Paper Proposal

Since Thomas More first coined the phrase “utopia” in his eponymous book, idealists, realists, and cynics alike have been fascinated with the possibility creating an ideal society. We have exhaustively explored the concept in fictional and critical contexts, with utopias at the focus of numerous works of literature, film, and scholarship. Various subcultural groups, such as the shakers and transcendentalists in the 19th century, attempted to create insular utopian communities. The evident human fascination with utopia raises numerous questions: can a utopian society be actualized? Is it possible for humans, with their diverse interests and often selfish needs, to coexist in an ideal setting, developing a socio-political structure that is desirable to all?

Past attempts at creating utopian communities tells us that the likely answer to this question is ‘no’, but that doesn’t mean that some societies come closer to a utopian state than others. In my paper, I will examine factors that contribute to quality of life within a society and attempt to determine the effect of political structure (ie, monarchy versus democracy) on the happiness of citizens. In any given nation, the government will be ultimate agent for controlling factors such as crime rates, employment, respect for human rights, and access to health care and education, all of which will impact the quality of life for citizens within that state. By examining aspects such as these across the globe, research groups have for more than two decades attempted to quantify the average happiness of citizens within different nations to determine which places on earth are the best or worst to live. The end result of this research is a series of annual lists that rank the countries on earth in order of the average happiness of their citizens. These “Best and Worst Nations to Live In” lists are released annually and often given perfunctory coverage in magazines or news programs. Discussion of these rankings within the media is superficial at best, with no attempts to understand the methodology for rankings or the implications that they carry. It is understandable to be skeptical of the idea of quantifying a concept as intangible as happiness, but I believe that these rankings carry implications that are not examined in the media – for example, they contain unexamined truths about the effect of government on quality of life. In order to examine the effect of political structure on happiness of citizens, I will use these rankings as a starting point for my research and compare the nations that rank highest as the most desirable to live in and compare them with the nations that rank the lowest. I will attempt to answer the following questions: which political systems lead to the happiest citizens? Why is this so? I will then compare my findings to the utopian societies described by More and Plato to see whether their ideas have been realized – or could be realized – in the modern world.

My standard for this paper will be the 2011 index compiled by the United Nations (UN). United Nations is an international organization that operates with funding from 34 member countries. Among other initiatives, the UN has compiled a wealth of statistical information to compile its rankings, and as a non-for profit organization without any governmental affiliation, the UN can be trusted to give unbiased and objective statistics and other information. Using these indexes as a starting point, I will delve deeper into investigating the factors that contribute to or detract from quality of life, such as protection of rights, employment rates, and access to healthcare, and more. For this information, I will draw from research conducted by organizations such as Human Rights Watch, the Organizatoin for Economic Cooperation and Development (OEDC), Partners In Health, and Journalists without Borders. All data generated by these organizations is published on their websites and available for the public to download and use as research. When comparing nations, I will use a methodology similar to that used by sociologist Max Weber when conducting his comparative historical analyses to determine the causes of the industrial revolution. Professor Stephen Kalberg details Weber’s methodology in his recent book Max Weber’s Historical analysis, which I have checked out from the library. I will also draw from the ideas of philosopher John Rawles, in particular his “veil of ignorance” thought experiment, and the societies described by Plato in The Republic and Thomas More in Utopia. Criticism of Rawles, Plato, and More can be found in numerous books in the dickinson library or through the library’s databases.


Primary Sources

Plato. The Republic. Translated by Benjamin Jowett. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 2000.

More, Thomas. Utopia. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1997.

United Nations Development Reports. United Nations. Last modified November 2, 2011,

This website is the hub for all of the statistics compiled by UN researchers each year. This page contains the most recent ranking for human development and happiness (completed in 2011) as well as individual country profiles with access to statistics and ratings concerning factors such as health, poverty, inequality and education. This resource will be highly valuable to me in comparing specific aspects that affect quality of life within different countries.

Human Rights Watch World Report. Human Rights Watch. Accessed September 30, 2012.

Reporters without Borders Press Freedom Index. Reporters Without Borders. Accessed September 30, 2012.,1043.html

Secondary Sources

Kalberg, Stephen. Max Weber’s Comparative Historical Analysis Today. Burlington: Ashgate, 2012.

This recent book by sociologist Stephen Kalberg deconstructs the methodology used by Max Weber when he conducted his comparative historical analysis in the 19th century. Kalberg applies Marx’s methodology to his own comparative analysis, tracing forces such as the singularity in american culture and the foundations of modern citizenship. Kalberg’s book will allow me to use Weber’s methodology to determine the relationship between political structure and individual happiness. It will offer a comprehensive guide when researching and writing my paper.

Firth, David and Marshall, Gordon. “Social Mobility and Personal Satisfaction: Evidence from Ten Countries.” The British Journal of Sociology 50, no. 1 (1999): 28-48.

de Vries, Willem F. M.. “Meaningful Measures: Indicators on Progress, Progress on Indicators.” International Statistical Review 69, no. 2 (2001): 313-331.

The Success of Celebration, Florida (Paper Proposal)

Sam Bellissimo

Paper Proposal

In my research paper, I plan on discussing the town of Celebration, Florida, which was an intentional community proposed by Walt Disney himself. Intentional communities have been attempted a variety of different times over the past hundred years, but despite the good intentions they are created with, failure has proven to be much more prominent than success. Celebration was founded less than fifteen years ago, so unlike other communities where one can blatantly identify achievement (or more often, lack of,) it is still developing and thus has much room for improvement. I plan to divide my paper into the following three sections to address the three basic aspects that will hopefully aid me in making a final judgment as to whether Celebration has been successful or not.

