Saturday, January 11, 2014

"Utopias" We Have Studied

While reading Mrs. Quinet’s packets about utopian like societies and reforms I kept comparing these ideas to the reforms we learned about in APUSH, especially the Shakers’. I kept thinking about how these reforms such as communal property and polygamy didn’t work for these groups and how Dostoevsky knew they wouldn’t work for Fourier. I went back and found my notes to compare the utopias and thought you all would be interested in the other utopia experiments also.
1.     Many “utopian” communities were based on the reform impulses of cooperation and collectivism.
a.     The ShakersAnn Lee.
                                               i.     First established in New York in 1787
                                              ii.     Religious imperative- refuge from sin of society
                                            iii.     Sexes spiritually equal
                                            iv.     Abandoned traditional family life (sister for each man)
                                              v.     No indiv. Property
                                            vi.     Marketed vegetables, made furniture, breed cattle for profit
b.     The MormonsJoseph Smith and Brigham Young. (Dictactorship)
                                               i.     Utah (1820’s)
                                              ii.     Book of Mormon
                                            iii.     Ancient Hebrews à Indians
                                            iv.     Absolute authority
                                              v.     Church and state together
                                            vi.     Polygamy
                                           vii.     Had private property and accumulate wealth/ not collective
c.      OneidaJohn Humphrey Noyes; “eugenics.” (Collectivismà communism)
                                               i.     No traditional gender role- holy family of equals
                                              ii.     No private property
                                            iii.     “Book dating”
                                            iv.     can achieve moral perfection
1.     followers=sinless
                                              v.     community in Vermont
                                            vi.      eugenics
d.     The New England transcendentalists at Brook FarmCharles Fourier Nathaniel Hawthorne.
                                               i.     Manual and intellectual labor and intellectual labor exist harmoniously
                                              ii.     Communal living and working arrangements
                                            iii.     They have private property
                                            iv.     Daily timed schedules
e.     The “Owenites” –
                                               i.     Robert Owen- british factory owner
                                              ii.     New Lanark: factory workers
                                            iii.     Provided housing and free public education
                                            iv.     “communitarianism”: workers receive full fruits of their labor
                                              v.      New Harmony
                                            vi.     The Crisis: people squabbled over constitution and property
f.      The Josiah Warren “communitarians” – extreme individualism.
                                               i.     Anarchist


Amy Clement said...

When Mrs. Quinet first started teaching us about Utopian Socialism I also thought back to that unit from last year. It is easy to see how Utilitarian ideas influenced the creation of these new societies such as the Shakers. They promoted equality and the importance of the greater good through collectivism and also reverting back to a much more simple life, but some of the societies are a bit more of a stretch to me. I remember learning about once society that did not allow sexual relations between member and the only way to keep then population from eventually dying out was to adopt children into the group. That does not seem to me to be as much of a parallel to Utilitarian ideas.

Megan Hoolahan said...

As we talk about Utopian Socialism, i often think about The Hunger Games. In the Hunger Games, Panem (post-revolutional US) is divided into districts and basically represents a dystopia. But as an effect of the capital's efforts to create a Utopia, many people suffer.

Joseph D'Amico said...

Now that you mention it, a lot of them are very similar. I know it was a little later, but I might also add Brook Farm to that list, just because of how similar it is to Fourier's Phalanstery. I never really got how these kinds of societies were supposed to be Utopian; if I had to work all day for the same wage as everyone else, I think I'd be pretty bored, and I certainly wouldn't have any incentive to do my job well unless I happened to actually enjoy it.

Miranda Martinez said...

I thought of this too! Along with the Hunger Games (as Megan mentioned), I also think of the Divergent series. It's basically a utopian society that is divided into five divisions: Abnegation (the Selfless and government), Dauntless (the Brave), Amity (the Peaceful), Erudite (the Intelligent), and the Factionless. The society becomes dystopian as the factions crumble and their rigid social structures give way to complete anarchy. It's strange and interesting at the same time, but it completely dissuades the idea of the "perfect" society.

Samantha Gillen said...

In APUSH we studied how the Puritan Separatists or pilgrims traveled to the New World because they wanted to start a utopian society. They thought England was corrupt, so they left in search of a better world. They wrote the Mayflower Compact, what would be the outline for the government of their new colony. Their idea of a utopian society was that everything would revolve around religion. It didn't work out that well in the beginning because many people died from disease and what not, but after the adjustment period was over things were pretty swell for the people at Plymouth. At least in their eyes it was. If any of us lived in Plymouth we'd probably try to swim across the ocean back to England or live with the Indians or something.