enough, in general principle; living is doing, not reading, but Morris, since he allowed Oxford to revert to being a real centre of learning, probably did not intend his young girl’s anti-book tirade to be taken too literally. There is a distillation of poetry and wisdom in books which it would be foolish to deny — which Morris himself, maker of beautiful books, as well as writer, certainly would not deny.
In Utopia it goes without saying that there are educational facilities — using the word educational in the broadest sense — available to all who seek them. In free schools children acquire early a sense of community life, with its natural discipline from within, not, as in the orthodox schools of our world, from adult authority artificially imposed from above. These schools are self-governing, the rules and the penalties for breaking them determined by the children themselves, a system which A. S. Neill and others — notably Bertrand Russell — who have followed in his footsteps, have found to be the only practical one upon which a really free school can be run. You cannot have progression unless children feel completely free to govern their own social life, Neill writes, in That Dreadful School , 1 in the chapter on self-government, ‘The educational value of practical civics cannot be over-emphasised. The child realises the value of self- government. . . . It is the broad outlook that free children acquire that makes self-government so important. Their laws deal with essentials , not appearances .’ Children and staff are co- equal in the school government, and Neill observes that the children’s loyalty to their own democracy is ‘an amazing thing. It has no fear in it and no resentment. I have seen a boy go through some long trial for some anti-social act; I have seen him sentenced . . . and then the next case would come on. The chairman elects a new jury for each trial, and as often as not the boy who has just been sentenced is elected as a jury- man. The sense of justice that children have has never ceased to make me marvel. And their administrative ability is great. As an education self-government is something of infinite value . I have often heard sensible speeches from children who could not read nor write’.
Those brief sentences — italicised by the present writer — contain the crux of the whole matter. Through self-government children learn by experience, by doing; they learn the first essential, the adjustment of their individual egos to society. Thousands of people highly-educated in the conventional sense, remain all their lives maladjusted to society, unhappy, neurotic, even anti-social. What does education mean if it does not mean learning how to live ?
Very well, then, from the age of about five the child in Utopia begins to learn adjustment to communal living through a free school. The child probably remains at this school until it is about fifteen, by which time it begins to have some idea of what it wants to do with its life. There is no compulsion about attendance at lessons in the free school, but there is every facility for creative outlet; there are workshops, there are painting materials, there are hand-looms, potters 5 wheels, clay for model- ling, there is — and this is very important — a theatre in which the children can produce and act their own plays. There are competent adults and older children to guide and instruct when guidance and instruction are needed, but, and again this is important, the guides and instructors are careful to avoid robbing the children of responsibility and initiative. The children learn by experience that if they lose or spoil tools, or damage machines, it is they themselves who are the losers; without coercion from moralising adults they learn a natural respect for the tools and machines through which they are able to make things. Presently the older children will begin to want to learn to read and write, and this they will learn to do very quickly, coming to it with minds that have not been cluttered up beforehand with useless knowledge; they will learn quickly, also, because they want to learn. (Neill reports cases in his school of children who work overtime doing mathematics for fun, because they are interested, having come to it out of that interest. ‘Children, like adults, Neill says, ‘learn what they want to learn in life, but all the prize-giving and marks and exams sidetrack the personality. Only pedants can claim that learning from books is education. Books are the least important apparatus in a school. All that any child needs is the Three R’s; the rest should be tools and clay and sports and theatres and paints . . . and freedom.
Round about fifteen the child probably begins to tire a little of running wild in an orgy of pre-adolescent physical energy. The tendencies of childhood have crystallised into a definite bent; one child wants to paint, another is musical, another wants to be a farmer or an engineer or an engine-driver; one child has a passion for motor-cars; another for horses. It is then time for the second stage of education to begin — the tech- nical stage; the child then goes to an engineering institute, or an academy of music or dramatic art, or an agricultural col- lege, or an equestrian training school, or an art school, as the case may be. If he wants to join the staff of a newspaper he will attend a school to learn shorthand and typewriting and something about typesetting, block-making, proof-reading, and, because the standard of journalism in Utopia is very high, something about the use of language. But if he wants to be a writer he will be told to keep away from all schools, but run away and fall in love and suffer and break his heart and mix with all manner of people, because nothing else can help him, his raw material being experience — the stuff of life itself. There would be neither encouragement nor assistance, on the principle that in this way only people with a genuine gift for writing would persist — that they persisted in the face of difficulty and discouragement would prove their authenticity; those who merely wanted to write for the vanity of seeing their names in print, and who saw in it an easy way to make a living, would fall by the wayside. Would-be writers would have to earn their livings in some other way until such time as they had established themselves as writers; there would be no subsidising of ‘the artist’, no setting him aside as something privileged and apart, for, as Eric Gill was never tired of insisting, ‘the artist is not a special kind of man, but every man is a special kind of artist ’. In Utopia, ability to write a good poem novel is not held in higher esteem than ability to make a good chair or cook a good dinner.
Foreign travel, so specially valuable to the writer, is, of course, a part of Utopian education; parties of children are taken abroad during the summer months, each year to a different country, and those who like winter sports are taken in the winter months as well. The object of these parties is not to drag the children round the museums and art galleries of other countries — though they are obviously free to visit them if they want to — but to help them to acquire other languages, and to make them international in outlook, give them a sense of the brotherhood of man independent of colour and language. In* the schools, too, there will be both staff and children not merely of different nationality but of different colour. The dreadful insularity — to which the English are, more than any other nation, addicted — and which makes a foreigner seem odd, if not downright ‘funny’, is completely unknown in Utopia. That people should speak a different language, have a different coloured skin, wear different clothes, have different customs, seems no odder to the Utopian child than that some people are short and some tall, some fair and some dark.
In Utopia an university city does not consist of a number of colleges with nothing to choose between them except from the point of view of social snobbery and family tradition; students select their colleges according to what they want to study — medicine, science, engineering, law, music, architecture, or whatever it is.
Perhaps you will protest that this is all very well for people of superior brains and special artistic abilities, for the specialists — the artists, engineers, scientists, doctors, and , so on — but what about the people of inferior brains, the people whose intelligence does not fit them to be anything but hewers of wood and drawers of water, the machine-tenders, the pick-and-shovel brigades, the people to whom will fall all the mechanical, non-creative jobs that will be necessary even in Utopia — is their education to finish at fifteen?
Obviously a person’s education finishes when he or she has no use for further education. In our present society a great many people pass on to universities with nothing whatsoever rotten and desperate civilization. All we can fairly do is to prescribe definite acquire- ments as cjualifications for citizenship in general, with further specific qualifications for professional employments; and to secure them, not by the ridiculous method of inflicting artificial injuries on the persons who have not yet mastered them, but to gain from them, and for whom it is all a waste of their time and their parents’ money; other people who could gain some- thing from this extension of education are debarred from doing so for economic reasons. In Utopia everyone takes what they want from the educational facilities which are freely and equally available to all.
As the new generation grows up in Utopia there cease to be people only fit to tend machines, because — to borrow from the Quakers — there is ‘that of God’ in every human being, in everyone that germ of creativeness which it is the function of education to bring out — and which Utopian education brings out. In Utopia, too, all dull and mechanical labour — which is in any case minimised to the utmost — is divided up, and that which cannot be done by machine is shared out by the whole community, so that there is no section of the community doing deadly or unpleasant work all the time. But all this will be discussed when we come to consider the whole question of work and leisure.
Education in Utopia, is, then, first of all a drawing of creativeness, the direction of childhood’s energy into creative — as opposed to destructive — channels, and through this the discovery of each child’s natural bent; in adolescence, or whenever the child is ready for it, comes the groundwork of more specialised education, the Three R’s, and after that the course of specialisation to equip the young person to take his or her place as a useful member of society. William Morris wanted that those who had the capacity should be so trained that they could serve the community in more than one way. He wanted that education should be liberal, in the broadest sense. Because a man’s trade is that of shoemaker, for example, is no reason, he urged, why he should settle down to make shoes in one place all his life; it should be possible for him to go off and ‘make shoes in Rome, say for three months, and to come back with new ideas of building, gathered from the sight of the works of past ages, amongst other things which would perhaps be of service in Loudon’.
It is obvious that even in Utopia there must be degrees of ability; there will always be the exceptional people who can paint or compose or write, or all three, and who can also build walls, cook excellent meals, repair burst pipes, into the bargain. There will always be the geniuses and the near-geniuses; the brilliant and versatile people; and the people whose minds are by the natural co-operation of self-respect from within with social respect from without.’ slow and dull and whose standard of intelligence is low; but in Utopia is a place for them all. You do not need a brilliant, versatile mind to do good wood-carving or lay bricks well, and both these are very useful trades. And you may be intellectually brilliant and a perfect fool at any manual task. The function of Utopian education is to discover ‘the special kind of artist’ in each human being, and the good poet is not held in greater esteem than the good shoemaker, but each is appreciated for the quality of his work, each recognised as a craftsman in his own particular line; no one sneers at the shoemaker for not knowing the difference between a ballad and a ballade, and not caring, nor at the poet because he cannot drive a nail into a wall without hitting his thumb. Each contributes his own particular art to society in return for what he takes from it, in accordance with the communistic principle of from each according to his ability and to each according to his needs.
Bellamy was of the opinion that in Utopia the finest education should be lavished on the dullest and coarsest members of the community, on the principle that just as poor land needs most manuring so everything possible must be done to fertilise poor minds into productiveness. 'The naturally refined and intellectual can better dispense with aids to culture than those less fortunate in natural endowments’. He would have the dullards educated so that every man might have for neighbours 'intelligent, companionable persons’, instead of, as at present, intelligent, cultured people up to their necks, ‘as in a nauseous bog’ in mass stupidity and brutishness. He believed that brutishness in human beings could be eliminated. In his Utopia, ‘All have some inklings of the humanities,’ he wrote, ‘some appreciation of the things of the mind, and an admiration for the still higher culture of which they have fallen short. They have become capable of receiving and imparting, in various degrees, but all in some measure, the pleasures and inspirations of a refined social life.’
H. G. Wells, in his Modern Utopia , on the other hand, regards about three per cent of children as ‘ unteachable ’ ; these finish their schooling period at fourteen; ‘the res go on to a college or upper school’, from which they pass out at eighteen. ‘There are several different college courses, but one or other must be followed, and a satisfactory examination passed at the end — perhaps io per cent fail — and the Rule requires that the candidate for the samurai must have passed.’
In specialised training — such as a medical course, or an engineering or navigation course — the passing of examinations as proof of qualification to practise as a doctor or as an engineer or navigator has, obviously, everything to be said for it, since no one can be allowed to kill a patient or wreck a bridge or a ship, but in general Utopia has little use for examinations, certainly not as a test of education. The citizens of Utopia acquire such culture as their temperaments demand and their minds are capable of; they know that it is not something that can be taught. In a general sense they are all cultured, because their educational and social system permits every man and every woman to express the artist in him or herself, and the sense of brotherhood which comes from their co-operative living gives them that gentleness and considerateness we associate with cultured people. Then, too, they have all travelled, than which there is no more valuable form of education, and they have gone to other countries not critically, with a false sense of natural superiority, as people go now, but in this same spirit of brotherhood — the spirit which dominates their lives and maces their Utopia possible.
Herbert Read 1 contends that ‘culture is a natural growth — that if a society has a plenitude of freedom and all the economic essentials of a democratic order, then culture will be added without any excessive striving after it. It will come as naturally as the fruit to the well-planted tree’. He adds that he ‘cannot conceive education as a training in so many separate subjects. Education is integral; it is the encouragement of the growth of the whole man, the complete man. It follows that it is not entirely, nor even mainly, an affair of book learning, for that is only the education of one part of our nature — the part of the mind which deals with concepts and abstractions’. For the child he contends that education should be the development first of sensibility ; the child should learn how to use his senses — how, to see, touch, listen — and from that go on to learn the application of his knowledge of these faculties. He supports Eric Gill’s contention that every man is an artist, and that no special honour is due to anyone of any special sensibility, since it is all an accident of birth, and the exercise of his gift is what he owes to the society in which he lives.
Much attention is given to physical culture in the schools in Bellamy’s Utopia. ‘The faculty of education is held to the same responsibility for the bodies as for the minds of its charges. The highest possible physical, as well as mental, development of every one is the double object of a curriculum which lasts from the age of six to that of twenty-one.’ Morris also attaches importance to the standard of physical fitness of his Utopians, but it is clear that their healthiness is to be attributed to their happy, healthy lives, the riding, swimming, camping-out, running wild, carried over into an adulthood of rational living and joy in work, which is more natural than any set 'physical culture’ and therefore to be preferred. It should be obvious that an education is incomplete if it does not impart both a knowledge of the body’s functions, an appreciation of the miraculousness of those functions, and an intelligent interest in the keeping of the whole fine, delicate mechanism in good running order.
In the world today, even amongst so-called educated people, the mass ignorance of elementary physiology and hygiene is appalling. It is quite common to find women even now who seriously believe that it is harmful to bath during menstruation, who regard a vaginal douche as something ‘immoral’ and indecent, and whose ignorance of their own anatomy and functions deprives them of sexual satisfaction and makes, it impossible for them to enlighten their no less ignorant partners.
The same dismal ignorance of the body and its functions prevails apart from sex, and is by no means confined to the working-classes. The popular idea of the stomach appears to be of a sack immediately below the neck, and few people appear to know the functions of their liver or kidneys, or where they are located. The ignorance of food values is all part of this ignorance concerning the body. The superstition that not to eat for a day or two is to become weak is widely held, so that food must be forced down even when it should be obvious that the whole body is in revolt against food and only asks to be left alone.
It is astonishing, when one considers the amount of useless information stuffed into children at school that these two really important subjects, knowledge of and care of the body, and its proper nutriment, should be so grossly neglected in civilised society. In Utopia there is, of course, no question of ‘teaching’ children ‘the facts of life’ ; any more than of ‘ teaching ’ them that rain comes from the sky and that birds lay eggs; there is no more mystery about human and animal birth than the emergence of any other form of life from eggs or spores or spawn. There are certain obvious things that a child grows up with knowledge of, and the knowledge of sex in relation to birth is acquired quite simply and naturally against this background of elementary knowledge. The knowledge of physiology is not quite so simply acquired, as a certain amount of explanation is necessary, but it is a subject of tremendous interest to adolescents, and anatomy, the circulation of the blood, the function and arrangement of the various organs — all is very readily explained with the aid of charts. A certain amount is taught in schools today, but not nearly enough, and it always balks at sexual physiology . . . the aspect in which adolescents are most deeply interested! In Utopia, as the young people already have their background of knowledge of birth* and sex, the imparting of this physiological knowledge presents no embarrassments or difficulties.
The knowledge of food values — in what foods are found protein, starch, salts, sugar, fats, and knowledge of acids and alkalis, the extent to which the body needs these things — fol- lows on naturally from the study of physiology. Ignorance of food values, and of what the body needs, and of how to prepare food to the best advantage, so that it is palatable with- out losing its essential properties, is responsible for the prevalence of digestive troubles amongst civilised peoples. It is a great deal more important to know what constitutes a balanced meal and how to prepare it than to know historical dates and how to do long division. And how many housewives have the slightest idea of what constitutes a balanced meal? Very few English housewives, certainly. It takes a world war and persistent Ministry of Food propaganda to teach them anything so elementary as how to cook green vegetables without losing their goodness — hitherto it had been an old English custom to boil all the goodness out of them, and then throw that goodness down the sink and serve up the sodden mass left behind... which, of course, is not worth eating, since it is utterly devoid of food- value and is tasteless into the bargain. The two major crimes in the English kitchen are the boiling of vegetables and the addiction to the frying-pan.
There is little doubt that the ideal diet is vegetarian, and uncooked at that. Ideal, that is, from the point of view of health and longevity. In Utopia, however, enjoyment of life is considered of more importance than longevity, and not many people with a zest for life feel that living to be two hundred has any value if it means the sacrifice of gastronomic pleasures. If one is never to eat, drink and be merry, they ask, what is the point of living so long?
Nowhere in Mr. Wells’s Utopian World State is meat eaten — not because meat-eating is condemned on dietary or hygienic grounds, but from a sense of refinement concerning ‘ the horrible flayed carcases of brutes dripping with blood No such squeamishness is felt over the bleeding gills of the corpses of fishes, and no reference is made to the slaughter of game.
In general the Utopians are of the opinion that meat is a gross and unhealthy food, and that fruit, vegetables, nuts, are cleaner and healthier, but since the essence of the Utopian conception of living is the maximum of individual freedom consistent with the avoidance of anti-social conduct, there is, obviously, no coercion in this matter. The more they learn about dietetics and the human body the more the Utopians move towards rationality in the matter of food as in all else. Even so, with their fully developed, uninhibited — thanks to a real education — zest for living they occasionally abandon the rational in favour of enjoyment. Their education is too liberal to permit them to be doctrinaire.
The Government White Paper on Education Reconstruction issued in 1943 asserts that ‘there has been a very general wish, not confined to representatives of the Churches, that religious education should be given a more defined place in the life and work of the schools, springing from the desire to revive the spiritual and personal values in our society and in our national tradition. The Church, the family, the local community and the teacher — all have their part to play in imparting religious instruction to the young’. The old-established rights of con- science, 'however, are to remain inviolate, and ‘it will be open to the parent to withdraw his child from all or any form of religious worship or instruction’.
Probably a sure way of making the child highly interested in this ‘religious instruction’ is for the parent to put the verboten on it! That the child might be left alone to determine its own religious beliefs, if any, when it is old enough to be interested in such things, doesn't seem to occur to any of the educational planners. All this ‘educational reconstruction’ is planned on the basis of the existing system of grammar schools, public schools, secondary schools, universities. It presupposes the con- tinuance of the Church and State, of the old class system of society. Common Wealth criticisms of the government’s proposals ignore the question of religious instruction. The W.E.A. evades the issue. Nothing is to be hoped for from within the existing framework; various reforms will no doubt be effected — more nursery schools opened, the school-leaving age raised — if indeed that is a reform — grants, exhibitions and scholarships extended, along with facilities for adult education, and so on, but basically it will all remain ‘the mixture as before’. The W.’E.A. report offers a hint of vision in its declaration that ‘social judgment ought to be one of the products of a university education. . . . The gap between academic and social thinking must be bridged, not by sacrificing the objectivity of university study, but by learning to apply it in a wider field of knowledge and social experience’. The report asserts that ‘ability to profit should be the sole test for admission to a university, as to all types of school’. That, of course, is the Utopian contention. To what other ends should the schools and universities — rationally — exist, other than to serve those who can profit by what they have to offer? At present the value of what they have to offer is open to question, and it is taken for granted that a long and expensive education is a good education. In Utopia the one thing that is taken for granted is that you cannot pour human personality — in all its infinite variety — into a standardised mould called education, leave it to cool, and turn it out all set. The Utopians know that education in the real sense is not a pouring in but a bringing out. Thus in Utopia education brings out the craftsman in one man, the poet in another, and in yet a third both the craftsman and the poet.
In Utopia all the things that so exercise the educational planners in the world today cease to exist as problems. When every form of educational facility, whether technical or academic, is free to all who can profit by it, there is obviously no need for grants or scholarships; when education itself is free, in the sense of there being no compulsion for a child to learn what it is not interested in, there is obviously no question of punishment, corporal or otherwise. (The Utopians are, anyhow, far too civilised to contemplate anything so barbarous as corporal punishment; as to capital punishment, it is only with difficulty that they can bring themselves to believe that it ever existed, and but for the undoubted authenticity of their historical records would not do so.) That only the most suitable buildings will be used for schools goes without saying— and by suitable they understand more than scientifically constructed from the point of view of admitting the maximum of sunshine and air, and being sur- rounded by gardens and fields; they also understand by ‘suitable* congenial from the child’s point of view — friendly, happy looking buildings, that is to say. The Utopians, looking through the old records, cannot but be appalled at the number of forbidding-looking buildings in which the children and young people of our world were expected to acquire learning, and will readily understand why the stuffing process known to us as education had to be made compulsory...
There are obviously certain things that people living in a civilised society must know; it is clear that they must know how to read and write and do simple arithmetic; they must know the technique of their trade or profession. This strictly utilitarian education is, as we have seen, easily acquired, with- out any coercion, in freedom. You may then say, quite reasonably, But education is something more than the utilitarian acquisition of useful knowledge; what of the ethical and cultural aspects? If in Utopia there is to be no teaching of religion, how is your happy, healthy, uninhibited child to develop into something more than a noble savage? The answer to this is that you cannot teach a child morality — taking the word in its broadest sense — any more than you can teach it culture. Telling a child ‘this is wrong, this is right; this is bad, this is good* is completely useless; the child may accept these adult valuations, but the acceptance will not prevent it doing the ‘bad’ things if to do so suits its purpose, and not doing the ‘good* things. All that these valuations, imposed from without, authoritatively, from teacher or parent, achieve is the securing of a sense of guilt, and perhaps fear as well, in connection with certain things. Similarly, you can set a child to read Shakespeare and listen to Beethoven without bringing it anywhere near an appreciation of Shakespeare or Beethoven. In Utopia you do not try to teach children or young people that the competitive way of life is bad and the co-operative way good, any more than you hang Da Vinci reproductions above their beds in the hope of guiding their cultural tastes. Through its experience of self- government at school it learns the essential give-and-take of communal life; it does not have to be 'taught' that you cannot steal another person’s goods or hit people over the head if they don’t do as you want them to do; it learns this in the only way that is of any use — through experience. Its first lessons in co- operation, in the natural law of mutual aid, it learns at school — not taught by any teacher, but through the rhythm of the communal life of the school, the microcosm of the wider world.
Its ethics are evolved out of its experience. To insist that a child is a natural barbarian and must be taught to be good, is to insist on the idea of Original Sin; but belief in the original goodness of the human being, that it is born good but made ‘bad’ by moral training and artificial discipline, is a basic principle of Utopian education. As to culture, the Utopian is no more concerned to attempt to teach it than to attempt to teach morality; he knows that it is something acquired through sensibility, and the development of sensibility is all that part of Utopian education which is not utilitarian. In the real sense the Utopian’s education goes on all his life, and only properly begins when the utilitarian part ends.
That in Utopia all schools are co-educational should go with- out saying. In a rational society anything else would seem ridiculous. As to whether the elementary schools — that is to say the schools the children attend from about five until adolescence, when they are ready to learn the rudiments of education, the Three R’s, and pass on to technical training — are day- schools or boarding-schools, there must be both, though as time goes on it is probable that there will be an increased demand for boarding-schools, both the parents and the children preferring it, since the children living a great part of the time away from home affords both parents and children greater freedom. But where there is a strong family feeling, and the children are better living at home, then they will attend the day-schools. This question of the home and family we will consider later.
At this point you perhaps protest, “But if there is no compulsion, what happens if a child does not want to attend school of any kind, and the parents are not concerned to persuade him?” It is quite simple. In that case the child does not attend any school. As he becomes adolescent he may wish to acquire some learning. Or he may develop school-going friends and wish to attend school because they do. But if he doesn’t he is nevertheless learning all the time, his natural child’s creativeness working in happy alliance with his freedom. No Utopian parent would think of using that moral coercion we call ‘persuasion’. By the time he reaches adolescence the child grows tired of running wild, and begins to identify himself with grown-ups; he perceives the usefulness of knowing how to read and write and add, and there is probably some special thing he wants to learn — such as how to drive a train or build a bridge or a house. It is all very much simpler than our professional educationists would have us believe.
Years ago, long before the second world-war, with all the talk of educational reconstruction in the brave new world to follow — educational reconstruction in terms of raising the school- leaving age, part-time compulsory education for young people up to eighteen, the strengthening of religious influence in the school — Bernard Shaw wrote , 1 ‘Soon everybody will be schooled .mentally and physically, from the cradle to the end of the term of adult compulsory military service, and finally of compulsory civil service lasting until the age of superannuation. Always more schooling, more compulsion ’. It might well have been written today. He adds, significantly, ‘We must reconcile education with liberty’. This can only be achieved through an entirely new conception of education — the conception of education as liberation from within, as opposed to imposition from without, which is the present conception. Utopian education is education through freedom; it is as natural as the law which welds the community into an harmonious whole. Through it men cortie to the “bread and roses” of a balanced life.
Education as it is popularly understood today gives neither. That is to say it neither equips young people to earn their bread, nor does it given them that culture they seek. When they leave their public schools, their high schools, their secondary schools, their universities they are already well on into their teens; if they have gone on to the universities they are already in their twenties; a great deal of money has been spent on their ‘educa- tion’, and they are completely unequipped to earn their livings. The public school boy is fit for nothing except to pass on to a university; the girl as often as not forgets all her expensive schooling and gets down to realities by taking a commercial course and learning shorthand and typing, and book-keeping — which she could have done when she finished with her elementary education at fourteen or fifteen. The superstition that there is some particular virtue attaching to the passing of the examina- tion commonly known as ‘Matric’ dies hard. Whereas, in hard fact, what the potential employer wants to know is not ‘What exams have you passed?’ but ‘What can you do?’ And the more highly educated the young thing the less can the wretched creature do. . . .
All that examinations prove is how much learning has been absorbed; and learning is one thing, and education is quite another. The acquisition of learning is purely an intellectual feat; it is sterile, non-creative. It is not; education at all as the Utopians understand the term. A. S. Neill writes in his Problem Parent , ‘I am fairly certain that the school of the future will be my workshop on a larger scale. Children will learn and make what interests them, and the teachers will be people who stand by to help in technical difficulties’. In Utopia, as we have seen, education is basically technical, an affair of the workshop — be it laboratory, studio, dissecting room, or work- shop as ordinarily understood — and the rest, what is commonly called ‘ culture ’, a matter of sensibility, of assimilation. Through what the Utopians understand by education youpg people ‘find’ themselves; as surely as in the morass of what is called education today they can only lose themselves.
The extent to which they do lose themselves is indicated by their lack of self-sufficiency, their dependence on ready-made distractions for their leisure hours — which in the modern world means dependence on the radio and the cinema; particularly the latter. If all the cinemas were suddenly to close, most of the present generation of young people would simply not know how to employ their leisure; they would be thrown on their owfi resources — which their so-called education has not shown them how to develop. In the summer they would restlessly promenade the streets, which many of them do even with the cinemas available; in the winter they would know of nothing better to do than turn on the radio — which would be a slight improvement on ‘going to the pictures’, for intelligent talks and good music are sometimes to be heard even on the radio in England and America; whereas the number of films which are not rubbishy and shoddy, when not downright pernicious in their falsity, are so rare as to be for all practical purposes non-existent. If there could be no radio — with its ready-made music and entertainment — and no cinemas, for a year, our young people might in that time learn to amuse themselves, learn to make their own music (in how many ordinary working- class and middle-class homes today is there a piano or a violin or even a reed pipe?) and sing real songs, and discover the pleasure of handicrafts — and of intelligent conversation with a few friends gathered round the fireside. They would be cured of that restlessness which is the result of lack of any inner reserves. They would learn to use their imaginations, and their hands.
The cinema has its place in Utopia — a useful and honourable place, both educationally and as entertainment. The film’s potentiality as art we will consider later; we are here concerned with its educational value. Its potentialities in this field are immense, and in Utopia they are fully recognised and developed. The film can show the growth of plants, the opening of buds, the evolution of the embryo in the egg; it can show, close-up and in slow-motion, the movements of birds, insects, beasts; it can reveal to the child all the kingdoms of creation, and the wonders thereof. Books and lectures can only give the bare biological and botanical facts; these living pictures can actually present it, visually, to the child’s eager, questioning mind.
In Utopia, therefore, as much importance is attached to the Children’s Cinema, as to the Children’s Theatre. The Children’s Theatre stimulates the child’s creativeness; the Children’s Cinema stimulates his imagination. The film can take the child deep down under the sea and high up into the heavens; it can teach him biology, botany, geography, as no textbook and no lesson by word-of-mouth ever could. It can bring history and legend to life, and thrilling, romantic life at that. Adults are often to be found in the Children’s Cinema in Utopia, as fascinated as the children by the screen’s portrayal of the miracle and mystery of life. Children are, of course, equally to be seen in the general cinemas; there is no segregation of children and adults, no dividing of films into categories, as in our world, for ‘Adults Only’, and ‘Universal’. But pre-adolescent children are not interested in love-stories and adult problems, and in Utopia, therefore, their own cinema provides them with alternatives, showing, in addition to educational films, films of special appeal to children — cartoons of the Mickey Mouse variety, comedies on robust Laurel-and-Hardy lines, screen-plays of adventure and fantasy written by the children themselves, and, carried over from the old world, some of the early Chaplin films. The children are encouraged to notify the directors of their local cinema of their requirements, also their criticisms, and these local boards are composed of children and young people, who, without interference from adults, discuss and decide upon future programmes and policies.
But though both children and grown-ups in Utopia like to go occasionally to the cinema, as to the theatre, they are by no means dependent on either for their amusements — their education, having developed their resourcefulness, prevents any such slavish dependence. In our world the cinema has replaced religion as the opium of the people; in Utopia it is merely one of many ways of pleasantly spending leisure hours. The children and young people no less than the adults have a diversity of amusements. Many of the older children spend a good deal of their spare time concocting plays both for the film and the stage; others occupy themselves rehearsing to act in these plays; others, again, are busy directing them. The Utopian child is nothing if not independent; nothing if not creative. And just as he learns by doing , so he finds his recreation in doing. By the time he is adolescent he has discovered that the world is full of a number of things, and it is so exciting and absorbing a discovery that he finds it difficult to believe that there was ever a time when young people, no less than adults, depended for the greater part of their amusement on the cinema and the radio, and not at all upon these remarkable inventions for educational purposes. But therein lies the difference between Utopian education and our own conception of it; our system, in any of its orthodox forms, aims at cramming as much learning into the young as possible, all of it an accumulation from the past, none of it of any real value in terms of living, and a considerable part of it forgotten soon after ‘schooling’ is finished with, since it was never acquired other than parrot-wise, for the purposes of ‘exams’; whereas the Utopian conception of education draws out of the young the creativeness which enables them to earn their bread, in due course, according to their natural inclination and ability, and leaves them free to develop the sensibility to appreciate an infinite variety of life’s most delicately perfumed and lasting roses. . . .
