I personally believe that it is impossible to create a utopia. Many people have tried to create a perfect community, yet over and over again, they have failed. Why? Well, I believe humans have a natural tendency to make mistakes. To me this statement is not just a belief, but a fact. Think about this: have you ever gone one day without doing something wrong?
Here are some examples of utopias that started off well, but eventually the creators made poor decisions:
Brook Farm: Brook Farm was founded and created by George Ripley. Ripley had a vision: to establish a community inhabited by people from various arts: singers, painters, sculptors, etc. He saw the community working as a unified family. From 1842 -1843, the settlement was off to a great start. The 200 acre community was occupied by a boarding school, shops, and many families. One decision shattered Ripley’s dream. He was inspired by a man named Brisbane to enforce the idea of Fourierism, which required all young adults and older children to be given the responsibility of carrying out the unwanted chores. Some of these included killing animals for meals, cleaning up after horses, and repairing roads. Not long after this idea was enforced, the community began to fall apart. In 1847, families began to leave because of the new principle, though other events led to the fall of the settlement, After a serious epidemic of smallpox and a terrible fire, the utopia collapsed, having “gone up in flames.”
Fruitland: Fruitland was founded in 1843 by Bronson Alcott (Bronson Alcott was the father of Louisa May) and Charles Lane. Their vision: to create a community made up of vegetarians. The establishment was small and not as popular as Brook Farm, but it was successful, for a short time. The members were not allowed to make use of animal produce such as skins, bones, and manure, and they were against eating meat. Because of this principle, many people were diagnosed with malnutrition. As a result of the sickness and strict diets, several people moved out of the community. By 1844 the community was abandoned after having only lasted a year.
To create a fantasy land, people don’t invite just anybody in. They invite the most reliable, honest people they can find to help in establishing the perfect community.
“All paradises, all utopias are designed by who is not there, by the people who are not allowed in.”
-Toni Morrison, Online News Hour interview, Mar. 9, 1998
If you were to create a utopia, what would you consider most important: giving “peace loving” people a safe place to live and live up to their “potentials,” or to prove to the world that it is possible to create a perfect world? There are communities that have failed because of people who simply wanted to establish a utopia so that they didn’t have to deal with imperfect or “different” people. The truth is there is no such thing as a perfect person. Therefore, no community created by man can ever be perfect. There are so many stories, but they all have one thing in common: the community isn’t really perfect, even if the creator thinks it is.
People have dreams and visions about their “happy” place, what they consider a perfect world. People all across the world often refer to this idea as the “American Dream.” The truth is, no one has the same goal or dream. Everybody has a completely different “castle in a cloud.” How can drastically different people come together as one to create a community based off of another person’s dream? It seems impossible.
“Nothing, not even a utopia, can necessarily make the pursuit of happiness a successful one that ends in capture. The best society can merely allow every individual to flourish in the pursuit.”
-Daniel Nettle in Happiness: The Science behind Your Smile
Utopias are designed by one person, while others live in it. Many people in utopias are deprived of living their own dreams because they are too busy trying in live up to another’s goals. Do they have the opportunity or the money to create a place that they feel safe? If Alcott, Lane, and Ripley had thought of people other than themselves, like the families that dwelled in their communities, perhaps their utopias could have been successful.
The idea of the American Dream has inspired people across the nation to reach for the stars. To make your dreams a reality, you don’t go the opposite direction. You run forward. Utopias are created according to a person’s dream. Instead of living someone else’s dream, pursue your own.