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CHAPTER III: Sir Thomas More’s “Utopia” and its Applications - Yves Guyot, Socialistic Fallacies 
Socialistic Fallacies (London: Cope and Fenwick, 1910).
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Sir Thomas More’s “Utopia” and its Applications
Thomas More, Chancellor of England, published his Utopia at Louvain in 1516. The book consists of a critical part dealing with the government of England and contemporary politics, and of a part setting forth the organisation of a communistic society. More was familiar with the humanists from whom he drew his inspiration as well as with the travels of Columbus, of Peter Martyr and of Amerigo Vespucci. Columbus had spoken of peoples who held everything in common, living under the unlimited authority of a cacique, who spoke in the name of a divinity. Amerigo Vespucci had seen peoples living in a more or less anarchical state of communism, huddled in large barns containing some hundreds of persons.
More proceeded to trace the ideal of what Paul Lafargue calls the return of communism. There are too many poor people in Europe. To abolish property is to abolish the difference between poor and rich. The Utopians conclude that this will be for the benefit of the poor. The inference does not follow, for the abolition of property cannot be a factor in the accumulation of wealth.
More sets out in his comfortable fashion the geography of the Isle of Utopia. He places therein fifty-four cities, all built upon the same plan and with identical institutions; a territory of not less than twenty miles square in extent, the duty of cultivating which is apportioned between a certain number of families, is attached to each town: each family consists of no fewer than forty men and women and of two bondmen. Every year twenty citizens who have spent two years in cultivating the land return to the town and are replaced by twenty others. All the inhabitants of Utopia, both men and women, labour, but only for six hours a day. They have few wants, their clothing is made of leather and skins which will last for seven years. Their meals are taken in common, the women being seated opposite to the men. Travelling is rendered almost impossible. Every town is to contain six thousand families: when a particular family is too rich in children, it bestows some of them upon those which have not enough. Marriage is surrounded with formalities; the community of women is unknown, and adultery involves slavery.
The form of government consists of a prince elected for life and of a body of magistrates and officers elected for one year. The Utopians are men of peace, but they make war at need and employ mercenaries to carry it on. Religious liberty is established, but whosoever does not believe in the existence of Providence and in the immortality of the soul is incapable of receiving employment.
These visions have been translated, re-edited and propagated. When I was seven years old, just after the revolution of 1848, I was given as a prize a book approved by the Archbishop of Tours, a Life of Sir Thomas More, with the description of Utopia in an appendix. Yet the university and clergy who circulated this work must have known that it had translated itself into acts of fury within a very few years of its publication.
In 1525 Thomas Münzer, a Protestant pastor in Saxony, at the suggestion of his master, Storch, who was inspired by the Bible and by More, attempted to put the “Utopia” into practice. After having attempted to cause a rising in Suabia, Franconia and Alsace, he succeeded in driving out the town council of Mühlhausen and in installing himself in the Johannisterhof on March 17th, 1525. The rich were commanded to feed and clothe the poor and to provide them with seeds and with land upon which they might work: the majority of them fled, as is usual with them at times of crisis. Thomas Münzer spoke as a prophet and dealt out justice with the freedom of a delegate of Heaven. He sought to raise the miners of the Erzgebirge by telling them to rise and fight the battle of the Lord. “If you do not slay, you will be slain. It is impossible to speak to you of God so long as a noble or a priest remains upon earth.” Münzer sallied forth from Mühlhausen at the head of a kind of army. He mounted a black charger and was preceded by a white banner, upon which shone a rainbow. His bands laid waste and massacred throughout their career: after an initial defeat at Fulda, they were destroyed at a place which has since been known as the Schlachtberg (Battle Mountain), despite the invocations of Münzer to the Lord. Münzer himself was taken, tortured and beheaded.
Münzer left behind him Anabaptists, who scattered themselves over Switzerland, Moravia, the Low Countries, and North-West Germany. A baker of Haarlem, called Mathias, in a book entitled “La Restauration,” declared that every human individual must be regenerated by means of a new baptism, that princes, taxes and the administration of justice must be suppressed, and polygamy and the community of goods established. The Anabaptists inaugurated their rule at Munster on February 1st, 1534. They commenced by demolishing the church towers, for greatness must be laid low, and in burning the holy images. They commanded everyone under pain of death to come and deposit their money and articles of value at a given house. The doors of the houses were to be left open day and night, but they might be protected by a small railing in order to preserve them from invasion by the pigs which swarmed in the streets.
Mathias having been killed in an attack upon the troops of the Duke of Gueldres, a former inn-keeper of Leyden, known as John of Leyden, affirmed that his death was a sign of the grace conferred by God upon his prophet, claimed to be inspired by the Bible, entered into communion with the Spirit of God, and in the first instance nominated twelve judges of the people, following the example of the judges of Israel; but on encountering some opposition among them he declared that God in a fresh revelation had commanded him to assume absolute power and to become the king of the New Zion. A comrade called Tuschocheirer, perhaps in good faith, declared that God Himself had confirmed to him His command given to John of Leyden to ascend the throne of David, to draw the holy sword against kings, to extend His kingdom throughout the world, giving bread to those who submitted and death to those who resisted. In order to contend with the kings he anointed himself as King of the New Zion, arrayed himself in a robe made out of the silver embroideries of the churches, and a coat picked out with pieces of purple and decorated with shoulder knots of gold, put on a golden crown and a cap studded with precious stones, and displayed upon his breast a magnifi cent chain supporting a symbolic globe which bore the inscription, “King of justice on earth.” He never appeared without an escort with richly-caparisoned horses, and installed himself on a throne set up in the public square, where he combined the functions of legislator and of judge.
He married fifteen wives. For had not Solomon many wives? And is not the first commandment of God crescite et multiplicamini? How could a monogamist observe this commandment during the pregnancy of his wife? Upon one of his wives failing in respect, he tried, condemned and executed her himself, and danced before her corpse with his other wives in imitation of David, while the rabble followed suit to the cry of “Gloria in excelsis!”
The Anabaptists were defeated and massacred at Amsterdam: Famine raged at Munster; on June 25th, 1535, the troops of the Bishop of Munster entered the town and the orgies of the Anabaptists were succeeded by those of the forces of order. John of Leyden was put to the torture, exhibited in an iron cage, which may still be seen, and was finally executed on January 22nd, 1536. At the end of ten years the Anabaptists, who had proposed to conquer the world, were crushed, massacred and scattered abroad. These communists had found at Mühlhausen and at Munster but one form of government—the absolute rule of a prophet and under him nothing but a mob and a rabble.
After their fall the Anabaptists founded communities in Moravia in true monastic form, although marriage was permitted. They were obliged to labour even on Sundays, and to preserve perpetual silence. These people, surrounded as they were by enemies, found occasion to dispute among themselves: they excommunicated one another, and when they were not disputing they gave way to intoxication, all of them striving to escape from the terrible oppression resulting from their communism.1
F. Catron, “Histoire du fanatisme des réligions protestantes, et de l'Anabaptisme”—Henri Olten, “Le Tumulte des Anabaptistes”—Guy de Bres, “La Racine, source et fondement des Anabaptistes.”