Consideration of the child in the community cannot, rightly, either begin or end with its education, however. Indeed, the most important years of the child’s life are lived before it can begin its education in terms of schooling — that is to say its first five years.
In the days — not so long ago — when the Soviet Union was ‘the Red Terror’, one of the crimes with which the Bolsheviks were charged was the idea that the child was better wrested early from parental care and brought up by the State; and it is, in fact, a tenet of the Marxist philosophy that the care and education of children should become a public affair, the responsibility of society in general. The Communist Manifesto refers to the exploitation of children by their parents, and ‘the clap-trap about the hallowed correlation of parents and child’. But long before Marx and Engels, there was Plato, in whose conception of Utopia the home and family were abolished for the Guardians. The children, as soon as they were born, were to be ‘taken in charge by officers appointed for the purpose who may be men or women or both since offices are to be shared by both sexes. The children of the better parents they will carry to the creches to be reared in the care of nurses living apart in a certain quarter of the city. Those of the inferior parents and any children of the rest that are born defective will be hidden away, in some appropriate manner that must be kept secret’. The mothers were to be brought to the creches to suckle the children — ‘but taking every precaution that no mother shall know her own child’. The inferior children of Guardians were to be ‘thrust out amongst the craftsmen and farmers’, who were, as we have seen, graded lower in society than the Rulers and Guardians. It was a duty the Guardians owed to the State to beget their children in the prime of life — ‘a woman should bear children for the commonwealth from her twentieth to her fortieth year; a man should begin to beget them when he was passed “the racer’s prime in swiftness” (a reference to bringing race-horses to the stud when they are no longer used for racing purposes) and continue until he is fifty-five. . . . If a man either above or below this age meddles with the begetting of children for the commonwealth, we shall hold it an offence against divine and human law.’
Plutarch, following directly in the Platonic tradition, made his Lycurgus regard children as the property of the State, ‘and therefore he would not have them begot by ordinary persons, but by the best men in it’. Since the State considered it as important to expend as much care on the breeding of citizens as on the breeding of horses and dogs — to breed, that is, only from good stock — the law allowed that ‘if a man of character should entertain a passion for a married woman on account of her modesty and the beauty of her children, he might entreat with her husband for admission to her company, that so planting in a beauty-bearing soil, he might produce excellent children, the genial offspring of excellent parents’. But after the child was born the father was required to carry it to a tribunal of the most ancient men of the tribe, and ‘if it was strong and well-proportioned, they gave orders for its education, and assigned to it one of the nine thousand shares of land ; but if it was weakly and deformed they ordered it to be thrown . . . into a deep cavern . . . concluding that its life could be no advantage either to itself or to the public, since nature had not given it at first any strength of constitution’.
As soon as the healthy Spartan children were seven years old Lycurgus ordered them to be enrolled in companies, ‘ where they were ail kept under the same order and discipline, and had their exercises and recreations in common. He who showed the most conduct and courage amongst them, was made captain of the company. The rest kept their eyes upon him, obeyed his orders, and bore with patience the punishment he inflicted. . . . As for learning, they had just what was absolutely necessary. All the rest of their education was calculated to make them subject to command, to endure labour, to fight and conquer’. They were submitted to the utmost rigours, in the cause of discipline, and to harden them. In The Life of Lycurgus is told the classic story of the boy who suffered a fox he had stolen and hidden under his tunic to tear out his bowels with teeth and claws rather than betray the theft by crying out or releasing the animal. The boys were encouraged to steal in order to exer- cise their ingenuity and courage; and they were accustomed from their childhood to take an interest in citizenship. ‘ ... if one of them was asked, “Who is a good citizen, or who an infamous one,” and hesitated in his answer, he was considered a boy of slow parts, and of a soul that would not aspire to honour ’.
Campanella, in his City of the Sun , similarly had the children handed over at an early age to the care of the State. ‘ . . . since individuals for the most part bring forth children wrongly and educate them wrongly, they consider that they remove destruc- tion from the State, and therefore, for this reason, with most sacred fear, they commit the education of the children, who, as it were, are the element of the republic, to the care of magistrates.’ During infancy the children were to be reared and suckled by their mothers in temples set apart for that purpose. At two years old the children were to be weaned and given into the care of masters in the case of males, mistresses in the case of females, and they were then to be ‘pleasantly instructed in the alphabet, and in the knowledge of the pictures, and in running, walking and wrestling; also in the historical drawings, and in languages’. At six years old they were taught natural science and then the mechanical sciences. Of the boys, those not very bright in intellect were eventually sent to work on farms. It was considered, in ‘ the city of the sun ’, that children were bred for the preservation of the species and not for individual pleasure, and that ‘therefore the breeding of children has reference to the commonwealth and not to individuals, except in so far as they are constituents of the commonwealth’.
Sir Thomas More’s attitude was more human. His Utopians considered that the begetting of children was ‘ a debt which they owed to human nature and to their country’. The education of youth was entrusted to the priests, ‘ yet they do not take so much care of instructing them in letters as in forming their minds and manners aright; they use all possible methods to infuse very early into the tender and flexible minds of children such opinions as are both good in themselves and will be useful to their country. For when deep impressions of these things are made at that age they follow men through the whole course of their lives, and conduce much to preserve the peace of the government, which suffers by nothing more than by vices that rise out of ill opinions’.
H. G. Wells, in his A Modern Utopia , holds that ‘State breeding of the population was a reasonable proposal for Plato to make, in view of the biological knowledge of his time and the purely tentative nature of his metaphysics; but from anyone in the days after Darwin it is preposterous’. He considers that, judged according to modern standards, all former Utopias have erred on the side of over-regulation in the matter of marriage and the breeding of children, and that the modern Utopian State would regulate marriage contracts and their dissolution ‘only in order to secure the utmost freedom and initiative 5 . He sees the bearing and rearing of healthy children as a service done to the State, and in Utopia that service recognised and rewarded, the State making itself responsible, financially, to the mother, for the welfare of her — legitimate — children.
In the modern Utopia, as the present writer sees it, the child belongs neither to the nation nor to its parents; it belongs to no one but itself. The parent has no ‘rights 5 in it; it is an individual in its own rights. Two things rarely happen in Utopia — rarely is there an unwanted child, and rarely does a child die. The death of a child is the ‘wrong too great to be told. Accidents, obviously, cannot be avoided even in Utopia, but for a child to be ill is something quite extraordinary. In our present world it is taken for granted that there are illnesses inevitable in child- hood — the child is expected to have the ‘usual run of childish ailments — measles, whooping-cough, mumps, chicken-pox, in addition to the ‘usual coughs and colds. In Utopia, as we have seen, the standard of health is high, the people immunised from germs by their mental as well as their physical health. The children in Utopia are happy and healthy, and it is therefore something exceptional for a child to be ill.
Similarly, in Utopia, a child may be accidentally conceived, but the attitude to sex and contraception is such that this very rarely occurs, and when it does, rather than bear an unwanted child, the mother considers it better to have the pregnancy surgically interrupted by a qualified gynaecologist. This does not lead, as some people might suppose, to irresponsibility in the matter of begetting children. The Utopian woman has too much respect for good health to regard an abortion as a good thing; she knows that it is much healthier to have a baby, but if she already has several children and it does not fit in with her scheme of things to add to her family, or if, unintentionally, through some failure of her contraceptive method, she finds herself pregnant again too close to her last pregnancy, she has no difficulty in terminating the pregnancy, and no one thinks any the worse of her for it. In this way that saddest of spectacles, the unwanted child, is avoided, and motherhood is the happy affair nature intended it to be.
Now, in Utopia, as we have seen, there are no hard and fast rules, and, short of anti-social conduct, no oughts and ought- nots. There are therefore no ‘rules 5 touching motherhood. Some mothers are happiest making motherhood for a few years — until their children are into their middle teens, perhaps — a full-time job. Other women, though they love their children, have interests which make motherhood as a full-time job impossible for them. For these mothers Utopia provides creches and nursery schools where the children are competently cared for under happy, healthy conditions. In our present world some excellent nurseries, both day and residential, and nursery-schools, have been set up in recent years under government authority to meet the war-time conditions of mothers working in factories, and children evacuated to the country. It is one of the criticisms of our present society that it takes the major crisis of a world-war to get rid of bad arrangements and arouse the initiative for the establishment of good ones. In Utopia the good arrangements do not have to be provoked by national crisis; everything is organised for the common good, and the child is the community’s first care.
And in Utopia the care of the child begins before it is born. Perhaps you will say, ‘But we, too, have our pre-natal clinics’. This is true, but we have not nearly enough of them, and women in general are not sufficiently educated to the value and use of the available clinics. In our world it is only the most intelligent of our working-class women who avail themselves of periodic medical examination and advice during pregnancy at the maternity clinics; the great mass of them ‘can’t be bothered’, or just don’t think it necessary, and are content to rely on the misinformation of their neighbours and their own ingrained superstitions. Middle and upper-class women usually consult their family doctor, visiting him from time to time before the confinement, but even in these classes it is quite common to find women who consider no pre-natal care necessary — and the attitude that if there is a miscarriage, well, so much the better since the pregnancy was never desired in any case. . . .
In Utopia every child is a wanted child, and every child is important, because in every child is vested the Utopian heritage of the Good Life; they realise in Utopia that without the child there is no Tomorrow, no carrying on of achievement, no progress. The utmost care, therefore, is taken to safeguard the health of the expectant mother, and to minimise the risks attaching to childbirth, and everything that medical science can do to render childbirth painless is done . . . though if a woman should prefer to ‘let nature take its course’ no one is going to coerce her into accepting drugs and anaesthetics. Similarly, a woman may be confined in her own home if she prefers it, but the maternity homes of Utopia are such fine, well-run places that the majority of women prefer to avail themselves of the advantages they offer.
The Utopian child, therefore, comes into the world with everything in his favour — he is born of a healthy, happy mother, he is assisted into the world by the ablest of gynaecologists, and mid wives; he is surrounded from birth by intelligence and care. The only child is rare in Utopia, though being an only child matters less in Utopia than in our world because of the abundance of day-nurseries and nursery-schools at which the child learns to adapt himself to community life from his earliest years, and because the Utopian mother appreciates the importance of this natural education.
Childhood in Utopia is altogether a|very natural business. In our world the child is 'brought up; in Utopia it is allowed to grow up. In our world it is hedged round from infancy with every kind of superstition and prejudice and fixed idea; it must do this because it is good for it; it mustn’t do that because it is bad for it; it is slapped and scolded and punished by parents, teachers, ‘nannies’ into a conventional mould labelled ‘the well-behaved child ’, as though manners, politeness, etiquette have anything whatever to do with the candid, eager, questioning animal that is the natural child. In Utopia no one is in the least interested as to whether the child says Please and Thank You, and whether it has nice table manners and is ‘obedient’, none of these things — manners, politeness, obedience — is required of it; what the Utopians regard as important in a child is its fearlessness, its unspoiled honesty, its unselfconsciousness. They know that the well-behaved child is a little hypocrite, and they prefer their children natural and honest; they are concerned with the child’s happiness, not with its ‘pretty ways’. They are not concerned to show their children off with personal pride, possessively; they respect the individuality, the separateness of the child; they do not claim that because it is flesh of their flesh it is also soul of their soul; they do not even want that it should be. They want that it shall be itself, and to this end instead of bringing it up they leave it alone to grow up naturally. They believe in the freedom of the child as they believe in the freedom of adults; they believe in the importance of human beings growing up in freedom; they know that when childhood is not free it is difficult to become free in later years, that all manner of fears and phobias and prejudices are carried over — sex fears, and fears of God, guilt-fears — and that in spite of intellectual convictions it is not easy to root out these fears; they know that it is useless to give social, political, moral freedom to the person who inside himself is in chains. They want their children, therefore, to be free in the real sense — mentally, emotionally, spiritually free — free to accept the full, free life of their Utopian world. And they know that to ensure this they must begin at the beginning; that is to say from infancy.
In the day-nurseries and nursery-schools of our present world there would seem to be too much organising of the child’s activities — well-meaning adults organise games, singing, dancing, story-telling, discussion circles; toys are provided ready-made, and whilst all this makes the question of amusement and ‘what to do’ easy for the children it destroys initiative. Cicely Fraser, in a booklet entitled, First — the Infant f dealing with Britain’s war-time nurseries, makes the point that these nurseries are so well organised that ‘No child wanders aimlessly about the room, “looking for something to do”; for each one there is an occupation suited to his age or development’. But looking for something to do develops, as nothing else can, a child’s natural resourcefulness and enterprise. In Utopia the children are never given ready-made toys; they are provided with materials out of which they can make things. There is no point in giving a child a teddy-bear; what can you do with a teddy-bear except take it to bits to see what it is stuffed with — and the stuffing can be used for a number of creative purposes. The Utopians give their children clay and pieces of wood and drawing materials, and all manner of odds and ends, from which things can be created. They know that a child can do more with a couple of old boxes and a piece of sacking than with the most elaborate of toys. In Utopia, if a child demands of an adult ‘What shall I do?’ the adult says briefly, T’ve no idea’ — and leaves the child to its own resources, knowing that only in this way can initiative be developed.
In the day-schools and nursery-schools of Utopia, therefore, there is no organisation of the children’s play, but instead every facility for them to amuse themselves; there are constructive materials available, and sand-pits and swings and see-saws, and chutes to slide down, and a shallow pond in which to wade and on which to sail boats which they have made themselves. There are careful, watchful adults in the background to see that the children come to no harm and to deal with the minor acci- dents that invariably befall children in the course of their play, and to give guidance and assistance where it is sought — in such things as the proper handling of tools, the handling of a loom or a potter’s wheel or a sewing-machine, but they keep unobtrusively to the background. If the interiors of these Utopian nurseries and schools are not as ‘artistic’ and ‘pretty’ as in our own world, it is because the Utopians know that quaint nufsery friezes of animals and fairytale characters that seem so charming to the grown-ups are completely lost on the children. The Utopians know that colour has its own value for a child, and its nurseries are gay with bright paint on walls, woodwork, furniture, and rugs and curtains in the same bright, clear colours, but there is none of that art-and-crafty quaintness so beloved by the grown-ups of our world in nursery decoration and which takes no account of the things that really appeal to children. Perhaps the Utopian nurseries look rather bare and unattractive and untidy to our eyes, but they are designed and arranged for the use of children, not for the aesthetic pleasure and sentimentality of adults. There are no 4 artistic ’ touches of flowers or leaves in earthenware jugs; no ‘cultural’ touches in the shape of reproductions of ‘good’ pictures, no photographs of classic sculpture; all is as bare as a ship. There are no corners to harbour dirt; there are no fripperies that a child must be ‘careful’ with, but everything strong and for use — and rough usage at that.
These nurseries are always surrounded by spacious gardens, with trees for the children to climb, and stretches of grass for them to play on. There may be a border of flowers under a wall, and along the buildings themselves, but there are no flower-beds; flower-beds look nice, but they are a source of temptation to children, and the Utopians consider it better that the grounds shall be for the use of the children — places in which they may freely do things, not places in which they must be ‘careful’, and subjected to restrictions. Children do not want gardens to look at, but for use — to play in, to run wild in; therefore, though a well-kept flower garden surrounding a nursery would present a pleasing appearance to adults, the Utopians prefer the children’s pleasure to their own, and to this end leave the grounds surround- ing creches and schools wild, with uncut grass and tangled shrubberies — wild places in which children can discover ‘secret’ paths and dense ‘jungles’, happy, exciting wildernesses in which they can hide and hunt and live out the rich variety of their fantasy-worlds, untrammelled by any adult verboten.
Perhaps at this point it will be asked — as in Utopia there is no State to subsidise creches, clinics, day-nurseries, nursery- schools, isn’t the charge per child going to be heavier than in our society, to cover the upkeep of these fine places? The answer to which is that there is no charge for any of the social services in Utopia any more than for anything else! Why should education be free and a charge made for the use of clinics, creches, etc.? When the land and the means of production are the property of the people themselves they are able to take what they want for whatever purpose it is needed; there is no question of ‘over- head’ and ‘upkeep’. ‘But the people who run these places will need paying?’ No; people in Utopia do not work for money any more than they produce for profit. They work as their contribution to the society from which they take. This whole ques- tion of consumption and exchange in Utopia will be discussed fully later; here it is only necessary to emphasise that Utopia is essentially ‘ the land of the children ’, for it is recognised there that ‘childhood is the name of the world’s immediate future; of such, and such alone, is the promise of the kingdom of man’.
There is no religious teaching of any kind in any of the Utopian schools, and there are no Sunday schools. The Utopians firmly believe that religious belief is something which the individual must evolve for himself in his maturity if and when he feels the need for it. They believe that the healthy, happy child has no need of 'God' in any form ; he has his inward fantasy life of make- believe, and his outward life of creativeness, of doing, and is satisfied by these preoccupations. They believe that to attempt to give the child an idea of ‘ God ’ in any form is to implant guilt, and therefore fear, into the child. The child feels no need either of prayer or worship. There is a human need for 'God' , but the child’s simplicity knows no such need. The Utopians know that you cannot teach a child ‘ to love God ’ you can only teach it to fear God. They know that a young child does not really love anyone; he certainly cannot love ‘God’, whom he cannot conceive except as a vague and dreadful presence. Neill declared roundly, ‘Religion to a child simply means fear. . . . And to introduce fear into a child’s life is the worst of all crimes. For ever the child says Nay to life; for ever is he an inferior; for ever a coward.’ The Utopians do not believe in Original Sin. They believe that the child is born good — perfectly pure and good, and that there is no such thing as the bad child, but only the unhappy child. In those rare cases in which they find such manifestations of unhappiness they do not punish the ‘crime’, but seek to find out the cause, in order that the emotional malad- justment in the child may be righted.
It will be understood, therefore, that the Utopians do not recognise what we call ‘child delinquency’. If a child sets fire to a rick, or heaves a stone through a window, he is not hauled, as in our world, before a children’s court for judgment and punishment and the various methods of ‘ reform ’ that never do reform. If his parents, or whoever has the care of him, are unable to find out the cause of his anti-social conduct and, by finding it out, redirect his energies from destructive into normal constructive channels, the services of a trained psychologist are invoked, in the same way that if he were found to be suffering from some physical disability the services of a trained medical man would be invoked. The psychologist does not psycho- analyse the child; he does not adopt the clinical attitude; he comes to an understanding of the child by the simple process of being on the child’s side. It will be understood, therefore, that only people who really love children can qualify as child- psychologists; they must be people who are instinctively on the child’s side, who approve of the child, and are capable of conveying that approval to the child. In our present world there are plenty of people who declare that they ‘love’ children, and many of them practise as child-psychologists, and they are full of text- book knowledge and theories, but the only ones who really help children out of their maladjustments and into happiness are the ones the children themselves recognise as being on their side — there was the late Homer Lane and his Little Commonwealth; there is David Wills and ‘the Hawkspur Experiment ’ of the ‘Q,. Camps’; there is A. S. Neill and his free school. There are, perhaps, a few others, but they are very few, because in our present society the idea of discipline for its own sake, and the importance of adult authority, dies hard. In Utopia it died during the transition period; the generation that grew up in the ideal commonwealth, never having known anything but free- dom, physical and spiritual, accepted from the beginning the idea that the only discipline of any value is the natural discipline that life itself imposes, and that the only authority to whom allegiance is due is the authority of the community.
When the Utopians assert that they love children they do not mean it in the selfish, possessive way in which people commonly ‘love’ children in our world, forcing their own moral codes on them, exercising authority over them, demanding respect of them, and obedience, and at the same time expecting love from them. The Utopians make no such demands of children — above all they make no emotional demands, thus leaving the children free to give; loving children means, for them, leaving them alone, giving them freedom, believing in their natural goodness, accept- ing them on terms of equality, believing in ‘that of God’ in every child as in every man — and really believing in it, not merely saying that they do and then trying to mould the child to their own conception of goodness, and in the process turning the God in the child into a little devil. . . .
The Utopians are aware that the impressions formed in the early years of childhood are deep and lasting, determining the future development of various mental and emotional trends in the child. They know that the man or woman of tomorrow is deter- mined by the child of today; that ‘everything happens before the age of five’. Reading the history of the bad old days before the great change-over to Utopia they are horrified at the realisation that during the second world war thousands of children spent the first years of their lives in an atmosphere of death and destruction and terror — wakened from their sleep, night after night, year after year, by the sinister droning of ’planes, the thunder of guns, the dreadful crash of bombs, and, along with these horrors, the awareness of fear and anxiety in the adults about them, in their talk and in their actions, children born into and growing up in a world of fear and anxiety and terror. No children should have been born, say the Utopians, during those years of hell let loose, just as no children should be born into poverty and squalor, because it is important that a child’s earliest memories should be happy ones, should establish a foundation of happiness upon which to build a happy life.
The Utopian child grows up without fear, in a safe, secure world; trusting in this world, and believing in himself, with all the confidence of his fearlessness, he gives the Yea to life, in his work and in his play, through his healthy body and his fearless spirit. From happy childhood he grows up into a self-confident adult, worthy of his heritage of freedom, and possessed of the imagination and idealism for reaching out to yet more radiant horizons — that true progressiveness which is the realisation of Utopias.
V. UTOPIA AND ART
The consideration of what we mean by education leads on naturally to a consideration of what we mean by art, since outside of its utilitarian purpose of fitting human beings to take their place in society the function of education is, as has been indicated, the development of sensibility — what is generally called ‘ culture ’, though it is a bad word. It is a bad word because it is a thoroughly ambiguous word, a pretentious word, a charlatan of a word. No wonder Herbert Read echoes Eric Gill a$d cries ‘to hell with culture’. Read, in his little book under that title, asks ‘What is culture?’ and points out that the Greeks hadn’t a word for it. ‘They had good architects, good sculptors, good poets, just as they had good craftsmen and good statesmen. They knew that their way of life was a good way of life. . . . But it would never have occurred to them that they had a separate commodity, culture — something to be given a trade-mark by their academicians, something to be acquired by superior people with sufficient time and money, something to be exported to foreign countries along with figs and olives. It wasn’t even an invisible export; it was something natural if it existed at all — something of which they were unconscious. . . . It could not even be described as a by-product of their way of life; it was that way of life itself.’
‘Culture’ suggests something special and apart, outside of daily life; cultured tastes are carefully cultivated tastes, imposed from without, diligently acquired ; ‘ art ’ is something in a museum or gallery; we talk about Art with a capital A, and by a cultured person we understand a person with an appreciation of Art with a capital A. It is all false, artificial. Because art, as Eric Gill was never tired of pointing out, was simply something well made — from a fine painting to a piece of domestic pottery. Herbert Read reminds us that in the Middle Ages, ‘Its architects were foremen builders, its sculptors were masons, its illuminators and painters were clerks. They had no word for art in the sense of our “fine arts”; art was all that was pleasing to the sight; a cathedral, a candlestick, a chessman, a cheese-press’.
With the development of capitalism and industrialisation there arose an acquisitive class, people who, by their control of labour and raw materials and the means of production, could command beautiful things to be made exclusively for them, and the machine finally separated art — as the common thing beautifully made — from daily life. Art became beautiful things made specially for the privileged few who could afford them; the machine dispensed with the necessity for handicrafts ; the common things of daily life began to be mass-produced; the beautiful things became ‘art’, not for the common people; there arose the cult of art, the thing called ‘culture’. The peak of all this unnaturalness and decadence was the eighteen-nineties, and ‘ art for art’s sake’ exclusively — art utterly and finally divorced from common life; art as something esoteric.
In Utopia, where every man is a special kind of artist, over and above the utilitarian aspect, education brings out the artist in every man, develops his natural tastes. No one considers him uncultured — that is to say lacking in sensibility — if he fails to appreciate Shakespeare and Beethoven; it may well be that his sensibilities do not reach out to the past at all; he may be of those who do not want their poetry written down, who find it implicit in the rhythm of a bird’s wings, the movement of cloud- shadows over hills; music, for him, may be something he makes for himself from a hollow reed, or that comes idly into his head as he ploughs a field or works a lathe. It does not indicate a greater degree of sensibility to take music and poetry ready-made from the past.
In Utopia, what in our world we call art — music, painting, poetry, sculpture — is all part of life, not something apart in museums, galleries, concert-halls. That is not to say that there are no museums, galleries, concert-halls. Museums and galleries are useful in the way that libraries are, for reference, but the idea ‘ of a piece of sculpture being made or a picture painted merely in the hope of acquisition by a museum or gallery, the idea that there is any ‘honour’ in such acceptance, is alien to the Utopian conception. In Utopia good pictures and sculpture are put into museums and galleries only if no better purpose can be found for them; it is a matter for regret with the painter or sculptor. It is considered very much more satisfactory if the sculpture can be put to some good use in a garden or public park, or to ornament a building, public or private; and the painter would much rather have a wall to paint on than a canvas, because then his work has purpose, a direct relationship with life; similarly a composer of music would prefer to compose for an occasion — a pageant, a procession, a harvest-home celebration, or a May Day festivity, or some such merry-making. In Utopia it is re- garded as a much greater honour for a composition to be played or sung on some such occasion than rendered to an audience in a concert-hall. Utopia, in fact, vastly prefers the applied arts to the fine arts; the fine picture or sculpture or musical composi- tion purely as aesthetic experience, purely for entertainment, seems a little wasteful — but it is not doctrinaire or puritanical about it, as Eric Gill was. Gill considered that concert audiences were ‘like debauchees at a Roman feast,’ 1 and passionately protested against the divorce of music from occasion, music as an end in itself, purely for pleasure. It was all part of his abhorrence of the divorce of work from beauty and of beauty from usefulness, and in principle the Utopians are in agreement with this attitude, but they have no objection to ‘pleasure unalloyed’. Just as they might believe that rationally meat-eating is gross and unhealthy, a devouring of corpses, but that neverthe- less on occasion a roast chicken or a game pie is well worth the sacrifice of rationality and principle, so though they entirely agree that listening to music in a concert-hall is highly unnatural and purely sensuous, and not the best use to which it could be put, they go to concerts, or listen to them over the radio, with a natural and untroubled enjoyment. As far as possible concerts are given in the open air, which is considered pleasanter and healthier than in the stuffy atmosphere of a concert-hall. Some- times these concerts are given in clearings in woods, or on the lawns of public parks, sometimes in open-air theatres designed on the Roman plan. Ballets and plays are performed, similarly, in the open air, in preference to indoors, whenever possible.
The difference between art in Utopia and in our present world is to be found in the popular attitude to it. In our world it is taken for granted that art is something special and apart, for the picture gallery, the concert-hall, the theatre, the museum; our devotion to it is like the devotion of the orthodox religious people — a periodic visit to the temple must be made. Whereas in Utopia you can hear as good music in the market-place as at the concert- hall, see as good painting on a street wall as in a picture gallery; it is part of daily life, all the time. And as everything is well made, by master-craftsmen, people are used to beautiful things, so that beauty, too, is not something apart, related to something called ‘Art’, but it also is a part of daily life. The Utppians find it difficult to believe that there was ever a time when beautiful vases and statuettes and carvings, and such things, were locked up in cabinets, in private houses, merely to be looked at, that there were such things as objets (Tart, many of them not even beautiful, and with no value except that of antiquity — which is a value they do not understand except historically; obviously an ancient Roman carving has value — the value of historic interest — In Work and Property (Dent, 1937), the chapter on ‘The End of the Fine Arts’. even if it does not happen to be beautiful, but then its place is in museums, where it may be examined by students of Roman civilisation.
In Utopia art is at every street corner — beautiful architecture everywhere, decoratively designed fountains, statues (not, one need hardly say, of statesmen in frock-coats) by the finest sculptors, gay painted frescoes on houses. In the houses every table and chair, every rug, every kitchen pot, is a work of art. For the Utopians art is, quite simply, the thing well made. Its value is something decorative, something utilitarian. Sometimes, as in the case of a poem, a piece of music, a play, ballet, a story, it is purely for delight. The education of the Utopians has given them this understanding of ends and means. They know that, as a modern critic has expressed it , . . . Art is itself neither Use nor Beauty, any more than it is Goodness or Truth. It is the ordering of doing and making for use, and the ordering of expres- sion for delight. It arrives at Beauty incidentally, by pursuing use in the arts of use, significance in the arts of emotion’.
Accepting art in these terms the Utopians are in favour of introducing every manifestation of art as widely as possible, without self-consciousness, into daily life. Wherever it is possible to apply it to a utilitarian purpose — whether practical or decorative — they apply it; wherever it is possible to adapt it to occasion they adapt it; where it is purely for delight that, too, being freely available to all, becomes also a part of daily life. Good music, being widely played in public parks and in cafes, is to a large extent liberated from the concert-hall ; similarly, painting, being as far as possible mural, as much in the home as in the public building, is largely liberated from picture-galleries. On the purely sensuous side, music, painting, and dancing combine for delight in the ballet, and though music and singing are related as far as possible to occasion there is still the unnaturalness of opera for those who find pleasure in it. There is likewise poetry and literature and the drama, sometimes purely for delight, sometimes for the illumination of life — but never, and this is important to the Utopians, never degraded to the purpose of propaganda.
At this point it becomes important to make clear what is meant by 'propaganda’. Earlier in this book reference was made to the degradation of poetry, music, painting, in the U.S.S.R., by making it the handmaid of communist propaganda, and in Nazi Germany, painting, if not the other arts, was similarly degraded. Nazis and Communists alike wage war on what they decide is 'decadent’ art; by which they mean art which does not conform to or fit in with their particular political dialectic.
