Lion of the Blogosphere

Utopia: Economy of 1515-1516 and the wool industry in England

Raphael has a lot to say here.

He complains about noblemen who don’t do anything useful to contribute to the economy. And then he complains about noblemen’s retainers who are more numerous and also don’t do anything useful to contribute to the economy. And then he complains about the amount of resources wasted on standing armies.

Sheep: Per Wikipedia, wool and cloth spun from wool were the chief exports of medieval England. Raphael doesn’t believe that this is a good thing for the average Englishman. He complains that the nobles enclose land for pasture for sheep grazing, kicking out the peasant farmers and leaving them with no way to feed themselves.

Because sheep herding is much less labor intensive than farming crops, converting farmland to sheep pastures results in mass unemployment. The peasants don’t even enjoy the benefits of cheap wool, because sheep farming is controlled by a few rich men who can raise prices because they have an “oligopoly” (that’s the word that Paul Turner uses in his translation).

Towards the end of Book 1, Raphael praises the “communist” economy of Utopia. I think the best thought in all of Book 1 is this critique of capitalism:

[W]hen everyone’s entitled to get as much for himself as he can, all available property, however much there is of it, is bound to fall into the hands of a small minority, which means that everyone else is poor. And wealth will tend to vary in inverse proportion to merit. 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.

That’s right, you can’t cure poverty by growing GDP! Thomas More saw that 500 years ago. That’s why I’ve made the grim prediction that automation and robots will increase poverty even as they, paradoxically, create an abundance of material goods with minimal human labor.

RAPHAEL: … I’m quite convinced that you’ll never get a fair distribution of goods, or a satisfactory organization of human life, until you abolish private property altogether. So long as it exists, the vast majority of the human race, and the vastly superior part of it, will inevitably go on labouring under a burden of poverty, hardship, and worry. …

MORE: I disagree. I don’t believe you’d ever have a reasonable standard of living under a communist system. There’d always tend to be shortages, because nobody would work hard enough. In the absence of a profit motive, everyone would become lazy, and rely on everyone else to do the work for him. Then, when things really got short, the inevitable result would be a series of murders and riots, since nobody would have any legal method of protecting the products of his own labour – especially as there wouldn’t be any respect for authority, or I don’t see how there could be, in a classless society.

RAPHAEL: You’re bound to take that view, for you simply can’t imagine what it would be like – not accurately, at any rate. But if you’d been with me in Utopia, and seen it all for yourself, as I did – I lived there for more than five years, you know, and the only reason why I ever left was that I wanted to tell people about the New World – you’d be the first to admit that you’d never seen a country so well organized.

Well that’s an interesting exchange. More, pretending to be himself, makes an argument that Ayn Rand will make 441 years in the future, and Raphael responds that you should believe him because he’s seen it with his own eyes. Except that Utopia is a fake country that doesn’t exist.

Which character does the real More actually believe?

Written by Lion of the Blogosphere

August 12, 2016 at 12:15 am

27 Responses

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  1. it’s not as if there’s not an in between an ayn rand u-topia and a karl marx u-topia. but most americans believe there isn’t.

    contrary to american propagandists:

    1. the USSR and Eastern Bloc fell apart because nationalism not because economy. it was really just the dissolution of the russian empire…which did NOT end in 1917.

    2. the two fastest growing economies in the history of economies are both commie economies…the soviet union from the end of the civil war to the beginning of ww ii and the PRC beginning with deng…as no less an authority than chanos has said…the PRC is still very much commie…much more than the randian, libertarian, neo-liberal delusional douchebags can even admit to themselves…let alone say in public.

    Trumpocalypse Now

    August 12, 2016 at 12:33 am

    • You forgot to mention hitlers centrally planned economy of the 1930s was also among the highest growing of all time.

      My thoughts are that hayek is correct that centrally planned economies have too many information chokepoints to be dynamic over the long run, but they also have large advantages in marshalling considerable resources for things the private sector cant do like satellites, rocketry, nuclear research, massive infrastructure and so on.

      Communism wouldnt even work in theory by the way. Peoples value on goods and services derives from others relative abundance or lack. This is the dilemma of evolution. For if we were all sated in the material abundance provided by robotics, some would still have less access to live in the hamptons, some would still desire more status symbols and many human services that robots may never be able to do cannot be divisible equally.

      The human condition is a Struggle of the Will. The only utopia one should hope for is the personal one of victory. And even that is bittersweet in light of the enlightenment and unlearning it now requires. The narrative dissonance of secret and forbidden knowledge.

      (This being said it occured to me some of the happiest periods of modern times were the relatively equal postwar economies of the west and japan. A historically unprecedented juncture of abundance and opportunity to be socially mobile).

      The Philosopher

      August 12, 2016 at 2:30 am

    • The planned commie economy of the Chinese works because market prices are generated in the United States by which the commie state uses to gauge what to produce. Impose tariffs and other penalties, and the economy closes off completely.


      August 12, 2016 at 2:48 am

    • A primary cause of the fall of the Soviet Union was absolutely financial and economic. They were broke and when oil prices fell a lot the situation became hopeless.

      All empires fall when the cost to run them exceeds the profit of their operation. The American Empire is probably going to bump into this limit pretty soon, so it’s not a captialism vs communism thing, but saying the Soviet demise wasn’t economic is highly misleading.


      August 12, 2016 at 9:43 am

    • West Germany vs East Germany
      South Korea vs North Korea

      Both of the democratic capitalist countries (were) are light years better than their communist counterparts. If you want to push socialism at least argue for a Scandinavian welfare state model, not a centrally planned economy.

