1960s >> 1960 >> no-672-august-1960

Quote: Common Ownership

  “Where all things be common to every man, it is not to be doubted that any man shall lack anything necessary for his private uses, so that the common storehouses and barns be sufficiently stored. For there nothing is distributed after a niggardly sort, neither there is any poor man or beggar. And though no man have anything, yet every man is rich. For what can be more rich, than to live joyfully and merrily, without all grief and pensiveness; not caring for his own living, nor vexed or troubled with his wife’s importunate complaints, nor dreading poverty to his son, nor sorrowing for his daughter’s dowry?

   “. . . when 1 consider and weigh in my mind all these commonwealths, which nowadays anywhere do flourish, so God help me, I can perceive nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men procuring their own commodities under the name and title of the commonwealth. They invent and devise all means and crafts, first how to keep safely, without fear of losing, that they have unjustly gathered together, and next to hire and abuse the work and labour of the poor for as little money as may be. These devices, when the rich man have decreed to be kept and observed under colour of the commonalty, that is to say, also of the poor people, then they be made laws.

  “But these most wicked and vicious men, when they have by their insatiable covetousness divided among themselves all those things, which would have sufficed all men. yet how far be they from the wealth and felicity of the Utopian commonwealth? Out of the which, in all the desire of money with the use there of is utterly secluded and banished, how great a heap of cares is cut away! How great an occasion of wickedness and mischief is plucked up by the roots!

   “For who knoweth not, that fraud, theft, rapine, brawling, quarrelling, brabling, strife, chiding, contention, murder, treason, poisoning which by daily punishments are rather revenged than refrained, do die when I money dieth? And also that fear, grief, care, labours and watchings do perish even the very same moment that money perisheth? Yea, poverty itself, which only seemed to lack money, if money were gone, it would decrease and vanish away.”


Extracted from the concluding chapter of Utopia, by Sir Thomas More (1515).