When the present writer was in Moscow in 1936 Chekhov was held in disrepute on the grounds that his plays offer no solution to the social problems they present. The idol was Gorki, who continually urged writers to use their art for the furtherance of the socialist State and expressed contempt for literature which, having no social significance, does not so serve the State. In the same year the Soviet composer, Shostakovich, was attacked by Pravda , and rebuked by the Society of Soviet Composers for ‘ non- Soviet tendencies ’ and for ‘ writing above the heads of the Soviet masses.’ 1 Of this Victor Seroff writes in his book on Shostakovich, 2 ‘Streams of letters were written to the Composers’ Unions, filled with vitriolic criticisms of Shostakovich’s work, and resolu- tions were published with the headlines, Down with Bourgeois Aesthetes and Formalists, Long Live Music for the Millions, and Down with Formalist Confusion in Art. The young composer was hurled down from the pedestal on which his opera, Lady Macbeth , had at first placed him, the opera was banned, and he was musically ostracised ’. Seroff comments, ‘It is interesting to note that no one expressed publicly the fact that Pravda' s editorials went far deeper than mere music criticism’. Shostakovich changed his style, became ‘powerful’ and ‘intelligible’ in his music, and made his come-back eighteen months later, eventually winning the Stalin prize for a piano quintet which Pravda described as ‘lyrically lucid, human and simple’.
Seroff writes, ‘Just as futurism and cubism and even impressionism in painting are not greatly favoured in the Soviet Union, so atonal music, or music full of mysticism, remains alien to the Soviet idea’. He quotes Shostakovich as saying of Scriabin, at one time a leading Russian composer, ‘Thus we regard Scriabin as our bitterest musical enemy. Why? Because Scriabin’s music tends to an unhealthy eroticism. Also to mysticism and passivity and escape from the realities of life’.
In Utopia there is no question of any artist being required to toe any line; the fact that there is no State to make any such direction obviates this, of course, but the whole spirit of Utopian society is opposed to any kind of dictatorship in principle, even if it were possible. The artist is free to say, through the medium of his art — whether it be painting, poetry, plays, music, literature, sculpture — whatever he feels impelled to say; he may feel impelled to express some comment on society, satirical or critical as he sees it; he may feel that he has some spiritual message to convey, some illumination to offer; he may be solely concerned with self-expression, the expression of something deep in himself, or the expression solely of his creative impulse. Whatever he is concerned with is entirely his affair. In our present society an artist sometimes feels impelled to indict certain evils of society through his art — and he writes a book or a play or paints a picture to that end. If he is a good artist the ‘propaganda’ — that is, the criticism he is making, the moral he is trying to point — is implicit in the work itself ; if he is an inferior artist the whole thing is clumsy and defeats its own ends, because people feel that it would all have been better done straightforwardly as a tract or a pamphlet. There is no reason at all why art should not be a criticism of or a comment on life ; but there is also no reason why it should be; the comment may or may not be a criticism, and the criticism may or may not constitute an indictment, may or may not point a moral. The important thing is that the artist shall be free; that he shall be free to interpret life as he sees it, as he feels it; to say what he has to say, express what he has to express; art is a thing well made, and a well-made play or poem or picture or story or piece of sculpture may or may not have something of social significance to say. The emphasis is on the social. The work of art is always significant in one way or another. It has meaning, that is to say; is not negligible.
In Utopia it is obvious that there is much less scope for social significance in art, since the social problems are disposed of; there is no unemployment (except the happy unemployment of desired leisure in which to enjoy life) , no poverty, no prostitution, no war, none of the things that artists in our present society feel called upon, on occasion, to indict. This does not mean, however, that there are no problems. Human relationships, for one thing, will always present problems — though the rational education and moral code of Utopia naturally minimises them. And no society is going to satisfy, completely, in all respects, every single member of it, which means that there will always be room for criticism. There are, in all probability, in the free stateless society some who sigh for the ‘good old days’ of centralised government — or for some other form of government, for anything but what exists. Any healthy society is stimulated by its discon- tents, and in Utopia the border-line between ‘discontent’ and ‘dreamer’ is very fine. As Wilde said, Utopia is a country in which, when humanity lands, there is always the vision of something beyond — always the horizon, and ‘progress is the realisation of Utopias’, the perpetual movement towards the horizon, which fades, forever and forever as we move. The discontents of Utopia are not malcontents but visionaries, the progressives of the community, dreaming beyond the happy present to an even more glorious future.
The work of the artist is necessarily coloured by the times in which he lives; a decadent society will produce decadent art, and a progressive, inspired society will produce inspired, progressive art. In the freedom of Utopia the artist has room to spread his wings. And he is freed from the economic problems which harass him, and so largely influence his work in our present society. The painter is not called upon to paint conventional portraits of boring people for the sake of earning a living; the writer is not required to prostitute his gifts to the vulgarity of cheap journalism and an uneducated popular demand. The artist, in whatever medium he works, has his integral place in society, along with the carpenter, the shoemaker, the ploughman, all of whom, it is recognised, are also artists in their different spheres. There is no longer a halo round the Fine Arts. Art, in Utopia, is simply the thing well made, whether it is a chair or a song, a painting or a pot, a poem or a cathedral. And the artist is completely free to express himself, according to his inspiration — to say, ‘without let or hindrance’, what he has to say, through his imagination, as in music, poetry, literature, or through his imagination plus the craftsmanship of his hands, as in painting, sculpture, pottery, wood-carving.
As to the Fine Arts, they are so integrated with the decorative and applied arts that to all intents and purposes they cease to exist. Painting and sculpture exist primarily in relation to architecture, and architecture, more than any of the arts, is the expression of the human spirit. The architecture of Utopia, therefore, is of noble proportions, because its spires are the spires of dreams; its arches lofty with ideals. Utopia is com- pletely free of the hideous architectural vulgarities which indus- trialism, with its money values — produced in the nineteenth century ; and of the shoddy mass-production monstrosities of the twentieth, ranging from pseudo-Tudor to what Osbert Lancaster has defined as ‘Twentieth- Century Functional’. All the smugness and complacency of the Victorian era is expressed in its architec- ture ; all the upsurge of the human spirit in the light of the New Learning emerges in the grace and beauty of the architecture of the Renaissance. All the falsity of the twentieth century is expressed in its pretentious villas, its barracks of flats, its stream- lined ‘modernity’. Morris, in 1900, declared that the world was uglier than it was fifty years ago ; today it is still uglier than it was fifty years ago. We pass from ugly to uglier, and the tendency is all to uglier still. Kropotkin made a similar complaint of the ugliness of his world, and pointed out, ‘When a Greek sculptor chiselled his marble he endeavoured to express the spirit and heart of the city. All its passions, all its traditions of glory, were to live again in the work. But today the united city has ceased to exist; there is no more communion of ideas. The town is a chance agglomeration of people who do not know one another, who have no common interest, save that of enriching themselves at the expense of one another. The fatherland does not exist. . . . What fatherland can the international banker and the rag-picker have in common? Only when cities, territories, nations, or groups of nations, will have renewed their harmonious life, will art be able to draw its inspiration from ideals held in common. Then will the architect conceive* the city’s monument which will no longer be a temple, a prison, or a fortress; then will the painter, the sculptor, the carver, the ornament-worker know where to put their canvasses, their statues, and their decorations; deriving their power of execution from the same vital source, and gloriously marching all together towards the future. But till then art can only vegetate.’
We cannot visualise the architecture of Utopia except in very general terms. We can be sure that it is free of excrescences, that it has grace and dignity, because the lives of the people have grace and dignity, just as our present architecture is vulgar and commercial because our lives are vulgar and commercial. We can be sure that it makes full use of the decorative arts, that it is harmonious in line, and in relation to its setting; that it is in all respects an expression of the harmony of the community, because its inspiration is drawn, as Kropotkin says, from ideals held in common. Today, when we have no common ideals, our architecture is a mere conglomeration of buildings thrown up according to indiscriminate notions of utility, impressiveness, economy, and completely without regard for any harmonious whole. Nothing else could be expected of a society devoid of harmony, a competitive society of each for himself and the devil take the hindmost.
It is impossible to see clearly, in detail, what Utopia looks like, physically, since it is impossible to predict how much will survive of the modem world to be carried over into Utopia. In a series of world-wars the glories of the Middle Ages and of the Renaissance can and do disappear over-night. We can but hope that some, at least, of the riches of the past will survive twentieth- century barbarism — that there will still be Oxford, minus its present slums; that there will be Chartres Cathedral, and St. Tropheme at Arles, and Venice, intact with St. Mark’s, and the Doges Palace, those visions in a dream, and some, at least, of the superb baroque architecture of Munich, Vienna, Salzburg, Wurzburg, and something left of the medieval enchantments of Nuremberg, Ghent, Bruges. All these things have their place in Utopia, along with the old houses of the savants along the quays of the lie St. Louis in Paris — the tall, old, yellow houses looking through the plane trees and the poplars that reach out over the river — and the old gabled houses along the Amsterdam canals. One can only hope that Rome will survive, the twin towers of the old yellow Trinita dei Monti continue to lift their beauty above the magnificent horse-shoe sweep of the steps that are flanked at one side by Shelley’s house, that flowers will continue to blow amongst the ruins of the palaces and temples on the Palatine Hill; that nothing will happen to the Duomo and Baptistery at Florence, or the little town of Fiesole, on the hillside above. So many pages from the past in Europe are worthy to be carried over into the Utopian world. The terraced and be-fotintained gardens of such places as Versailles, Tivoli, Frascati, would make happy playgrounds for the Utopians — indeed they are hardly likely to make fountains or gardens more beautiful.
Morris, in his Utopia, retained Oxford, as we have seen, and made it the task of his Utopians to restore England to what it was before it became industrialised. The ‘huge and foul work- shops’ surrounded by the slum dwellings of the workers were disposed of, ‘melted away into the general country’, and England became once more a green and pleasant land, ‘a garden, where nothing is wasted and nothing is spoilt, with the necessary dwellings, sheds, and workshops scattered up and down the country, all trim and neat and pretty’. When people have any sense of architectural power, Morris declared, as they have in freedom, they know that they can have what they want, and then, like the medievals, they like ‘everything trim and clean, and orderly and bright’. Beyond this Morris does not specify the architecture of his ‘Nowhere’. It was trim and pretty and neat; it K was enclosed by trees in a garden-like England; the reader must fill in the details from imagination stirred by this bare outline.
Sir Thomas More, on the other hand, seems to have seen his Utopia as clearly as though he had himself been there. He all but gives its latitude and longitude. His Utopia is an island, and there are fifty-four cities, including the capital, which is set upon a hill. The cities are all ‘large and well built’. The capital is walled, with many towers and forts, and surrounded by a moat on three sides and the river on the fourth. ‘The streets are very convenient for carriages, and are well sheltered from the winds. Their buildings are good, and are so uniform, that a whole side of a street looks like one house. The streets are twenty feet broad; there lie gardens behind all their houses; these are large but enclosed with buildings, that on all hands face the streets, so that every house has both a door to the street, and a back door to the garden’. All is 'well-ordered and finely kept’. The houses are three stories high, the fronts faced with stone, plastering or brick; the roofs are flat, and the windows glazed. Over the river there is a bridge of 'fair stone, consisting of many stately arches’.
That bridge of fair stone, with its many stately arches, conveys, perhaps, more than all the details of the architecture of the houses; it conveys the 'tone’, the whole architectural standard. You know that in the city where that bridge is to be found all will be dignified and gracious and fair. That should you find such a city outside of dreams you would have come to Walt Whitman’s city 'invincible to the attacks of the whole of the rest of the earth . . . the new city of Friends’.
In Utopia sculpture is as nearly as possible related to archi- tecture — what Gill calls a ‘natural flowering of the walls and pillars of buildings ’. He reminds us that the word decoration means that which is decorous, which is proper and seemly, just as ornament is that which is required to furnish something — in the way that candlesticks are the ornament, in this sense, of the altar. When sculpture is removed from the art schools and studios and museums and art galleries and becomes the natural flowering of architecture — ‘the product of the exuberance of workmen’- — the sculptor achieves his proper place in society, that of respon- sible workman, as responsible as the bricklayers, the stone- masons, the architects themselves, and his art, that is to say his work, is given its proper place, not something esoteric and apart but an integral part of a whole.
In the U.S.S.R. artists — that is to say writers, painters, musicians, sculptors, actors — are a privileged class, and it is as much a criticism of the U.S.S.R. that this should be so as it is a criticism of capitalist countries that whilst people called artists are regarded as special and apart, nevertheless they can be allowed to starve if they fail to* achieve a commercial success for themselves. And, as we have seen, artists in the U.S.S.R. are only a privileged and honoured class so long as they toe the government propaganda line. The artist has a better time of it in the capitalist countries, since at least he is free to express his own ideas in his own way. He may even succeed by stubbornly persisting in ideas commonly regarded as 'revolutionary’ — witness Jacob Epstein, whose works continue to shock the con- ventionally-minded, but whose celebrity increases with the years.
The Mexican painter, Diego Rivera, is a strong advocate of the integration of painting, sculpture, architecture. In his proposed innovations for the art-school curriculum there is, writes his biographer, Bertram D. Wolfe, ‘a steady insistence on the artist as workman in both the physical and the social senses, and a central role is assigned to the study of comparative styles and the history of art in terms of the social role of the various arts. Finally, there is a continuous integration of painting and sculpture with each other, and both of them with architecture’. The greater part of Diego’s own work is mural painting, and Wolfe observes, in this connection, If only for its own sake, art must enter once more the public arena. Too long has it abdicated its power to speak to man of his destiny. And today, when that destiny presents its riddle in “political” terms, art dare no longer proclaim itself indifferent and incapable. A Rockefeller buys a wall to smash it. A Hitler expels art from a land of culture because it cannot prove a Biedermeier grandparentage. Even the proletarian land, struggling forward amidst backward- ness and hostility, becomes contaminated with off-scourings of totalitarianism \
In Utopia this integration of painting, sculpture, architecture is continuously sought; the art of the studio is not despised, but the aim of the painter and the sculptor is always towards this integration, and failure to achieve it is a matter for regret. It cannot be over-emphasised that in Utopia the conception of the artist is that of the workman, the good craftsman ; the fine arts and the decorative arts merge, and all work well done is art, something made, the creative product of human skill.
In the previous chapter we discussed the use of the film in Utopia for educational purposes, and made some reference to its entertainment value, and we cannot close this discussion of art in Utopia without some consideration of the film as art. Let us make no mistake about it — the film’s potentiality as art is as great as its educational potentialities. Art being simply the thing well made, in Utopia the film is as much art as the noble piece of architecture, the finely woven cloth, the beautiful song or poem, the pleasing musical composition and its skilled rendering. The same basic principle of fine craftsmanship applies ; but the film is an integration of several arts — the craftsmanship of the story-writer, the producer, the photographer, the actors, the designers of the sets, and of many more people besides. And the Utopians apply the same criticism to a film as to a stage play, or a story, or a novel, or a painting, that is to say they demand that it shall have sincerity and truth, and that it shall, in one way or another, illuminate some aspect of life; whether it is realism or fantasy they demand these qualities of the finished production. In Utopia there is nothing approaching a film convention, they would greet with derisive laughter a. film heroine who went through a gale and emerged without a hair out of place; any distortion of history they would regard with contempt; and as to altering the climax of a book, a play, a story, for the sake of a happy ending, anything so absurd could not occur to them, so profound is their passion for truth — and even in Utopia not every real life story has a happy ending by any means, so complex is human nature, so irrational, in spite of everything, human emotions. This passion for truth disposes of the convention that film actresses must be beautiful and film actors handsome; nor is a love-interest considered essential to a film story.
The Utopians have a high regard for the artistic integrity of a number of films that came out of France up to the time of World War II — the satirical whimsies of the Rene Clairs before his ghost went west especially delight them — and for several German films of the pre-Hitler era. They are well aware that the remarkable imaginative German film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari y made film history in 1920 — that it was, as Paul Rotha wrote of it in 1930, 1 ‘Once and for all the first attempt at the expression of a creative mind in the new medium of cinematography’. It amazes the Utopians that the film did not go on from there, but as it developed technically, achieving sound and colour, degenerated artistically until it touched bottom in the Hollywood vulgarities of the ’thirties and ’forties. The Utopians have a great respect, also, for some of the early Russian films, outstandingly The Battleship Potemkin 9 made in 1925; they consider that, as the Stalinist era developed, the films of the U.S.S.R. became increasingly propagandist, and top-heavy with it. Their admiration for the English actor, Charles Chaplin, makes it a little difficult for them to remember that his films classify as American, and apart from his contribution they have little use for American films outside of a very few exceptions, notably The Grapes of Wrath. Nor, with the exception of one or two documentary films, Drifters (1924) and San Demetrio (1944), have they little interest in English Pre-Utopian films, There is no doubt in the minds of the Utopians that before World War II the finest films, in fact the only films of authentic artistic value, were coming from France. They do not claim in Utopia to have produced anything finer than Gens du Voyage , La Femme du Boulanger , La Grande Illusion , and the R6n 6 Clair satire, Le Dernier Milliardaire . But whether grave or gay, realistic or fan- tastic, their own films are all of this class. In Utopia it is all much easier, of course, to maintain a high standard, since there is no ‘box-office’ to watch and no ‘stars’ commanding huge salaries for the exploitation of their ‘sex-appeal’. The Utopians are not interested in ‘stars’, on either stage or screen; they know from experience that the brilliant amateur frequently outshines the slick professional, brings to the part a feeling, a sincerity, the professional shed years ago; they are aware that even in the Pre-Utopian era some of the more intelligent film producers occa- sionally had the inspiration to use ordinary people in place of professionals — there was a beautiful film of the South Seas, called Tabu , in which the cast were all natives, quite new to such work, and there was the Irish film, Man of Aran , which, similarly, used the natives of the place. There are, of course, professional actors and actresses in Utopia, people with a special gift and who make their acting a full-time job, but no special importance attaches to them; they are not more highly paid than anyone else, and no particular ‘glamour’ attaches to them, nor is there any particular demand for them; the demand, all the time, is for the right person for the part, and very often — such is the artistic integrity of the Utopians — it is found that some quite unknown and inexperienced person fits the role better than any of the professionals. In Utopia names mean nothing; the play’s the thing, and who can best interpret it.
Despite the high artistic level of the film in Utopia, however, the theatre is, on the whole, more popular, the flesh-and-blood actors being preferred to moving pictures of them. The Utopians regard the film as chiefly valuable for educational purposes, and for what, in our world, we call ‘documentaries’. The Utopians make very beautiful documentary films, showing various aspects of life in different countries, and the explanatory running com- mentary is intelligently written — free of facetiousness and wise- cracking and all such vulgarities — and delivered in a pleasant, natural voice.
The Utopians make the utmost use of the open-air theatre; they prefer to take their recreation as much as possible out-of- doors, which is another reason for preferring the theatre to the cinema. They regard the stuffy darkness of the cinema as one of its drawbacks. Every town and village has its open-air theatre, in the Roman style, as we have indicated, but with arrangements made for giving the performance under shelter in bad weather, and there are companies of ‘strolling players’ who travel from place to place giving performances in barns, village halls, market- places, public-squares — wherever is most convenient.
The Utopians, being well-educated in the real sense, are very catholic in their tastes; they like all kinds of plays; they like Greek tragedies, they like Shakespeare, they like the tragedies and comedies of their own times. But whatever is given, by whomever it is given, it is art; that is to say the thing well-made, well- written, well-produced, well-acted. Any number of their plays, both stage and screen, are light in texture, designed only to amuse, but they are never false or shoddy; even the lightest trifle has truth at its heart, a conception of spiritual values, and is touched with beauty and an implicit poetry.
There is not much attendance at cinemas in the summer months; the Utopians prefer to be in the open air. In some parts of Utopia the cinemas close down during the summer, but if, after a consensus of opinion has been taken, an agreed minimum of people want them open, they must stay open for an agreed number of hours per week, because it is a basic principle of Utopia that people must have what they want — so long as it is not anti- social — not what other people consider good for them. The Utopians, not prepared to have laws dictated to them, are certainly not going to have their pleasures dictated to them ; nor is it any part of the Utopian scheme that everyone shall like the same things;' they know that human nature is complex and varied, highly individual; and there is no question of imposing ideas from above, whether in the matter of education, art, or the employment of leisure.
But leisure in Utopia is a subject In itself, and a highly important one.
VI. WORK AND LEISURE IN UTOPIA
Just as the consideration of what we mean by education leads on naturally to consideration of what we mean by art and culture, so from that point we must go on to ask ourselves what we mean by work, since we are agreed that art is simply craftsmanship, the thing well made, and every good craftsman, every good workman, is therefore an artist. We have seen, too, that some manifestations of art — such as the film, the theatre, dancing, music, poetry, literature — apart from being the contribution to society of the artists concerned, from being, that is to say, part of the world’s work, are also part of the world’s pleasure. Now, in Utopia, clearly, pleasure falls into two distinct categories; there is what Morris calls ‘work-pleasure’, the pleasure human beings derive from creative activity; and there is the pleasure in which human beings relax and enjoy the creative activity of others — such as in watching a film or a stage-play, or listening to music, or reading literature or poetry; or in non-creative activity such as dancing, rowing, riding, swimming, walking, climbing, all the sports and games pleasures. H. J. Massingham, in his Tree of Life , contends that, rationally, work and leisure should be different phases of a single activity, and leisure ‘never an escapist device for forgetting work’; he believes that ‘a split between work and play means a split personality and a neurotic or neuropathic tendency in the people’. This idea is strongly supported by Eric Gill and other Catholic writers. The Rerum Novarum itself warns against the Leisure State. ‘The Leisure State’, writes Harold Robbins, severely, in his book, The Sun of Justice , x ‘is un-Catholic and unreasonable. Too much and too constant work brutalises a man. Too much and too constant leisure dissipates and degrades him.’ He goes on to speak of time ‘frittered away in conventional posturing or frivolous or degrading pleasures’.
If by ‘ degrading pleasures ’ he means blood-sports or whoring he need have no fear of these things in the ideal commonwealth; the Utopians are far too intelligent; their sense of values prohibits them from the exploitation either of animals or of other human beings for their pleasure. As there is no hate in them to be worked out of their systems it is not their idea of fun to go out and kill something, and their rational attitude to sex rules out prostitution. Why do so many teachers and preachers and would-be reformers invariably assume that the masses, given freedom, have no ideas for the employment of their leisure except dissipations and brutalities? If much leisure does indeed dissipate and degrade, then clearly the system of education is at fault. But in the ideal commonwealth this is not so. People know how to put their leisure to good use — the truly recreative use, that is to say, for the re-creation of their energies, the refreshment of their minds and spirits. Even when work is a pleasure, when it is creative, and can be called, as Morris calls it, work-pleasure, human beings need leisure in which to enjoy other pleasures.
The writer of an article on ‘A Leisured Civilisation’, in The Times Literary Supplement of September 18th, 1943, puts it admir- ably: ‘This is what we have to learn, that even though our work be delightful there are other delights, and that it is necessary, in a new and newly-leisured civilisation, to cultivate them. Leisure is, or should be, a corrective to extreme specialisation, enabling men to know themselves and enrich their individualities. ... A leisured civilisation, knowing how to use its leisure, is, and always has been, the true and natural product of a machine age. What must come is a vast distribution of leisure at the expense of the machines.’
There are, says this admirably liberal-minded writer, two good uses of leisure — ‘ the first is to pursue an activity that pleases you . . . the second is to be idle ’. Many essayists on the pretty subject of idleness, he says, have confused it with the pursuit of a pleasant activity, such as fishing, reading, or playing patience; but idleness is another matter; it is not occupied with anything, nor is it of its essence that it should be. He disputes the old adage that Satan finds mischief for idle hands to do, ‘ the truth being ’, says he, ‘that idleness is an opportunity of the spirit, an opening of windows to its outgoing and incoming’. He speaks of it, also, as ‘ an awareness of the spirit ’ and ‘ one of the arts of life ’ ; he insists that it is creative, ‘a liberating meditation, a humane means of self-healing and self-knowledge’.
Bernard Shaw makes a similar distinction between leisure and rest, between idleness, that is, and activity. ‘Labour’, he says, 1 ‘is doing what we must; leisure is doing what we like; rest is doing nothing whilst our bodies and minds recover from their fatigue.’ He points out that doing what we like is often as laborious as doing what we must. That kicking a ball up and down a field for fun is harder work than many kinds of necessary labour. This, of course, is true; but in Utopia people enjoy doing what they must do. Every physically fit person makes some contribution to society, and does it gladly because it As some- thing in which he or she is interested; the dull and unpleasant tasks are shared out, so that no section of the community does them all the time, and such tasks are enormously minimised by the simplification of wants, and by the strongly-developed social sense of the people. Production is lower than in a competitive society, and a great many goods at present machine-produced — under the necessity of mass-production — are made by hand, thus releasing people from the slavery of the machine. Machinery is used as little as possible, and only in the service of man, not for his exploitation for the piling up of profits, as in our society; it is not allowed to robotise men and women.
In Morris’s ‘Nowhere’ when certain work was found by experi- ence to be too disagreeable or troublesome it was given up, and what it produced was done without. The rule was that ‘ all work which it would be irksome to do by hand is done by immensely improved machinery; and in all work which it is a pleasure to do by hand machinery is done without... and as we are not driven to make a vast quantity of useless things we have time and re- sources enough to consider our pleasure in making them’. Machine after machine was dropped in the course of years, be- cause the machine could not produce works of art, and these, things made by hand, were more and more called for.
Harold Robbins is of the opinion that all industrial machinery should go. It is a far-reaching statement. For one thing we need machinery that will get the coal out of the mines for us instead of human labour. The need is for de-industrialisation as far as possible; then we shall get the machine as Wilde visualised it, the servant of society, saving people from the dull, mechanical, unpleasant jobs.
Some of the unpleasant jobs of our present society are abolished by the Utopian way of life. They have, for example, no sewage system as we understand it, a wasteful system, which pours out into the sea what should, by every natural law, be returned to the soil. This highly important subject we will discuss fully later when we come to consider Utopia in relation to the land; mention here is relevant, however, as an example of how a rational way of living can both remove certain unpleasant tasks and benefit society at the same time.
Perhaps you will protest at this point, ‘But granted that the Utopians have a scientific attitude regarding sewage and the soil, an appreciation of the Cycle of Nature, and so on, there still have to be latrines, and there is thus still the necessity to employ people for the unpleasant task of keeping them clean’. The reply to which is that the work of keeping latrines sanitary is only made unpleasant by lack of common decency on the part of some who use them. But the Utopians are not lacking in this sense; they do not have to be requested to leave public conveniences in the condition in which they would wish to find them. . . .
‘Lavatory attendant’ is not a full-time occupation in Utopia.
Not because it is unpleasant but because it is boring and un- creative. It is one of the jobs, like machine-minding, which no one person does often or for long.
The workshops of Utopia bear no resemblance to the huge factories of our world. They are small and personal ; that monster of mechanisation, the travelling belt, is unknown in them. There is no question of workers making the same movement thousands of times a day and never, for all their slavery, seeing the finished job. Different tasks are allotted the workers in the Utopian work- shop, but they see the thing they are working on grow before their eyes; it is personal to them; their individual work is integrated with the whole, like that of the men who work at separate tasks in .the building of a ship, a bridge, a house. Where it is possible for one person to complete a job this is considered the ideal arrangement, but obviously it is not always practical ; the worker who makes the wooden part of an easy chair or couch, for instance, is not necessarily able to weave the cloth or make the springs for its upholstering ; the man or woman with a gift for tailoring may be no good at making the cloth, and so on. The person who can produce the finished article, from the spinning of the wool to the last button sewn on the completed garment, is obviously a greater artist than the person who can only weave or only tailor or only make the buttons, and most of the Utopians can, in fact, do more than one thing — though, clearly, the fact that the good tailor or weaver may also be a good carpenter or shoemaker does not help him or her — for there are no sex distinctions in Utopia — to produce the finished article. However, each gives according to his ability and receives according to his needs, in accordance with the basic principles, and everyone is satisfied.
Perhaps you will demand, at this point, ‘But what about the irresponsible, the non-co-operative person — the person who refuses to give according to his ability; is he still allowed to take according to his needs, or is there some method of forcing him to co-operate?’
It is an old question — a favourite question of those who assert that the principle of mutual aid applied to human society is not practicable. Alexander Berkman answered it years ago, and his answer cannot be bettered. He considered that the Bolsheviks in the early days of the revolution made a mistake in attempting to establish the principle that whoso shall not work neither shall he eat. He pointed out that it had proved impractical in application and was both unjust and harmful. ‘It was impractical’, he explained, ‘because it required an army of officials to keep tab on the people who worked or didn’t work. It led to incrimination and recrimination, and endless disputes about official decisions.
So that within a short time the number of those who didn’t work was doubled and even trebled by the effort to force people to work and to guard against their dodging or doing bad work. It was the system of compulsory labour which soon proved such a failure that the Bolsheviki were compelled to give it up. Moreover, the system caused even greater evils in other directions. Its injustice lay in the fact that you cannot break into a person’s heart or mind and decide what peculiar physical or mental condition makes it temporarily impossible for him to work. Consider further the precedent you establish by introducing a false principle and thereby rousing the opposition of those who feel it wrong and oppressive and therefore refuse co-operation. A rational community will find it more practical and beneficial to treat all alike, whether one happens to work at the time or not rather than create more non-workers to watch those already on hand, or to build prisons for their punishment and support. For if you refuse to feed a man for whatever cause, you drive him to theft and other crimes — and thus you yourself create the necessity for courts, lawyers, judges, jails and warders, the upkeep of whom is far more burdensome than to feed the offenders. And, these you have to feed anyhow, even if you put them in prison.’