The first section will outline the mantra and goals of Celebration, in order to lay a foundation for the rest of the paper. One cannot begin to analyze a town without taking into account why, by whom, and under what premises it was founded. Were certain rules established from the start to make it as ideal as possible? Was it created in the name of perfection, or did the founders recognize early on that trying to make everything perfect would be impossible? These are important questions I plan on proposing in my paper. Branching off of that, the second section will dive into how the members of Celebration plan on executing and living by the ideals under which the town was created. This thought will lead into additional questions revolving around how Celebration is maintained. Is there a local branch of government? Are there events within the town to bring the community together, and thus create a friendly, almost Utopian environment? Questions like these will help generate information that will help me formulate an opinion in regard to the success of the town, which will take place in the third section. This third section will take all of the information from the previous two sections and use them as evidence to help establish exactly how successful the town has been thus far. There has been murder, homicide within Celebration- but do those controversies lessen the quality of life, or are they simply just a bump in the road? Controversial findings like this- and more- will be evaluated and will ideally help me come to a conclusion about the town.

I think the “so what” aspect of my paper will be some of the previously mentioned questions. Disney is often associated with being “the happiest place on earth,” so I think people will be interested to see how a town not only founded by Disney, but located ten minutes away from Disney World, will function. Will it be just like the theme park, where everything is highly functional and there is no room for corruption and imperfection? Will it be so ideal that it compares to Thomas More’s idea of a Utopia? In the novel Celebration, U.S.A.: Living in Disney’s Brave New Town, the author mentions the town being criticized for the lack of diversity, claiming that it is “elitist: gingerbread glosses over social inequity” (Frantz.) Can Celebration be successful in acting on its cornerstones of “health, education, technology, sense of community, and sense of place” when such comments are being made about it? Additionally, intentional communities are really dying down in the world, so I believe that people might take interest in how one functions in the first place.

Unfortunately, not much work has been done on Celebration prior to my essay. As previously mentioned, it was founded pretty recently, and thus has not been under the public eye as much as one might have expected. The majority of the sources I found were articles that were either written for a newspaper and put online afterwards, or were written with the sole intention of being published on the Internet. However, the Celebration official website was very helpful in providing me with information about the foundation and intentions of the town, while Frantz’s novel about living in Celebration gave me the unbiased perspective of a resident. Additionally, I was able to discover information about Walt Disney’s original vision for the Celebration community when I discovered author Kathleen Hogan on the Virginia University database. For example, I learned that the town was originally going to be called EPCOT (short for the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow), but that EPCOT was too much like a futuristic Utopia, and was instead turned into a Disney World theme attraction. I struggled with finding print sources, but I do believe that I was able to unveil a variety of different sources online that will help me learn more about Celebration.



Primary Sources:

“Official Website of the Community of Celebration| Located next to Walt Disney World | Celebration, FL.” Official Website of the Community of Celebration, 2011. Accessed September 25, 2012.

–          This is the Celebration, Florida official website, and is very informative when it comes to the basics of the town. A variety of information tidbits are present here, such as the mantra, goals, and cornerstones that Celebration prides itself in having. It is a very tourist friendly site, so not only does it apply to native  Celebration members when it outlines community events and such, but it also talks about restaurants and other attractions that visitors might be interested in. This source is probably a bit biased because it was made by an official of the town, but it is informative just the same.

Booth, William. “Planet Mouse: At Disney’s Tomorrowland, The Future Is a Timid Creature.” The Washington Post, June 24, 1998. Accessed September 30, 2012.

Frantz, Douglas, and Collins, Catherine. Celebration, U.S.A.: Living in Disney’s Brave New Town. New York: Holt Paperbacks, 2000.

–          Though I have yet to read the entire novel, by reading a few different summaries and the first chapter, I can tell that this book is a valuable source. Journalists Frantz and Collins moved from Westport, Connecticut to Celebration, Florida in 1997. The novel tells of what it was like to live there from the nonbiased, open-minded perspective of this family new to the town. From what I can tell, there is insight on everything from real estate to the education system, so the breadth really allows for one to gain insight into the town through the eyes of actual citizens.

Pollan, Michael. “Town-Building Is No Mickey Mouse Operation”. New York Times Magazine, December 14, 1997. Accessed September 25, 2012.

Severson, Kim. “Celebration, Florida, Has Its First Killing.” The New York Times Online, December 2, 2010. Accessed September 25, 2012.

Quinn, Judy. “Disney Town Sparks (at least) Two Books.” Publisher’s Weekly, March 10, 1997. Accessed September 30, 2012.

Wisch, Robyn. “How Far Are We From Disney’s Utopia?” KVNO News Online, April 6, 2011. Accessed September 25, 2012.


Secondary Sources:

Hogan, Kathleen. “Walt’s Vision.” American Studies at the University of Virginia. Accessed September 27, 2012.

–          I found this source to be extremely useful, because it went into the history of Walt Disney’s intentions and what he had planned Celebration to be. Unlike many of the other websites I encountered, that told of people living in Celebration, this one was very factual and provided me with great historical context. For example, had I not found this source I would not have known details like what kind of land Walt was looking for when he rented a private plane to fly over Florida, or the fact that theme park of EPCOT had been originally intended to be this intentional community.

Hogan, Kathleen. “Celebration, Florida.” American Studies at the University of Virginia. Accessed September 27, 2012.





