Utopian Society Values


Ideal Utopian Society Values Helen Okorie Excelsior College April 2011

The fact that family is so essential to them is ironic because the Shaker community . values that can be seen in a number of utopian societies in reality and literature throughout history. everything was perfect.Utopian Society Values Ideal Utopian Society Values “Eager souls.” said a famous transcendentalist named Nathaniel Hawthorne. one the thing they all agree on is perfection. and cooperation. literary or political. values that a utopian society must possess are family. Regarding utopia. takes place in one form or another in many cultures. In fact. equality.. free from the difficulties that beset us in reality. or good place and means “no place. a state of bliss. It can be seen throughout history with specific concentration to the 19th century. may propose to refashion the world in accordance with their dreams.” Although there are many definitions of utopia. government. order. The term utopia was first used in the book “Of the Best State of a Republic. 2010).” (Levitas. On the island of utopia in the book. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines utopia as a “place of perfection especially in laws.it may be religious. mystics and revolutionaries. this balance is something that no society thus far has been able to accomplish. Ruth Levitas in her book The Concept of Utopia says that utopia is the construction of imaginary worlds. and of the New Island Utopia” by Sir Thomas More in 1516. or the United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing was founded by a woman named Ann Lee. and social conditions. and so long as it lurks in the secret places of the heart. otherwise known as Mother Ann. The word utopia is actually a pun on the word eutopia. but evil remains. The Shakers.. utopia is only the shadow of a dream. utopia is not something that it is easily attainable. but to be successful as well. This is a value that was present in the Shaker community. It requires an extremely delicate balance of different qualities in order to not only survive. made my 2 philosophers or even politicians. In order to be ideal. One value that an ideal utopian society must have is the value of family.” which is meant to emphasize its nonexistence.

and played together. Everything the Oneida “community members did was designed to play down “I” in favor of “we. . the Shakers. Everyone holds each others' interests as heart. Men performed heavy manufacturing and most of the work that was done outside. whereas the women had the responsibility of doing traditional female work such as domestic work. 2006). (Claeys&Sargent. (Claeys & Sargent. (Oneida. 2011). Mother Ann “taught that sexual intercourse was the cause of all human suffering. In addition to conversions. (Advameg. Like the Shakers. However. One of their main concerns was the enlargement of family.” the basis of this belief being the death as infants of all four children that she conceived.The Oneidas believe in a system called complex marriage in which everyone in the community was married to everyone else. which is a result of shared commitment and belief. The roles of the 3 family were divided by sex.Utopian Society Values was actually a community that practiced celibacy.” (Comber. 1996). cooking. their ideals could be seen in their everyday life through shared property and work. Every family was created to be self-sufficient with their own businesses and farm which they worked together in order to maintain. they were divided in Families that contained anywhere around 90 to 100 people each. The members shared property. Noyes did not preach that the members of Oneida were perfect. 2011). sexual partners. The establishment of the family is essential an Utopian society because it leads to social cohesion. lead by John Humphrey Noyes also took family values seriously. and their children. and this eliminates crimes and conflicts. their society was one in which the interest of one member became of the interest of everyone. they begun the practice of adopting orphans. cloth making and weaving. 1999).” Members ate together. in order to solve dilemma of how to increase their numbers. Within the Shaker communities. The community was founded based on Noyes' belief of Perfectionism and communalism. The Oneida commune. but rather that they were more close to the true Christianity the bible speaks of than the rest of the world. worked together.

furthermore. sewing and knitting. (Skinnner. cooking. Unlike the Shaker community. rearing children.Utopian Society Values Another value that an ideal Utopian society must possess is equality. 2006). men and women were to work side by side. (Claeys&Sargent. each respecting the other as co-workers. is also present in both the Shaker and Oneida 4 communities. displays the equality of work through compensation schemes that balance less attractive jobs with grater earnings. The Shakers believed in what is called dual authority in which all positions of care and trust in the society were filled with both men and women. This is due to their belief God was both woman and man. but shared by everyone which is a tactic that encourages equality. To them. In Walden Two they also follow the practice of communal ownership in which property is owned by no one. In a working situation like this. In order to solve this he made it so that within the Oneida community. therefore they should be treated equally on Earth as well. The value of equality. Equality was also a value that was present in the Utopian work of literature Walden Two by B. He believed that women were prisoners of their marriage and were expected to submit to the several demands of her husband. represented by Christ and Mother Ann. everyone benefits. In an ideal society no one group should be superior to the other. (Comber. Skimmer although a bit differently.F. 1995) The promotion of equality in ideal utopian society is important because it helps to prevent uprisings. Skimmer in addition to gender equality. women and men are equal in God's sight. 1976). 2011). Examples of . (Darsey. more specifically gender equality. 1998). The Oneida men challenged traditional gender roles by washing dishes. Equality is one of the values they felt was the route to salvation. the women were urged by community policy to keep indoor work to a minimum and join the men outside. (Advameg. Like the Shakers and Oneidas. equality was not restricted to just gender. Gender equality came about in the Oneida community due to John Noyes' belief of women having no more freedom than a slave outside of the Oneida commune. He saw that women health was often destroyed by repeated child-birthing.