‘The revolutionary community’, he concludes, ‘will depend more on awakening the social consciousness and solidarity of its delinquents than on punishment. It will rely on the example set by its working members, and it will be right in doing so. For the natural attitude of the industrious man to the shirker is such that the latter will find the social atmosphere so unpleasant that he will prefer to work and enjoy the respect and goodwill of his fellows rather than to be despised in idleness .’
It is probable that in the transition from the old order to the new order of the ideal commonwealth there will be people who so lack social sense that they will take advantage of the situation to evade their share of the common responsibility, just as children who have hitherto known only orthodox schools when transferred to the atmosphere of a free school, where there is no compulsion and no punishment, take pleasure in throwing stones at the win- dows and staying away from lessons. After a time, the novelty of freedom wears off, and when they realise that there really is no compulsion and there really are no punishments it ceases to be exciting to throw stones and refuse lessons, and their natural creativeness asserts itself; throwing stones and idling is non- creative and a bore. No one can be completely idle for ever; it becomes too insufferably boring. There is also, as Berkman points out, the uncomfortable feeling of being despised by their fellow- men — despised and resented. Sooner or later they must inevitably discover something which it gives them pleasure to^do, and which is at the same time useful to society — something which wins them the respect of their fellows.
There are no hard and fast rules about hours of work in Utopia. An arrangement is reached through common consent when it is a matter of collective activity ; and when it is a matter of the individual craftsman he is best left to work as he feels inclined. Good heavens, perhaps you will exclaim, that means he will do practically nothing! That is not true. There is such a thing as being interested in the job. People only find any excuse not to work when the work is tedious to them. In Utopia that question doesn’t arise, since everyone works at the thing they are interested in, except for those short spells, planned according to rota, at dull or unpleasant but necessary jobs. Anyone refusing to take his or her share in such work would not be compelled, but the anger and contempt of their fellows would be much more unpleasant to anyone of any sensibility than the tasks themselves. But if any were so thick-skinned that he remained indifferent to this, or preferred it to the uncongenial duty, the community would merely shrug and accept him as a cross they have to bear... The generation that grows up in Utopia is not likely to produce such ‘problem citizens’.
Bellamy, in his Utopia, makes it clear that work is not to be considered the main business of existence. He makes one of his Utopians explain... The labour we have to render as our part in securing for the nation the means of a comfortable physical existence, is by no means regarded as the most important, the most interesting, or the most dignified of our powers. We look upon it as a necessary duty to be discharged before we can fully devote ourselves to the higher exercise of our faculties, the in- tellectual and spiritual employment and pursuits which alone mean life. Everything possible is, indeed, done by the just distri- bution of burdens, and by all manner of special attractions and incentives to relieve our labour of irksomeness, and, except in a comparative sense, it is not usually irksome, and is often inspiring. But it is not our labour, but the higher and larger activities which the performance of our task will leave us free to enter upon, that are considered the main business of existence’.
The main business of existence, as Bellamy saw it, was the achievement of leisure whilst still young enough to put it to good use. And by good use he understood scientific, literary, or scholarly interests; travel, social relaxation with good friends, ‘the cultivation of all manner of personal idiosyncrasies and special tastes, and the pursuit of every imaginable form of recrea- tion’. His workers, retired from their national service at forty-five, were to have, in fact, ‘time for the leisurely and unperturbed appreciation of the good things of the world which they have helped to create’. The reward of their years of labour, in fact, is life-
The flaw in this scheme is that Bellamy has his Utopians devote their youth to the service of the nation, instead of to what he acknowledges to be the main business of existence. It would seem a pity to have to wait till forty-five before acquiring ‘ elbow room’ for full, rich living. Youth is the time when such things as travel, friendships, and spiritual and intellectual adventures are the most enriching. In the present writer’s view it would seem better to so minimise work from the beginning that it interferes hardly at all with the business — the busy-ness — of living. However creative and pleasurable and interesting the task on hand, what normally constituted person wants to work on a soft, warm, May morning when the air is full of the scent of blossoms and the song of birds, ‘and the river calls, and the sea calls, and oh, the call of the sky!’ It is positively sacrilege to devote such a day to doing anything but being alive, savouring the vast luxury of living. It is a day to down tools, leave the bench, the typewriter, the easel, the loom, whatever one is doing, and go out into the open and give oneself up to the simple animal pleasures of the five senses. Shall we not smell the lilacs with the dew upon them, hear the thrush and blackbird and cuckoo, see the bluebells like heaven laid out under the trees, feel the new-springing grass ‘soft as the breast of doves, and shivering sweet to the touch ’, taste the sweetness of the clover’s honey distilled in tiny drops upon the tongue, and the sour-sweet of the red sorrel crushed between the teeth . . . who would be so dead of soul as to wish to work, be it ever so pleasurably, on such a morning in the sweet month of May?
As to employing leisure ‘frivolously’, what is wrong with being frivolous on occasion? And what more suitable occasion than our leisure hours? Oh, these moralists, these improvers, with their mania for regimenting men and women in work and play alike! When will they realise that what the world wants — and badly — is not more employment but bigger and better ww-employment? That it is beneficial both to the soul and body of man to take time off in which to lay activity aside and merely stand and stare?
There is no virtue in work for its own sake. Only our false conception of morality makes work a virtue and laziness a sin. What more natural than to be ‘averse to labour’? To make the wheels of society go round certain things must be done; food must be produced, clothes made, houses built; all these are essential tasks; in a rational society co-operative effort reduces each person’s share of these essential tasks to the minimum, so that all may have the maximum of time and energy for the enjoyment of the real business of life — which is its enjoyment.
James Hilton makes a Tibetan in his novel, Lost Horizon , query the word ‘slacker’ carelessly used by an Englishman; the English- man explains that it is a slang word meaning a lazy fellow, a good-for-nothing; to which the Tibetan replies, thoughtfully, ‘It is significant that the English regard slackness as a vice. We, on the other hand, should vastly prefer it to tension. Is there not too much tension in the world at present, and might it not be better if more people were slackers?’
John Cowper Powys makes the same point: The ordinary man . . . wants, in fact, not more work but more leisure; not proletarian art but human art, not puritanical levelling down but individualistic levelling-up.’ He asserts with commendable vigour — ‘ . . . there is no aristocratic mania for solitude and silence and for being “alone with Nature”, and for preferring a horse or a dog rather than a human being as companion; no mania for growing flowers, or tending a rock-garden, or a green- house; no mania for fishing, or hunting, or botanizing, or photographing, or boating, or sailing; no mania for just “loafing and inviting our soul and observing a spear of grass”, that we common men couldn’t cultivate and be absolutely absorbed in, if only our money went a little further, if only our working-hours were a good deal shorter!’
In Utopia, where everybody works, nobody works long hours; there is simply no need. The work gets done. Also, by eliminating competition fewer things have to be produced. Think of the wasted labour in our present society — the hundreds of different brands of soap, cigarettes, toothpaste — and each claiming to be the best, and little, if anything, to choose between any of them! This does not mean that everything in Utopia is standardised; there is plenty of variety, but no duplication; some people like their toothbrushes to have white handles, others like them coloured;' some like Turkish cigarettes, others prefer Virginian; some women like their powders scented, others like them plain; and all women want a variety of shades and textures in the silk stockings in their wardrobes. If all commodities were standardised life would become very grey and dreary indeed.
The stern moralists, no doubt, are shocked to find that the women of Utopia are addicted to such frivolities as cosmetics and fine silk stockings; some are probably equally shocked to find that the Utopians smoke and drink; others have, no doubt, been shocked by the suggestion that there are human problems in Utopia. But Utopia is nothing if not an earthly Paradise of human beings. It is true that their education and environment combine to produce in them qualities of rationality and co-operativeness unknown amongst the mass of people in our present society; their whole way of life is based on this principle of mutual aid and brotherly love; but they remain human — they fall in love, they suffer, they know the pangs of jealousy; they do not always act as wisely as they think , because intellect is one thing and emotion another. And so they are not always wise, and not always happy, and often they are frivolous, and Utopia is altogether a place where there is
‘Wine and music still,
And statues, and a bright-eyed love,
And foolish thoughts of good and ill.’
Whether the Utopians in their leisure call for madder music, redder wine, or whether they loaf and invite the soul to observe a spear of grass, is entirely their own affair — the affair of each individual. Away with the moralists and their conformity — beginning with that disciplinarian Plato! This is Utopia; we will wear our hats on the sides of our heads, or, if we’ve a mind to, none at all; we will drink wine under hedges and make love under hay- stacks ; we will stride over the hills singing ribald songs ; or lie on our backs in a meadow chewing a grass, merely looking up at the sky and thinking nothing at all — for why should the mind be always cluttered up with thought? And no one is going to per- suade us that we should be happier, or even as happy, making a pot or a chair or a sonnet or anything else, however beautifully, when the sun shines and we have the mood and the leisure for idling the long lovely day away — not ‘ wasting time ’ but using it for the supreme purpose of life, which is to live .
Let us make no bones about it — there is very little work done in Utopia in the good weather. The bread must be baked, the cows milked, the hens fed, it is true, but when such essentials are attended to the Utopians, being sensible people, give themselves up to enjoyment; their worship of the sun is part of their zest for living. Tomorrow it may rain or blow, but today the sun shines and is therefore a natural holiday. There are no bank holidays in Utopia, for the very good reason that there are no banks. There are banks of violets and primroses and wild thyme, but no unnatural banks of brick and stone and money. There are no State holidays because there is no State. No religious holidays because there is no orthodox Church. (There are churches, for those who want them, but that is another matter.) No institution known as the annual holiday because clearly the idea of one or two weeks out of the year set aside for holiday is ridiculous. People need all the holday they can get, and any sunny day is a high day and a holiday, a festival of joyous idleness.
‘If everyone just downs tools when they think they will — just because it happens to be a fine day — doesn’t that make for every kind of confusion and disorder? Supposing because it is a fine day you decide to knock off work yourself and go and visit a friend or relative some distance away — if the engine-driver of the train that would take you there also decides to take a holiday, it means you can’t go.’
Precisely. What of it? What about it? Why should any man stand in front of a fiery furnace driving an engine along a steel track when the meadows invite him with soft grasses and cool airs?
‘But you might have an important business appointment to keep?’
‘In Utopia on a fine day? Nonsense.’
‘You would make life impossible!’
‘On the contrary, my friend, I would make it possible! I would make it possible for everyone to enjoy life. To live in the real sense — really to livel You would give them only bread, with your orderliness, your regulations, your regimentation; I would give them roses and a sweet disorder, roses and wine, roses and wine and music ... for this, my friend, is Utopia. And Utopia is this, or it is nothing ! ’
Having established the importance of leisure we can devote some attention to the various ways in which the Utopians employ it — since clearly they do not all spend all their time drinking wine under hedges or making love under haystacks or lying on their backs mindlessly contemplating the sky.
Plutarch tells us that in Sparta under Lycurgus the people had a cheap and easy way of supplying their few wants, and that ‘when they were not engaged in war, their time was taken up with dancing, feasting, hunting, or meeting to exercise, or con- verse’. In our modern Utopia war is ruled out, so that when the people are not making their contribution to society in the form of some useful work, done for no other reason than that they want to do it, they have ample leisure for the real business of living — which is to live. What constitutes the real business of living, of course, varies with the individual. Sir Thomas More’s Utopians considered that the true happiness of life consisted in improve- ment of their minds, and all unnecessary labour was eliminated in order to afford plenty of time for this purpose. Similarly the Utopians of the ‘City of the Sun* worked only about four hours a day, and spent the remaining hours ‘in learning joyously, in debating, in reading, ‘reciting, in writing, in walking, in exercising the mind and body, and with play’.
In our Utopia, as has already been indicated, every town has its open-air theatre, and there are cinemas and concert-halls, and public parks. The gardens and parklands of the big houses and palaces of the pre-Utopian era are now the pleasure-grounds of the whole community. Nowhere in Utopia is there that abominable thing, a board announcing that ‘Trespassers will be Prose- cuted’. The generation that has grown up in Utopia can hardly believe that there was a time when private individuals actually owned not merely acres of woods and moorlands, but mountains, ranges of hills, great lakes, and whole towns and villages.
The mansions and palaces of the old order are converted to various purposes : some are museums, some are schools, some are holiday homes, some are hostels where people on walking tours — a very popular form of recreation in Utopia — may put up for the night. Some of the big old houses have been adapted to house several families, each with their own apartments; others, again, house communities. Where swimming pools were found in the gardens of the houses taken over these were adapted for public use. The open-air swimming pool and the open-air dancing place are as popular in Utopia as the open-air theatre and concert. These swimming and dancing places are in grounds laid out with lawns and trees and flower-beds ; there are cafes and kiosks and little shops, and facilities for sun-bathing; they are places at which whole days may be pleasantly passed in a healthy activity or a no less healthy idleness. At the swimming pools the Utopians sun-bathe and swim with little on or nothing according to indi- vidual preference. There is no self-conscious cult of nudism; the Utopians are much too well educated — in the real sense — to be upset by the sight of anyone of either sex naked and unashamed, but some people have a natural reticence, and others have an aesthetic dislike of nudity except, perhaps, in the young and beautiful ; there is no segregation of those who wish to be naked when swimming and sun-bathing. That would seem prudish to the Utopians. And of course there is no segregation of the sexes, naked or clothed. The standard of physical fitness in Utopia being very high, owing to the healthiness of their lives and their knowledge of dietetics, there is little objection to nudity on aesthetic grounds.
At the dancing places there is dancing of all kinds. After the transition period the decadent dancing of the old order died out, the Utopians finding no pleasure in shuffling about locked in intimate embrace with complete strangers. They well understand why a character in one of the novels of a pre- Utopian era writer called Aldous Huxley called the dancing of his times ‘the imitative copulative article. The Utopians are interested in the folk dances of the different nations; they are also interested in dancing as an interpretation of music, or an idea; and they are interested in it purely as eurhythmies. They have revived from the ‘olden 5 days of pre-Utopian England the pleasant village habit of dancing round the maypole; they cannot understand why so pleasant a festivity was allowed to die out. They like, too, to dance in barns and farm-kitchens at their harvest-home celebrations — another festivity revived from the old days, and they like to dance round bonfires on May Eve and Midsummer’s Eve, in the old English way, and to perform torch-dances round bonfires in the old French way. They are aware of the religious and pagan origins of these ancient customs which, they have revived, but have no preju- dices against them on that score; St. John’s Eve, and the First Sunday in Lent, have no significance for them, but they have historical interest for those interested in the barbaric history of the pre-Utopian world.
They like to dance as much as possible in the open air, in a setting of trees and lawns and flowers, when they are not dancing round maypoles, or in barns or farm-kitchens, in the streets, or at some fair held in a public square or market-place. Of the more modern dances of the old world they have retained the waltz — as originally danced in Vienna — and the tango, also in its original form. They enjoy, also, watching dancing, and take great pleasure in the ballet, in which the arts of dancing, painting, music, are integrated in a satisfying whole. They have retained some of the classical ballets from the old world, and are all the time creating new ones expressive of their own world.
As a result of their education, which has brought out the creativeness in each man and woman, the Utopians do not depend upon ready-made amusements. They use the radio, television, gramophones, but they do not depend on these things, any more than they depend on the cinema, the theatre, the concert, though they enjoy going occasionally to all three. They like to make their own music — most people acquire proficiency in at least one musical instrument, if it is only a reed pipe. Where the young people of our world take gramophones with them when they go on river excursions, or run out into the country in their cars, the Utopian young people take their guitars, and then lie under trees, or drift idly down-stream, and sing whilst the musician of the party plays. At home there is always someone who can play the piano, and usually someone who can play the violin or ’cello. The harpsichord has been intro- duced into Utopia — that lovely instrument which our present world neglects so strangely. In our world when anyone in a gathering of people says, ‘Let’s have some music!’ it means ‘Let’s put on a gramophone record’, or turn on the radio; in Utopia it means let us make some music.
In his discussion of the machine as a modem evil, in his book, Do What Ton Will , Aldous Huxley points out that ‘the machine is dangerous because it is not only a labour-saver, but also a creation-saver’, and that ‘leisure has now been almost as completely mechanised as labour. Men’, he adds, ‘no longer amuse themselves, creatively, but sit and are passively amused by mechanical devices... Men find it easier to let themselves be passively amused than go out and create... Passivity and subservience to machinery blunt the desire and diminish the power to create’. And with this subservience to the machine, to the ready-made, this frustration and final atrophy of the creative impulse, comes a lowering of tastes and values. It is so easy to turn on the radio and take what comes; so easy to ‘go to the pictures’ and sit back and submit. The film and radio devotees are indifferent to the rubbish to which they half- listen and which they half-watch; it bores them, but they reach a stage of ennui, of inertia, at which they ‘can’t be bothered’; it’s all so easy, so fatally easy, so effortless, and this effortlessness works in them insidiously, a slow poison, destroying that vital inner core of creativeness which is the source of happiness — of satisfaction . There is a great deal of pleasure in our present world, but very little happiness, and our society is so corrupted by the artificialities of mechanisation that it confuses pleasure — good times, amusements — with happiness.
The Utopians are not given to such confusion. They are not concerned with ‘good times’, but with satisfactions, and that mechanisation, whilst it may usefully serve in various directions, cannot provide those satisfactions in which human happiness is rooted. Whilst, therefore, they do not altogether ignore the mechanical pleasures their world has to offer, in general they like better to dance and sing and make their own music, and enjoy the natural pleasures of the open air, such as riding, swimming, walking, climbing, sailing, or drifting lazily in punts. They have never allowed the natural creative impulse to become deadened in them.
From these few indications it will be seen that there is in Utopia every facility for the use of leisure in a variety of ways, some of them what in our world we should call ‘cultural', some of them athletic, and when the mood is for neither the strenuous nor the cultural it is not considered a waste of time to indulge in a blessed idleness — which is, on the contrary, deemed as re-creative as any of the active pleasures.
There are in the U.S.S.R. large public parks known as Parks of Rest and Culture. In the Moscow park there is a tall tower from which those so-minded may take a parachute drop ; whether this constitutes rest or culture is not defined; it is hardly culture — but on the other hand is it to be classified as rest? In Utopia all the most beautiful parks and pleasure gardens of the world are freely available to all, and a great many have been specially planned, so that as many tastes as possible are catered for within the same enclosure — sun-bathing, dancing, swimming, boating, secluded walks for lovers, comfortable garden-chairs under trees for those who wish to read or talk with a friend or merely dream; and swings and roundabouts and sand-pits for the children — at some distance from the secluded walks and the quiet trees. And everywhere fountains and rose-gardens and flower-beds and lily-pools and arbours and summer-houses and gay statues, and all that makes a park or garden a pleasance in the real sense. There are no keep-off-the-grass, pick-no-flowers, drop- no-litter notices. No horrid little moral texts nailed to trees in the hope of making people tidy. Their strongly developed social sense prevents the majority of Utopians from being 'litter- fiends’. But if anyone is careless or forgetful there is no penalty, no rebuke; the keepers of the gardens remove anything un- sightly as automatically as the gardeners pull the weeds; and if a child picks a flower, or a whole bunch of flowers, there is no one to scold; there are plenty more. Generally speaking these lapses from good social conduct do not occur — most of the problems of freedom occur only in the fears of those whose conception of freedom is shadowed by a disciplinarian habit of thought. An objectionable feature of the Parks of Rest and Culture in the Russian 'Utopia’ which could not possibly occur anywhere in the Utopia under review, is the erecting of effigies of people who have in some way transgressed — com- mitted the sin of getting drunk or of being late to work or failing to maintain a certain standard of output at work — with their name and address and particulars of their 'crimes’ on placards attached to the effigies. The Utopians consider this moral censure very offensive. They cannot understand why the people of that pre-Utopian Russian ' demi-Paradise ’ did not tear down such examples of ill-manners. In their ideal commonwealth it is not a crime to get drunk or be late to work or do less work than another. Their conception of crime and their handling of it we will discuss later.
Here, in this consideration of work and leisure in Utopia, it remains only to, add that the Utopians believe, firmly, in the importance of balancing brain and manual work; they regard it as important to the general balance of life. If a man has spent a number of working hours at a desk, whether composing poetry or adding up figures, he does well, they maintain, to change the occupation of his working hours from time to time, and devote himself to landwork — farming or gardening — or to carpentry or some other manual labour. Similarly, they main- tain that manual labour needs balancing with some form of mental work, because manual work, when it is not directly creative — and a great deal of it is not — done continuously has a deadening effect on the mind. It might be argued that the manual worker can stimulate his mind with mental activity during his leisure hours, but the Utopians would consider such an arrangement unjust; when a man has done several hours of hard manual labour he wants, in his leisure hours, as often as not, to do nothing at all; his physical fatigue leaves him unfitted for mental effort — such as playing chess, reading poetry, or working out a crossword puzzle. And similarly the brain- worker, after several hours of mental effort, is too mentally tired, in many instances, to do anything but sit quietly and relax in his leisure hours. There is, obviously, manual work which involves considerable mental attention, and mental work which involves a certain amount of physical effort — in painting, for example, hand and brain are equally involved, and in such cases the need for changes of occupation is not so great; but where there is not this natural co-ordination of mental and physical it is highly important to devote some portion of the week’s working time to the satisfaction of whatever aspect of the creative impulse has been denied. No one, man or woman, the Utopians consider, should be a purely manual or a purely brain worker. The poet needs to balance his mental preoccupa- tions with digging in the earth; the man who has spent hours turning sods with a spade needs to balance his earthiness by going indoors and sitting down and reading a poem. Lest the poet become a sterile intellectual, and the manual worker turn into a clod.
As the Utopians see it, the essence of the art of living lies in the preservation of this delicate balance of hand and brain, flesh and spirit, both in the things we do because we — morally — must, the things we call our work, our contribution to society in return for what we take from it, and the things we do for no other reason than that we want to, the things to which we devote our leisure hours, and in which we express ourselves no less than in our dedicated moments of creativeness. Our moments of idleness are not less sanctified. We waste time only as we find no satisfaction in the thing we do. In Utopia no one wastes time, not in spite of so much leisure, but because of it.
Plutarch tells us that ‘ One of the greatest privileges that Lycurgus procured for his countrymen was the enjoyment of leisure, the consequence of his forbidding them to exercise any mechanic trade. ... To this purpose we have a story of a Lacedaemonian, who, happening to be at Athens while the court sat, was informed of a man who was fined for idleness; and when the poor fellow was returning home in great dejection, attended by his condoling friends, he desired the company to show him the person that was condemned for keeping up his dignity. So much beneath them they reckoned all attention to mechanics, arts, and all desire of riches!’
VII. CONSUMPTION AND EXCHANGE IN UTOPIA
Any suggestion of the abolition of money always rouses such a storm of ridicule that it would seem as well to remind the scornful reader at the outset that there is nothing new in the idea. Aristophanes had it in 414 b.c. when he wrote his The Birds. In the Cloud-Cuckoo-Borough of that birds’ Utopia, Euelpides explains to Hoopoe, ‘Money is out of the question; we don’t use it.’ Plutarch tells us that in Sparta under Lycurgus money was banished. Sir Thomas More had the no-money idea in the sixteenth century, Gerrard Winstanley in the seventeenth, and William Morris and Edward Bellamy in the nineteenth.
More wrote of his Utopians that ‘the use as well as the desire of money being extinguished, much anxiety and great occasions of mischief is cut off with it’. He refers to them ‘living in common, without the use of money’. He believed that the abolition of money would abolish crime as well as poverty, and pointed out, ‘Men’s fears, solicitudes, cares, labours, and watchings, would all perish in the same moment with the value of money; even poverty itself, for the relief of which money seems most necessary, would fall ... so easy a thing would it be to supply all the necessities of life, if that blessed thing called money which is pretended to be invented for procuring them, was not, really the only thing that obstructed their being procured ! ’
In his Utopia More had every city divided into four, with a market-place in the middle of each where the goods produced were sorted and distributed to the appropriate store-houses, ‘and thither every father goes and takes whatsoever he or his family stand in need of, without either paying for it, or leaving anything in exchange’. There is no reason for giving a denial to any person, since there is such plenty of everything among them; and there is no danger of a man’s asking for more than he needs; they have no inducements to do this, since they are sure that they shall always be supplied. It is the fear of want that makes any of the whole race of animals either greedy or ravenous; but besides fear, there is in man a pride that makes him fancy it a particular glory to excel others in pomp or excess. But by the laws of the Utopians there is no room for this, and as they all ‘content themselves with fewer things, there is great abundance of all things amongst them \
Winstanley regarded trading, buying and selling, as the real fall of the human race, not ‘the righteous law of creation’, but ‘the law of the conqueror’. He wanted ‘this cheating device of buying and selling cast out ‘among the rubbish of kingly powers. In his Utopia people were to work according to their ability and take — from the common storehouses — according to their need. He lacked the good Sir Thomas’s faith in human nature, however, for there was to be, as we have seen earlier, first reprimand and then punishment for those who gave too little and took too much. People were to be free to produce in their own homes or in public workshops, which were also training centres for boys who did not wish to follow their father’s trade, ‘or that of any other master’. There were to be two kinds of storehouses, those for raw products, such as corn, wool, etc., and those for manufactured articles. Anyone attempting to buy or sell was to be subjected to severe punishment. To sell land, or the produce of it, was to be punishable with death. Merely calling the land one’s own was punishable with twelve months of forced labour, and the guilty was to have his words branded on his forehead ! No one was to hire labour, or let himself out for labour on hire: ‘Whoever requires assistance may avail himself of the services of young people, or such as are specified by the labour overseers as “servants”. Anyone infringing this rule will have to undergo twelve months’ forced labour.’ Gold and silver were not to be coined, but might be worked up for domestic utensils — dishes, cups, etc. Money could be used in transactions with other countries which insisted on payment in that form. Winstanley regarded money as the ‘cause of ail wars and oppressions’.
The people of the City of the Sun had little use for money or commerce ; they refused to take money for goods they exported, preferring to take in exchange ‘those things of which they are in need’. They sometimes bought with money, and the young people were amused at the number of things received in exchange for small sums of money, but the old men were not amused, being ‘unwilling that the State should be corrupted by the vicious customs of slaves and foreigners’.
Two hundred years later Bellamy wrote in his Looking Backward, ‘Money was essential when production was in many private hands, and buying and selling was necessary to secure what one wanted. It was, however, open to the obvious objection of substituting for food, clothing, and other things, a merely conventional representative of them. The confusion of mind which this favoured, between goods and their representative, led the way to the credit system and its prodigious illusions. Already accustomed to accept money for commodities, the people next accepted promises of money, and ceased to look at all behind the representative for the thing represented. Money was a sign of real commodities, but credit was but the sign of a sign/ Under such a system, he pointed out, periodic crises were inevitable. In his Utopia there were 'no national, State, county or municipal debts, or payments on their account . . . no revenue service, no swarm of tax assessors and collectors’, and by this disuse of money 'the thousand occupations connected with financial operations of all sorts, whereby an army of men was formerly taken away from useful employments’, were saved.
William Morris, in his News from Nowhere , shows the free distribution of goods in market-place and shop, makes one of his Utopians observe that ‘as there is no buying or selling, it would be mere insanity to make goods on the chance of their being wanted. ... So that whatever is made is good, and thoroughly fit for its purpose’, and left it at that, as though it were something too simple, and from the Utopian point of view too obvious, to merit discussion.
To the Utopians it is obvious that money is a sham; that the only real wealth is the land and what it, directly or indirectly, produces. It seems to the younger ones, who have grown up in the ideal commonwealth, droll that there was ever a time when wealth was thought of in terms of money, and that money was not silver or gold but mere paper, and that in a world of plenty people starved and went homeless and in rags because they had not sufficient of these pieces of paper to procure the necessities of life.
‘Were the people all mad?’ they demand, and it is difficult for them to grasp that what seems to them a tremendous game of make-believe was taken seriously as ‘the economic system’. The older Utopians remember the passing of the money system during the transitional period of change-over from the old order to the new. First of all food was distributed free, and when people got used to this innovation and ceased to think it extraordinary, more and more things — both goods and services — were gradually made available without the exchange of money. All travel was made free, and of course all education and medical services, and then more and more goods, after food, clothes, and so on, till the people got used to doing without money, and there ceased to be any use for it at all.
1 A writer in The Times (January 18th, 1937) referred to Sir Robert Peel’s famous, ‘What is a pound?’ and observed that he ‘would have had great difficulty in defining our pouhd at the present time, except as “a visionary abstraction” for it has no material existence*.
R6n£ Clair, years ago, in his satiric film, Le Dernier Milliardaire, showed how high finance consisted of buying something that didn’t exist with something you hadn’t got ... In that film, it may be remembered, a patron at a cafe paid for his drinks with a hen, and received a couple of eggs in exchange, the money system of the country having ceased to operate.
But barter, it should be emphasised, was never at any time the Utopian solution to the problem of consumption and exchange. Barter they regarded as absurd as money, for how ire the values of things to be assessed? The matter cannot be setter summed up than by Mr. Robert Mennell in an address lelivered in 1933. He said, ‘“But,” people say, “money is lecessary as a medium of exchange, a common denominator. We cannot barter, so we must have a common equivalent.” Think of any two things, the contents of a glass of water and :he contents of the Bible, for instance. What is the common denominator in cash? How many pieces of pastry equal a piece of poetry? What is the common denominator between a tiorse and a house, between clothes and clocks, between a bunch Df narcissus and a Nazi uniform? It is absolute moonshine. There is no sense in it at all, and yet we all accept the idea without question. The truth is that at a certain moment, in a :ertain place, to a certain person a certain thing has a certain value. For example, to a naked, starving, penniless and homeless man clothing, food, and shelter are of infinite value. But that value can only be expressed in terms of the things themselves, not in terms of another thing called money, which, so far as the man is concerned, does not exist’.
