Thomas More “Utopia” ctd.

More tries to suggest to Hythloday a more pragmatic mode of giving counsel: if he goes all out with his impractical schemes, nobody is going to listen to him. He is like a character from an ancient tragedy who bursts onto the scene in the middle of a bawdy comedy by Plautus and starts to harangue other characters. But if he tries just to moderate his advice and give small tips for improvement? But Hythloday is having none of it. My way or highway, he says. The whole of European culture is founded on the principle of private property and against the principles of the Gospel, which the preachers bent to ingratiate themselves with their listeners. He quotes the comparison made by Plato about the uselessness of wise people who try to involve themselves in the governments. They are like people sitting under a roof and seeing others getting drenched in the rain. They know they can’t persuade anybody to get inside and instead they are going themselves to get soaked. So it’s best to spare their clothes and sit comfortably in a dry room. Now, I must admit that sadly, I haven’t read Plato, but the comparison seems to be off. Why shouldn’t people do something that is obviously to their advantage?  The problem that would-be reformers have is that the choice that they are trying to convince people about isn’t as obvious as the choice between being outside in the rain and inside in a comfortable room. Even if it seems so obvious to them, for most people Hythloday’s “let’s get rid of all money and private property” seems more like from the frying pan into the fire.


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