Paper Proposal


Where Technology meets Religion

While reading and analyzing Plato’s The Republic and More’s Utopia through class discussion, it has been made quite clear that human nature poses a major problem in shaping ideal societies. No “perfect” society can truly be formed. Even in films like “Metropolis” and “Gattaca” it was greed, lust, anger and pride that led to failures of their technological worlds and made it a dystopia. However, would those worlds have succeeded if there was a way to limit human desires? Karl Marx argues in the Communist Manifesto that it is the unsatisfying human wants that will lead to innovation and make capitalism prosper but in the process it will also create class differences and essentially, a dystopia. However, even Marx’s theory would be proved wrong if wants were restrained. Is it possible for capitalism to exist without having class difference oppression? Or is instant social revolution always the answer? My paper’s objective will be to apply the religious practices in More’s Utopia and the education methodologies in Plato’s Republic to the technological utopian society in I, Robot. Combining each of these authors’ ideas may possibly unveil the ideal society they were striving to achieve. It may also mean that happiness for all may not mean sacrificing the happiness of the capitalists through communism, as Marx had suggested in the Manifesto.

The impending problem to any technological utopia is the volatile temperament of human nature, which is swayed by the slightest selfish nudge. Therefore, we must somehow control this desire or want in humans. In Plato’s The Republic and More’s Utopia, we come across many ways in which the authors propose to control this yearning. Compulsive religious affiliation as in More’s Utopia will allow people to strive for spiritual means rather than materialistic things. While looking for a way to find the religious enlightenment they will discard greed, lust, anger and pride. In More’s Utopia we see that happiness cannot be found from wealth, rather from the satisfaction that comes from helping others and devoting yourself towards religion and self-sacrifice. Fearing the repercussions of causing chaos in this world prevents violent or selfish thoughts. Could religious association serve as a restraint to the unlimited wants that humans naturally desire?
With that said, there also must be a way to enforce these ideas and provide a strong sense of discipline and faith within the people. Here, I would like to use Plato’s ideas of raising the philosopher king and guardians which he had identified in books 2,3,4 and 8. If selfish wants and the desire for better life are not encouraged in society will they ultimately become obsolete?
Robbin (1969) in his article “Utopia: Ideal or Illusion” illustrates that the concepts in Utopia were not as optimistic and impractical as suggested by critics, rather they were quite applicable in real life. Dominique (2009) in his article “The More Part: Upstaging the Law” agrees that More also did believe that good will and the right sense of justice could create a utopia.
On the contrary in Kessler’s, “Religious Setting for More’s Utopia“, he discusses that More’s work was strongly influenced by his resentment of the Catholic Church for their one religion propaganda and the English monarchy, which ran on the King’s personal motives rather than the good of the people. In the same way, Plato resented society because it killed his teacher, Socrates and led him to believe that democracy was flawed because the opinions of the majority were not always correct and therefore his Republic believes in an elitist society. These works were flawed because they were not completely unbiased and hence, could not achieve the ideal society that they were thriving for.

The work is quite original in that no one has so far compared Plato or More with the movie I, Robot, let alone integrated these ideas to form a Utopia. However, there are many that have analyzed the similarities between Plato’s and More’s works and how one influenced the other (Miles, Leland, “The Platonic Source of Utopia’s ‘Minimum Religion’“). Furthermore, a utopia without extreme insurgent ideas is relatively new as previous utopian writers have suggested that it would be impossible to model a new society while following the rules of the present one or without undergoing a revolution.
In regards to research materials, I already have the books, “The Republic”, “Utopia” and “The Communist Manifesto”. The film, I, Robot can either borrowed from the library or viewed online through any one of the popular video streaming websites. My secondary sources i.e. the articles and books are available through Dickinson College Library Database (EbscoHost) and their personal catalog.


Plato, . The Republic. New York: Dover Thrift, 2000.
Plato recounts the dialogues that Socrates had with other students and fellow citizens to answer the question, “What is Justice?” and the what makes a ‘perfect’ state. He uses metaphors and different allegories to try to understand the concept of justice in different contexts. Finally he comes to the conclusion that they could do all the thinking they wanted but maybe true justice is something unachievable by humans in their current state. This book also gives methodologies on raising leaders or effective members of society which I believe are essential to apply to the ideal society proposed in my paper.

More, Thomas. Utopia. New York: Dover Thrift, 1997.
More imagines a perfect world in a island separated from the rest of society. His world practices religious tolerance, excessive democracy and the people do not own property. His society prospers on optimistic belief in human nature and mostly positive fundamentals. More’s emphasis on religion and good practices are a vital element in controlling human wants which I intend to show with my paper.


Marx, Karl, and Freidrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto. New York: Dover Thrift, 2003.

Proyas, Alex. “I, Robot.” Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Mediastream Vierte Film       GmbH & Co.             Vermarktungs KG, Davis Entertainment. Decem,14 2012. DVD
The film is about a technological utopia where robots are the ones doing all sorts of labor and making the lives of humans easier. Although the film’s main focus is around a homicide of one of the major scientists who developed robotics, it shows what a society where capitalism is successful can be like. It helped me see what a technological utopia could be like and hence is also an important setting for my paper.

Johnson, Robbin S. More’s Utopia: Ideal and Illusion. N.p.: Yale University Press, 1969.

Here the author explores some of the concrete and realistic(idyllic) features of More’s Utopia and the concepts to be learnt from it. People can learn about human nature and themselves from Utopia and can learn know how their evils can be controlled and also what human society should aspire to be like. Thomas More’s work should not be criticized for being too optimistic rather consulted for its realistic aspects that can be applied in real life. The author cites the opinions of articles that analyze the pragmatic concepts of Utopia.

Miles, Leland. “The Platonic Source of Utopia’s ‘Minimum Religion’.” Renaissance News  9,         vol.2 (1956): 83-90.

Goy-Blanquet, Dominique. “‘The More Part’: Upstaging the Law.” Law and Humanities 3., vol. 2
(2009): 151-74.