Money values cannot be other than false. If all the diamonds mined were released on to the market they would be of no more value than glass beads; their price is only kept up by giving them a false scarcity value. Why should pearls be any more costly than blackberries? They are both natural products, and the native who dives for them in shark-infested waters lives and dies in poverty in spite of the great sums secured for them by the white man to whom he trades them; the native himself thinks nothing of them; he knows that actually they are nothing — grit in an oyster’s shell, surrounded by the oyster’s protective mucous secretion. A mink coat costs anything from two hundred pounds upwards; it can cost a thousand pounds or more, and what is it? A number of animal skins sewn together — and who is it, and what is it, that determines that the skin of this small, wild, evil-smelling animal is so much more valuable than the skins of rabbits and squirrels? At the moment of writing a small bunch of violets costs five shillings, and this is also the price of a meal, but a restaurant proprietor, even if he wished to have a bunch of violets to give his wife, would not give you a meal if you took him the violets. And who is it and what is it that determines that a meal and a bunch of violets are each ‘worth’ five shillings? As Mr. Mennell observes, it is all moonshine, a mere fiction, the most fantastic make- believe.
And it is a make-believe to which the Utopians do not subscribe. They have no use in their sane society for mad-house economics. The abundance of the earth is theirs, and the fulness thereof. It amazes and bewilders them that people in the pre- Utopian era did not see a fact so palpably clear as that money, far from bringing producer and consumer together, keeps them apart. In our present society it takes a world-war — with all its horrors — to find employment for everyone. In peace-time homeless human beings slept out in the open, in cities full of fine buildings full of empty rooms; they starved whilst foods for which there was no sale went bad in shops and stores; they went in rags whilst clothes deteriorated in the shops, went ‘shop-rotten’. These people starved and were homeless and went in rags not because there was not enough food or clothing or shelter to go round, but simply because they had no tokens to exchange for these things, and they lacked these tokens because they lacked work.
At this point those who cannot visualise a society in which there is no money system and no barter get very angry and demand, ‘Are people to plunder when they lack money for the necessities of life? Aren’t you confusing the issues? The problem of unemployment has nothing to do with the money system; it is a question of supply and demand, of production and markets’. . . .
‘The question of markets.’ The world’s perpetual preoccupation — as though the business of living were not preoccupation enough! Abolish money and you abolish this ‘question of markets’, which is only another way of saying this question of profits. When there is no money system there cannot be any exploitation of labour and raw materials for private profit, and instead of being ‘everywhere in chains’ Man is set free to take his part in production for the common good. Then, as Morris says, only the goods which are really needed are produced; there ceases to be any need for mass-production and competitiveness, and Man is released from the domination of the machine and is free to make it what it should be — his servant. When nothing is for sale money obviously ceases to have any use. And in Utopia nothing is for sale, neither goods nor labour.
Certainly at this point comes the demand, both horrified and incredulous, ‘Do you mean that we are expected to believe in a community in which people work for nothing?’
But what would be the point of working for money if money will not buy anything?
And who is to assess the value of a man’s work? And how is it to be assessed? In our present society the miner, engaged in work which is dangerous, unpleasant, and of vital value to the community, gets on an average £5 a week and less; an exiled European boy-king gets £2,000 a month. The inequalities in payment for work are blatant and grotesque. In war-time men go to sea, with the risk of being torpedoed or bombed or meeting a mine, for £12 a month, whilst members of parliament draw £600 a year — four times as much as the men who risk their lives. Fifty shillings a week was until recently considered an adequate wage for the agricultural worker — most vital of all productive workers. A shorthand typist is paid £3 a week and upwards; a hospital nurse 25 s. It doesn’t make sense. The truth being, as Kropotkin pointed out, ‘Services to society cannot be valued in money. There can be no exact measure of value (of what has been wrongly termed exchange value) nor of use value, in terms of production.’ He takes the case of mine workers, and asks who is to be considered the most valuable worker — the colliers who hew the coal, or the engineer without whom they would dig for it in the wrong places. The one worker is as valuable as the other; there can be no real assessment of respective values. No law can apply save the rational one of ‘from each according to his ability; to each according to his needs’, which we have already postulated as a basic principle of an Utopian society.
‘But if everybody can get what they want for nothing obviously no one will do any work!’
If nobody did any work then there would be nothing for anyone — no food or clothes or houses or furniture, and humanity would die out. But humanity is not like that. It has the will to live. The one great basic right is the right to live — and that is a right which our present society, with its slumps and depressions and unemployment problems, denies. We talk about the right to work; Utopia insists on ths right to live. The difference is fundamental.
We have already seen that in Utopia the stress is not on bigger and better employment, but on bigger and better un- employment — that is to say leisure. 2 The abolition of the money system makes this possible. In our present society any folly and waste will be excused on the grounds that ‘it all makes work’. In Utopia they are not concerned to make work, but to make leisure. And in their work everything they make or produce is for use, not profit. But, as we have seen, there is no question of applying the harsh principle of ‘whoso will not work neither let him eat’. Jesus, it may be remembered, did not so insist, but urged that we should consider the lilies of the field, that toil not, neither do they spin, yet Solomon in all his glory was not so arrayed. . . .
In our present society people work in order to live; in Utopia they work because complete idleness is intolerably boring, and because of the creative need in everyone, and because people will do with pleasure voluntarily what is tedious to do under compulsion, whether the compulsion be authoritarian or economic. In Utopia there is no compulsion of any kind; people work because it is a natural human activity.
You do not believe this? You believe that if you could have everything you wanted without lifting a finger you would not work? That you would take everything from society and give nothing in return? ‘No, no , 5 you probably protest, ‘of course not; I personally wouldn’t — without a job of some sort I should be bored to death, apart from the sense of moral responsibility, not wanting to be a parasite. . . . But look at the parasites in our present society ! Remove the economic necessity to work, and instead of a privileged minority of idle rich you will have the idle masses, and an exploited minority who have a social conscience and feel themselves under a moral compulsion to work.
Let us take this very common argument point by point. In the first place why should you assume — so conceitedly! — that you are different — that whereas you would work without any economic necessity to do so others wouldn’t? Why should you assume that because you would be ‘bored to death without work of some sort, other people wouldn’t be, but would enjoy complete idleness indefinitely? We have discussed the recreative value of idleness, but it obviously only has that recreative value when it is a change from its antithesis — occupation. We are agreed that in a leisured civilisation idleness is an ‘opportunity of the spirit’, an enrichment, but the spirit devoted to idleness exclusively would lose the capacity for enrichment, for lack of creative outlet. Out of the deeps of an insufferable ennui would come the cry:
‘What pleasure have we of our changeless bliss?'
The pleasure of idleness exists only by contrast with occupa- tion. It is a great joy to down tools and abandon oneself to the simple animal pleasures of the five senses on a fine May morning — the joy of truancy and of change, such as the always idle person cannot know. It is true that in our present society there are completely idle people who pass their days eating, sleeping, gossiping, and in idle amusement, but you have only to look at their faces to realise the utter boredom and emptiness of their days, filling in the time between one meal and the next; most of them drink heavily — what else is there to do? How else can the tedium of the empty idle hours be overcome? Their lives are utterly lacking in satisfaction.
It is probable that in the transitional period from the old order to the new there might be a good deal of idleness, from the sheer novelty of the absence of necessity to work. But that such a state of affairs would last is highly unlikely. The novelty would wear off in time, and the creative impulse assert itself. When people are free to work at what they like, at what they enjoy, work ceases to be a drudgery, and becomes a source of satisfaction; when people may have all the leisure they feel inclined for, saturation point is soon reached.
The present writer is in entire agreement with Robert Mennell, when he says, ‘I do not share the common fear of slackers. Let them slack, loaf about, play games, loll by the fire till they are sick of so doing. Let them go travelling until they are fit or fcd-up and come back, as they will, begging to be allowed to settle down and take a hand with the rest as respected and self- respecting citizens’. He makes an interesting point when he asserts, ‘As for an expected large increase in “drunks”, under my system, “pubs” will cease to exist when no money can be made out of them and when the drinker has to be his own brewer. Cocktail-bars and night-clubs will soon lose their charm when the revellers have to do the serving and cleaning- up themselves. When cash has disappeared a whole new technique of revelling will be discovered’.
There is no reason, however, why there should not be pleasant inns and cafes in Utopia where people can sociably enjoy good ales and wines in company with their fellows. There are plenty of people who would enjoy running such places — in our present society how often does one hear people say, eagerly, ‘I’d love to run a pub!’
But it is true, as Mr. Mennell says, that when money is abolished there will be a whole new technique of ‘revelling’. People will begin to discover what they really want, what they really enjoy, and no one class of people will be exploited — to provide entertainment for the rest. If a girl chooses to dance in a midnight- to-dawn cabaret it will be because she enjoys that kind of life, not because with her particular abilities it is the only way she knows to make a living.
Similarly, in Utopia there can be no question of ‘servants’ pandering to a parasite class, as at present. People live in big houses today, when they are able to do so, because of their social position. The big house represents power, wealth, superior social status. In Utopia none of these things apply. Because there is no money there is no such thing as power. If a man takes a bigger house than he needs, and a couple of cars, and his wife has several fur coats, all it indicates is that these people have been greedy — and stupid. But when no social position has to be established there is no point in possessing more than is needed, and the Utopians, once out of the transitional period in which everything is a novelty, and people are perhaps greedy because they cannot grasp that everything they want is freely theirs, so that there is no need to grab, realise this. When a woman can have six fur coats if she wants them there seems no point in having more than one at a time. And what is the point in having two cars to keep clean when one fine, efficient one adequately serves? When possessions cease to have any cash value they cease to represent power and position, cease to have significance, so that there is simply no point in acquiring more of anything than is needful ; an excess of possessions merely becomes an embarrassment and a nuisance, and makes the owner look ridiculous, like a man wearing a thick overcoat in midsummer. Parasites flourish in our present society, because the social structure encourages their existence, its whole basis being the exploitation of the many by the few, for private profit. In Utopia the completely parasitic existence is impossible, since no one contributes to it. Anyone lacking a social sense can take freely from the common stores without doing a stroke of work, and none will gainsay him, but he is regarded by his fellows with a mixture of pity and contempt, and he receives no co-operation from them in his parasitism; since there are no servants to command — he must cook his own un-worked-for meals, stoke up his own central heating, and if he wants a luxury yacht he must be prepared to be his own cabin-boy and captain too. There is no ‘kick’ — of power and position — to be had out of a parasitic existence in Utopia, and no one in Utopia endures it long; it is boring enough in our present society, but in a society in which excessive possessions and complete idleness are discreditable there is nothing to be gained in submitting to the boredom involved. With the abolition of money new values are evolved — a beautiful home, for example, reflects not the owner’s financial and social status, but his taste; a thing is assessed not for its cash-value but for its usefulness or beauty. There is no question of not working at a certain trade or profession because ‘there’s no money in it’; people work at the things which interest them, and for which they have ability. The values of the stock-exchange, the box-office, the market- place, cease to exist . . . those values which are so sordid and degraded that the Utopians marvel that they could have been tolerated for so many centuries. They agree with Winstanley that ‘when mankind began to buy and sell, then he did fall from his innocency’.
Let us, then, sum up the Utopian situation in this important matter of production and consumption. Production is organised in syndicates controlled by the workers in each industry. There is no private ownership of the land, raw materials, or the means of production. Thus, as Alexander Berkman puts it , ‘Your watch is your own, but the watch factory belongs to the people’, and ‘land, machinery, and all other public utilities will be collective property, neither to be bought nor sold. . . . The organisation of the coal miners, for example, will be in charge of the coal mines, not as owners but as the operating agency. Similarly will the railroad brotherhoods run the railroads, and so on. Collective possession, co-operatively managed in the interests of the community, will take the place of personal ownership privately conducted for profit. . . . Exchange will be free. The coal miners, for instance, will deliver the coal they mined to the public coal yards, for the use of the community. In their turn the miners will receive from the community’s warehouses the machinery, tools, and the other commodities they need. That means free exchange without the medium of money and without profit, on the basis of requirement and the supply on hand’. There is no question, it must be realised, of bartering a sack of coal for a sack of flour. The coal miners produce the coal and the farmers the flour for the common good, and each takes from the common store what he wants to enable him to produce, and what he wants to enable him to live and to enjoy life.
‘But coal-mining is unpleasant and dangerous work,’ it may be objected, ‘who is going to do it if there is no economic necessity to do such work and no other form of compulsion? In a society in which there is no necessity to do any work at all, who, even amongst the people prepared to work, is going to do such work as that?’
The answer to that may be taken from our own society — even when other work is available there are still men who choose to go down the mines. What work is more dangerous and unpleasant and, incidentally, worse paid, than going to fight in a war? Yet men freely volunteer for such work, freely risk their lives and face unspeakable horrors. Why? Because of a sense of duty to their country; because of a conscience which insists that this is something they ‘ought’ to do; because they believe it is ‘right’ to do it — and some, perhaps, attracted by the mere fact that it is dangerous.
In Utopia men are not called upon to risk their lives and take other men’s lives in war; they are not asked to undertake anything more dangerous or unpleasant than coal-mining, and this they do for the same reasons that men go to war — as a job that has to be done . . . until such time as the community learns, by engineering enterprise, to manage without coal. And this is one of the objectives of Utopian engineers and scientists. Far less coal is needed in Utopia, of course, thanks to the general de-industrialisation, plus the fact that there is no great com- petitive export trade to sustain, and water-power, for the production of electricity, is highly developed. Utopian engineers hope and believe that it is only a matter of time before they devise a means of getting such coal as is needed by machine, without having to send men underground for it.
In the meantime, whilst a certain amount of coal is needed, there are always volunteers for the mines. These volunteers work only a few hours at a time underground, and are the heroes of the community. A man is proud to acknowledge that he has worked in the mines, and his relatives regard him much in the way that in our own society we regard men who have won the V.C. It is an honour to have a miner in the family. The finest poet, musician, painter, is not more highly regarded. It is, of course, unthinkable in Utopia that a man should devote his life, or even a great part of his life, to such work, and, if he only puts in six months at it in a life-time the community is grateful to him, and honours him. That both his working and his living conditions are as good as they can possibly be made goes without saying. If nobody was prepared to get the coal the Utopians would go without; there is no economic coercion of one exploited section of the community; the Utopian com- munity is a whole, and it is entirely up to them as a whole whether they have coal or not; they know this, and there is no lack of volunteers, because in any community there is no lack of unselfish and heroic human beings — since this is so in our own society it could hardly fail to be so in Utopia, where all work is for the common good.
The coal is got and the corn is raised, and often it happens that one man in his time plays many parts in the stirring and continuous drama of the world’s work. No work that people do voluntarily can be soul-killing and lacking in interest. What is soul-killing is work done purely for money — either out of economic necessity, or from motives of greed — 'and from lack of opportunity to do anything else — none of which conditions can apply in Utopia.
If and when, for any reason, there is a shortage of any commodity, then the syndicate responsible organises a rationing system as our present society does in time of war and scarcity.
There is no buying and selling. Everything — food, houses, clothes, entertainment, public services, transport, books, furniture, education — is completely free. There is no barter. No compulsion to work. No wages.
‘Won’t it make everything very complicated?’
On the contrary, it simplifies everything. Nothing could be more complicated than finance — the stock exchange, the banking system, the credit system, and the labyrinth of accountancy.
Robert Mennell, himself a business-man, declares, ‘More than half the worry and effort of any business is connected with the cash and price problems, buying and selling, costing, charging, checking and collecting the money. The choice and assembling of the most suitable materials and personnel, the calculating of weights and measures, strains and stresses, these would be simplified out of recognition if price considerations could be eliminated. ... If cash considerations were eliminated, countless thousands of men and women now engaged on money calculations would be set free for useful work for the public good or for the cultivating and beautifying of their own minds and bodies as well as their own houses and gardens ’. He adds that ‘As a result of this release of man-power, production under scientific planning, and with mechanical devices being used to their full capacity, would so vastly exceed our power of consumption that the time available for living as distinct from earning a livelihood, would soon transform the world’.
In Utopia there is no question of earning a living. Living is not something which should have to be earned; the basic right of all existence is the right to live . To this, in a truly civilised society, should be added the right to live abundantly , l But only in a moneyless society is man freed from the necessity — and degradation — of having to earn his living.
The people who insist that a moneyless society is impractic- able merely assert their lack of faith in humanity. They refuse to believe in the perfectability of man — despite the anthropologists. It is precisely because the mass of people lack faith and vision that the idea of Utopia is relegated to the realm of impossible idealism. The mass of people everywhere are obsessed with the idea of money as with the idea of government, and the fantastic make-believe of this obsession removes them so far from reality that they forget that everything — every single thing they eat and drink and wear — the materials of the houses and furniture, every tool, every machine — has no other source than the earth itself.
Money is not wealth. Money produces nothing. When there is a famine money is useless; its falsity is then revealed; it ceases to have reality as wealth. The only real wealth is the land.
VIII. UTOPIA AND THE LAND
We have established that there is no private ownership in Utopia — other than in the matter of minor personal possessions; a man, as we have seen, may own a watch, but not the factory in which it was made — and no buying or selling. It therefore follows that the land is communally owned and worked for the common good.
This means, in practice, collective farming, as in the U.S.S.R., and as in Catalonia under the anarcho-syndicalist regime during the Civil War, but it cannot be over-emphasised that whereas the Russian Revolution coerced the peasants — with disastrous results in the early years — in Utopia, as in Catalonia in 1936-8, communal working and ownership is by free association, because it is recognised that only free do men give of their best. This means that anyone wishing to work a small-holding for himself and his family is free to do so — but he is not allowed more land than will support himself and his family and than he can work himself — though such people are in a minority because it has been shown that, generally speaking, better results are obtained collectively, and with less labour.
The collectives are, in effect, village communes which adjust their local affairs in their own way, but which are unified in the national agricultural federation of syndicates. The function of the national federation is research, the administration of agricultural colleges, contact with the factories manufacturing agricultural implements and turning the raw materials supplied by the farms — cereals, fruit, sugar-beet, etc. — into foods for distribution through the common store-houses. Everything is simply and sensibly organised into regional and national federa- tions, with delegates elected from the various groups. The delegates and officials appointed hold office for short periods only, and are not singled out for any special privileges, so that there is no danger of a bureaucracy of a privileged class arising, and power remains evenly, because collectively, in the hands of the workers. There is, in short, no administration from the top; everything works from the bottom up.
We have seen how in Utopia the tendency has been all towards de-industrialisation, with all that that involves of making the machine the servant of man, instead of, as at present, his master. This de-industrialisation breaks up the industrial population and redistributes it throughout the land, so that the congested industrial areas are disposed of, and the country becomes again, in Morris’s words, ‘a garden, where nothing is wasted and nothing is spoilt’. He has his Utopian spokesman describe the change-over thus — ‘People flocked into the country villages, and, so to say, flung themselves upon the freed land like a wild beast upon his prey’. He admits, ‘Of course, this invasion of the country was awkward to deal with, and would have created much misery if the folk had still been under the bondage of class monopoly. But as it was, things soon righted themselves. People found out what they were fit for, and gave up attempting to push themselves into occupations in which they needs must Tail. The town invaded the country; but the invaders, like the warlike invaders of early days, yielded to the influence of their surroundings, and became country people; and in their turn, as they became more numerous than the townsmen, influenced them also; so that the difference between town and country grew less and less’. Men made mistakes and recovered from them. Re- adjustment to the new economic order and way of living was slow and difficult, ‘but slowly as the recovery came, it did come’, because the people had freedom, and faith, and a common ideal.
Since the Utopians, as we have seen, produce for use, not profit, industrially they do not have to produce anything like the vast quantity and variety of goods of a capitalist society, and they are thus left free to develop the production of the land to the extent of making every country self-supporting. They have discovered that associated labour yields the maximum of production with the minimum of effort — that, for example, two hundred families communally working a thousand acres is better, economically and agriculturally, than the same two hundred families each struggling to subsist on a five-acre plot. The land is drained, irrigated, fertilised, by this communal effort, to an extent quite impossible by dividing it up into small-holdings. Scientifically and collectively farmed, it produces the wheat for bread, the green crops and fodder for the cattle which supply milk, butter, meat, all the fruit and vegetables needed, and still has room to spare for poultry, and for the cultivation of flowers. Whilst the time and labour saved by the communal efForUcontribute to that- leisure for recreation and cultural pursuits so highly valued by the Utopians.
The rational cultivation of the land, as the Utopians under- stand it, is not merely the communal working of it for the common good, and an appreciation of the machine in the service of the maximum of production — consistent with avoidance of over- working the soil — with the minimum expenditure of time and labour, but a rational attitude of the Cycle of Nature — the natural law by which man and beast take from the earth and give back to it. In our present society it is more common than not to find refuse and sewage shot into the sea as waste, whilst the land is made sterile by chemical fertilisers which increase production through artificial stimulus and ultimately destroy the soil bacteria and the good earthworms who contribute to the sub-soil. In transporting them, and for keeping armies of middlemen, we see at once how few days and hours need be given, under proper culture, for growing man’s food’. Commenting on this, Berkman says, ‘By using modern agricultural machinery and intensive cultivation London and New York could subsist upon the products raised in their own immediate vicinity’. See, also, Dr. D. W. Wilcox’s book, Nations Can Live at Home (Allen & Unwin, 1935).
Reginald Reynolds, in his Cleanliness and Godliness (Allen & Unwin, 1943), refers to the producers of chemical fertilisers as ‘the druggists of the soil, offering quick results, dearly bought in the final reckoning*. He points to The heritage of the chemical fertiliser, the once-fertile fields of Europe, where for thirty years now, since the first stimulus of these drugs ceased to be effective, the production of crops has declined, while the fields of China continue, even aYter a decade of war, to nourish her vast population*. He refers to this artificial stimulus as ‘the morphia of science for a dying agriculture’, and reminds us that the Chinese, who are the oldest agriculturists in the world, having husbanded the soil for 4,000 years, have always composted garbage and animal and human excreta and returned it to the soil.
It is interesting to find in Bacon’s New Atlantis , a reference to a ‘great variety of composts and soils, for the making of the earth fruitful*. The inhabitants of the City of the Sun, on the other hand, were opposed to the use of ‘dung and filth'
Utopia all sewage and refuse is composted and returned to^the soil, so that the natural rhythm of production, consumption, fertilisation, is maintained. It puzzles the Utopians that in our own era, although this scientific use of waste matter was successfully adopted in a few towns, and there were the begin- nings of interest amongst sanitary engineers, chemists, agricul- turists, gardeners, and others, it was generally regarded as ‘cranky’, too difficult of achievement, or too costly. Being Utopians, of course, they cannot understand the immense amount of popular prejudice to be overcome, or realise — in their blessedly moneyless condition — the vast amount of capital invested in companies producing chemical fertilisers. . . .
But what they do fully and appreciatively understand and realise, is that the cultivation of the soil is the most fundamental of all human activities, the true Doctrine of Creation in practice. This is something they can no more doubt than the cycle of the seasons, or any other natural phenomenon; it is an integral part of their whole attitude to life. They are, therefore, completely free of that romanticism which characterises much of the agricultural theorisings of our era. The life of the land is so real and vital to them that there is no room for mysticism in their attitude to it. Non-farming theorists may write lyrically of ‘communion with the soil, and emotionally of the ‘blasphemy of the machine in relation to it, but those who actually work the land know that the longer the time men must spend trudging Up and down fields the less they have for other things that interest them and give them satisfaction and pleasure. Scything the hay and the corn by hand, for example, presents a pleasant spectacle for the onlooker, but for those employed upon it it means long days of monotonous labour. Utopia being a non- competitive society no harm is done by replacing twenty men with a horse-drawn reaper-and-binder driven by one man, or a hundred men when a machine takes the place of the horse, and the Utopians see no virtue in spending days scything a hayfield by hand when a mechanical mower will accomplish the task in a single day. They consider that there are other ways of presenting pleasing spectacles than by breaking their backs and expending their sweat in unnecessary labours. The traditional farming methods which afford such pleasant material for the pens of the romanticists simply mean that those who work on the land must toil from sunrise to sunset during the busy seasons for manuring the fields, ‘thinking that the fruit contracts something of their rottenness, and when eaten gives a short and poor subsistence. Wherefore they do not, as it were, paint the earth, but dig it up well and use secret remedies, so that fruit is borne quickly, and multiplies, and is not destroyed’. Campanella’s views on agriculture would seem to be altogether a little unreliable, for in his Utopia ‘the men who are weak in intellect are sent to farm. . . .' — which form the greater part of the year — by which time they are too tired for any intellectual pursuits and interests; all they are fit for is to take off their boots, stick out their feet, eat a hearty meal, and drowse in a blessed physical relaxation, purely animal, till an early bedtime. Anyone who has ever done long days of hard manual work knows how the day’s end finds one little more than a clod — an aching body and a dulled brain; and the Utopians consider this not good enough for their land- workers, They believe in the rational use of the machine for lessening the drudgery of agricultural labour on the one hand and increasing efficiency on the other . . . and to suggest that a great deal of agricultural work is not drudgery is the sheerest romanticism. Anyone who doubts this should try picking-up potatoes, pulling sugar-beet, ditching. In rejecting — for the most part — tractor-ploughing, for example, the Utopians do so for purely practical agricultural reasons. Steinbeck’s contention that it ‘takes the wonder out of work, and out of the land, and the working of it’, and ‘the deep understanding and the relation’, leaves them cold. What is important to them is that, taking the long view , tractor-ploughing is as bad for the land as chemical fertilisers, since by its speed it opens the way to the over-working of the soil, whilst robbing it of the dung and urine from the horses, thus encouraging the use of chemicals.
But they cannot accept that a man has less feeling for the soil because he mows and reaps, threshes and milks, by machine, and employs machinery in his dairy and in his barn. Such an attitude they regard as merely sentimental. It seems to them reasonable to make the same intelligent use of the machine in relation to agriculture as in relation to industry. Having no commercial interests to consider they have no mania for in- creasing production with the reckless disregard for overworking the soil which characterises the ‘progressive’ farming of our present society. The mechanisation of agriculture only becomes a danger to the natural fertility of the earth when it is allied with commercialisation. The Utopian design is to get the best results from the soil — which are not necessarily increased results. Apart from the value they attach to leisure the Utopians are concerned to save time to overcome the weather factor — since even Utopians cannot control the weather! — and in haymaking and harvesting the machine usefully serves them to this end. And to those who protest that the saving of time for the securing of leisure ought not to be a consideration with the agricultural worker, they reply that the land-worker is mind and spirit as well as flesh and muscle no less than the industrial worker, and if he is to toil from sunrise to sundown for the greater part of the year in personal ‘communion’ with the soil he might as well be an ox plodding under the yoke — and to all intents and purposes is. They are impatient of the pre-Utopian romanticising of the peasant — particularly coming from the English who have done their best to exterminate their peasantry by turning them into farm-labourers, hired for a pittance.
‘no tweed-bright poet drunk in pastoral or morris-dances in the Legion Hall,
I know my farmer and my farmer’s wife, the squalid focus of their huxter life, the grime-veined fists, the thick rheumatic legs, the cracked voice gloating on the price of eggs, the miser’s Bible, and the tedious aim to add another boggy acre to the name .’
They demand to know whether those people who clamour for the work on the land to be done in the ‘traditional’ manner themselves live without mechanical amenities — such as electric light and heating, telephones, typewriters, sewing-machines, modern methods of transport.
The Utopians are neither tractor-minded nor oxen-minded. The fact that farming is de-commercialised — freed from the huxter attitude, the gloating on the price of eggs — and, like industry, is for use and not profit, gives it its proper place in the com- munal life as the very source of existence.
In Utopia there is no difficulty in getting people to work on the land, since there, has been a natural turning away from industry and back to the land as a result of the abolition of the money system, with all that that entails of competition and profit. The drift of labour from the land in England in the nineteen-thirties had several causes — the work was badly paid, the housing was inferior, the life was dull and lacking in amenities of all kinds. The towns offered higher pay, and a variety of diversions in the leisure hours — a point which counted very strongly with the younger people. The result was a depression in agriculture and the depopulation of the countryside. Parallel with this there was — inevitably — the encroachment of the town on the country. As agriculture declined so the towns stretched out their tentacles of suburbs, and the fields one after another became builders’ plots . 1 Farms were taken over by townspeople who did not farm the land but who liked old country-houses with plenty of land — the barn converting nicely into a garage — and farm-cottages became the week-end cottages of people who ‘loved’ the country so long as they hadn’t got to live there — who, in the words of Peter Howard 2 describing his own attitude before he himself became a farmer, were ‘enthusiastic about short week-ends in old cottages, so long as these had been equipped with central-heating, hot water, first-rate cooking and every other modern comfort’. Whole villages were inhabited almost entirely by retired professional people from the towns fancying country life — with electric light installed and the plumbing brought up to date, and as often as not two or three cottages converted into one country house with a couple of bathrooms, and nothing more agricultural than a kennels or a riding-stable for miles. . . .
Industry also moved out into the betrayed countryside; factories of brave-new-world design sprang up along the new roads, and a grim ribbon-development of cheap, jerry-built little houses followed. It only needed the road-houses, the snack-bars, the ‘wayside cafes’, the tea-gardens, the pseudo-Tudor pubs, the filling-stations, the advertisement hoardings, to complete the degradation of the once green and pleasant land. Then came the ugly little new places, rather more than village, rather less than town, with the inevitable Woolworth’s, and an Odeon cinema, and the art-and-crafty, olde-worlde, home-made cake-shop, and the chromium-plated cheap ‘perm’ hair-dresser’s, and the petrol- pumps, and a milk-bar, and what was once a winding country road widened and straightened out into a by-pass for an endless stream of cars. . . .