and two deaconesses who took care of the temporalities.” (Claeys & Sargent. Women and African American people fought for years in order to be seen as equals to their counterparts. The Shaker. Yet another value that world be important in an ideal Utopian society is order. 2011). there is more peace and togetherness. These two values have been present in almost every Utopian Society in the past. (Claeys & Sargent. 1998). Communal living is a trait that is very beneficial to a utopian society due to the fact that it is a factor that can lead to the increase of cooperation. the order would be some form of government or constitution that is made in order to prevent chaos. Merriam-Webster's definition for cooperation is a situation in which people work together to do something. (Merriam-Webster. In addition they also had The Millenial Laws which was a “code of behavior. Individualism can cause a domino effect which can lead to the eventual destruction of the society. a value that an ideal utopian society would require is cooperation. a right that should have been provided to them from the get-go. 1998). In the Oneida Society. The Shaker community. in each family had two elder brethren and two elder sisters. who were in charge of the family's spiritual affairs in addition to two deacons. Additionally. the people were lead by John Humphrey Noyes who controlled the spiritual administration of the community therefore controlling the daily decisions of the community . Values like individualism in which every man is for themselves would disintegrate a communal society because it can become a great source of negativity as well as disorder. In a society where there is more cooperation.Utopian Society Values 5 turning points in history that could have been avoided if we had had the same belief would have been both the Women and the Civil Rights Movement. Oneida and Walden Two societies were all Communal societies which is a society that is “characterized by collective ownership and use of property. designed to maintain the communities' internal cohesion and separation from the rest of the world. In this sense.

Utopian Society Values 6 member's life. can be considered successful in comparison to other utopian societies in their time. Under him were a few hand picked men he picked to help lead the community that were known as the lieutenants who helped to carry out his directives. This can be possibly due to the fact that they possessed the values that were expressed above. an ample amount of ingredients. however with he right values and the right leaders it could become a possibility. Oneida society and fictional Walden Two society are all prime examples of this. 2006). and just the right amount of each is needed in order for it to be a success. (Comber. The Shaker and Oneida communities although they no longer exist. However. the complex marriage and celibacy result in the downfall of the societies. family. order and cooperation in order to be considered an ideal utopian society. Both societies were home to many satisfied people. The Shaker. These communities have the potential of being ideal however there are certain things that kept it from being so. Even though many people find the idea of Utopia to be unfeasible. Creating the ideal society can be compared to baking a cake. It can be seen from the information provided above that an utopian society must possess the equality. .

Ruth. B. Walden Two.vlib. Prentice Hall/. Retrieeved on March 31.html#fn41 Darsey.com. NY. (2011). New Jersey. Oneida Comune & the main lovers of John Humphrey Noyes.com/NorthAmerica/Shakers. (2011). Sargent. 2011 from: http://web. . 2011 from: http://www.com/dictionary/cooperation Oneida. Communal. 2011 from: http://www. 2011 from: http://books. Retrieved on March 29. Retrieved on March 25.com/books? id=PZSvlrCri6AC&printsec=frontcover&dq=definition+of+utopia&source=bl&ots=QLEyVIhht O&sig=pP0HcPeYlEp1KQNbn4D9P2I9t7k&hl=en&ei=hN6XTb7MJoD0QGyuYyBDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCkQ6AEwAjg8#v=one page&q=definition%20of%20utopia&f=false Merriam-Webster. The Utopia Reader/ New York University Press.google. (2006).daviddfriedman. Utopia and Desire/ Retrieved on March 31. (1998).com/Academic/Course_Pages/legal_systems_very_different_10/final _papers_06/Oneida. (2011).ebscohost. NY Comber Devin. 2011 from: 7 http://www. 2011 from http://www. The Concept of Utopia. (1995). Cooperation. (2010).merriamwebster.com/aboutoneida/the-oneida-story/ Skinner.everyculture. (2011). 2011 from: http://www. The Oneida Story.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=464463d7-900c4f5d-8018-080bac42821b%40sessionmgr14&vid=1&hid=8 Levitas. (1976). Shakers.oneida. Retrieved on March 26.Utopian Society Values References Advanmeg.merriamwebster.merriamwebster.excelsior. (2010). Retrieved on March 25. 2011 from http://www. Gregory. James. Retrieved o March 28.F.html Claeys . Upper Saddle River.com/dictionary/communal Merriam-Webster. Utopia. Lyman.com/dictionary/utopia Merriam-Webster. Retrieved on March 25.