Thomas More and his Utopia. Karl Kautsky. Halaman 4. 3. The Economic Tendencies of the Reformation in England. Chapter II. THE MODE OF PRODUCTION. Read the full-text online edition of Thomas More and His Utopia (). Thomas More and his Utopia. Front Cover. Karl Kautsky. Russell & Russell, – Biography & Autobiography – pages.

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To this we attribute the fact that More thought on modern lines, that his Socialism was modern kind. It is enough to say that the confiscation of the monasteries meant an increase in the number of the poor and at the same time the destruction of their last refuge.

Fundamentally different from each other in respect of standpoint, method, and temperament, both were alike as regards their object — communism, alike in daring and fidelity to conviction, and alike in the end which overtook them — both died on the scaffold.

Our first enquiry pertains to the causes of such an extraordinary phenomenon. What can be more monstrous than the Anabaptists? Nowhere else in Europe, therefore, were the unfavourable reactions of the capitalist mode of production upon the working classes so immediately obvious as in England; nowhere did the unhappy workers clamour so urgently for assistance.

When capitalism first invades industry and then turns to agriculture, it seems at the outset to wear a benevolent aspect. Two great figures loom on the threshold of Socialism: From the coasts of the Iberian Peninsula to the North Sea English privateers were always loitering on the look-out for silver galleons from America or the rich merchant vessels carrying the treasures of the Indies from Lisbon to Antwerp, Portugal being a Spanish province from to And on the same account it is that the other kinds of cattle are so dear, because many villages being so pulled down, and all country labour being much neglected, there are none who make it their business to breed them.

But what Lutheranism chiefly aimed at in England was not so much separation from the Papacy as the confiscation of the monasteries and pious endowments, which was demanded in numerous pamphlets. We know that he was a popular advocate, that in he was appointed Under-Sheriff, in which position he had sufficient opportunity to gain an insight into the economic life of the people.

In our view, this close connection of More with mercantile capital cannot be too strongly emphasised. The other aide of Catholicism, the obstacle it presented to the impoverishment of the people, was much more emphasised.

Thomas More and his Utopia

Food prices rose by per cent. But none of those who put forward remedies had a wider outlook, to none of them came the conviction that the sufferings incident to the new mode of production could only be ended by a transition to another and higher mode of production; none of them, save More, was a Socialist.

When that little money is at an end for it will be soon spentwhat is left for them to do but either to steal and so to be hanged God knows how justly!

While the Humanists in Italy were busily engaged in active affairs, and therefore gave expression to the economic and political tendencies of their time and country, the great majority of German Humanists were merely schoolmasters with no glimmering of practical affairs, who, instead of delving thimas the past for weapons in the struggles of the present, stood aloof from those struggles and retired to their studies, in order to live wholly in the past.


And in connection therewith endeavours to abolish or alleviate many social inequalities manifested themselves betimes. Improvements in methods of cultivation made many workers superfluous. The demand for wool grew in the degree that manufactures on the one hand, katl the means of transport on the other, developed. It flowed not from East to West, from South to North, but contrariwise.

Karl Kautsky: Thomas More and his Utopia ()

The rich do not breed cattle as they do sheep, but buy them lean and at low prices; and, after they have fattened them on their grounds, sell them again at high rates. What parliamentary legislation had only incompletely achieved in the preceding two centuries was easily attained in the sixteenth century by the oppressive weight of the reserve army of the workless.

The English Reformation under Henry VIII was a most audacious machination to intensify the exploitation of the people and enrich some of the most unprincipled creatures of the King. Capitalism in agriculture meant the direct setting-free of workers. The price of wool is also so risen that the poor people, who were wont to make cloth, are no more able to buy it; and this, likewise, makes many of them idle; for since the increase of pasture God has punished the avarice of the owners by a rot among the sheep, which has destroyed vast numbers of them — to us it might have seemed more just had it fell on the owners themselves.

It had, therefore, no roots in the people, but rather aroused their increasing resentment. Had More been a mere Humanist, he would hardly have attained to Socialism. It may be imagined what the effect was to expose all these estates at one stroke to capitalist exploitation.

The only persons who had then learnt to think scientifically and methodically, to generalise, and who were, therefore; capable of formulating a theoretical socialism, were the Humanists. The antagonism which won popular support for the Reformation in England was not between England and Rome, but between England and Spain. In the mercantile republics of Italy, as in the Courts of the Romance monarchies, egotism, the grand feature of the new mode of production, reigned absolutely; it reigned openly, boldly, full of revolutionary defiance.

But this bad custom, so common among you, of keeping many servants, is not peculiar to this nation. But the proletariat of old was quite different from the modern variety, and modern Socialism is equally different from antique Socialism. The outcome of the constant struggle for mastery of the seas was boundless enmity and glowing hatred between the two nations. In this way arise political and social ideas which influence contemporary thought, or at least, particular classes, in the degree that they respond to the actual conditions, and which are correct so far as they coincide with the interests of the aspiring classes.

Therefore they fell actually if not nominally. Now in the northern countries Humanism was an exotic growth, in which no class had a special interest. Elizabeth herself fitted out slave ships, vessels of the Navy engaged in piracy, and hid dealers and pirates, such as the famous world navigator, Francis Drake, were her favourites. Unlike the historians of the idealistic school, we do not believe in a Holy Thhomas which illumines minds and fills them with ideas, to which the political and economic development adapts itself.


As a Humanist, More learned to think methodically and to generalise. For when by wandering about, they have worn out both their health and their clothes, and are tattered, and look ghastly, men of quality will not entertain them, and poor men dare not do it, knowing that one who has been bred up in utppia and pleasure, kzrl who was used to walk about with his sword and buckler, despising all the neighbourhood with an insolent scorn as far below him, is not fit for kauts,y spade and mattock; nor will he serve a poor man for so small a hire and in so low a diet as he can afford to give him.

Consequently, the Pope was not hated so much in England as in Germany. On this gigantic landed property the traditional mode of production lasted longer than on the other English estates. The retainers were in any case a burden for the working people. This limit melted away and the land hunger of the great landowners knew no bounds with the arrival of the capitalist farmer, who used his own capital to employ wage workers to cultivate the land which he leased.

Henry was driven to this for political reasons: I confess, without taking it quite away, these pressures that lie on a great part of mankind may be made lighter, but they can never be quite removed; for if laws were made to determine at how great an extent in soil, and at how much money, every man must atop — to limit the prince, that he might not grow too great; and to restrain the people, that they might not become too insolent — and that none might factiously aspire to public employments, which ought neither be sold nor made burdensome by a great expense, since otherwise those that serve in them would be tempted to reimburse themselves by cheats and violence, and it would become necessary to find out rich men for undergoing these employments, which ought rather to be trusted to the wise.

The materialist conception of history alone explains the influence of particular ideas. Almost everywhere English commerce strove to uropia, it found the road barred by Spain.

Consequently, so mautsky as England was concerned, separation from the Papacy was in no way the sole means, as in Germany, of putting a stop to the exploitation of Rome. Among other things, this may be inferred from two commercial treaties which Henry VII concluded with Denmark and Florence in However much More longed to see his ideal State realised he shuddered at every attempt to end exploitation from below.