The Utopians are well aware of all this, and that it took a second world-war to get England back to the development of her agricultural resources . 1 Such a state of affairs seems to them appalling, and in itself an indictment of the money system of society, since such a state of affairs, they argue, could only obtain in a society in which production, both industrial and agricultural, is for profit, not use; in such a society it is inevitable that indus- trialism should increase and agriculture decline.
In Utopia, by the very nature of things, none of the pre-Utopian objections to rural life apply. The question of urban life offering better wages and opportunities does not arise, obviously, in a moneyless society, and as to housing, it could not occur to any Utopian that agricultural workers should not be as well housed as industrial workers, and with as much variety. They see no reason why the farm-worker should be confined to a cottage, any more than there is any reason why a town worker should be expected to live in a block of flats. There are, in Utopia, there- fore, blocks of flats in the country just as there are cottages in the towns. Utopia recognises that country workers are as diverse in their tastes as town workers. This we will discuss more fully later. It is here sufficient to indicate that in Utopia the country- dweller has all the amenities of the town-dweller, not merely in the matter of housing, but as regards schools, health services, amusements. This means that those who work on the collective farms, both men and women, or who work the small-holdings, do so because the life appeals to them, because the land really means something to them, not because it is just a way of earning a living. As we have seen, there is no necessity, economic or any other, to earn a living in Utopia.
Considerable care and attention is devoted by the Utopians to forestry — they view with incredulity and horror the rate at which the world was being denuded of its woodlands in the pre-Utopian era. It seems to them fantastic that at the time of the second world-war only 5 per cent of the surface of England and Wales should have been forest and woodland, these countries being so highly suited to the growing of trees, and with so much land unsuitable for growing anything else. They are puzzled, also, by the unimaginative form of such afforestation as was carried out by the Forestry Commission — the curious devotion to solid blocks of conifers, as though, outside of supplying timber, trees served no purpose. In Utopia afforestation is carried out with an eye to landscape as well as utility. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that the Utopian conception of utility reaches beyond the supplying of timber, as, apart from their landscape value, forests and wooded parks have their uses as pleasure-grounds for human beings —
‘Trees where you sit Shall crowd into a shade’ —
and it seems to them important that the trees shall crowd, not the people, and given sufficient woodland this can be so arranged. Of course a great deal of wild, wooded land, hitherto privately owned and only opened occasionally to the public, if at all, since much of it was preserved for pheasants, became available to the people when the great new Utopian order became established.
The Utopians attach great importance to the preservation and development of land for beauty and pleasure. They have discovered that by the intelligent utilisation of good agricultural and pasture-land there is no need to cultivate at the expense of the great open spaces. They put the land to the best use, whether it is for the production of timber, crops, grass, or its protection and development for purposes of pleasure. Kropotkin worked out that 1,000 acres of good agricultural land — land in ‘good heart' as the agriculturists say — was sufficient, properly cultivated, to feed 1,000 people and their livestock, and allow some over for public gardens and other uses. He estimated that on an area of 340 acres they could easily grow all the cereals — wheat, oats, etc. required for both the thousand inhabitants and their livestock, without resorting for that purpose to replanted or planted cereals. They could grow on 400 acres, properly cultivated, and irrigated, if necessary and possible, all the green crops and fodder required to keep the thirty or forty milch cows which would supply them with milk and butter, and, let us say, the 300 head of cattle required to supply them with meat. On twenty acres, two of which would be under glass, they would grow more vegetables, fruit and luxuries than they could consume. And supposing that half an acre of land is attached to each house for hobbies and amusements (poultry keeping, or any fancy culture, flowers, and the like) — they would still have some 140 acres for all sorts of purposes; public gardens, squares, manufactures, and so On’. Kropotkin was estimating his 1,000 persons as divided into 200 families averaging five members per household. He pointed out that the labour required for such intensive culture would be, through co-operative effort, considerably less than 1,000 persons have to expend in getting their food — 4 much smaller in quantity and of worse quality’ — under the competitive system. He insisted that from the technical point of view there is no obstacle whatever to such an organisation being started tomorrow with full success. ‘The obstacles against it are not in the imperfection of the agricultural art, or in the infertility of the soil, or in climate. They are entirely in our institutions, in our inheritances, and survivals from the past — in the ghosts which oppress us.'
The Utopians achieved their ‘ideal commonwealth’ by over- throwing those institutions, inheritances and survivals from the past, by their refusal to be oppressed by ghosts; by their complete change-over to the co-operative way of living, their return to the land, not romantically and sentimentally but in the realist sense of recognition of it as ‘the substratum of all that is living’. In their economy there is no waste-land, and they cannot but be appalled at how the good earth is wasted and spoiled in our own, along with human labour and creative potentialities.
It is not merely that, in Reginald Reynolds’s words, ‘we allow the fertility of the land to run out through open sluices ’, whilst we slowly turn the earth into a desert, but that, agriculture apart, we waste and spoil in all directions, felling trees to make room for houses, instead of fitting the trees into a housing scheme, taking forests for timber without replanting, or replanting with no eye to the beauty of the landscape, ploughing up stony land that is better left as moorland for people to roam over and picnic on, allowing fields that should be rich and productive to lie fallow and go sour, of use to neither man nor beast, and even where the land is available for pleasure and recreation despoiling it with shoddy little bungalows and hideous holiday encampments of ramshackle huts — the seekers after the rural amenities themselves destroying them.
In Utopia it could not occur to anyone that an orchard should be demolished to provide a factory site, though it might well occur to them that the orchard, left intact, would make the factory built nearby a pleasant place in which to work, and with the orchard on one hand and perhaps a wood on the other there is no despoiling of the country by the building of the factory, for it is of pleasing design, and it settles down amongst the fields and' trees, as integral a part of the landscape as a group of farm- buildings, and the workers can leave their benches and machines and step out into the fresh air amongst the green growing things. In this way the sharp line between town and country is softened; the town invades the country, but the country also invades the town, so set amongst trees and gardens are the houses, so that it is difficult to say where one begins and the other ends, and everyone has breathing-space and ‘elbow-room’. The towns are all small, because in a moneyless society there is no need for commercial centres; the industrial areas are dissolved and spread out; everything is planned, nothing is haphazard . . . but this brings us to the detailed consideration of homes and housing in his happy, productive world of bread-and-roses. . . .
IX. HOUSING AND THE HOME IN UTOPIA
In Utopia people have the homes they want, not what any government or borough council or planning board considers to be good for them. The result is no symmetrical brave-new- world, a cross between Manhattan and Welwyn Garden City, nothing at all like the quite terrifyingly well-planned cities-of- tomorrow illustrated in architectural magazines and government publications, in which any Utopian would feel like a fly caught in a gigantic spider web. The Utopians have never had any desire to straighten out the crooked roads, dispose of the little narrow alleyways, the old houses piled up behind each other, one street above another; they have no mania for modernity, for that spurious ‘ progressiveness ’ which characterises our own society. In the same way that they are not tractor-minded in agriculture, so they are not modern-at-all-costs in their architecture. Their towns and cities, therefore, are not ‘ model ’ towns and cities as we understand the term. They believe that a town should take shape from the life lived in it, as a home does; if it is a little untidy, a little sprawling, a little higgledy-piggledy, well, they say, so is human nature; the important thing is that it shall be livable-in. That it shall be, that is to say, human. And this the Utopians con- tend, most of the towns and cities of this era are not, but mon- strous, inhuman places, full of ugliness and squalor, on the one hand, and streamlined and chromium-plated out of all humanity on the other. They have no more use for the slums and tenements, and grim grey industrial streets, or red brick suburban streets, of our world, than for the barracks of flats, the art-and- crafty little garden-suburb villas, the jerry-built by-pass houses, the box-like cement ‘ ultra-modern ’ houses (Osbert Lancaster's ‘Twentieth Century Functional') and the flats like chests-of- drawers with the drawers pulled out. They see no reason why a house in order to be efficient and light and sunny must resemble a box, or a block of flats a barracks, or a gigantic chest-of-drawers. They have not torn down the old market-towns, the cathedral cities, nor remodelled the villages; but fairly quickly they demolished the slums, and gradually they did away with the more jerry-built suburbs. The last world war, of course, had already done a good deal of demolition for them — though unfortunately it also demolished a good many buildings the Utopians would have preserved.
There is no particular Utopian style of architecture. They try to build, as far as possible, in keeping with the background, and always using the local materials where such are available. They maintain that man’s buildings should not be excrescences on the face of the earth, but have an air of natural ‘belonging’. They regard the old Cots wold houses, built of the Cotswold stone, as very good examples of houses being part of the landscape. They observe that in the country districts in Ireland and in the wilder parts of Scotland the crofters’ cottages and the cabins have an appearance of springing as naturally from the earth as the heather and the boulders. They are impressed by the harmony of many old English villages of timbered houses, and by such medieval towns as Ghent, Bruges, Nuremberg, and the good Dutch architecture, both ancient and modern. They recognise, also, the harmony which it is possible to achieve without actual architectural harmony — the harmoniousness of the whole inherent in the jumbled detail. They have, for example, seen pictures of the quayside of Marseilles before the Germans — during the second world war — tore down the old buildings and rebuilt in modern style, and they much prefer the old, shabby confusion which yet made an harmonious whole; it had, they contend, a rhythm of life about it; it was shapeless and raggle- taggle, but it had a feeling of vitality, of passionate, vibrant life ; the Germans rebuilt efficiently, modernly — soullessly. And if anyone declares that to be sentimental the Utopians merely smile and murmur, What of that? Theirs is no streamlined, chromium-plated, pre-fabricated brave new world in which people swallow capsules instead of enjoying wine and meat, and in which life itself is begotten in test-tubes.
Where the Utopians have demolished pre-Utopian buildings, either because they were ugly and stupid in themselves — like most of the commercial buildings and many of the churches — or because they were drab, or vulgar, or nondescript, they have not always built again on the same spot; in many places in Utopia where once were buildings are now public gardens, or tree- flanked squares with gracious fountains. Many a block of offices has been replaced by an orchard — which the Utopians consider at once more beautiful and a great deal more useful. Most of the pre-Utopian statues which ‘ornamented’ public squares and street-corners have gone, the Utopians considering them too ugly to keep; in their place they have planted trees. They have a great affection for chestnut trees, because of their pink and white candle-like flowers in the spring, and for lime- trees for the heavy sweetness of their golden blossom in the summer. They cannot understand why in the pre-Utopian era city trees were so invariably planes — at least in England. They find it almost incredible that the Germans should have cut down the lime trees of their famous Unter den Linden, and admire the
French for their good sense in lining their boulevards with trees. The majority consider Paris easily the most beautiful of all pre- Utopian era cities, though some, with a passion for baroque, prefer Vienna; London they regard as the essence of all that a city ought not to be, such beauty as it possesses hidden away in a welter of commercial buildings, and its riverside accessible only in patches, and made hideous by dilapidated warehouses. The Utopian London is a good deal smaller, and, except for such fine buildings as decorated Westminster and St. James’s in the old ’ days, almost unrecognisable. Stepney and Hackney are in the fields again. The Thames is flanked by fine tree-lined boulevards with river-side cafes and gardens. St. Paul’s looks out over the great open spaces that once were the cluttered buildings of the Strand and Fleet Street, but which are now orchards. The old names remain, and in May the scent of the apple-blossom in the lovely sweep up from the fountains and flower-beds of Trafalgar Square, along the Strand and Fleet Street to St. Paul’s, is a thing to remember. Covent Garden Market serves very well as one of the numerous common store-houses and distributive centres for fruit and vegetables from the collective farms of the London area out at Chelsea, Wimbledon, Earl’s Court, Ealing, Hampstead, Islington; Piccadilly is a flower-market; the Eros statue survives as one of the very few London statues worth preserving; in spring the steps of the always playing fountain are massed with violets and primroses grown in the violet fields and primrose woods of Kensington and Knightsbridge. Vauxhall has its gardens again, and Holborn is once more a village. It is not so long ago in the pre-Utopian era that it was possible to walk across fields at Earl’s Court to a farm, and Wimbledon was in the heart of the country, and in Utopia all this is restored, the wilderness of shops, offices, and pretentious houses and drab streets cleared away. Several reasons have made this possible. De-industrialisation and the great movement back to the land thinned out the towns and cities and distributed their populations throughout the countryside, whilst the abolition of money meant de-commer- cialisation, and there was no longer need for ‘the City’, or for great blocks of offices, or banks, and as there was no buying or selling, and no competitive production, there was no need for all the shopping thoroughfares that make towns and cities so ugly, and take up such valuable space. The abolition of the Press disposed of Fleet Street — and that the Utopians consider a very good clearance indeed. They did not turn the Houses of Parliament into a dung-market, as William Morris’s Utopians did, but put them to good use as a technical institute. Places such as Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Glasgow, still exist as cities, but de-industrialisation and de-commercialisation have stripped them of all the ugliness and clutter that industry and commerce brought to them, and they have become small and quiet and gracious.
Round all the towns and cities of Utopia there is a protective wall of green fields to prevent them straggling out and swallowing up the countryside. When a factory or workshop is built out in the country it is there for a good, practical reason — such as that the fruit from adjacent orchards may be made into jam or bottled on the spot, and it is always designed to merge into the landscape as a farm merges into its background of fields. Villages grow up round the collective farms, so that farm and village are one unit. There is this diffusion of industry and living-space, as opposed to the concentration of our own era, so that town and country meet, the ‘towns laved by the fields, yet never encroaching, and the fields everywhere in touch with the towns, not cut off from them, as now, by wildernesses of bricks and mortar, as the suburbs straggle out to fields already doomed as builders’ plots.
In Utopia there are no suburbs, but only small towns, complete in themselves, and villages. There is a choice of houses or flats, but there are no great barracks of flats cutting people off from the earth, piling them up on top of each other in a kind of ‘human filing system’; the flats are of two or three storeys, and standing, always, amidst trees and gardens. Most people prefer houses, but young people, seeking independence through a place of their own, prefer flats as a rule, and so do many unattached, non-family people, though few remain unattached and non-family in Utopia. A house may mean a house in a row, or in a terrace, or a cottage, village, or bungalow detached in its own small garden, but whatever form the house takes there are always trees and gardens back and front.
There is no communal living, the Utopians agreeing with Winstanley that ‘though the Earth and Storehouses be common to every Family, yet every Family shall live apart as they do; and every man’s house, wife, children, and furniture for ornament of his house, or anything which he has fetched from the Storehouses, or provided for the necessary use of his Family, is all a property of that Family, for the Peace thereof’.
There are village-greens, on which the children play, and where the old people sit on benches under trees and look on; there are town-squares with trees and flowers and fountains, where people promenade and meet; there are special playgrounds set apart for children, with stretches of grass, and swings, sand-pits, chutes to slide down, and shallow pools for paddling in and sailing boats on.
In all the newly-built houses there is a living-room opening out into a little garden, and in both houses and flats a compact kitchen, opening, conveniently, out of the living-room; there is also what in our world we refer to as a parlour, but which the Utopians — using a word of ours that has fallen out of usage — call more explicitly a ‘withdrawing room’, since it serves any member of the family who for one reason or another wishes to withdraw from the communal living-room, in order to study, or entertain or talk with a friend in private, or merely in order to be alone. The Utopians regard the withdrawing room as a very important feature of the home, socially and psychologically.
Every house and flat has a good bathroom, a warm, pleasant, properly-equipped place, heated airing-cupboards, cool cupboards for storing food, deep closets for clothes — so vastly superior to the wardrobes popular in our own era and designed more for show than for real use. Every kitchen has a refrigerator, good deep sink, plate-rack, two draining-boards, good dresser, an electric cooker, and every kind of electrical labour-saving device for keeping the home clean and bright with the minimum of labour. The modern houses and flats in Utopia have deep windows and sun-balconies, and a great many of them have been not merely designed but built by the people who live in them, since the Utopians consider that there are few activities in life more satisfying than building one’s own house — few things, the cultivation of the soil apart, more truly creative. It appals them to reflect that in the pre-Utopian era probably not one person in a thousand had the slightest idea how to lay a brick or any concep- tion of the workings of the house — how the plumbing, heating, and lighting arrangements, the internal organs of the living body of the house, worked, so that if anything went wrong they had to send out for assistance instead of being able to right matters themselves. They were a strange people, purely, the Utopians think, who knew neither the inner workings of their own houses or of their own bodies.
In the housing of Utopia all the things regarded in our world as luxuries are taken for granted — such things as refrigerators, central heating, bathroom showers, swimming pools, tennis- courts, Vita-glass windows, everything designed for health, com- fort, convenience. All this is possible when building is for use and not for profit, and when the people have, as Morris said, a sense of architectural power and know that they can have what they want.
In Utopia, as we have seen, there is no communal living — other than the natural communal life inseparable from living in a society — because it is as unnatural as cooping human beings up all day in shops, offices, factories. The Utopians observed that in the
U.S.S.R. — which some people at one time believed to be Utopia, or Utopia in the making, despite evidence to the contrary- people showed a tendency to cling to small houses and gardens in preference to the great, barrack-like blocks of Workers’ Dwellings, to which the devout Communists waved foreign visitors with such pride, and in which home-life was ‘simplified’ almost out of existence. The Utopians do not make a fetish of ‘The Home’ as something almost holy; neither do they adopt the cynical attitude, ‘there’s no place like home — thank God!’ They recognise, simply, that human beings are individualistic, and that a place of one’s own has a psychological and a sentimental value for the majority of people. They are aware of the numerous experiments m^de in community living in the pre-Utopian era, particularly in the mid-twentieth century, when the intellectuals and revolu- tionaries (and those who fancied themselves as such) everywhere were looking for a new way of living and seeking it in ‘community’ in the name of brotherly love — but the reports seem to indicate singularly little success in the various ventures, which appear to have lasted, for the most part, only until the original capital which subsidised them gave out. Then the brotherly-lovers, full of their private grudges, resentments, jealousies, went back to normal life in the real world. Sex and individualism seem to have been the chief disruptive factors, from which the Utopians conclude that human beings were not designed by nature for that kind of grouping. The natural grouping for human beings is the Family. Outside of this there are the solitaries who like to live alone, and unattached people who like to live with a friend of the same sex until such time as one of them falls in love and marries and a new Family is started.
In Utopia the Home is not the prison it so often is in our own society, and the Family is not something to shudder away from and escape at all costs — for the good reason that the Utopians are morally emancipated, and parents do not seek to maintain a hold upon their children, nor do they live together unhappily for ‘the sake of the children’. This means that the home is an harmonious place, free of conflict between husband and wife, betweeh parents and children. There is no question of the father being the Head of the Family. The Utopian home is a microcosm of Utopia itself, since in it no one is set in authority over another, but all are equal, and, freed of petty tyrannies and the grudges they set up, the co-operative spirit of society at large prevails in the home.
Home, in Utopia, is a happy place, because it is a place of freedom. The Father is not the symbol of authority — God and the policeman and the schoolmaster rolled into one, as all too often in our present society — nor the child of Original Sin. The Mother does not seek to bind the children to her by a kind of spiritual umbilical cord; the Children have no fear of the parents, and therefore no hatred of the home, nor that morbid attachment to the home which is bound up with anxiety and is a sign not of a good home but of a bad one . 1 There is no neurotic bondage because there is no sense of moral obligation binding the family together, imparting unnaturalness to a natural association. The Utopians know that Tove beginning as a bond becomes a bon- dage’. They know, too, that unhappy people, frustrated emo- tionally, sexually, creatively, cannot live harmoniously together, either in the association of the home or in society at large. The Utopians, in their free, classless, co-operative society, know no such frustration, but are fulfilled in their whole natures, physical and spiritual; they have, therefore, nothing to ‘work off’ on their children; the father does not bully, the mother does not nag, or, at the other extreme, seek compensation by over-loving her children, so that mother-love becomes smother-love. Instead of being a breeding-ground for neurosis the Utopian home is a good training-school for the wider world outside — is, in the best sense, an introduction to life. Free of discipline from the top — the authoritarian discipline of the parents — the child of the Utopian home discovers for itself the natural discipline of life itself; in freedom he discovers that as a member of the small society of the home he cannot live as a law unto himself — for one thing the other members of the community will not stand for it, and for another he discovers that it does not work; and because he discovers this for himself— instead of being ‘ taught ’ it — it really makes an impression on him. At school this impression is reinforced, because in the free schools of Utopia there is again, as we have seen, no discipline from the top, but the natural discipline of the commu- nity, which alone has value, because out of it alone can grow the co-operative spirit.
‘The influence of the home’ really counts for something in Utopia; for something generous and fine. We say in our world that ‘charity begins at home’, narrowing down the word ‘charity’ to something mean, to the penny in the orphanage collecting box. But in Utopia charity means something deep and rich; it means understanding and tolerance and forgiveness; warmth and kindness and love. It means all that is contained in a phrase meaningless in a competitive society — ‘the brotherhood of man’.
No social or moral law coerces family life in Utopia — any more than nesting birds and their fledglings. Everything which makes Utopia the ideal commonwealth has its nucleus in the home — freedom, equality, love. The child’s first world is the home; in our society it is a world of frustration, tyranny, fear, conflict. In Utopia — Utopia begins at home.
This does not mean that the Utopian child has no desire to stretch his wings outside of the home. Even in Utopia the home is too narrow to confine adolescents and their natural, excited curiosity about life. The young person may feel perfectly free and happy in the home yet still have a need for independence, and this need is no criticism of the home or the parents, but entirely natural, since the home belongs to the parents, the furniture and decoration is of their choosing, expressive of their personality and their generation, and youth has other ideas, other tastes, and its own personality seeks its own expression. And the child, no less than the adolescent, needs its own world, its own outlets. A child is not a small adult, but something quite different; children and adults are no more suited to live together than are human beings and animals. The Utopians know this, and consider it wise that children and young people should live away from home a good deal, and schools — boarding-schools for the children from five to fifteen, and day nursery-schools for the children under five — make this possible. The adolescents are able to board at their technical schools and training colleges, and when they feel like going off and living on their own, before marriage, there is no family complication of anyone being hurt or disapproving. It seems to Utopian parents perfectly natural that the young should want to live their own lives in their own way, and as the parents never frustrate, or attempt to 'frustrate, their children, there is real friendship and respect and understanding between them.
In short, there is the same free association in the Utopian home as there is in its society at large, and a fine symbolism in the sun- light and air invited through its deep windows.
X. WOMAN IN UTOPIA
It is not assumed in Utopia that ‘woman’s place is in the home’, but that that is determined by her temperament and her abilities. In Utopia, as in our world, there are women whose greatest satisfaction lies in wifehood and motherhood, whose lives are centred in the home, and women who need a wider sphere of activity even when they are devoted wives and mothers. When a woman has interests outside of the home there are creches and nursery-schools, as we have seen, at which her children, if she has any, may be well cared for whilst she is away from home, or so occupied in the home that she cannot attend to them adequately. Her house is so intelligently designed on labour-saving lines that her housework presents no problems, and if she does not wish to cook, or has no time to do so, there are plenty of what we should call ‘communal kitchens’ in which she may eat, or from which she may collect good, ready-cooked meals to take home.
Even in Utopia domestic service is not a profession which makes much appeal. When every woman has a home of her own, is free of any economic pressure, and has a choice of all trades and professions open to her, she has, in fact, even less inclination to work in another woman’s home than in our society. Most of the domestic help in Utopia consists of a neighbourly mutual aid. Sometimes there are women who do not marry — legally or otherwise — and prefer to live with a family rather than alone, and such women become housekeepers, doing the housework and cooking whilst the woman of the house is engaged in some other profession, their status being that of part of the family. But when no such domestic help is forthcoming it is no hardship to the Utopian woman to run her own home, since she does not work long hours at her outside job, and running a house in Utopia is a very different matter from the laborious business it is in our society, and the Utopian woman has none of the prejudices against the efficient and scientific way of doing things which commonly characterise our own housewives.
No trade or profession is closed to any woman in Utopia; she is in all things co-equal with man. Nothing is considered unsuitable work for a woman; every woman does what she wants to do, which in practice means what she is most fitted for. (There are, of course, a minority who think they can sing, write, act, paint, but these pretensions are quite easily disposed of in Utopia, since, for example, before anyone can cover a wall with mural decora- tion the consent of the community must be obtained — as to whether they want that particular wall painted, and, if so, in what manner, and the would-be painter of it must satisfy the community that he or she is capable of painting it to the general satisfaction. Similarly the people who think they can act have to satisfy the community of this, or they will soon find that they lack audiences. In Utopia, where money does not enter into consideration, all these things resolve themselves quite simply.)
The question of woman in relation to man, sexually, we will discuss in the next chapter, when considering the Utopian conception of morality; it is here only necessary to indicate that woman is as free as man; she is not dependent on him in any way; she cannot exploit him economically, through marriage, as so often happens in our own world, justifying Strindberg’s indictment of marriage as 'legalised prostitution 5 ; nor can he exploit her, sexually, through prostitution, or economically in any labour-market. So many of the problems of our own society are rooted in the system itself — which in turn is rooted in the evil of money. It is a cliche, and it is considered trite, in our world, to assert that money is the root of all evil, but the Utopians know, quite simply, that it is so; their commonwealth is ideal because it is free of wars, poverty, social inequality, prostitution, exploitation of the many by the few, the exploitation of woman by man, and of man by woman, and all this is so because they have abolished money.
In Utopia it is impossible to degrade marriage to the level of prostitution because it is free of any economic element. In Utopia nothing but mutual love and friendship hold a man and woman together. All sex inequality disappeared with the abolition of money, and a real comradeship became possible between the sexes. Nobody in Utopia thinks any less of a woman because she prefers to make her home and children her ‘career’. It is recognised that the good mother renders a very valuable service to the community; that to raise healthy, happy children is as creative a work as writing a book or a play or painting a picture, and as vital as good agriculture.
The Utopian conception of a good education for women in- cludes a knowledge of mother-craft (and pre-natal care), of physiology — general and sexual — contraception, sexual hygiene, and the rudiments of the sexual relation, of food-values , the balancing of meals, so that they are not over-starchy or over-proteinous, or lacking in the right amount of proteins and vitamins and vegetable salts, housewifery , that is to say, cooking, laundry-work, needle- work, the proper use of labour-saving devices, and the general scientific, efficient management of the home. When a woman is completely undomestic, not interested in home-management and cooking, she naturally does not set out to learn these things, but no Utopian woman would consider herself properly equipped for adult life without a good knowledge of mother-craft, and everything which comes under the heading of physiology. In addition to these purely feminine things she, of course, includes some technical training in her education — she may prefer to learn dressmaking rather than engineering, or to study nursing rather than law, but she would consider herself — and be generally considered — hopelessly uneducated if she did not acquire some specific training to enable her to take her place, usefully, in society. It seems strange to the Utopians that in our world the feminists should clamour for equal educational facilities with men when such facilities as are available for the men are so futile. They see it as a clamour for a share in something bad. The Utopian woman shares fully in the rational education available to all, and which we have discussed earlier, and in addition has opportunity for acquiring knowledge of particular value to her as a woman.
The Utopian woman is not concerned with asserting intellectual equality with men. She knows that psychologically as well as physiologically men and women are different; she acknowledges, without any sense of inferiority, that in general women are not mechanically minded or scientifically minded — though there are women engineers and women scientists, but they are exceptional — that in general men do better creative work — that they always have done and always will do, even in Utopia, because Nature has so arranged it that woman's primary creative work is the pro- duction of children; she accepts the significance of the fact that the word ‘hysteric’ is from the Greek, husterikos, of the womb. The women of Utopia, therefore, do not attempt to ape men, but cultivate their own intellectual and creative gardens; where a woman has more of the masculine than the feminine in her mental make-up, has little or no interest in wifehood or motherhood, she is perfectly free to develop along the lines her nature indicates. 'But there is none of that tiresome — and dreary — sex rivalry encountered in our own world, with women cropping their hair like men, wearing trousers, cultivating ‘boyish’ figures and persistently asserting that they can do everything that a man can do, except beget children — with supreme disregard for the fact that men in general have greater muscular strength and stay- ing power, and are not subject to the periodic instability — nervous and emotional — involved in the possession of a womb. . . . The Utopian woman does not consider herself inferior to man because there are certain things which, if she does them at all, she does not do as well; she simply accepts the fact that men and women are different, and is glad of it, because in that difference lies that attraction of the sexes for each other which is ‘ the stroke of genius on the part of God’.
For the Utopian woman ‘emancipation’ is simply being free to do what they want to do without obstruction or criticism; and just as children in freedom, free of adult authority, have no desire to throw stones through windows, which so many people assume they will want to do, given freedom, so the Utopian woman, because she is completely free to do what she pleases, devotes herself to those things she does best, which only in exceptional cases are the things that men generally like to do, such as driving trains, stoking ships, building bridges, and so forth. Because there is no assumption that her place is in the home she does not, like the ‘progressive’ women of our world, feel that she must escape the home at all costs. Her home is beautiful and efficient, and a source of pride to her. And she has the good sense to know that cooking a good dinner is an intelligent job, and every bit as creative as painting a good picture, and, generally speaking, more useful . 1 Her sound sense of values tells her that successful home-making is an art and a craft, and an art and a craft in which women excel. And she knows that as a mother of happy, healthy children she has a place of honour in society; that everything which science and medicine can devise to make motherhood safe and lessen its pain and its burdens will be done, and she is completely free of any economic anxiety concerning the future of her children.
Because they are all healthy and happy, and with ample leisure (nothing is more destructive of a woman’s looks than drudgery, and lack of time in which to care for herself) there are no ugly women in Utopia. Some are more attractive than others, obviously, but they have all a natural grace, and the attractiveness of eyes that smile as well as lips. They make the most of themselves, too, by dressing not according to something called ‘fashion’ but according to what best suits them. Fashion is nothing in Utopia; beauty everything. The women enhance nature with the aid of cosmetics, but nowhere in Utopia do you see a woman with her face plastered with rouge and her lips a greasy scarlet daub. Their use of cosmetics is delicate and artistic, and so subtle that it is impossible to say with any certainty where nature ends and artifice begins. Needless to say, the ‘synthetic blonde’ is a monstrosity completely unknown in Utopia, or a woman with fingernails that look like talons dipped in blood. . . .
