Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 463
The New Atlantis, Francis Bacon's 1627 version of utopia (an idealized community or state). Bacon conceived of a community of scholars and scientists who rule for the benefit of each other and mankind.
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley's 1932 novel. In this dystopian (from dystopia, the opposite of utopia, a world in which realities undermine ideals), satirical portrait of a futuristic society, citizens have given up much of their own humanity for the social good in another totalitarian political system.
"I Have a Dream,’’ Martin Luther King's 1963 speech. King delivered this famous speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., to a crowd of civil rights demonstrators. It called for a society in which people have equal opportunity and are judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
‘"he Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,’’ Ursula K. Leguin's 1973 story. In this vaguely futuristic society, the good of the community, including everything from personal happiness to bountiful crops, depends on the severe maltreatment of one child, a scapegoat. Without the scapegoat, the citizens of Omelas believe their whole society would fall apart. The title characters who leave cannot stand to base their happiness on the suffering of another person, especially a child.
"The Vast Wasteland,’’ Newton Minow's 1961 speech. In this speech the new Chair of the Federal Communications Commission indicted television for its lack of quality programming, calling television broadcasting a ‘‘vast wasteland.’’
Utopia, Thomas More's 1516 imagined definition of an ideal society. This idealistic utopian look at society employs the idea of communitarianism, a sense of equality throughout social strata, based on Christian humanism and on an economic scheme that increased productivity.
Animal Farm, George Orwell's 1945 novel. This dystopian satire of an alleged egalitarian society clearly reveals the flaws of the ideal of equality compared to the difficulty of enacting the ideal as reality. A bigger target is totalitarian government disguised as egalitarianism, specifically Stalin's regime in the USSR.
1984, George Orwell's 1949 novel. This dystopian satire of totalitarian government does not allow human emotions, such as love; nor does it allow privacy (Big Brother is always watching through television cameras/screens everywhere). The government also distorts truth through the use of "Newspeak."
The Republic, Plato's 380 B.C. imaginative definition of an ideal political society. One of the first of the literary utopias, Plato's version describes a select elite, who control the actions of the rest of the people, and who depend on slave labor.
"Resistance to Civil Government’’ (or ‘‘Civil Disobedience’’), Henry David Thoreau's 1849 essay. Thoreau asserts that a citizen must break unjust laws in order to change them. He suggests that a single individual constitutes a "majority of one’’ if this individual is more right than his neighbors, and judges law on morality, not expediency.