This article tries to answer if More believed in his ideas that good law and education can run a society well and did he believe some laws could be changed so that a perfect society can exist with flaws.
His behavior in life contradicted his ideas. However, since he died upholding his sense of justice he possibly could have believed some of them. More’s doubt in his ideas not only reflected in his ideas but also in his life decisions. The author draws on contradictions between More’s life choices and principles in Utopia by referring to accounts More’s Biography.

Sanford, Kessler. “Religious Freedom in Thomas More’s “Utopia”.” The Review of Politics 64, no. 2          (2002): 207-229.

Paper proposal

  • I want to examine the effect that photography as propaganda can have on a society.  Photographs are the ultimate tools of manipulation because they are seen as facts/reality/truth. In reality, photographs are easily manipulated and can cause people to believe whatever they see, without considering what “lies beyond the frame.”  Because of peoples’ tendencies to believe whatever is in a photograph, photography is often used in propaganda by governments in an attempt to sway the people in a certain direction. I will examine propaganda from Nazi Germany that was used to persuade Germans that Jews are inherently “bad” and are the cause of all their problems. Propaganda in Nazi Germany often involved unflattering photographs of Jews, causing people to view them in a negative light. Ultimately, photography played a huge role in turning Germany against the Jews.  I will go on to discuss propaganda in democratic societies and how, although we may not consider it propaganda, photography has often been used as a means of persuasion in America. For example, during the great depression, the Farm Security Administration produced many photographs depicting the impact of the depression on rural America.  The goal of these photos was to sway public opinion in favor of Roosevelt’s rural economic recovery program. Although the intentions of these photographs were good, they could be seen as propaganda because their point was to influence politics and the public opinions.


  • Propaganda and censorship are both methods used by the government to control their people. In The Republic, Plato describes a society in which censorship of literature is used in order to shelter society from negative descriptions of the gods. However, he is also trying to form a utopia in which everyone is educated and has escalated from the “cave” that is naïveté.  By including censorship in his government, isn’t Plato actually pushing society back into the cave? How are censorship and propaganda similar and what effects have they had when implemented in real-world societies? What makes photographs such a powerful tool in influencing people? Can propaganda be ethical?


  • The use of photography in propaganda has been debated for a long time and many have questioned the ethics of using images to persuade a society.  In the book of essays, On Photography, Susan Sontag argues that photography, in a way, has chained humanity down, creating a reality for us that may not actually be true.  She argues that a camera is like a gun in that whoever holds it has complete control over the subject and the situation. Her overall thesis is that we are chained down by our assumption that everything we see in a photograph is true.  This concept relates to propaganda throughout history, beginning with Nazi Germany.  One example of propaganda in Nazi Germany is a book called The Eternal Jew, which contains unappealing and dehumanizing photos of Jews.  Photos like these made Germans more comfortable with blaming and turning against Jews because they seemed less human.  Another source I will use is an article called “The FSA photographs: Information or Propaganda?” by Chris Meyer. This article takes a look at the photographs used by the Farm Security Administration and discusses whether or not they should be considered propaganda.  This can tie into my question of whether or not propaganda is always bad


  • There is enough evidence to prove my points.  There are many books and essays explaining how photographs can be deadly because people believe whatever they see.  Furthermore, many people have written about the effects of photography in propaganda and how a society can be influenced through the use of photography. I will use a few primary sources, with pictures of influential propaganda and I will also use some secondary sources that argue what the effects of propaganda are.  All of these books and journals are available in the library, but On Photography is checked out right now.  It can be borrowed from another library though.


Works cited:

Chris Meyer. “The FSA Photographs: Information or Propaganda?” WR: Journal of the Arts & Sciences 1, no. 1.

  • This article is helpful because it confronts my question of whether or not propaganda is always bad.  This article examines the FSA photographs and how they influenced Americans. While the consequences of these photographs may have been beneficial, they were still aimed at manipulating the political views of Americans, and therefore they are propaganda. This article will help me discuss how photography in propaganda has also been prevalent in democratic societies, but perhaps in a different way than in authoritarian governments.

San Mateo County Community College District. “Persuasion, Propaganda, and Photography.” Films on Demand video, 27:00. 2001.


Sontag, Susan. On Photography. London: Penguin, 1997.


Morris, Errol. Believing is seeing : Observations on the Mysteries of Photography. New York: Penguin Press, 2011.


Welch, David. The Third Reich: Politics and Propaganda. New York: Routledge, 1993.


Bytwerk, Randall. “The Eternal Jew.” German Propaganda Archive. August 2004.

  • This website is helpful because it includes various examples of Nazi German propaganda that portrayed Jews as evil. These examples will be very useful because in order to fully understand the effect that propaganda had, people must see the actual propaganda itself.  The pictures on this website will help to show how the Nazis attempted to portray the Jews as hideous, inhuman creatures.



Professor Karl Qualls

Utopias/Dystopias Seminar




I will be comparing many works for my project such as Mores Utopia and Platos republic; However, I will also be looking back in history and studying the Finland/Soviet winter war (1939-1940). Finland, a small socialist and neutral nation, was invaded and aggressed by a neighboring nation and was forced to fight for its freedom and survival, despite Finland being anti war. Looking at this historical event, I will draw a parallel to Thomas More’s theoretical Utopia. Furthermore, I will be examining the idea of military/warriors in Utopian societies, and analyzing the idea of warfare in these societies. I will review the public policy regarding military presence, and how people in Utopian societies felt about war and questioning to what extent the views of those in Plato’s and More’s Utopias were realistic about the subject taking into account human nature.


