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  • Utopianism.

  • Utopianism is the ism of utopias.

  • It means a belief or interest in a perfect world -

  • or at least a world designed to be perfect.

  • The word 'utopia' was coined in 1516 by Sir Thomas More -

  • writer, saint and opponent of Henry the VIII's marriage plans -

  • in his book of the same name.

  • Utopia has been taken by some people at face value

  • as a book about a perfect land.

  • But others point to the fact that the word 'utopia' literally means...

  • and that the book is a satire.

  • But that hasn't stopped people.

  • Through the years there has been all sorts of ideas

  • about a perfect society.

  • Economic utopias with no poverty...

  • ecological utopias where humans live in harmony with nature

  • and so on and so forth.

  • Many cultures and religions

  • have a myth of a perfect society in the past,

  • like the Garden of Eden.

  • Communes, music festivals and naturist camps

  • could all be seen as attempts to create a mini utopia on Earth.

  • There are many kinds of utopias

  • but one of the central qualities of any utopia, paradoxically,

  • is that it doesn't exist.

  • Being a utopianist essentially means being a dreamer.

  • When John Lennon sang,

  • "You may say I'm a dreamer"

  • in his famous hit single and utopian anthem, Imagine,

  • he was referring to exactly this quality.

  • Utopianism's main flaw is its obsession with perfection.

  • This can lead to absurdities like the Soviet Russian belief

  • that one day all crime would be eradicated

  • because under true socialism crime would not be necessary.

  • Or the more sinister belief in fascist ideologies

  • that racial purity would eliminate all evil from society.

  • Perhaps this is why much discussion of the topic

  • is now confined to utopianism's dark side -

  • dystopianism,

  • a way of describing worlds, real or imaginary,

  • in entirely negative terms.

  • From George Orwell's 1984 to Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale,

  • dystopian fiction has become increasingly popular in books,

  • films and television.

  • But interest in utopias isn't going anywhere -

  • references within books have been on a steady rise since the 1900s

  • with clear spikes in the 60s and also - perhaps surprisingly -

  • in the 80s.

  • And who could deny the perfection of the world - at least in microcosm -

  • as you sit by an ocean

  • and listen to the sound of the waves crashing on a beach.

  • Or when you first see a blanket of bluebells in the spring.

  • And without at least striving for a better world, where would we be?

  • In chains, with rats chewing off our faces,

  • that's where.

  • Thanks for watching! :)

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B2 utopia perfect belief dreamer society perfection

Utopia... The search for a perfect world | BBC Ideas

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    Summer posted on 2020/04/23
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