Clothes are beautiful because they are not mass-produced; a great deal of the cloth is home-spun and hand-woven, and the colours are the clear, bright colours of vegetable dyes; mostly the women design and make their own clothes — they have leisure for such ‘work-pleasure’ in their rationally organised society, and they take delight in being individual in their dress.
The administration of Utopia, as we have seen, is through the workers’ syndicates, and as there is no debarring of women from any trade, industry, or farm-collective, the women have as much say in common affairs as the men. In purely local affairs, such as whether a new bridge or public building shall be built or an old one scrapped, committees are elected from both men and women to discuss and arrange matters. Everywhere the status of women is co-equal with that of men, whether they work in the home or out of it.
When any planning of new houses or creches or nursery-schools or communal feeding centres is under discussion great deference is paid to the views of the women on the committee, since in Utopia woman is still predominant in the home, and in everything touching children and the arrangement of meals, and it is therefore felt that in all such matters women know best what is wanted.
In the schools women teachers are preferred for the mixed classes of young children, but for the older children the teacher is not selected according to sex, but ability. In the case of ‘infants’, however, women teachers are considered to have more patience and understanding, and the preference is for women with children of their own.
There are a great many more women doctors in Utopia than in our society, as it is felt that this is a profession for which women are singularly suited, and there is, of course, no prejudice, as in our world, against women doctors or surgeons.
There are no * Nannies * in Utopia. If a mother cannot look after her children herself she has a choice of creches and nursery- schools where trained nurses care for them. Thus no woman is in authority over another. If any woman takes her child to a creche or nursery-school to be cared for for no reason except that she ‘cannot be bothered’ to look after it herself, from nothing more than laziness, or lack of maternal instinct, the child is not refused, because it is held that such a woman is not fit to care for the child, and it is therefore much better that she should hand it over to the community. But the unwanted child is so rare in Utopia, as we have seen, that this sort of unnatural mother rarely occurs, any more than the bad mother who keeps the child at home but neglects it; the neglectful mother, in any case, is only too glad to hand the child over to someone else to look after. Such ‘problem mothers’, however, cease to exist in Utopia once the difficult transitional period is past; the generation that grows up in the ideal commonwealth has a strongly developed social sense — a sense of responsibility, and of balanced values.
The women of Utopia are loved and desired as women, respected as comrades and companions, honoured as mothers. They are beautiful, as they are good, because they are happy; and they are happy because they are free . . . free, not merely in physical fact, to do as they please, but in their hearts and minds; free of social and moral fears and taboos, free of inferiority.
XI. UTOPIAN MORALITY
Freedom, both social and moral, is all too often confused with licence. Sexual freedom is too readily construed as promiscuity. The Utopians are appreciative of Voltaire’s counsel, ‘Use; do not abuse; neither abstinence nor excess maketh a man happy’. Or, as Havelock Ellis has it in his noble essay on St. Francis , ‘All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding in. The man who makes the one or the other his exclusive aim in life will die before he has ever begun to live. ... To live rightly we must imitate both the luxury of Nature and her austerity
A barnyard promiscuity is not the Utopian conception of sexual freedom. By freedom they do not understand licence to degrade ‘the stroke of genius on the part of God ’, but freedom to live and love fearlessly and honestly, and when love dies, if it does, to face the fact no less courageously and honestly, without self-deception or cant. The Utopians have no false romantic notions about passion and physical fidelity. They know that passionate love between two people dies in time a natural death, but that that is not necessarily the end of love ; if when passion dies there is no love it means there never was, that only lust drew the two people together. They are not censorious of lust; indeed they agree that it is ‘the bounty of God’, but they know that it is no basis for a lasting partnership, and maintain that when there is no more than that between lovers, when it is over — passion having run its course — they do best to part, with no pain or bitterness, since they have had mutual delight of each other. Similarly they hold that physical infidelity is not necessarily a betrayal of love — that people are not necessarily ‘unfaithful’ to each other, in the true sense, because they sometimes enter into a temporary physical relationship with someone else. They dislike the word ‘faith- fulness’ reduced, like the word ‘morality’, to a purely sexual issue.
They do not postulate any oughts or ought-nots in human relationships. They agree with Nietzsche that every man must be his own moralist. They believe that people must arrange their private affairs as suits them best. They recognise that some people can only be happy in a strictly monogamous partnership, whilst others do not attach the same importance to sexual fidelity. Morality, the Utopians insist, is what makes for the greatest happiness for the greatest number; they regard as immorality deliberate hurt to another person, or any conduct which is anti- social — that is to say, hurtful to the community.
There is no punishment for the offender against society — indeed, there are no punishments of any kind in Utopia, no police, and no law-courts, and no prisons of any kind. The Utopians consider our own methods of dealing with these maladjusted people — for so they see them— as barbarous, for they reason with Sir Thomas More, Tf you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this, but that you first make thieves and then punish them?’ More, in his Utopia , cites the example of the ‘ Polylerits ’, a Persian people who allowed their thieves to ‘go about loose and free, working for the public’, shut up only at night after a roll-call, and suffering ‘no other uneasiness but this of constant labour’, eventually through hard work and good conduct regaining their liberty, and in this way, ‘vice is not only destroyed, and men preserved, but they treated in such a manner as to make them see the necessity of being honest, and of employing the rest of their lives in repairing the injuries they have formerly done to society. Nor is there any hazard of them falling back to their old customs. . . . ’
In the ‘ City of the Sun although there were ‘no prisons, except one tower for shutting up rebellious enemies ’, there were, nevertheless, judges and punishments. ‘Everyone is judged by the first master of his trade, and thus all the head artificers are judges. They punish with exile, with flogging, with blame, with depriva- tion of the common table, with exclusion from the church and from the company of women. When there is a case in which great injury has been done, it is punished with death, and they repay an eye with an eye, a nose for a nose, a tooth for a tooth, and so on, according to the law of retaliation. If the offence is wilful the council decides. When there is strife, and it takes place undesignedly, the sentence is mitigated; nevertheless, not by the judge but by the triumvirate, from whom it may be referred to Hoh, not on account of justice, but of mercy, for Hoh is able to pardon. . . . The accusation and witnesses are produced in the presence of the judge and Power; the accused person makes his defence, and he is immediately acquitted or condemned by the judge; and if he appeals to the triumvirate, on the following day he is acquitted or condemned. On the third day he is dismissed through the mercy and clemency of Hoh, or receives the inviolable rigour of his sentence. . . . No one is killed or stoned unless by the hands of the people, the accuser and the witnesses beginning first. For they have no executioners or lictors, lest the State should sink into ruin.’ The only crimes punishable with death were crimes committed against the liberty of the republic, or against God or against the supreme magistrates. In such cases no mercy was shown.
In our modern Utopia an attempt is made to re-educate people who persistently refuse to co-operate with society under the natural law of mutual aid, and anyone actively dangerous to society, or to individuals, is restrained, taken into what we should call ‘protective custody*, so that doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, may attempt to find out the cause of the anti-social conduct and effect a cure. Where no cure is found to be possible after everything possible has been done, and the anti-social person cannot safely be allowed to go free, he or she is held as in our present society we hold insane people, but in far superior condi- tions, with very careful avoidance of the mixing of border-line cases with the completely mad, but everything arranged as intelligently and humanely as possible.
Anti-social conduct is frequently found to be purely neurotic, and the Utopians are full of compassion for these maladjusted people. They regard them not as wicked people, but as unhappy and mentally sick people, for whom everything possible must be done. They hold that in an ideal commonwealth, where poverty and want are unknown, if anyone steals it can only be psychological stealing, since all material motive for theft is removed; and that if anyone is violent, and wound or kills another, there must be something seriously wrong with his psyche, and he is held not as a criminal, but as a sick person until his sickness is cured. It is believed that as Utopia develops such ‘problem people* will cease to occur, for criminality and neurosis can no more flourish in a rational society than can disease germs in a healthy body. The Utopians know that the causes of crime are to be found mainly in social conditions; that poverty, injustice, exploitation, frustration — social and sexual — the money system, are the chief evils in which crime is rooted and which corrupt man’s natural goodness, warping his psychology, and distilling the spirit of hate and vio- lence and intolerance, and the lust for power, into the heart of man. In Utopia the causes of crime do not exist, since there is no poverty, but every one has all he wants, no injustice or exploitation, since there are no class-distinctions and no production for profit, and no social or sexual frustration, because there is social equality and sexual freedom ; but until all the people of the Utopian world have been born and grown up there, there must continue to be a certain amount of maladjustment carried over from the old bad systems by which men lived — or, rather, existed, since under the non-Utopian systems human beings spend so much time earning their livings that they have little time in which to live.
To a certain extent, of course, sexual jealousy still exists in Utopia as a cause of crime, and it is probable that this will never be completely eradicated, though a rational sex education and attitude to sex does very much to minimise it. Lycurgus strove to eliminate in marriage ‘the vain and womanish passion of jealousy’. He did this ‘by making it quite as reputable to have children in common with persons of merit, as to avoid all offensive freedom in their own behaviour to their wives. He laughed at those who revenged with wars and bloodshed the communication of a married woman’s favours’. A young wife with an elderly husband might have a young and handsome lover — with her husband’s consent — and get a child by him, which the husband would bring up as his own; and similarly ‘a man of character’ might have as mistress some young and beautiful wife — with her husband’s consent — and have children by her. According to Plutarch, ‘ these regulations tending to secure a healthy offspring, and consequently beneficial to the State, were so far from encouraging that licentiousness of the women which prevailed afterwards, that adultery was not known amongst them’ — what they did with their husband’s consent not counting as adultery .
In Utopia the word ‘adultery’ has fallen into disuse. It belongs to a discarded moral code. Marriage, as we understand it, does not exist, except with the minority who adhere to the orthodox Christian Church. Outside of this a man and woman are con- sidered married to each other if they set up house together; 'he is her man; she is his woman. * * If and when the arrangement ceases to be a source of happiness to them both they part company; when there are children they usually stay with the mother, though it is entirely a matter for mutual arrangement — the Utopians are nothing if not reasonable people. The abolition of money simplifies these domestic arrangements, since the question as to who shall ‘support’ the children in the event of parents separating does not arise; whoever has the care of them will take from the common storehouses whatever is needed for them. Sometimes a man and woman may love and desire each other without wishing to live together, and no one thinks their ‘semi-detached arrangements in the least odd; the woman may even wish to have children under this arrangement, the father visiting them periodically, though in general the Utopians favour family life as a complete unit under one roof, considering this fairer to the children, who, they argue, have as much right to the regular company of their father as of their mother. The Utopians, too, with contraceptive facilities freely available, and the knowledge that if there should be an unwanted pregnancy it can be surgically interrupted under proper hygienic conditions, do not have children lightly; when they have them they do so in the full realisation of the responsibility involved, and the parents make every effort to secure the success of their relationship. To this end they live together for some time, experimentally, before starting a family. If they find that they are still good comrades and friends and lovers after the first sexual and romantic excitement has somewhat subsided they consider that they stand a reasonable chance of making a success of it as permanent partners and parents. Utopian lovers either part company after a few months, when they have exhausted the sexual novelty of each other, or they become ‘ married to each other in a very real sense — in a far more real sense than the vast majority of marriages in our world in which marriage is a legal contract only to be dissolved through the machinery of a court of law. The Utopians consider it completely fantastic that there should be laws controlling human relationships. They echo the exclamation of William Morris’s Utopian, ‘Fancy a court for enforcing a contract of passion or sentiment ! If such a thing were needed as a reductio ad absurdum of the enforcement of contract, such a folly would do that for us!’ The only possible ‘contract’ between two people who love each other is their faith in each other. They do not promise to love each other for ever, because they know that there cannot be any such reckless guarantees in human emotions, and because they cannot promise this they can- not promise to remain together always; they do not require promises of each other; it follows quite naturally that so long as they love each other and find happiness in cohabitation so long will they stay together, and as naturally it follows that if and when they are no longer happy together they will part. That, neither more nor less, is the essence of their unwritten and unspoken contract.
This does not mean that in Utopia there is no unhappiness in human relations. Since there can be no guarantees in human emotions so, even in Utopia, there can be no guarantee that A and B will fall out of love at the same time; it may be that one copies to the sad conclusion that the relationship would be better ended, whilst the other longs for it to continue, and believes that the other person may be won back. Partings in such circumstances are as painful in Utopia as in any other form of society. But at least the memory of love is not degraded by sordid financial squabbles and bickerings over the custody of the children. As freely as they came together the couple who can no longer live happily together part.
But where there are children they do not lightly break up the home. They do not necessarily consider the death of romantic love the end of happiness. Long after a man and woman have ceased to feel passion for each other they can feel friendship and a deep and tender love — a kind of sunset- afterglow of passionate love. That they are no longer in love with each other does not seem to them good reason for ending their 'marriage’, particularly where there are children to whom they are both devoted. Each may fall romantically and passionately in love with someone else, yet still they can feel married to each other and remain happily together. Their friendship, their love and liking, the fact that in the past they have been lovers, and that in the present they have children as souvenirs of that past, may well bind them together, to love and to cherish, until death do them part. . . . The Utopians consider that that is marriage in the true sense — that sense of passions may come and passions may go, but love and friendship endure. Such is their attitude to life and love, that when 'passion’s trance is over-past’ tenderness and truth do indeed last.
Jealousy does occasionally occur, but it is considered a weak- ness, never in any circumstance justified. No one, the Utopians insist, has any ' rights ’ in anyone else, and if one partner deviates from 'the faithful nuptial union between man and wife’ however much the other partner may regret this, and however human it may be to feel grieved about it, no one has the right to feel aggrieved , because such a feeling implies a possessiveness alien to the whole Utopian conception of sexual relations. Men and women do not ‘ belong ’ to each other but to themselves. Sadness that one’s partner no longer desires oneself is natural enough, they say, and morally legitimate, but not anger or resentment; and anyone who feels such an anger or resentment, to the point of a crime passionnel , must be regarded as a sick person, unfit to mingle freely with other human beings, at least until there has been considerable sexual re-education.
If anything can be said to shock the Utopians it is jealousy. They regard it and fear as the two most degrading of human emotions. Though they have no use for authoritarian discipline they believe, profoundly, in discipline — even if they do not go so far as Nietzsche who contended that a day in which one has not at least once denied oneself, in the interests of mastery of self, is a day badly spent. But they believe with Epicurus — whom Nietzsche admired — that an unending self-discipline was essential to good-living, to the deepest organic satisfaction.
Because of that Epicurean attitude they abhor prostitution. It seems to them bad living, because it lacks that deep organic satisfaction. They regard it as one of the evils inseparable from the old bad way of living, with its irrational and anti-life moral code. It cannot exist in Utopia, since in a society in which there is no money, and no one lacks anything, for what can a woman, or a male homosexual, sell her or himself? Perhaps it will be objected that the abolition of money does not necessarily dispose of harlotry, since even in our own society it is by no means always economic necessity — as the sentimentalists would have us believe — which sends women and young male homosexuals — or those who are willing to lend themselves to such practices — on to the streets. But the simple fact is that the conditions productive of harlotry, and necessary to its success, simply do not exist in the ideal commonwealth. When men and women are free there are no unhappy marriages and bad homes, and no frustrations to drive people into loveless unions. The ‘Don Juan’, the ‘Casanova’, the nymphomaniac, are all people restlessly seeking emotional satisfaction, and seeking it where it can never be found, through the flesh, because all that the flesh can give them, when lust is divorced from love, is sensual sensation, something completely ephemeral. There is a strong vein of Hedonism running through Utopian ethics, but it is the rational Hedonism of Epicurus, not of Aristippus, for whom the present was all-important, a ‘sharp apex between two hypothetical eternities’; it is a Hedonism disciplined by reason. The Utopians are an educated people in the true sense, and they believe with Epicurus that ‘ while every pleasure is in itself good, not all pleasures are to be chosen, since certain pleasures are produced by means which entail annoyances many times greater than the pleasures. Moreover, a right conception of pleasure itself conduces to right living, since it is not possible to live pleasantly without living wisely and well and righteously’. The Utopians, like Epicurus, count serenity of mind and absence of bodily pain amongst the pleasures of the ‘blessed life’.
In our society the moral code, with its repressions and general unnaturalness, and the economic system, in which the hardest and the most useful work is invariably the worst paid, are both strongly conducive to prostitution; the one encourages the demand, the other the supply. In the big drive against prostitution in the U.S.S.R. in 1922, the Commissary of Public Health had the good sense to emphasise the importance of not permitting the war against prostitution to degenerate into a war against prostitutes; they were not to be hounded and harried and persecuted, but cured of disease, re-educated to a sense of social responsibility, taught a trade. Where necessary psychological treatment was given. By 1932 the few remaining prostitutes were to be found almost exclusively in the big hotels catering for foreign tourists. The Soviet Union, very sensibly, recognised that it was not merely the prostitutes themselves who needed re-education, but their users, and that without that it would be impossible to abolish prostitution. The user of prostitutes was regarded as guilty of anti-social conduct as much as the prostitute herself; it was insisted that ‘prostitution degrades women; the demand for it degrades men’. In Utopia, where there is no money, and no compulsion to work, nothing is to be gained by harlotry; there ceases to be any purpose in it ; a woman does not have to resort to harlotry to secure an easy life and the satisfaction of her material needs, and a man does not have to resort to prostitutes for the gratification of sexual needs in a society in which there is complete sexual freedom.
In Bacon’s ‘Bensalem’ there were ‘no stews, no dissolute houses, no courtesans, nor anything of that kind’. Such things were regarded as an affront to marriage. Bacon makes his Utopian mouthpiece refer to ‘the depraved custom of change, and the delight in meretricious embracements (where sin is turned into art).’ Our Utopians detest such ‘meretricious embracements ’ not from the standpoint of ‘unlawful lust’, since they recognise no laws in such matters, but because of their Epicurean philosophy of a discriminating Hedonism.
They cannot claim with Bacon’s Utopians that ‘as for masculine love, they have no touch of it’, but they do not regard homo- sexuality as a social problem or anything calling for treatment except at the wish of homosexuals themselves, and then it is rather a matter of disposing of any conflict and inducing accept- ance of the deviation rather than attempting a ‘cure’, since, in the words of Dr. Kenneth Walker, ‘the true homosexual is unable, with the best will in the world, to change the direction of his desires, and treatment is generally useless. The invert is born with the disposition to homosexuality. He has no more control over his sexual make-up than he has over the colour of his hair’.
Dr. Walker goes on to point out, however, ‘ But the congenital predisposition is not the only cause of homosexuality, although it is probably the most potent one. External factors also exert their influence, such as seduction and example. . . . Undoubtedly some of our famous public schools have in the past acted as incu- bating establishments for homosexuals. Whereas a normally constituted child will turn with disgust from the practices he may have witnessed, one with a predisposition to homosexuality may be permanently deviated in that direction’. He adds, ‘It must be noted, however, that some psychologists deny that example and seduction can ever affect permanently a normal adolescent \
It is generally accepted in Utopia that there are two kinds of homosexuals — the pathological and the psychological; the first group are a product of Nature; the second of civilisation. There is the male homosexual with feminine attributes — feminine hips and buttocks, high-pitched voice, delicate feminine skin; and there is the masculine female homosexual, lacking in the soft feminine attributes, and dressing, in accordance with the dictates of her nature, in as masculine a fashion as possible. The hermaphrodite is the extreme of these types. Obviously for this ‘intermediate sex’ psychological treatment is useless; these people are as nature made them, and their sexual natures are in accordance with the balance of male and female elements in their mental and physical make-up. They cannot be said to be unnatural, since nature itself is responsible for their intersexual condition. The psychological homosexuals show no physiological abnormality; many male homosexuals are completely masculine in appearance and manner, and many women homosexuals are completely feminine, both physically and mentally. Whereas the congenital homosexual does not usually attract the opposite sex, the men being too feminine, the women too masculine, the psychological homosexuals deceive the opposite sex by their outward normality, but are themselves quite unable to respond to any heterosexual interest they may arouse. Various factors may have contributed to their inversion — sex fears in childhood due to a bad sex education — the association of the idea of normal sex relations with pain, or with something unclean — an over-emotional relationship with the mother or the father, so that the son grows up unable to think of women except as mothers, whilst for the daughter men are impossible except as fathers. Over and over again in the history of male homosexuals there emerges an exaggerated devotion to the mother, an almost incestuous love, coupled, usually, with jealousy or fear of the father. In the history of Lesbians there commonly recurs a jealousy of the mother’s second marriage, fear or hatred of the mother’s husband, whether as father or step- father, or the man who has replaced the father in the home-life. The girl with an over-emotional attitude to the father does not appear to develop along homosexual lines, but tends to marry a father-substitute, a man old enough to be her father; it is less common for a man to marry a mother-substitute, the mother- fixation usually developing into homosexuality.
The sexual impulse can be deviated into homosexual channels early in childhood; the unnatural segregation of the sexes at school confirms this tendency, which, in better circumstances, might have been redirected. A first love-affair which fails sexually can also confirm a homosexual tendency, as surely as a successful first heterosexual experience can re-direct it. A man with a homosexual tendency incurred in childhood has only to fail in his first attempt at sex relations with a woman to be convinced that his true sexual nature lies with his own sex, with whom, it seems to him, everything is much simpler and easier, and there is no risk of humiliation. Similarly with a woman with a latent homosexual tendency; she has only to be disappointed in or disgusted by her first sexual experiences with the opposite sex to jump to the conclusion that heterosexual relations are not for her. In both such cases probably more effective than any psycho- analytical treatment is the patient understanding of someone in love with the homosexual, and who has tact and sympathy and love enough to restore the confidence lost in the early disastrous affair; it is a delicate and difficult business, but by love and patience very much may be accomplished.
Dr. Walker cites Adler as emphasising ‘the part played by fear in the development of latent homosexuality, and especially by feat of the opposite sex. This may take many disguises, and be manifested not only as fear of women in general, but also a fear of venereal disease, fear of scandal, and fear of feminine entangle- ments. Intimacies with the same sex, being free of these terrors, exercise over a youth with an intersexual makeup a certain attraction’.
As influences which have the power to correct a homosexual leaning and direct the Libido into normal channels, Dr. Walker gives, in order of importance, protection during childhood and adolescence from seduction and example, a virile upbringing, good feminine friendships, and a happy love-affair. ‘To these may be added the influence of religion and the acquirement of a social sense that disparages a homosexual and exalts a heterosexual love’.
It is probable that as Utopia progresses psychological homo- sexuality will finally disappear, because the conditions productive of it will have ceased to exist, as one rationally educated genera- tion succeeds another. In Utopia there is no unnatural segregation of the sexes in the schools and colleges, no bad sex education — or mis-education — to overcome, no ‘moral training’ to corrupt the natural goodness of the child and pervert the impulses of its adolescence. And nothing of that decadence which prevails in our own society and which regards homosexuality with a kind of admiration, almost awe, as a special attribute of the intellectual, something so much more interesting than normality . . . whereas what would really be interesting in intellectual and artistic circles in our world would be if someone were to say, with that air of having said something witty, ‘ Of course, you know, my dear, he’s hetero!’
The Utopians neither persecute homosexuals on the one hand, nor adulate them on the other, as we do; they accept them, and do their best to help them resolve their conflicts and accept what cannot be changed, whilst seeking always to establish that background and education which will reduce the chances of forming homosexual tendencies in the young.
They have pulled down all the prisons in Utopia. You might say, ‘ Could they not have been used as places in which to attempt to cure maladjusted people, and in which to restrain those who cannot be cured?’ The answer to this is No, because of the bad associations of prisons. Even if they were no longer called by that name the old taint of prison would remain, and could not fail to have a bad psychological effect on people whom it was hoped to help and cure there. In Utopia, therefore, no vestige of the prison is allowed to remain, even as an historic ruin. The Utopians do not want to be reminded of the old, unhappy days and man’s inhumanity to man that seems to them so strange, so barbarous. Had no one any conscience, they wonder, that people could be happy knowing that in their midst fellow human beings were shut up for months and years, and under the most inhuman conditions, being punished — tortured is how they see it — for that for which they should have been pitied .
Since there are no police, no courts of law, no judges, no law- yers, the anti-social person who must be restrained for the com- mon good is dealt with by a committee made up — by election — from the people amongst whom he lives, the people of the town, or the village commune. They form not a court in which an offender is judged, but a court of inquiry, a tribunal, and it is arranged in as friendly and informal a manner as possible. Such tribunals are only assembled when something extremely serious has been done or attempted, such as a murder, an assault, setting fire to a rick or a public building, a sexual offence against a child. A court of inquiry is only called when it is necessary to hold the offender in restraint; then some sort of tribunal becomes necessary to determine whether he did actually commit the offence complained of; if a mistake has been made those who have suspected him of the offence publicly apologise; if the general feeling, as a result of careful inquiry, is that there is no doubt that he is a menace to the common good he is held in pleasant and comfortable conditions and treated psychologically, or psycho- therapeutically, as the case may be; if he is found to be incur- ably insane he is sympathetically cared for in a home for such cases.
‘What?’ perhaps you exclaim. ‘Do you mean to say that in Utopia incurable lunatics are kept alive — useless to themselves and a drag on healthy people?’
The answer to which is that the Utopians consider that euthanasia, despite the intellectual arguments for it, would introduce too much suspicion and fear into human life. No one would ever feel quite safe. A person who had had a mental breakdown and been cured would live in dread of another similar illness for fear that this time he might be found incurable and, like an incurably sick animal, be ‘put to sleep’; such an anxiety might well give him another such breakdown. The responsibility of taking another person’s life for humane reasons the Utopians consider too great. In no circumstances, they hold, can it be justifiable to take life — though what one does with one’s own is one’s own affair, and not to be moralised over by society.
Suicide is, however, very rare in Utopia. All the material reasons for it are removed. The two chief motives for suicide are money and love. In Utopia worry over money matters is impossible, but even in the ideal commonwealth people are capable of so over-valuing each other that it is possible for them to feel that without the love of a certain person life is insufferable, and to reach the point at which all desire to live ceases.
Whilst the Utopians deeply deplore suicide, regarding it 'as the supreme sin, because it is the crime against life itself, they nevertheless maintain that everyone has the right to do as he chooses with his own life, and if he wishes to destroy it, is no one’s concern but his own. When a person is found dead there is a medical inquiry into the causes of death, because if he should not have died of natural causes, or at his own hand, it would not do to leave at large a person who might be a homicidal maniac. If the person is found to have killed himself, the fact is recorded without comment. A verdict of suicide ‘whilst of unsound mind’, or ‘whilst the balance of the mind was deranged’, seems to the Utopians unreasonable, for, they argue, who can possibly judge of the state of the person’s mind at the time — and even if it were possible to judge, what does it matter?
The Utopians have no fear of death, and no superstitions concerning it. They know neither dread of dying, nor horror of the dead. Those of the older generation who still adhere to the teachings of the orthodox Church — but they are few — have the comfort of their belief in an after-life. The great unbelieving mass preserve a rational attitude to death. That is to say they accept it philosophically, and though they feel a natural grief for the loss that the death of those they love brings they are averse to all funereal trappings. They believe that with that cessation of physical being we call death, everything that they loved in the living person has gone, and that what is left has no meaning, and the sooner it is returned to the dust from whence it sprang the better, and that this should be done with as little ostentation as possible. The majority favour cremation rather than earth burial, as being the most expeditious way of disposing of the husks of humanity, and there is a general feeling against tombstones, since, say the Utopians, the heart, inscribed with memories, is memorial enough. They do not wear mourning or lay wreaths.
They use no euphemisms concerning death; they do not say ‘passed away’ or ‘passed on’ or ‘taken’. But though they have no superstitions concerning death, and no wish for funereal trappings, they regard Lycurgus as having been altogether too arbitrary in that ‘he suffered nothing to be buried with the corpse, except the red cloth and the olive leaves in which it was wrapped’, and in that ‘he would not suffer the relations to inscribe any names upon the tombs’, except of those men that fell in battle, or those women who died in some sacred office, ‘and fixed eleven days for mourning’. They maintain that people who want the outward show, as a means of paying tribute to the dead, and derive any kind of comfort from it, should be allowed to have it. Our conduct towards our dead, they say, is as personal as our conduct towards those we love. But they themselves have progressed beyond the superstitions and the trappings and funereal pomps. Since they regard life as a boon —
‘Then death when e’er it comes Must come too soon’.
There is nothing they can do about it but accept it as they accept the cycle of night and day and of the seasons, regretful that ‘the glory of life’, the ‘vast luxury of living’, has ultimately to come to an end, both for themselves and those they love, but resigned to it, and not seeking to delude themselves that there is anything beyond. Their philosophy is to ‘learn to gather sloes in their season, to shear sheep, to draw water from the spring with grateful happiness, and no longer vex our hearts with impossible longings. They know that all is impermanent, and life only a leasehold, and with this philosophic materialism they ‘approach life with firm, unfaltering mind, with chivalrous minds well disciplined to ask and to expect no more than what has been clearly given to us. For enough and more has already been allowed us’. They believe that the spirits of those we love do survive after death, not in any spiritualist sense , but as music continues to vibrate on the air when the instruments that created it have ceased, and they take comfort from this, for they know that their own spirits will similarly survive, and that in that sense they will continue an after-death life, in the memories those who loved them hold of them, and in the things they created with hand and brain, so that physical cessation, and the body become dust returned to the good earth, is but ‘a sea-change into something rich and strange’, and the anticipation of this is no shadow upon the sunlight of their Utopian happiness.
