A Perfect Society
Through his profound scrutiny about human nature, Machiavelli shows us some essential
qualities that a prince or ruler must have in order to maintain his state. On the other hand,
Thomas More??™s Utopia clearly illustrate how to maintain a ???perfect??? society by abandoning
private property and money. Although both Thomas More and Machiavelli write about the basic
issues about how society work and what should be our position in the society, they have quite
different view about power management, governmental system and overall human nature.
Machiavelli represents power is one of the most important things that a prince should
possess in order to run his kingdom. His success also hugely depends on how he can use his
power properly. As he says, ??? In addition, anyone in a country which differs from his own in the
way I described should make himself the leader and protector of the small neighbouring powers,
and he should endeavour to weaken those which are strong??? (The Prince, 11). Therefore,
Machiavelli reveals that, a prince can only become powerful by destroying stronger ones so that
no one can easily revolt against him. Weaker power generally supports the strongest power as
long as they cannot increase their power. Therefore, a ruler must possess the ultimate power in
order to retain and maintain his kingdom well.
On the other hand, in Thomas More??™s Utopian society, power is something that
individual should possess rather than the ruler. Thomas More does not say anything clearly about
the power of the ruler and everything is revolved around people, not around ruler. Every
individual have same power, same opportunities and same way of life. He strongly criticizes
Machiavelli??™s notion about power. As he says, ???Certainly a man who enjoys a life of luxury
while everyone else is moaning and groaning round him can hardly be called a king ??“ he??™s more
like a gaoler??? (Utopia, 40). Machiavelli would argue that this type of government will eventually
be more vulnerable to foreign enemies. Because, distribution of power among common people
would diminish ruler??™s ultimate power and eventually make himself nothing but a common
people. Therefore, these type of society would be more vulnerable to foreign enemies and
eventually will collapse.
Machiavelli represent human as evil and self-seeking creature. As he says ???One can make
this generalization about men: they are ungrateful, fickle, liars and deceivers, they shun danger
and are greedy for profit??? (The Prince, 54). Therefore, according to Machiavelli, deserving
something good from human is not only realistic but also harmful as well. He would argue that,
set up an idealistic human society with the basis of justice and truth is quite impossible. Because,
for his inherent nature man will betray eventually and therefore, ruler has to use his cruelty in
order maintain his state. On the other hand, Rafael would argue that in Utopian society, there is
no way that human can be selfish, because, men will grow up in a society where everything is
perfect. And a person will be good or evil completely depends on the society where he raises in.
Therefore, in this perspective, Rafael would say that his Utopian would be better than
According to Rafael, money is the root for all problems. As he says, ???The rich will be
greedy, unscrupulous, and totally useless characters, while the poor will be simple, unassuming
people whose daily work is far more profitable to the community than it is to them??? (Utopia, 45).
Therefore, he strongly supports abolishing private property in order to create a balanced and just
society. But Machiavelli would argue that taking private property from all the citizens regardless
of their social or cultural status is not reasonable at all. Because when people will realize that he
will get everything what he wants, he will become lazy and will not feel any initiative to think
about his future at all. Eventually, the whole nation will be less intellectual. Therefore, a nation
cannot be sustain very long with all sorts of dull and lazy people.
Furthermore one cannot simply break a capitalist society by taking all the wealth from
rich people in order to establish a Utopian society. According to Machiavelli, a prince cannot
simply accept new principalities without destroying everything in that society. Therefore,
abandoning capitalism for the sake of moneyless communism is not only logical but also harmful
for hard working people who want to work hard in order to improve their condition. Therefore,
according to Machiavelli, this type of Utopian society will collapse either from internal rebellion
or external enemies.
Social Habits or Customs
Our way of life, our habits and overall our mentality to view the world around us are
completely depend on the way we grow up. Our society, culture and economic condition
manipulate every individual in a quite distinctive way. For example, Montaigne represents his
Cannibal society, where people think nudity in a positive way. On the other hand, Utopians
wear the same dress everyday in order to represent their unity and oneness. According to
Utopians, pompousness and one??™s lavish external appearance contradict with his internal nature
and all sorts of external showiness is nothing but wasting one??™s time. Therefore, different
societies have different customs and sometimes these customs are contradictory from one society
According to Montaigne, every action has some reasons. As he says, ???Thus we should
beware of clinging to vulgar opinions, and judge things by reason??™s way, not by popular way???
