Thomas More

moreholbeinThomas More by Hans Holbein, 1520s

His life spanned between 7 February 1478 – 6 July 1535. He was a lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman and Renaissance humanist. Before he was beheaded for not condoning Henry VIII’s bigamy, he wrote and got published a book by the name of Utopia.

I’m interested in More’s honest, ambitious writings in Utopia, where he described problems with society during his time, and best practice for reform – he spread the word through his peers and, in turn, published the manifesto for everyone to learn from for centuries to come. The work of political philosophy was done, as many manifestos have been, in the guise of a fiction. It is a shame that England did not adopt some of these ideas, as we may have avoided many past and present scandals and errors of judgement (banking crash, MPs fiddling expenses, riots…).

The book is about understanding an individual’s responsibility to make decisions independently, whilst having the primary focus on the good of, and sustainability of a community. Ideas stem from curing the rot from the root of the problem rather than lead by patching up the problems using blame, seduction and deception.

Some chapters are especially poignant; the chapter describing the ways in which a king can raise income from the state (taxes, fines, causing confusing through disrupting the legal system to fit his benefit), the chapter of integrating homeless, unemployed, criminals back into society and creating a sense of belonging in every citizen. And, how a kings’ mind and energies should be channeled into generating a positive community for all citizens, instead of expanding his empire and spreading ill received legislation and laws further afield.

It has the same level of ambition in the 1500s as I imagine Jaque Fresco and many other living futurists have now. There is constant unrest when there is not equality. The blame culture needs to be abolished and we need to take genuine interests in our neighbors.

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