Thomas More and his Utopia. Karl Kautsky. Halaman 4. 3. The Economic Tendencies of the Reformation in England. Chapter II. THE MODE OF PRODUCTION. Read the full-text online edition of Thomas More and His Utopia (). Thomas More and his Utopia. Front Cover. Karl Kautsky. Russell & Russell, – Biography & Autobiography – pages.

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Elizabeth herself fitted out slave ships, vessels of the Navy engaged in piracy, and slave dealers and pirates, such as the famous world navigator, Francis Drake, were her favourites. Real wages diminished, and labour time was extended.

Thomas More and his Utopia – Karl Kautsky – Google Books

It is clear that ideas must be fermenting for some time before they can exercise any influence on the masses. Like every other Socialist, More can only be understood in the light of his age, to comprehend which a knowledge of the beginnings of capitalism and the ahd of feudalism, of the powerful part played by the Church on the one hand, and of world commerce on the other, is necessary. In its early stages, such an industry is always complaining of the lack of labour-power.

The new ideas, prompted by the new interests, had not discarded the vestments of modes of thinking derived from feudalism, and the latter persisted as traditional illusions long after the main props of its material foundation had been knocked away.

Despite the immense economic and technical transformations of the last three hundred years, we kaitsky in Utopia a number of tendencies which are still operative in the Socialist Movement of our time.

The simple answer to this question is as follows: But a thinker who takes his stand on the material conditions may be a whole epoch in advance of his time, if he perceives a hhomas evolving mode of production and its social consequences not only sooner than most of his contemporaries, but straining far into the future, also hjs the more rational mode of production into which it will develop.

In this respect England offered no special peculiarities. The discoveries of the Portuguese in the second half of the fifteenth century opened a sea route to India.

From the coasts of the Iberian Peninsula to the North Sea English privateers were always loitering on the look-out for silver galleons from America or the rich merchant vessels carrying the treasures of the Indies from Lisbon to Antwerp, Portugal being a Spanish province from to The majority of the positions which More filled impelled him to deal with economic questions; the fact that he was appointed to these posts also proves that he was regarded as an expert in economic matters.

From numerous writings of that time, from numerous Acts of Parliament we may perceive how deep was the impression made by the economic revolution then proceeding, and how generally the shabby practices of the landlords and their tenants were condemned. On this gigantic landed property the traditional mode of production lasted longer than on the other English estates.

Karl Kautsky: Thomas More and his Utopia (Pt.3, Ch.1)

We quote a passage from the first book of Utopia which contains a vivid description of the economic condition of England. It is easy to imagine what a powerful obstacle these endowments were to the impoverishment of handicraftsmen.


Thus the peasant was more and more deprived of the opportunity of keeping cattle, his entire business fell into disorder, and financial ruin overtook him. It flowed not from East to West, from South to North, but contrariwise.

Only in the northern countries of Western Europe were the material conditions in the sixteenth century favourable to the formation of such a disinterested character. But in the degree that England came to the front as a commercial State, in that degree did its interests become hostile to those of Spain, the great commercial power of the sixteenth century, which dominated the western seaboard of the Mediterranean and strove to be the mistress of the seas. The features which corresponded to primitive communism still existed, especially among the lower population, and we meet them in More only slightly glossed over with the Humanistic and courtier traits and the self-censure which the conditions imposed upon him.

The price of wool is also so risen that the poor people, who were wont to make cloth, are no more able to buy it; and this, likewise, makes many of them idle; for since the increase of pasture God has punished the avarice of the owners by a rot among the sheep, which has destroyed vast numbers of them — to us it might have seemed more just had it fell on the owners themselves. The only persons who had then learnt to think scientifically and methodically, to generalise, and who were, therefore; capable of formulating a theoretical socialism, were the Humanists.

In we find him on a mission to Bruges, to settle disputes between English merchants and the Hansa. The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were the Golden Age for the peasants and wage workers of England.

Thomas More and His Utopia

Capitalism in agriculture meant the direct setting-free of workers. Had kwrl not written Utopia his name would scarcely be better known to-day than that of the friend who shared his fate, Bishop Fisher of Rochester.

Where the acumen wnd the investigator thoomas unbridgable antagonisms of classes, the average man sees only accidental personal disputes; where the investigator sees social evils which could only be removed by social transformations, the average man consoles himself with the hope that times are only temporarily bad and will soon improve.

The outcome of the constant struggle for mastery of the seas was boundless enmity and glowing hatred between the two nations. A concurrent phenomenon was the dispersal of the feudal bands of retainers, to which we have made reference in the first part.

The contest over Church property was not decided until after its most energetic and capable champion had perished on the scaffold. They stop the course of agriculture, destroying houses and towns, reserving only the churches, and enclose grounds that they may lodge their sheep in them. But how keenly he observed the economic conditions of his time and how clearly he recognised the great principle, which forms one of the bases of modern Socialism, that man is a product of the material conditions in which he lives, and that a class of human beings can only be elevated through a corresponding change in the economic conditions, this he has proved in his Utopiathe critical parts of which even to-day possess more than an academic interest.

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But sympathy with the poor does not make one a socialist, although without that sympathy no one is likely to become a utopiz. The kings tolerated no more of it than they felt disposed.

It was gloomy, ascetic, and barbaric. The drift of his speculations, of course, escaped his contemporaries, and omre only be properly appreciated by us to-day. These laws, I say, might have such an effect as good diet and care might have on a sick man whose recovery is desperate; they might hos and mitigate the disease, but it could never be quite healed, nor the body politic be brought again to a good habit as long as property remains; and it will fall out as in a complication of diseases, that by applying a remedy to one sore you will provoke another, and that which removes the one ill symptom produces others, while the strengthening one part of the body weakens the rest.

We are not speaking of the members of classes on the decline, most of whom will not face facts, but have in mind the nascent classes, whose interests it is to see, but who cannot see until they bump right up against the new conditions.

Now in the northern countries Humanism was an thomss growth, in which no class had a special interest. The existence of a proletariat of vagabonds creates benevolence and induces almsgiving, but does not produce a socialism of the modern variety.

But what Lutheranism chiefly aimed at in England was not so much separation from the Papacy as the confiscation of the monasteries and akutsky endowments, which was demanded in moore pamphlets.

Not until the reign of Bloody Mary did an economic antagonism develop between the English people and Catholicism, when the Reformation of Absolutism became invested with an economic interest for large classes of people and when that Protestantism was set in motion which brought so much popularity to Elizabeth in her efforts to enforce it. And the demands of the Lutherans did not stop at the monasteries. We grant that with the development of commodity production a class of free persona without property arose in antiquity, who were called by the Romans proletarians.

Nowhere else in Europe, therefore, were the unfavourable reactions of the capitalist mode of production upon the working classes so immediately obvious as in England; nowhere did the unhappy workers clamour so urgently for assistance. Next to wool, timber and fuel were important agricultural products in England, in view of the growth of the towns, as was also barley for the Flemish breweries.

Thomas More and his Utopia

To this we attribute the fact that More thought on modern lines, that his Socialism was modern kind. And he became acquainted with it from the most modern standpoint that was then possible, from that of the English merchant, for whom world trade was then opening up. At the same time the old communications with the East through Asia Minor and Egypt were interrupted by the invasions of utooia.