(Of Cannibals, 207). He says that in that society, some of their actions or social habit apparently
seems to be weird or unreasonable. But one cannot claim whether their customs are logical or not
by not judging the underlying reason behind their actions. For example, he explains that
Cannibals live according to nature. As he says, ???It is not reasonable that art should win the place
of honor over our great and powerful mother nature??? (Of Cannibals, 210). According to him
living close to nature is a positive thing. And he represents them as ???wild??? because they are the
one who lives very close to nature. They do not have any government system but only common
kinship. But in Utopia people lives in a ???communist??? society where people do work according to
the rule of their government rather than nature. Therefore, Thomas More would call them
???savage??? and barbarous as well.
In Cannibal society, there is no urge to work. They can do whatever they want. As
Montaigne says, ???The whole day is spent in dancing??? (Of Cannibals, 212). But, in the Utopian
society no one can spend a single day idly. More says, ???There??™s never any excuse for idleness.
There are also no wine-taverns, no ale-houses, no brothels, no opportunities for seduction, no
secret meeting- places. Everyone has his eye on you, so you??™re practically forced to get on with
your job, and make some proper use of your spare time.??? (Utopia, 65). Therefore, people in the
Utopian society always engage themselves either work or other intellectual pursuit. Montaigne
would argue that Utopian society is illogical because this society forces every people to work
rather than giving them free will. Therefore, Utopian society keeps people out of the normal
course of nature and restricts the free will of the people.
Cannibals show their barbarism not only by killing their prisoners but also by devouring
them. As Montaigne says,
???He ties the a rope to one of the prisoner??™s arms, by the end of which he holds him, a few steps away, for fear of being hurt, and gives his dearest friend the other arm to hold in the same way; and these two, in the presence of the whole assembly, kill him with their swords. This done, they roast him and eat him in common and some pieces to their friends??? (Of Cannibals, 214).
Thomas More would say that, Cannibal society is the most barbarous society in the
world. Utopians cannot even think about killing animals, let alone killing and devouring humans.
As More says, ???They don??™t let ordinary people get used to cutting up animals, because they think
it tends to destroy one??™s natural feeling of humanity??? (Utopia, 61). There is no doubt that,
Utopian??™s practice to disengage general people from killing animals because, it affects people??™s
humanly nature very badly. So, Thomas More would strongly protest against Cannibal??™s killing
and eating humans. But Montaigne would think that it is not bad idea to other useless people. He
provides some historical evidences and shows that eating useless children and women save the
people of Alesia during severe famine. Therefore, Montaigne and Thomas More have completely
different notion about the meaning of ???barbarism.???
According to cannibals, wives are the measure of men??™s valor. As Montaigne says, ???The
men there have several wives, and the higher their reputation for valor the more wives they
have??? (Of Cannibals, 218). Therefore, Cannibal society is hugely polygamous. But, in Utopian
society marriage is a very important thing. Prospective bride and bridegroom see each other??™s
naked body before marriage. Their main purpose behind this type of rule is to provide mental
perfection to both of them before their marriage. As More says, ???Most married couples are
parted only by death, except in the case of adultery or intolerable bad behaviour, when the
innocent party may get permission from the Council to marry someone else ??“ the guilty party is
disgraced, and condemned to celibacy for life??? (Utopia, 84). So, most of the time they marry
once in their lives and generally do not think about divorce. Although it may not be reasonable to
see each other??™s body before marriage, but it is quite reasonable to marry ones in our lifetime and
become loyal to our one wife. Montaigne would argue that, Utopian??™s monogamy would hinder
the benefits of the polygamous society.
Therefore, Montaigne and Thomas More have quite different view about the social
habits or custom. Both Utopian and Cannibal society have some unique social values and each of
these two society challenges each other??™s culture and habits. Therefore, every society??™s customs
or social habits can only be measured by judging the underlying reasons or living in that