This small but shocking work known as Utopia cannot be classified as a mere dystopia. It is much more than all that.
In fact, Thomas More was able to clearly identify that humanity was at the end of an era. Perhaps better than any other thinker of his time, he was well aware of the restraint posed by the rentiers or the privileged of the system who lived on unjust incomes, taking advantage of the system to achieve the application of those measures that favored them most, despite the serious crisis they were in. Thomas More also knew the impasse or political, social and ideological immobility of the different kingdoms and which formed Christian Europe at the end of the 15th century.
At that time, they attended the end of one era — the Middle Ages — and faced the beginning of another — the Modern Age — that were presented as a book whose pages were blank. For Thomas More, it was exciting —and at the same time compromising— to participate in the debates that were held among the thinkers of his circle of close friends, including Erasmus of Rotterdam. The discussions to which they were subjected tried to scrutinize, among all possible future scenarios, a future from which a new world that could make happy the whole that formed the human population at that time. That world would be known as the ‘Utopia’ island. A value that all of us will have to recover it as soon as possible.
It was a socio-economic system where the rentiers or privileged classes were the noble class and the religious class. But the kings, although they surrounded themselves with supposedly renovating ministers and advisers, were not willing to make changes. Consequently, there was no leadership that even tried to establish the new direction to be followed by the people, at a time that needed so many profound changes.
The Academy has always been much more conservative than it seems. As the Academy I mean the set of education and training institutions in which some special art is taught (Universities, faculties, colleges, schools, etc). And especially in times of deep crisis, when model changes are revealed as the only way out of the crisis, is when the Academy becomes much more reactionary and retrograde. Absorbed in itself, endogamous and cowardly, the Academy closes itself in its own world that little by little has been transformed into an end in itself, thus becoming a constraint that prevents the forced change that requires the adaptation of the obsolete economic model to the new emerging times.
Thus, at the end of the economic cycle, when, in the face of a new era that is opening, innovation would be more necessary, the Academy becomes silent and becomes a defender, an advocate of the ‘status quo’ and the privileges of a few people like the rentiers of the old and obsolete regime. While most people suffer and desperately call for a paradigm shift. It is the people who suffer distressingly the ravages of an old economic paradigm that no longer works. Paradoxically, the Academy lives as if nothing had happened teaching the same thing it had done for centuries. The universities, guarantors of knowledge, had become another privileged rentier of the system, indifferent to the suffering of the people, without knowing what to do and without any desire to face power.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the University does not know, did not know —and hopefully one day will know— what to do with ‘Utopia’. Is it a philosophy book? Or, on the contrary, Is it just a book on sociology or politics? Or is it perhaps a classic of utopian socialism?, or maybe it’s an early work of strategic foresight? Whatever opinions are held about the book, whatever stereotype has been assigned to it, the fact is that for some scholars, lovers of old dusty newspaper archives, the work consists only of a simple satire of endings the 15th or early 16th century, based on strategic and forward-looking reflections.
Thomas More’s “Utopia” was a great work, audacious, understanding but, in a way, a work that was also very upsetting for the king’s power because it questioned the prevailing order as unfair and meaningless. A capricious and evil king, such as Henry VIII, sentenced him to death. Nor did the knowledge-loving Academy behave well. They prostituted themselves and sold themselves to power, as they have always done. In the most significant moments of history, in times of great changes and mutations, the Academy has always acted cowardly and it has only served to prevent changes from being made in a way that minimizes people’s suffering and pursues a better world.
The Academy has always been, it is and it will be a defender of the maintenance of the differences between social classes. Just as it will be classist, an advocate of the “status quo” and an enemy of the changes that favor the improvement and deepening of democracy and social equity. This shocking and great reflections about the future of Thomas More is not a dystopia, stupid! It is the result of his intelligent and accurate reflections about the new era that, unfortunately, they are confirmed over the years. In the same way, Thomas More is telling us about them so that we do not make mistakes when choosing partners to build a better world. It is clear, the Academy will never be a good partner because it will not be loyal. The Academy’s interests are only to maintain its privileges. Especially now that it is not about vocation and service to the community but about a business like any other one.