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.

2 thoughts on “Proposal

  1. Well done on picking a specific event that shows possibility for connections to Utopia, etc.
    I think there is a good opportunity to find a controvertible thesis from the questions posed, but make sure that when you are asking these questions you do not stray into too many directions. Perhaps focus on how peaceful societies are forced into combat and what effects arise from such conflicts. Try not to go into too many ideas like justification of expansion and inequality between civilians and soldiers. It may be difficult to make all those points.
    As for sources, I like that you have the Finnish texts and those will be valuable resources. Perhaps find a few more primary sources (journals or diaries from actual soldiers would be very interesting) to compare to Utopia. It will be stronger if the paper relies more on the specific event that is the Winter War.

  2. Robbie- I really liked the parallel you were able to draw between Finland and More’s Utopia. There is definitely potential here for an interesting, unique essay. However be careful about staying on topic, because though the balance between classes is interesting and could be used as a brief point of support, tackling it head-on might be time consuming and not entirely relevant. Also, if the objective is to compare the More and Plato’s utopia’s with Finland, you might want to make more ties between the two? Overall, though, I think this was a great proposal; it not only held my interest but was fascinating enough to make me want to actually read the paper. Additionally, your sources and annotations were done well.

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