The Utopian conception of happiness is something basically different from our own. Whereas we pursue happiness they wait quietly for it to enter into them. They believe, profoundly, that it is a state of being , not of having . It is an attitude of mind ; an acceptance of life. They do not experience, therefore, the rest- lessness common to our way of living; they do not have to be constantly seeking sensation — the sensations of love, the sensations of pleasure. They are at peace within themselves, and this peace they call happiness. It is not a bovine content, but rich in satis- faction; they are happy because they are fulfilled in their creative impulses, because each does what he likes to do, and it is a satisfaction to him; he is aware of his integral place in society; he has this sense of integration with the whole fabric of society. In their relations with each other there is this same serenity of mind; marriage for them is not a frenzied perpetuation of passion’s trance; it is not romanticism, ‘flowery and false’; they know passionate, romantic love and delight in it, but they know that passion and romance do not ‘marry’ people to each other, that ‘ marriage ’ is the love and friendship, the tenderness and devotion, left when the first wild feelings have subsided, and though it is true that unhappiness sometimes enters into their relations with each other, there is far less unhappiness than between the men and women of our world, and because of their education and their attitude to life, the essential rationality of their whole conception of happiness, they are far better equipped to face it — and in due course recover from it.
Defining morality as what makes for the greatest good for the greatest number, the Utopians are a strictly moral people. Though they believe that the wilful infliction of pain is immoral they also believe that there are occasions in human relations when unsel- fishness and self-sacrifice are immoral. For example, it may be extremely unselfish and self-sacrificing of A to stay with B, who makes her unhappy, when she could be happy with C; but it means that she is sparing B unhappiness at the expense of her own and G’s — that, in fact, two people are being made unhappy, their lives spoiled, for the sake of one. They consider that if there is no third person involved and A decides to devote her life to the attempt at making B happy, there is no great virtue in this, because of the moral satisfaction A is likely to derive from the consciousness of her self-sacrifice — that in this she has her reward, which minimises the selflessness of her conduct.
The Utopians consider it immoral to ill-treat a child, physically or mentally, and to attempt to impose adult standards on it, or ‘mould’ it in any way. But in Utopia, where, as we have seen, all children are wanted children and therefore loved, and education is morally and intellectually free, there is little danger of this.
•They consider it immoral to take from society — that is to say, from the common storehouses, which contain the products of the earth and of man’s labours — without contributing to it. But they would consider it even more immoral to punish the transgressor; not merely, they say, would it not cure him of his anti-social con- duct, but harden him and turn him into a positive enemy of society; it seems to them, also, that to cause another human being to suffer in the name of punishment is to impose wrong upon wrong, and no good can come of it. The individual forcibly res- trained because he is a menace to society may suffer through this restraint, but in such cases the law of the greatest good for the greatest number operates.
Ugliness seems to the Utopians immoral — ugly cities, ugly houses, the creation of ugly things. For them
‘The wrong of uncomely things Is a wrong too great to be told ’
Most of our ‘modern art’ is, from the Utopian viewpoint, quite immoral, its ugliness an expression of an inner chaos and con- fusion, and of false values and lies. Indeed, our whole way of living, with its buying and selling, its values of the stock exchange and the market-place, its private ownership of the land and the means of production, the exploitation of the many by the privi- leged few, all the inequality and injustice that prevails, the hum- bug and hypocrisy of our moral code, the degradation of sex through prostitution, the parasitic element in marriage, the woman bartering her body for the security a home and husband is made to represent — the perversion of Christian teaching through the Church, so that what should give man abundant life is anti-life, the barbarousness of our wars, the lies of our Press, the vanity and self-interest of our politicians — all this the Utopians consider so unspeakably immoral, such incredibly bad living, that they hardly know whether to despise or pity us most. If we are not a race of rogues and criminals, they say, then certainly we must be a race of perverts and lunatics. . . .
If they are to be accused of immorality because of their free sexual relations, which have abolished prostitution and the un- happy marriage and all the miseries of frustration that twist and warp human nature and rob life of its joy, of what are we to be accused, with our furtive adulteries and guilty fornications, our street-walkers, and brothels, and sex degraded to the level of pornography?
The Utopians have no poverty, no want, no disease. The earth is theirs, and the fulness thereof. They have security, peace — material, and spiritual, — satisfaction, joy. Like Aristophanes’ birds, their time is passed 'like a perpetual wedding-day’. . If that is 'immoral’ they accept the accusation, proudly.
Nietzsche saw the cardinal virtues as sincerity, courage, gener- osity, courtesy. Havelock Ellis, in his essay on St. Francis, declares, 'Not energy, even when it shows itself in the blind fury of righteousness, suffices to make civilisation, but sincerity, intelligence, sympathy, grace, and all those subtle amenities which go to what we call, perhaps imperfectly enough, humanity — therein more truly lie the virtues of fine living’. Our Utopians also attach the utmost importance to all these virtues, but greater importance to moral courage than to physical courage, and as to generosity, they say that material giving is of little value if there is not generosity of spirit behind, that a capacity for giving things proves nothing, since many outwardly generous people are fundamentally selfish, giving only when their own interests are not touched. In our 'system of society, they say, it is easy to give money if you have plenty, and no virtue in it, and very little in making presents to people out of money or possessions in excess of our needs. Generosity, as they see it, is the man who has only half a loaf between himself and starvation giving half of it to someone who has none; it is Sir Philip Sidney’s gesture with the cup of water on the battlefield ; it is denying oneself something in order to give it to someone else whose need is greater, or purely to give pleasure; it is contriving another person’s happiness regardless of trouble and inconvenience to oneself ; it is also forgiveness and tolerance, and the emotional giving of self. It is the charitable spirit, the free outflow of loving-kindness, not merely for those one loves, but to the strangers that cross one’s path.
‘Compassion under the discipline of scientific knowledge may well inaugurate the long looked-for Utopia,’ Llewelyn Powys wrote in his Glory of Life , and pointed out, ‘When we act with generosity we do it as a spreading oak, innocent of virtue, shelters sheep from the sun, carelessly, naturally,* out of the abundance of our pagan vigour. This largesse outpouring of a strong soul cannot be curtailed. It is the natural property of a temperament richly fulfilled. It has certainly nothing whatever to do with religion, logic, or philosophy. ’
Utopian generosity springs from that' rich fulfilment irradiating life. Which brings us back to our original contention that people are not happy because they are good, but good because they are happy. The Utopians are rich in virtue because they are rich in happiness.
XII. UTOPIA AND RELIGION
Morris’s News from Nowhere ends with a feast in a church — not a religious feast, but simply a dinner to which the men and women working at the haymaking sit down as to a harvest-time feast in a barn. They choose a church because it is a hot summer’s evening and the church is cool, and because a number of people sit down to dine, and the church has space. In this there is nothing blasphemous. A church is a place of worship, and men worship God in various ways. Religion for Morris’s Utopians meant the religion of humanity — the worship of life itself, of the good earth, and of happy men and women. So at the feasts of the good-earth, haysel, and harvest-home, they decorated their churches with flowers, and those who had worked in any way to bring in the produce of the earth, sat down to dine in a communal thanksgiving in a fashion not unlike the Church-ales of the Middle- Ages.
Is it too much to suggest that there is more of the true spirit of religion in this than in a fashionable crowd listening to platitudes from .the pulpit, their minds remote equally from heaven and earth? Love of the good earth is ultimately love of God, creator of heaven and earth. Massingham, in his Tree of Life , points out that when the parson blesses the fields at Rogation-tide the church is in the fields, and at the Harvest Festival the fields are in the church, and that ‘it is this synthesis — religion, nature, craft, husbandry, all in one — we have to rediscover’. He reminds us that the first church was the manger, and urges that the church must come back to the earth, the earth to the church.
When Man is integrated with the earth he is integrated with God. God is the Supreme Good; the Creative Force of all life. Serving the earth men serve God; worshipping life they worship God. The Utopians do not seek to make religion a matter of creeds; there is but one God because there is but one life. What is religion, they ask, but human recognition of the superhuman controlling power of all life? What need to tie this controlling power down to a personal God? The wind that blows is all that anybody knows. Call it the First Cause, Nature, the Law of Cause and Effect, call it God —
‘This is its touch upon the blossomed rose,
The fashion of its hand shaped lotus leaves ! ’
Thus spake Prince Gautama, the Buddha. The orthodox Chris- tian declares in the Apostolic Creed, T believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth’. It is the same human recognition of the superhuman control — the essence of the religious spirit.
There are, in Utopia, those who believe in the personal deity; those who believe in ‘God the Father Almighty’, and in Jesus as his Son; those who believe that ‘there is but one God, Allah, and Mahomet is his Prophet’; those who follow Buddha, Confucius, and others; those who worship the ancient Hindu gods. Among the Christians are those for whom Christianity is inseparable from worship in church, with priests, and candles, and vestments; and those who favour a Quaker simplicity, and whose belief is in the Inner Light, that has no need of ritual. And there are those who feel no need for any personal God, or any gods, but whose religious spirit finds expression through ‘the religion of humanity love of humanity, love of the earth, and an unconscious worship through service, the Doctrine of Creation expressed through the loving cultivation of the soil.
Man is naturally religious. However materialist he may be intellectually science can never satisfy an innate spiritual need, tie is stirred by tremendous thunders and lightnings, by splen- dours of sunsets and dawns, by all manner of natural phenomenon, in spite of his scientific knowledge. And for all his scientific knowledge and inventiveness the movements of winds and waters, of suns, moons, and stars, remain forever and forever beyond his reach. In the presence of avalanches and great storms and volcanic eruptions he is filled with a quite unscientific and irrational awe; the ‘fear of God’ becomes real to him; the fear of something utterly beyond his control, and with that fear, in that moment, he acknowledges his littleness — and the existence of ‘God’. He may deny God as a personal deity who listens to prayers and answers them, who sits in judgment, administering rewards and punishments; but God in terms of creator and ruler of the universe he cannot deny — unless he is prepared to deny the cycle of night and day and of the seasons, and that the earth moves round the sun.
The Utopians who believe in a personal deity and who adhere to religious teaching, whether Christian or Mohammedan or anything else, are in a minority, as we have indicated ; the great mass of Utopians have broadened the whole conception of religion as they have of morality. This means that they are not less religious than the peoples of our world, but, in the deepest sense, more so. Religion, for them, is not a matter of ritual and mumbled prayers and routine devotions. Without neces- sarily acknowledging Jesus as Christ they nevertheless live in the imitation of Christ to an extent seldom found amongst orthodox Christians — who interpret Jesus's command to ‘Love one another' by dropping bombs on each other — a course of conduct which John Cowper Powys, in his The Art of Growing Old , justifies, astonishingly, by interpreting the simple command, ‘Love your enemies' as ‘Be kind to your enemies'. He assures us that ‘ Knock your enemy down and be kind to him afterwards ’ is the common-sense version of this comprehensive command, for, he goes on to explain — what Jesus in his simplicity never thought of — ‘Once down and the man is again your “neighbour"; and the moment for “pouring in oil and wine" and paying his bill at the Inn has arrived'. Thus do our modern ‘Christians' edit and ‘improve' upon the Sermon on the Mount.
The Utopian way of living, its stateless and moneyless society, demands a high ethical standard; to live according to the anarchist principle of ‘mutual aid' the Utopians must indeed love their neighbours as themselves. The whole positive creed of Christian social teaching is involved; the personal ethic must always be related to the good of the community. Love one an- other, serve one another, forgive one another; give to one another. They have abolished ‘the deceitfulness of riches' and, like the early Christians, have* all things in common ; they have abolished the law-courts and the prisons, and judge not that they be not judged; they have abolished wars. They know well that the life is more than meat, and the body than raiment, that man does not live by bread alone, but has need of the roses of the Good Life.
There are still churches in Utopia which are used as such, and there are still priests to administer the sacraments and preach the gospel, but the church has no temporal power. It does not, as in our society, collect ground-rents for premises used as brothels; it does not own property of any kind. Nor has it political power, since, as we have seen, there is^ neither State nor politics. The churches are there — with the exception of the hideous ones, which have been pulled down — and where there is a demand for it they are used for the old orthodox purposes; where there is no demand for them to be so used they remain as historic monu- ments, for their beauty of architecture and stained glass; and very often people who are not religious in any orthodox sense never- theless like to go and sit in them, to be quiet and contemplative, or merely to rest for a little from the heat of the day; or in towns to get out of the tide of people and traffic for a while. They are used also for music recitals, many of them having fine organs. It is not necessary, the Utopians say, to be an orthodox Christian to enjoy the splendour and passion and tenderness of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and its effect is heightened when it is rendered in a large and beautiful church. This feeling for noble religious music, such as Bach’s St. Matthew Passion or Handel’s Messiah, is an excellent example of the Utopian capacity for religiousness outside of orthodox religion ; they have this feeling, this spiritual sensibility, this sense of values beyond materialist conceptions. They are not mystics, yet they have this feeling for the mystery of life — the mystery of its beauty, its suffering, its passion.
They use the churches, too, as we have seen, for the earth feasts of haymaking and harvest, and they keep such feasts out of their feeling for the earth as the source of all things living. Reference was made earlier to the 'loving’ cultivation of the soil; the choice of the word is deliberate ; it is something to which the Utopians attach great importance. They are opposed to the com- plete mechanisation of agriculture because it does not permit of this careful loving cultivation. The man who roars over his land on the seat of a tractor cannot get to know his land intimately as does the man who follows the horse-plough. This is not that romanticising of the land which we deplored earlier, but common sense. That distinguished agriculturist, Lord Portsmouth, writes on this subject , 1 'The man with his feet upon the ground knows from stride to stride the nature of his soil, and can sense its alteration from season to season’. He regards a training in horse- ploughing as 'essential for a proper instinctive feeling towards the soil and its general health and structure’. The Utopians have this instinctive feeling towards the soil; good husbandry is for them the true Doctrine of Creation. Their God is manifested through the laws and works of Nature, and this God they worship in their love of the earth, and serve through their husbandry. Nor does adherence to the orthodox conceptions of religious worship preclude them from a part in this most ancient of all forms of worship.
Where the church exists its spire rises up from the fields, in Mr. Massingham’s beautiful imagery, and the shadow of the church lies like a blessing upon the com. The Utopians have rediscovered worship, which is the essence of the religious spirit, and in doing so have rediscovered Man's immemorial relationship with God and the earth.
In More’s Utopia there were ‘several sorts of religions . . . some worshipping the sun, others the moon, or one of the planets; some worship such men as have been eminent in former times for virtue, or glory, not only as ordinary deities, but as the supreme God ; yet the greater and wiser sort of them worship none of these, but adore one eternal, invisible, infinite, and incomprehensible Deity. . . . Him they call the Father of All. . . . By degrees, they fall off from the various superstitions that are among them, and grow up to that one religion that is the best and most in request’. When they heard of ‘the doctrine, the course of life, and the miracles of Christ ’, they were well inclined to receive this teach- ing, since it seemed in accordance with their communal rule of life. But there was complete freedom to join the Christian Church, or remain outside of it; none that joined It were ill-used, and those who. refused to be baptised did nothing to prevent other people from following in this faith. When one man, newly baptised, began to ‘ dispute publicly concerning the Christian religion with more zeal than discretion’, condemning all other religions as profane, and those who followed them to everlasting burnings, he was seized and brought to trial, and condemned to banishment, ‘for this is one of their most ancient laws, that no man ought to be punished for his religion ’. Every man might have what religion he pleased, and attempt to convert others to it, by persuasion and the force of argument, but he was to use no other force than per- suasion; there was to be no railing against the convictions of others, no reproaches or bitterness or violence. ‘This law was made by Utopus, not only for preserving the public peace . . . but because he thought the interest of religion itself required it.’ It seemed to him that different forms of religion might all come from the same God, inspiring men in a different manner. ‘And supposing that only one religion was really true, and the rest false, he imagined that the native force of truth would at last break forth and shine bright ... he therefore left men wholly to their liberty, that they might be free to believe as they should see cause’. In spite of this, however, he made a severe law against disbelief in survival of the soul after death, which he considered an offence to human dignity, and against the idea that the world was governed by chance, without a wise, over-ruling Providence. Those who did not hold these basic views as part of their religion were considered not fit to be citizens of a well-ordered commonwealth, ‘for there is no doubt to be made, that a man who is afraid of nothing but the law, and apprehends nothing after death, will not scruple to break through all the laws of his country, either by fraud or by force, when by this means he may satisfy his appetites’. None holding these profane views might be raised to any high office or honour or position of public trust, but were despised as men of base and sordid minds, ‘yet they do not punish them, because they lay down this as a maxim that a man cannot make himself believe anything he pleases; nor do they drive any to dissemble their thoughts by threatenings, so that men are not tempted to lie or disguise their opinions; which being a sort of fraud, is abhorred by the Utopians’. It might be reasonable to suggest that if one were to be considered of base and sordid mind for being an un- believer one might, nevertheless, be driven to lie and dissemble rather than be so despised. . . .
Bacon, in his New Atlantis , takes it for granted that his Utopians are ‘a Christian people full of piety and humanity’. The people of the City of the Sun, however, were ‘ partly followers of Bramah and Pythagoras’. They believed in the immortality of the soul, but not in the transmigration of souls, ‘ except in some cases, by a distinct decree of God’. They had an admiration for some aspects of Christian teaching, strongly recommending it on the question of possessions; they were rich because they wanted nothing, poor because they possessed nothing, like the Apostles. But they carried the Christian teaching of all things in common a step farther than the Early Christians, who had ‘everything in common except wives’. The inhabitants of the City of the Sun did not make this exception. The sun for them was the image of God, since it is the source of light and heat and life, and from it ‘the making of all things good and bad proceeds’. The sun was the supreme father, the earth the mother. They believed that the true oracle of Jesus Christ is by the signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars.
Morris devotes little attention to the question of religion; he seems to have assumed that people would have emancipated themselves from the Church to the ‘religion of humanity’, a general love of their fellow-man. The Utopian way of looking at life is described as akin ‘to the spirit of the Middle Ages, to whom heaven and the life of the next world was such a reality, that it became to them a part of the life upon the earth; which accordingly they loved and adorned, in spite of the ascetic doc- trines of their formal creed, which bade them condemn it. But that also, with its assured belief in heaven and hell as two countries in which to live, has gone, and now we do, both in word and in deed, believe in the continuous life of the world of men, and, as it were, add every day of that common life to the little stock of days which our own mere individual experience wins for us ; and consequently we are happy’.
Bellamy’s Utopians still had ‘Sundays and sermons’, but the majority of people preferred to hear the sermons in their own homes rather than in a church, and this they did by some tele- phonic arrangement which was a prophecy of our modern wire- less. There were voluntary churches, and an unofficial clerical profession whose services, like those of editors, could be had on request. ...
Our modern Utopians seem likely to free Christianity from the stranglehold of the Church and restore it to its original simplicity as a way of life, a guide to conduct which enables people to live together in love and peace and harmony, seeking the kingdom of heaven within them, creating it, co-operatively, here on earth. And what is Utopia if it is not that — heaven on earth?
XIII. UTOPIA— THE WILL TO THE DREAM
If we are agreed that progress is the realisation of our Utopias the problem remains — how to set about this realisation. It is not to be achieved through any political party, or any leadership. The world has had a surfeit of political parties and leaders. The need is not for politicians and leaders, but for a change in the heart of man. Given the will to it the Utopian dream could be realised; there could be that world in which men, whatever language they sppke, whatever colour their skins, whatever their religions, were brothers in the true sense, racially united in their common humanity, acknowledging one race only — the human race; a world in which all things were in common, each giving to society according to his ability and taking according to his need ; a world in which there was no buying or selling, no useless toil, no exploitation of the many by the privileged few; a world in which human beings lived according to the natural law of mutual aid, in a stateless, moneyless, and co-operative society; a world of true liberty, equality and fraternity. . . . There could be such a world if humanity wanted it enough. If this present civilisation, rapidly destroying itself through mechanical force, the machine, accel- erated beyond all control, finally collapsed amid its smoking ruins, it might be that those who survived, purged beyond all imagining by their sufferings, would be given the vision of a new world, a new way of life — new as the first dawn when God looked upon the world and saw that it was good. Nothing less will serve.
The need, as this book has attempted to indicate, is for the com- plete transvaluation of values in all spheres, social, moral, econo- mic, industrial, agricultural. That our present economics are the economics of the mad-house is clear, and that we are draining the good earth of its fertility, creating deserts, by taking from it with- out returning, denying the natural cycle of life.
Nothing in the foregoing chapters is impossible— given the will to the dream. Nor need mankind wait upon universal perfection. The realisation of Utopia does not call for a world of perfect people. It is probable that there will always be Ananias and Sapphira in our midst. These defaulters did not disrupt the com- munism of the Early Christians ; of them, we are told, the multi- tude were ‘of one heart and of one soul; neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own ; but they had all things common. . . . Neither was there any among them that lacked; for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold . . . and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need ’.
People say, But the heart of the multitude is not to be changed overnight; there can be no mass conversion; therefore we must take the world as it is and move forward step by step.
Then it is that they come forward with their Plans and their Programmes, party labels attached — Communist, Fascist, Labour Party, Common Wealth, and the rest. Some see the nationalisation of industry as the road to salvation ; others, seeing money as the root of all evil urge monetary reform — not, strangely enough, the abolition of the root of all evil; some see Utopia along the Marxist road; some want State socialism, others socialism with- out the State. In all these parties and systems there is revolt against the existing system and its social inequalities and in- justices, but some offer one thing at the expense of another — and the thing most readily sacrificed is the liberty of the indi- vidual, so that ‘the step in the right direction’ is continually cancelled out. There is even a crypto-Fascist school of thought — beginning with Plato — which considers freedom unimportant.
It is true that not every step in the right direction is cancelled out by a negation of liberty; reforms we must have; there must be amelioration of the human lot; but let us be under no illusion that the road to Utopia is paved with reforms. To achieve Utopia ‘we must first expiate our past, we must break with it; and we can only expiate it by suffering, by extraordinary, unceasing labour. Utopia has nothing to do with reform; Utopia is the new heaven and the new earth; it does not spring from any political party or system, but from the dream in the heart of man; a revolution in the human mind. By all means let us sanction this and that reform — provided it is not one step forward and two back. Whether or not we can sanction political revolution depends on whether or not we are prepared to sanction violence as a means to an end. But it is clear that Utopia cannot proceed from violence. The history of bloody revolution everywhere is the history of failure. Revolution there must be, the ‘complete change, turning upside down, great reversal of conditions, fundamental reconstruction, of the dictionary definition of the word, but people are not to be bludgeoned into it; only what is achieved through the great upsurge of the human spirit, out of the impassioned desire of the multitude, endures; what is imposed by force has no roots, and cannot last. There is no realisation of Utopia without the change of values, and no change of values without change of heart — spiritual revolution. Utopia can be founded only on man’s love for man; on love and co- operation; not on hate and the seizing of material power. When one section of the community triumphs over another it is only a matter of time before the section from whom power has been wrested reasserts itself — in the same way that it is only a matter of time before a conquered nation rises once more to power, and to say that history repeats itself is only another way of saying that wars beget wars.
This is not to deny the importance of the day to day struggles — the struggle of oppressed peoples against imperialism, of workers against capitalist exploitation. To suggest that subject peoples should wait, passively, for imperialist governments to experience a change of heart, repent of their sins, and hand over the keys of the kingdom, is manifestly absurd. Ceaselessly the demand for freedom must go up, the doctrine of justice be preached. The masses, the world over, do not have to seize power, since it is by their toil that the wheels go round and the earth brings forth; this is their power; their strength lies in their realisation of it. With the withdrawal of their co-operation the whole machinery of the social system ceases to function, and the power of politicians breaks, eventually, under the pressure of the moral force of public opinion. No general strike, no rioting, was necessary on the part of the British working classes in 1920 to break the government’s intention of intervention against the revolutionaries in Soviet Russia; the government was defeated by the great weight of opinion of the common people who poured out into the public squares and into meeting-places in mass protest. The shameful Hoare-Laval pact during the Abyssinian war was similarly defeated by the great weight of popular opinion against it. The power of moral force has not yet been fully tried out, though in India one old, frail man has demonstrated its potentialities — as the Early Christians demonstrated the potentialities of co-opera- tive living according to the law of love.
The change of heart requisite for the realisation of millennium is not, ultimately, a matter of conversion from one idea to an- other, but of the collapse — from exhaustion — of existing systems. Civilisations rise and fall; the machine accelerates to the point at which it blows itself up. Out of the ensuing chaos emerges the morning-star; there breaks upon the world a new day, with new ideas, new values — new vision. So long as there exists the system of society based on private profit so long will there be injustice and exploitation — the hard heart, that is to say the commercial heart, the imperialist heart, with its lust for power, and all that that connotes of the domination of man by man. Within such a system the heart is not to be changed. But systems become outworn and new conceptions develop. Eventually we do not have to convert the imperialist and the capitalist and the mili- tarist because they cease to be. There are tides in the affairs of men that wash away systems and civilisations.
And the tide is rising in the world today, though few realise it, and Nature herself is taking a hand in the process. The earth, the source of all life, is losing its fertility; Nature is being revenged for the profligacy of Man, ‘the most extravagant accelerator of waste the world has ever endured ’, as the eminent American professor, F. H. King, wrote in his great work, Farmers of Forty Centuries in China , Korea and Japan . He adds that Man’s ‘withering blight has fallen upon every living thing within his reach, himself not excepted ’. In his Cleanliness and Godliness , Mr. Reginald Reynolds, indicts ‘an evil and adulterating generation, declaring, with bitter truth, that ‘of all the things that posterity will remember about us, for nothing will it so justly condemn our age as for our profligacy. They will say of us in time to come that we wasted human labour in unemployment, and human life in war; that we willingly destroyed food on the preposterous excuse that it was necessary to maintain its price; that is to say, to make it more dear to our own pockets ; that we killed time because we did not know how to live; that we debilitated our constitutions by destroying vitamins, inventing elaborate methods of ruining every decent thing that was eatable; and that we destroyed the soil itself by this same mania for waste ’. Mr. H. J. Massingham, in his The Tree of Life , points out that ‘In England we waste every year 219,000 tons of nitrogen, 55,000 tons of phosphate and 55,000 tons of potash as sewage sludge and house refuse that pollute the rivers and are lost in the sea. Every year the peoples of Europe and the United States pour down into the sea and rivers nearly twenty million tons of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus for every million of their populations, and every cargo of beef or milk products, every shipload of bones left the exporting country the poorer in the fruitfulness of the soil.
What it all amounts to is that Man must find a new way of living or perish. The dominating forces of our world today are Money and the Machine; they are responsible for our over-industrialisa- tion and our wars, and between the non-productiveness of the one, and the destructiveness of the other, what chance has civilisation? Our only chance of survival lies in recognition of the danger — of the rising tide — and restoration of those basic values which acknowledge the earth as the only real wealth, and its fertility as ‘the substratum of all that is living.
The fertility of the earth is being destroyed through the com- mercialisation of agriculture, which demands intensive production, quick returns on outlay. It means that the whole source of Man’s existence is slowly returning to dust, through the ascend- ancy of money — because the values of our civilisation are the urban values of the stock exchange and the marketplace, and therefore none of the steps in the right direction advocated by the Planners, and the reformers in general, can be anything but con- tinual readjustments in a losing struggle for survival — the make- shifts by which a system fundamentally anti-life is kept going. Dr. G. T. Wrench, in his book, The Restoration of the Peasantries , has reminded us that 4 By no act of man can any reform succeed, if it does not begin with the organic foundation of man’s individual and social being. Man is a metamorphosis of the re-creating power of the soil. His welfare is based upon its welfare. That is the imperishable fact upon which his associations, cultures, and civilisations will continue to be based, while human life endures \
That is in essence the Doctrine of Creation, the return to the fundamental values. So long as Man continues to exploit the soil for profit he sows the seeds of his own destruction, not merely because Nature becomes his enemy, responding to his machines and his chemicals by the withdrawal of fertility, the dusty answer of an ultimate desert barrenness, but because his whole attitude to life is debased ; his gods become Money and Power, and wars and unemployment and useless toil become his inevitable portion.
That twentieth-century human beings, with all their imper- fections, can live an ordered, co-operative life, free of centralised government, has been demonstrated by the Catalonian experiment during the Spanish Civil War; a beginning was even made with the abolition of money. Groups of people in all countries, throughout the ages, from the Early Christians down to present- day communities, have shown by example what can be achieved through co-operative living. Utopias cannot exist islanded in a non-Utopian world, but these experiments indicate what is possible given the will to the dream.
It is no part of the business of the planner of an ideal common- wealth to set forth instructions as to how it may be achieved ; his function finishes when he has shown what could be done — given the will of the mass of people. Towards that end he can urge a new conception of education; he can warn against the rising tide, the impending doom ; he can, by the preaching of fundamental values, stimulate thought, the realisation of the urgent need for a new way of living as an alternative to destruction. Which brings us back to our original contention that Utopia is concerned with the soul of Man, and, through the recognition of that, with the brotherhood of Man. Humanity has to be doubly re-educated, first to the conception of a new Golden Age, and then to the necessity for it, and that is the task of the teachers and the preachers, the writers and the poets and the dreamers. Only the dreamer can give us the necessary inspiration, the authentic vision. His function is that of teacher and preacher, not of director. He cannot give you the earthly paradise within the terms of reference of the existing order. He can but say to his fellow-men, ‘ If you do this and this, and cease to do that and that, you will achieve this heaven on earth I have outlined for you ’, and if they are so infatuated with money and machines that they prefer hell upon earth, with its wars and famines and squalors, its privations in the midst of plenty, its mad-house economics, and its ultimate des- truction of the earth’s productivity, which is the destruction of life itself — it is their own calamitous affair.
Ideally, then, God should send another Flood, but of his mercy receive into the Ark those prepared to begin again in the Garden of Eden in the morning of a new world.
London, December, 1943 -May, 1944.