To my mind, it’s not only the best country in the world, but the only one that has any right to call itself a republic. Elsewhere, people are always talking about the public interest, but all they really care about is private property. In Utopia, where there’s no private property, people take their duty to the public seriously. And both attitudes are perfectly reasonable. In other “republics,” practically everyone knows that if he doesn’t look out for himself, he’ll starve to death, however prosperous his country may be. He’s therefore compelled to give his own interests priority over those of the public; that is, of other people. But in Utopia, where everything’s under public ownership, no one has any fear of going short, as long as the public storehouses are full. Everyone gets a fair share, so there are never any poor men or beggars. Nobody owns anything, but everyone is rich—for what greater wealth can there be than cheerfulness, peace of mind, and freedom from anxiety? Instead of being worried about his food supply, upset by the plaintive demands of his wife, afraid of poverty for his son, and baffled by the problem of finding a dowry for his daughter, the Utopian can feel absolutely sure that he, his wife, his children, his grandchildren, his great-grandchildren, his great-great-grandchildren, and as long a line of descendants as the proudest peer could wish to look forward to, will always have enough to eat and enough to make them happy. There’s also the further point that those who are too old to work are just as well provided for as those who are still working.
Now, will anyone venture to compare these fair arrangements in Utopia with the so-called justice of other countries?—in which I’m damned if I can see the slightest trace of justice or fairness. For what sort of justice do you call this? People like aristocrats, goldsmiths, or money-lenders, who either do no work at all or do work that’s really not essential, are rewarded for their laziness or their unnecessary activities by a splendid life of luxury. But laborers, coachmen, carpenters, and farmhands, who never stop working like cart-horses at jobs so essential that, if they did stop working, they’d bring any country to a standstill within twelve months—what happens to them? They get so little to eat, and have such a wretched time, that they’d be almost better off if they were cart-horses. Then, at least, they wouldn’t work quite such long hours, their food wouldn’t be very much worse, they’d enjoy it more, and they’d have no fears for the future. As it is, they’re not only ground down by unrewarding toil in the present, but also worried to death by the prospect of a poverty-stricken old age—since their daily wages aren’t enough to support them for one day, let alone leave anything over to be saved up when they’re old.
Can you see any fairness or gratitude in a social system which lavishes such great rewards on so-called noblemen, goldsmiths, and people like that, who are either totally unproductive or merely employed in producing luxury goods or entertainment, but makes no such kind provision for farmhands, coal-heavers, laborers, carters, or carpenters, without whom society couldn’t exist at all? And the climax of ingratitude comes when they’re old and ill and completely destitute. Having taken advantage of them throughout the best years of their lives, society now forgets all the sleepless hours they’ve spent in its service, and repays them for all the vital work they’ve done by letting them die in misery. What’s more, the wretched earnings of the poor are daily whittled away by the rich, not only through private dishonesty, but through public legislation. As if it weren’t unjust enough already that the man who contributes most to society should get the least in return, they make it even worse and then arrange for injustice to be legally described as justice.
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