Thomas Mores Utopia states that unless it is a friendly state or themselves, they are to avoid war at all costs. But how far can a society keep this sort of discipline? It is not always the case that a society has a choice whether or not to engage an enemy. In most cases, one side brings the fight to the other and there is no other course of action than to fight. This was the case for Finland in the winter war, and this is this is the course of action which Thomas More and Plato both state in their respective theories of Utopian societies. Human nature is to be the best, and this includes expansion and increasing population size when a certain amount of land no longer is sufficient for the society. So at this point, the warrior/soldier class would be forced to fight for reasons they might not agree with, as the Utopian policy is to only fight when aggressed or when a friendly state is in trouble. How can a society that is set on peace be peaceful when they reach a point that requires expansion and swallowing out whatever smaller societies are in the area. Furthermore, a society is set on equality. How can a class whose lives are on the line be equal to a class that stays within the city walls? The soldier class in a Utopia can not be compared to the working class or ruling class, because the warrior contribution has far more on the line than the others. Is it possible for the classes to be equal? Can the  balance be made?


The idea of Utopian society is that everyone is equal and lives for the good of the society. If the warriors are deployed to fight in wars which have nothing to do them, but are getting involved simply because a friendly society requested aid, then does that not go against key principles of the Utopian philosophy? The people work and live for the good of their society, not die for another societies conflicts, so how do these two key principles go together? Human nature has always been to be dominant. Societies want to be the dominant. Acquiring this dominance requires aggression, which goes against the principles of the Utopian theory, so I will analyze how Thomas More, Plato and other Utopian thinkers would justify this aggression.


I own all the main articles and sources I will need to have for my project. Any additional sources can be found in the library or ordered on the internet. I will primarily be using Thomas Mores, Utopia for the research, as I am basing the majority of my research on his Utopian community; however, Platos account of a Utopian republic, and the history articles I will be analyzing for the Winter War (Talvisota) of 1939, will be important to give a broader understanding of military in a Utopia.





Thomas More – Utopia, Cambridge England, Cambridge University Press 2002, 134p

Thomas More’s Utopia is the primary source of information that I will be using to research and review the concept of military in a Utopia. More’s theory of military and warfare will be the primary source of information in this essay.


Thomas More- Utopia, Or the Happy Republic. 1762.

This online source provides further information and facts relating to Thomas More’s Utopia.


Andrew Milner, Socialism, Utopian, and Scientific? Arena Journal, No. 31, 2008: [7]-20.


Plato – Republic

Plato’s Republic provides an essential background on a Utopia, conceived by Plato, Socrates and other philosophers. Plato’s Republic provides background on fundamental principles concerning military in their Utopian republic.


Ragnar Granitin – Talvisota, Historiallinen Arkisto; 2005, vol. 121, p346-405

This source will give a solid background on the Winter War, when the Soviet Union attacked, why they attacked, and how Finland managed to defend itself.


Encyclopedia of Britannica – Utopian Socialism

The Encyclopedia of Britannica will provide a proper explanation of the concept of Utopian Socialism, an important aspect of the essay, as the theory of Utopian Socialism takes into account Utopian Theory, Socialism, and ideas and visions of a theoretically perfect society.


Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels – The Communist Manifesto

The communist manifesto contains much information relevant to the question of military in society, and will be a helpful reference.

Manipulation of youth in Utopias/Dystopias

Sam Wittmer


What are some characteristics of the manipulation of youth (base) for the good of society and how does conditioning affect family structure and values in a utopian or dystopian society?


The paper will generally focus on how the manipulation of children in a utopia or dystopia changes family structure and values.  I will mainly write about this topic as seen in film and literature. The paper will be limited to perhaps a few references to historical texts and real world applications, and the focus will be mostly limited to fiction.  I will use evidence from literature and film and compare the different modes of the society’s manipulation as well as the effects of these actions.

In this paper, I will attempt to address the following issues and questions:

From where does the need arise for a society to manipulate children? So often it seems, very cruelly, that a fictional government chooses the youth as its means of creating the society that is desirable.  Why start so young?  Is it because children are impressionable?  Is it because they are the future and will in turn perpetuate the legacy of the society’s goals and aspirations?

Even if the ends are truly just in nature, is it right to manipulate a child’s mind to desired standards of behavior.  Cotillion?  Is there still meaning behind the actions of the child if it is not truly because of the child’s goodness, but is in fact, their conditioning that leads to their choices?

What are the various techniques that different societies use in order to manipulate children?  Do they use fear or happiness to make them do what they want?

Is it the government specifically, or the society in general that conditions the children into behaving the way they do?

How do family values and the family dynamic change when manipulation is present? (GATTACA—One brother is valued more than the other.  Hunger Games—family’s pulled apart.  1984—Kids turn in their parents when they are going against the party and committing thoughtcrime.)

Children are definitely influenced by their parents and the society that we live in.  When does the teaching of children become manipulation?  Does our society manipulate children now?  (Institutions such as Cotillion, kids often having parents’ political values, law that kids must go to school.) Is this ok/just/good?

When do societies come to the conclusion that they must actively manipulate the children?  Is this and active choice by society?

What is the right setting to manipulate a human being?  What types of societies have conditioning?

Any dystopian novel will demonstrate in its contents the role of youth.  All the works of fiction that I am focusing on show the role of children in society.  Some of the secondary sources I am considering are about the Hitler Youth and Red Guards —but most likely the paper will focus on primary sources and secondary sources that analyze the texts. I believe that the paper will support the ideas of how children are manipulated by their societies.  The paper’s originality is the focus on fictional utopias and dystopias.  This paper will extend the understanding of conditioning effects on children because I will be using a wide range of primary sources, thus perhaps bringing a comprehension to the reasons, settings, outcomes, etc., for said conditioning of children.


