Utopia beings with a searing indictment of England as a land where nobleman, living idly off the labor of others, bleed their tenants white by constantly raising their rents, where land enclosures for sheep-raising throw untold thousands of poor people into and existence or starvation of crime, and where the cities are ringed by gibbets on which thieves are hanged by the score without the slightest indication that the draconian punishment deters anyone from committing the same crimes.
This depiction of a ghastly reality […] is set against an imaginary island, Utopia, who inhabitants are convinced that “either the whole or the most part of human happiness” lies in the pursuit of pleasure.
Utopia is a visionary, detailed blueprint for this application, from public housing to universal health care, from child care centers to religious toleration to the six-hour work day.
For [Thomas More, the author], those conditions would have to begin with the abolition of private property.
More tried to imagine what it would take not for certain individuals to be enlightened but for a whole commonwealth to do away from cruelty and disorder, share the goods of life equitably, organize itself around the pursuit of please, and tear down the gibbets.