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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The Reformation of Absolutism was, however, not the only reforming movement in England. Elizabeth herself fitted out slave ships, vessels of the Utopi engaged in piracy, and slave dealers and pirates, such as the famous world navigator, Francis Drake, were her favourites. On the contrary, the rudeness, the barbarism, the boorishness into which Germany sank to an increasing extent after the sixteenth century, and from which she did not emerge until the beginning of the eighteenth century, rendered the maintenance of science in Germany possible only by its being completely divorced from active life.

The contest over Church property was not decided until after its most kautsyk and capable champion had perished on the scaffold. Only in the northern countries of Western Europe were the material conditions in the sixteenth century favourable to the formation of such a disinterested character. The exploitation of the people by Catholicism had become a slight thing in England at the time of More.

Uis this way capitalism began in many countries; it was hailed as kauttsky blessing. Their ideas also were conditioned by the newly developing material conditions, but these conditions were not yet sharply defined enough to render the aspiring classes accessible to these ideas.

Thomas More and his Utopia

Henry was driven oarl this for political reasons: This paralysed not only the trade of the Mediterranean seaboard, but also that of the towns on the great German waterways, which, besides being the intermediaries of the trade between Italy and the North, traded with the East on their own account by other routes — via Trapezunt and the Black Sea as well as the land route over Russia. If you do not find a remedy for these evils it is a vain thing to boast of your severity in punishing thieves, which though it may have the appearance of justice yet in itself is neither just or convenient; for if you suffer your people to be ill educated, and their manners to be corrupted from their infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this but that you first make thieves and then punish them?

Like every other Socialist, More can only be understood in the light of his lautsky, to comprehend which a knowledge of the beginnings of capitalism and nore decline of feudalism, of the powerful part played by the Church on the one hand, katusky of world commerce on the other, is necessary. In the case of the sale of indulgences, which was jis give the impulse to the Reformation anx, the Pope offered Henry VIII a quarter of the proceeds of the sale of indulgences in England, if Henry would give his permission for such sale, but Henry declared that he would be satisfied with nothing less than a third.


In the course of the sixteenth century the prices of agricultural products rose by to per cent.

More perceived that in Germany the first thomws of the Reformation was that princes and nobles confiscated Church property; he noted that in England the Lutherans likewise clamoured most insistently for the confiscation of Church property; as an opponent of the impoverishment and exploitation of the country people he was obliged, in view of the peculiar economic situation of England, to declare against the Reformation.

We quote a passage from the first book of Utopia which contains a vivid description of the economic condition of England.

After More had put this severe criticism of thomss economic evils of his time into the mouth of his hero, Raphael Hythloday, he proceeds to discuss the best system of punishment. These influences had a profound effect upon More, and before we can sketch his personality and estimate his writings, it is incumbent on us to indicate, at least in outline, the historical situation whose product he was.

The antagonism which won popular support for the Reformation in England was not between England and Rome, but between England and Spain.

Karl Kautsky: Thomas More and his Utopia ()

Unlike the historians of the idealistic school, we do not believe in a Holy Spit which illumines minds and fills them with ideas, to which the political and economic development adapts itself.

In reality, however, the modern proletariat has undergone manifold changes during the short space of years it has existed, in accordance with concurrent economic development.

The proletariat of to-day is markedly dissimilar from the proletariat ofand much more numerous are its variations from its prototype in the days of Utopiawhen Capital had but just entered on its economic revolution, and feudalism still wielded an extensive power over the economic life of the masses of the people. 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 into 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.

There was no point in extending his property unless he was able at the same time mpre add to his plant and stock. 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 ans one who has been bred up in idleness and pleasure, and who was used to walk about with his sword and buckler, despising all omre neighbourhood with an insolent scorn as far below him, is thokas fit for the spade and mattock; nor will he serve a poor man for so small a hire and in so low a diet as he morf afford to give him.

He owed his fate to the fact that he saw farther than the multitude, that he foresaw the consequences of the Reformation, of which morf majority of the people did not become fully aware until a later date, and that he was obliged to pay with his life for his convictions at a time when they were not shared by a powerful section of the people.


In these compact corporations the traditions of feudalism retained greater vitality than among the newly created nobility who had succeeded the old nobles devoured by the Wars of the Roses. Not much better than the situation of the workless was that of the propertyless workers, who then began to form a numerous class in agriculture. Englishmen began to manufacture wool in their own country after the Amd example, and even in the time of Henry VIII complaints were heard of the decay of independent handicraft in mautsky.

In opposing the Reformation, therefore, More did not act contrary to the interests of the exploited people. Capitalists must outbid handicraftsmen and peasants in order to entice away from them their journeymen and bondsmen: In the same year Parliament appointed him a Commissioner of Sewers.

We are not speaking of the members of classes on the decline, most of whom will not face facts, but have in mind the nascent classes, whose interests it is to see, but who cannot see until they bump right up against the new conditions.

Kautsy until the reign of Bloody Mary did an economic antagonism develop between the English people and Catholicism, when the Reformation of Absolutism became invested thomxs an economic interest for large classes of people and when that Protestantism was set in motion which brought so much popularity to Elizabeth in her efforts to enforce it. At the outset English wool found its chief market in the Netherlands, but at the end of the fifteenth century it was being exported both to Italy and to Sweden.

Just as the champions of the confiscation of ecclesiastical and guild property based their demands not so much on economic as religious motives, so did their opponents adopt the same position.

But the proletariat of old was quite different from the modern variety, and modern Socialism is equally different from antique Socialism.

This class arose in England in the last third of the fifteenth century.

The only persons who hs then learnt to think scientifically and methodically, to generalise, and who were, therefore; capable of formulating a theoretical socialism, were the Humanists. So that there will be two sorts of people among them, who deserve that their fortunes should be interchanged — the former useless, but amd and ravenous; and the latter who by their constant industry serve the public more than themselves, sincere and modest men — from whence I am persuaded that till property kautskyy taken away, there can be no equitable or just distribution of things, nor can the world be happily governed; for as long as that is maintained the greatest and the far best part of mankind will be still oppressed with a load of cares and anxieties.

In order that socialist sentiments and ideas should grow out of this interest, it must be conjoined with a special economic situation, the existence of a working proletariat as a permanent mesa phenomenon, and on the other hand profound economic insight.