There are many sources available for this topic, and a wide variety of sources.  There is plenty of fiction—primary sources of movies and literature—as well as non-fiction.  For non-fiction I will look into the Hitler Youth movement or the Red Guards in Mao’s China.  I will sparingly reference secondary sources concerning these topics.  Another non-fiction source could be any parenting magazine articles on how to raise your kid to be respectful: this in order to display the current life of the topic.  Is that manipulation of children?  However, I will focus on primary sources of dystopian literature.  Even if the focus is not on children, these sources always make reference to the role of children.  I will compare the different answers to the questions posed from each piece of literature and compare them.  In the comparison I will look for patterns in the manipulation of the youth.  I would look at the roots of each characteristic of the society in question to make these connections.  I will also reference some of the many criticisms of the primary sources that appear in the bibliography.



1a. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, “The Manifesto of the Communist Party,” in The       Communist Manifesto and other Revolutionary Writings, ed. Bob Blaisdell (Mineola:      Dover  Publications, 2003), 123-150.

Focusing on Marx’s points on: a) the current status of the family—his observations on the proletariat family and its degeneration into simply another asset to the bourgeoisie and b) his proposals for change.  He proposes abolition of inheritance, and a different style of family relationship.  There will be new “family values.” (A community of women??) (inheritance, family values, community of women)


1b. Davis, Todd F. and Kenneth Womack. “’O my brothers’: Reading the Anti-Ethics of the          Pseudo-Family in Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange.” College Literature 29           (2002): 19.


2b. Kirby, David A. “The New Eugenics in Cinema: Genetic Determinism and Gene Therapy in   “GATTACA”” Science-fiction studies 27 (2000): 193.

1c. More, Thomas. Utopia. Toronto: Dover, 1997.


2c. Plato, The Republic. Toronto: Dover, 2000.


1d. Niccol, Andrew. GATTACA. DVD. Directed by Andrew Niccol. Culver City, CA: Columbia Pictures, 1997.

The film displays a society in which everyone’s destiny is determined by genetic modification before they are born  Society manipulates the youth before a child is even born.  Genetics bring an entirely new way for possible discrimination.  In the movie, a family has one son whose DNA is manipulated in order to make him predisposed to success, and the first who is a “God child”—one who is treated as less because he has inferior genes.


1e. Burgess, Anthony. A Clockwork Orange. London: Heinemann, 1962.

Society corrupts a child at first and then tries to recondition him.  There are two examples of conditioning in this novel.  In the beginning, the protagonist is a general hooligan who rapes and robs as he pleases—a side effect of the dystopian society’s unintentional conditioning.  Later, when he is arrested, the state attempts a reconditioning process.  He becomes “good” simply because he will feel violently ill when evil thoughts come to mind.  Is it still just to be good if the goodness is not inherent.  Can you treat humans like clockwork?


2e. Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic, 2008.


3e. Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World. London: Chatto and Windus, 1932.

(genetic mod., conditioning with repetitions)


4e. Orwell, George. Nineteen Eighty-Four. London: Secker and Warburg, 1949.


5e. Twain, Mark. Pudd’nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins. New York: Norton, 2005. (inheritance)





The Justice of Dharma: A comparison between two seminal concepts of the West and the East

Final Paper Proposal

My final paper will compare the idea of justice as defined in Republic, written by Classical Greek philosopher Plato, to the Hindu concept of dharma. Justice is defined in Republic as balance in society on both the individual and State level, where the desires, emotions, and reasoning of each individual’s mind are balanced and each individual uses his/her natural talents to play his/her role in bettering society. Dharma, a concept originating in Vedic India, can be defined as achieving harmony within the individual and society. These two concepts both deal with justice on the individual and social level; given that they originated on the opposite sides of the world, the Eastern and Western spheres of humanity, why are these ideas so similar? I will attempt to answer this question and more by researching historical contexts, tracing theorized roots, and attempting to make connections between the two ideas as well as the cultures in which they originated.

Religion and Utopias

Religion and Utopias


In their works on utopian societies, Plato and More believe that religion is key to the function of a society. They suggest that religious beliefs affect the morality of a society’s members and thus the preservation of the society itself.  While Plato believes in “gods” and that society members should strive to attain the Form of the Good, a strict moral code, More believes that although many religious sects can exist in a society, society members should acknowledge one true deity. In the paper, Plato’s Republic and More’s Utopia will be analyzed to determine what role they believe religion plays in the overall function of their utopian societies. Then, their ideals will be compared to those of four religious communities that were founded in 18th and 19th century America.  These communities were created as “utopian” societies that were founded upon very different religious ideals. The ideals of these American communities, The Shakers, Brook Farm, the Rappites, and The Oneida Community, will be presented to highlight the way in which religious beliefs affect the overall structure and success of the community.  Finally, how Plato and More operationalize religion in their utopias will be compared to the way in which religious beliefs were implemented in the four American communities and eventually contributed to their demise.


This paper will look at how important religion is to the creation of Plato and More’s utopias.  Next, it will examine whether Plato and More’s religious ideals were realistic or too idealistic to be implemented into an actual society.  The Shakers, Brook Farm, the Rappites, and the Oneida Community were American communities that expressed their religious beliefs in different and radical ways for the time period.  The similarities and differences between the communities will be discussed.  One important question will be examined in relation to each community.  How did the practices of each community affect its longevity?  Were the religious ideals of these communities too radical for the times?  Is it possible for a religious community to continue to function if a core belief is celibacy?  Why did all of the American communities ultimately fail? Finally, how can the ideals of these communities be compared to those of Plato and More?  Would Plato and More’s communities be successful if their religious ideals were implemented in present day society?


