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MonkeyNotes-Utopia by Sir Thomas More
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Of Sciences, Crafts and Occupation

Agricultural activities are the main occupation of Utopians, although many also learn one or more crafts or trades such as weaving, masonry, blacksmithing and carpentry. Generally, men indulge in heavy work and the women in lighter ones. There is no use for any other occupation because the Utopians lead a very simple life. The men and women wear uniforms that are different in summer and winter. Each person, man or woman can choose a craft according to his/her own inclination. A Utopian can have more than one means of livelihood. The only crime is to remain idle. Syphogrants work as overseers who make sure that every single person is doing his or her job honestly.

With everyone working and needs being simple, the Utopia don't have to work very hard or long. In fact, they work for only six hours a day. The rest of the working hours is spent in profitable pursuits like listening to lectures, games and so on. Games are honest and wholesome and any form of gambling is prohibited.

Because everybody works in Utopia, there is enough to go around for everyone. Hythloday points out that in England a great number of people do not work. Women, the rich, religious men, nobles, and gentlemen do not work in England, so there is a need for workers to work longer. This is not the case in Utopia where everyone works. Only the very old and the very weak are exempted from work and that too after careful examination by the Syphogrants.

Only one rare class is exempted from manual labor in Utopia. These are the very clever men and women who devote their time to studies. If there is any backsliding and a man or woman do not meet the high standards, he or she is sent back to the general workforce. The elitist force supplies the ambassadors, priests, magistrates, judges and even the king. The rest of the population does not to toil very hard because the needs of Utopia are simple and easy to meet.


Notes

In Utopia universal employment is an important foundation for the system to be run successfully and for everyone's needs to be satisfied. The trades practiced are those that benefit the maximum number of people--those of blacksmithing, weaving, carpentry and masonry. These four cardinal professions are second to husbandry, which is the most useful profession. All Utopians work in jobs that they like and choose for themselves. Hythloday stresses the sense of belonging that makes Utopians work hard for their country. It is truly an enviable nation -- self-sufficient, with a happily employed citizenry, committed to contributing to the economy.

In this section, Hythloday savagely indicts European society. More than three-fourths of the people did not work, most notably the leisure class, and those that did had to labor very hard to keep the idlers in comfort. There were newfangled fashions in dress, houses, etc. that changed constantly and led to a great deal of extra labor. In Utopia, by contrast, men and women wear uniforms. Their houses are built on a single blueprint, no frills or flounces are allowed. Since the houses belong to the state, and not to individuals, nobody is very interested in ornamentation. In Europe, there was constant rebuilding and altering of houses that distracted the workforce from its usual tasks. When more and more work is loaded onto the few, the work becomes less effective. When workers get very little satisfaction from this type of work, they naturally are not very interested in doing their best.

Slowly, the picture emerges of what the author would like European civilization to be: a culture where everyone contributes and participates in the system. One of the techniques that More uses in the book is that of contrast -- contrast between the ideal conditions of Utopia and the grim conditions of England. By praising the first, he hopes to reform the second.

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