Little research exists on the comparison of Plato and More’s ideas on religion and the ideals of religious communities in 18th and 19th America. Exploring this topic will allow readers to create connections between two of the greatest works of all time and the way in which different religious beliefs of early American religious “utopias” affected their viability. Analyses of the religious ideals of early American “utopias” that failed can provide us information about how to create an actual utopian environment that may succeed.  How religious views of a society’s members affect the morality and social structure of the community can also be examined. The study of utopias is still very important today because even though a true utopia is not attainable, if society strives to become better and uses the ideals of Plato and More and the four religious communities, society will be able to function better as a whole.


The concept of utopia is still relevant today because individuals throughout history have been discussing this idea, but have never been able to create a true utopia. Numerous books, articles, and websites will allow me to explore this topic in depth. I own both the Republic and Utopia. Using the library’s website I was able to find five books that I will use as secondary sources for my paper. The books are Brook Farm, Religion and Sexuality, Oneida Community an Autobiography, 1851-1876, and The Cambridge Companion to Plato. In addition, I have found a website that was created by the National Park Service that provides a lengthy description of the four religious communities I will discuss. The short annotated bibliography below gives a more in depth description of the sources I have listed.


Primary Sources:


Jowett, Benjamin. Plato The Republic. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2000.

This book discusses Plato’s ideas on creating a utopia and how he believes society must be structured and how individuals need to be trained to form his ideal utopia. In addition, it discusses his ideas on religion and what part he believes religion plays in society.


More, Thomas. Utopia. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 1997.

This book discusses More’s ideas on society and how he conceptualizes a utopia. More discusses the island of Utopia where Raphael traveled.  He describes Utopia’s way of life and how they live. More also discusses his ideas on religion and what role he believes it plays in society.



Secondary Sources:


Swift, Lindsay. Brook Farm: Its Members, Scholars, and Visitors. New York,

New York: Corinth Books, 1961.

This book describes the Brook Farm community and details  how it is structured, the buildings and grounds of the community, the industries of the community, the household work, and the amusements and customs of the community. In addition, the book addresses the school system of the community, its members, and visitors.


Foster, Lawrence. Religion and Sexuality: Three American Communal Experiments of the Nineteenth Century. New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 1981.

            This book discusses the Shaker community. The book explains the origins of Shakerism, early growth of the movement, organizing the movement, daily life among the Shakers, membership, and the spiritual manifestations: crisis and renewal.


Robertson, Constance N. Oneida Community: An Autobiography, 1851-1876.

Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1970.


This book discusses the Oneida Community. It goes into detail about where they lived, how they lived and worked, what they believed, their education, their idea of complex marriage, the role women played in the community, and stirpiculture.


Kraut, Richard. The Cambridge Companion to Plato. New York, New York: Cambridge

University Press, 1992.

This book tells us about Plato’s ideas on religion. It also compares Plato’s religious ideas to the ideas of religion that the Greeks had.


“Utopias in America.” National Park Service, n.d. Web. 30 Sept. 2012



Kibbutzim Illustrating the Limits of Authority’s Power on Culture

I would like to examine where culture comes from. Plato argues that they come from education and government-organized social conditioning, and More seems to say that they come from leadership; it was, after all, Utopus that set the tone for a culture of acceptance and tolerance of different beliefs in Utopia. Marx, by contrast, argues that the economy is the root of all culture; every element of our culture and society is really a tool for and product of bourgeois power. I would like to argue that all three of these theories are wrong, and that culture is not as malleable under government’s or the economy’s hand as Plato, More, and Marx argue it to be. My paper will examine the limit of authority’s effect on culture, and point out what forces actually do shape societal attitudes; right now, it appears from my research that these forces are largely biological, and thus, it may be that culture is completely beyond authority’s control.

I plan to examine the success actual societies had in following Marx’s directions, since communism specifically sought to reinvent culture. Specifically, I will look at the success of socialism in kibbutzim. Kibbutzim are communities in Israel that are structured after communist ideology; even though modern kibbutzim have some deviations from the basic format, members of kibbutzim generally all work together on the kibbutz, live together, raise their children together, and share almost all property. Despite their long success—the first kibbutz was founded in 1909[1]–it appears that even kibbutzniks, residents of kibbutzim, have resisted the kibbutz tenets. There have been movements to create a wage system within kibbutzim, and parents have even resisted the kibbutz’s socialization of their children. In fact, in a recent article, “Discontent from Within”, Yael Darr points out the ways that literature overtly published by kibbutzniks for kibbutznik children and adolescents was actually a subversive weapon to voice dissatisfaction with the communal living model[2]. This dissatisfaction indicates the limits of the kibbutz government’s power in controlling kibbutz culture; though it tried to create a tightly controlled environment, it fomented a rebellious undercurrent. Even the generations that have lived their whole lives in kibbutzim are often discontent with the principles of collective property and collective living, according to Melford E. Spiro[3]. Thus, neither those who actively choose to live in kibbutzim (the parents of the 1940s and 1950s) nor the children who lived their whole lives in kibbutzim were able to fully submit to the kibbutz culture. There must, therefore, be an underlying force that opposed the kibbutz authority’s power over culture.

Spiro offers some guidance as to what these forces are. As he points out, the failure of kibbutz socialization may in fact be due to evolutionary psychology; the biological predispositions of kibbutzniks oppose kibbutz socialization. Spiro actually references one study that found that young children had difficulty sharing toys and caregivers’ attention with other children, even though sharing was the most important goal of kibbutz socialization; the biological predispositions of the children overpowered their socialization[4].

I would also like to examine the role of oxytocin, a hormone responsible for bonding, might have in forming an ideal society; one study[5] found that humans are more willing to help people of their own ethnicity. It is possible that the increasing heterogeneity[6] of kibbutzim has decreased a sense of bonding and unity among kibbutzniks, and so has made them less willing to live completely communally.

The fact that the socialization of children within the kibbutz is so limited by biological attitudes could be the downfall of Plato’s theory; the stability of his society relied almost entirely on socializing his citizens from birth in the proper attitudes and beliefs of his city-state. Marx and More similarly thought societal attitudes came from outside the individual; both believed that things as simple as the economy or leadership could revolutionize society, when it appears that values like greed are rooted deeply within each individual. Perhaps it is impossible that anyone can ever create an ideal society; that would require absolute control, as Kumar points out[7], something that biology is not willing to give.

Meanwhile, the studies coming out on oxytocin may show the impracticality of Marx’s communism; if even small kibbutzim are not bonded together tightly enough to live communally, then the large, international proletariat would never be able to hold itself together.

I believe my paper will be original. Spiro is the only article I’ve found thus far that looks at the relationship of evolutionary psychology to the failings of kibbutzim. My paper will be different from his because he did not consider the role of oxytocin in the unraveling of certain kibbutz values, nor did he use that unraveling to criticize the theories of Plato, More, and Marx.

The research for my paper will also be practical. All of the articles thus mentioned are available through the library website, and for more research on evolutionary psychology, I can use the free online journal, Evolutionary Psychology. The library many more available articles on kibbutzim, as well as commentaries on Plato, More, and Marx.

[1] Kerem, Moshe, et al. “Kibbutz Movement.” In Encyclopaedia Judaica, edited by Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik, 121-138. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. Gale Virtual Reference Library,

[2] Yael Darr, “Discontent from Within: Hidden Dissent Against Communal Upbringing in Kibbutz Children’s Literature of the 1940s & 1950s,” Israel Studies 16 no. 2 (2011), 127-150.

[3] Melford E. Spiro, “Utopia and Its Discontents: The Kibbutz and Its Historical Vicissitudes,” American Anthropologist 106 no. 3 (2004), 556-586.

[4] Spiro, “Utopias and Its Discontents,” 564.

[5] De Dreu, Carsten K. W., Lindred L. Greer, Gerben A. Van Kleef, Shaul Shalvi, and Michel J. J. Handgraaf, “Oxytocin Promotes Human Ethnocentrism,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108 no. 2 (2011), 1-5.

[6] Kerem, “Kibbutz Movement,” 126.

[7] Krishan Kumar, Utopianism: Concepts in Social Thought (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1991), 19.




Primary Sources

Plato. The Republic. Translated by Benjamin Jowett. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 2000.

Through the voice of Socrates, Plato outlines a design for an ideal city-state, where all the inhabitants are raised by the state from at least the age of ten, and rulers are chosen based on their success in the educational system. This dependence on socialization is up for criticism in my paper, as it does not seem to have succeeded in kibbutzim.

Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. “Manifesto of the Communist Party.” In The Communist Manifesto and Other Revolutionary Writings, edited by Bob Blaisdell, 124-150. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 2003.

Marx and Engels list the reasons why the proletariat, or working class, must rebel against the bourgeoisie, or the owners of the means of production. They call for an worldwide revolution that would eliminate all personal property and create a classless society. The Communist Manifesto serves as the backbone for kibbutz theory and culture; kibbutzim essentially create the society that Marx dreamed of, with no private property, and theoretically no class.

More, Thomas. Utopia. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1997.

Secondary Sources

Darr, Yael. “Discontent from Within: Hidden Dissent Against Communal Upbringing in Kibbutz Children’s Literature of the 1940s & 1950s,” Israel Studies 16 no. 2 (2011): 127-150.

De Dreu, Carsten K. W., Lindred L. Greer, Gerben A. Van Kleef, Shaul Shalvi, and Michel J. J. Handgraaf, “Oxytocin Promotes Human Ethnocentrism,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108, no. 2 (2011): 1-5.

Kerem, Moshe, et al. “Kibbutz Movement.” In Encyclopaedia Judaica, edited by Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik, 121-138. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. Gale Virtual Reference Library,

This article gives a brief history of the kibbutz movement. Despite its brevity, it gives crucial information regarding the changes in kibbutz culture, such as the movement in the 1980s to have children sleep with their families. These changes could give important indications of dissatisfaction with kibbutz culture, and thus the limit of the kibbutz in socializing kibbutzniks.

Kumar, Krishan. Utopianism: Concepts in Social Thought. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1991.

Schon, Regine A., “Natural Parenting: Back to Basics Infant Care,” Evolutionary Psychology 5 no. 1 (2007): 102-183.

Spiro, Melford E. “Utopia and Its Discontents: The Kibbutz and Its Historical Vicissitudes,” American Anthropologist 106 no. 3 (2004): 556-586.

Spiro examines the failings of kibbutzim, or, specifically, the discontentment of kibbutzniks with kibbutz rules. He hypothesizes that this discontentment is due largely to evolutionary psychology, a finding that could be useful to my paper because it illustrates the inability of authority to completely control culture as Marx, Plato, and More believe authority should; authority is at war with biology.

Paper Proposal

Paper Proposal

My paper will discuss the role of censorship in both literary and real-life societies in the maintenance of power. First, I will define “censorship”, and what can be censored. After analyzing censorship in fictional societies, using novels such as The Republic by Plato and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, I will explore internet censorship in the United States and China. By analyzing these societies and their social and political environment, I will address not only the how , but the why of censorship. In doing so, I will reveal the underlying motives of those in power that enable censorship.