      Lewis Medlock

      August 12, 2016 at 11:59 am

      • i agree. i wasn’t arguing for communism or central planning. i was just pointing out that describing central planning as a total failure is a bit of an exaggeration. and now peraps only 25% of chinese work for the government, much lower than the figure for denmark.

        but at the same time e germany did a lot better than a lot of other developed countries, and scandinavia does very well. according to a recent survey by gallup pre-tax median household income is highest in scandinavia. after tax probably not.

        and the soviet union should be compared to its starting point not to the US. in 1917 the russian empire was a 3d world country. and how much better off are russians 25 years after the fall of communism?

        Trumpocalypse Now

        August 12, 2016 at 1:42 pm

      • Most Americans are too stupid to realise that after factoring in personal debt (necessary for privatised college, healthcare etc in America) and privatized transport (you have to have a car, who killed the Tram?…) as well as the fact they work roughly 20% more hours per week for less long term security (shit pensions, healthcare, privatized nursing homes, no mental health services), the vast majority of Americans are far worse off than Europeans.

        You also have to consider qualitatively how the total lack of food, environmental and pharmaceutical regulation means most americans are about 50% off their physical best case scenario owing to high fructose corn syrup, transfats, wild advertising, weird drugs for everything, and insane levels of toxins and other carcinogens in their environment.

        Have fun in Cuckold Utopia!

        The Philosopher

        August 12, 2016 at 4:48 pm

  2. Lion, keep reading St. Thomas More! Thomas would make a fine Confirmation name for yourself and I would proudly stand as your sponsor!

    In the Philadelphia area, one sees many bumper stickers from the now closed St. Thomas More High that say “St. Tommy “Forever” More.”

    The much beloved school was closed due to the ethnic cleansing of Catholics from West Philadelphia.

    p s c

    August 12, 2016 at 1:00 am

    • The problem w/converting to Catholicism is a) you have to believe in that whole Christ mumbo jumbo b) that Mary was immaculately conceived and c) the Catholic hierarchy, with those ridiculous outfits.


      August 12, 2016 at 4:29 pm

  3. Ayn Rand never made any such argument. That’s the standard conservative and economists’ argument against communism.

    Ayn Rand was not a conservative and was not concerned primarily about the practical material consequences of communism. She obsessed on the harm communism visited on the creative aspirations of the human soul.


    August 12, 2016 at 1:03 am

  4. I want to respond to a few points that disgusting, villainous TruCon Lion of the Trumbarar or whatever his name is made to me in an earlier thread.

    1. LotT claims that National Populism will be dead in America after Trump loses by 8-10 points.
    Rebuttal: Trump isn’t going to lose by that margin. He may not lose at all. The polls are already converging. We’ve seen this movie before and we know how it’s going to play out: Trump has a few tough weeks where his polls crash and the liberals and TruCons start gloating and speculating that he is either going to drop out or be removed from the race. Then the race slowly starts to converge over the next several weeks and eventually a Rasmussen poll showing Trump with the lead comes out. The Libs and TruCons dismiss it with “it’s just Rasmussen!” and then move on to “polls don’t matter!” once other polls start showing the same results over the next couple of weeks. Trump will be ahead in the averages by the 2nd debate.

    2. National Populism can’t work without Trump because any other populist candidate won’t have the billions in free media publicity
    Rebuttal: The genie cannot be put back in the bottle. If Trump doesn’t win in Nov, in the 2020 primaries all Republicans will have to commit to an anti immigrant agenda, just as Rubio and Cruz both did in this year’s primaries when they realized which way the wind was blowing. Also the Stupid Christians have been exposed as toothless and nobody will ever again bother pandering to them and their stupid “Abortion and Gays” agenda.

    3. Paul Nehlen’s defeat shows that Trumpism without Trump cannot work.
    Rebuttal: Paul Nehlen’s defeat shows only that the people of Wisconsin’s first district are a bunch of braindead cucks, something we already knew, although we may have underestimated the extent of the problem. Nehlen was defeated, but he was able to run a grassroots campaign with national support against a beloved and powerful House Speaker. He managed to put enough pressure on Ryan that Ryan even said that his trade agenda was the same as Trump’s and that he (Ryan) supported border security. In fact, that Ryan chose to emphasize his (non existent) commitment to border security in his own adds shows that even in the heart of Cuckland the anti immigrant message is strong.

    In conclusion, LotT is a liar, a fraud and a spokesman for a movement that Trump has already exterminated forever, and therefor he and everything he says is irrelevant.

    Otis the Sweaty

    August 12, 2016 at 5:25 am

    • Easy abortion and open homosexuality go together with easy, open immigration from everywhere, because the attitude that favors easy abortion and open homosexuality is incompatible with a sense of life-patterns extending across generations — as is the attitude that favors easy, open immigration from everywhere. If you oppose easy, open immigration from everywhere, then encourage reverence for life-patterns extending across generations; this reverence precludes easy abortion and open homosexuality.


      August 12, 2016 at 7:57 am

      • Easy abortion has beneficial eugenic effects. One can only imagine how much worse off we’d be if all those aborted fetuses were now running around the ghetto committing crimes.

        Lion of the Blogosphere

        August 12, 2016 at 8:36 am

      • I understand that this is your concern, Lion; however, you yourself have suggested that sterilization (or some sort of tube-tying, at least) be a precondition for public assistance, and this would solve the problem. I favor ethnic feudalism, as opposed to the separatism advocated by the alt-right; the fertility of serfs would be regulated by their lords.


        August 12, 2016 at 8:47 am

      • @Garr



        August 12, 2016 at 9:05 am

      • Yesterday a friend asked me to admit that Trump had unleashed dark racist forces that ‘we all knew’ existed in the Republican coalition. I responded that I thought the term ‘racist’ had been overdone and was now encompassing reasonable positions such as keeping scores of the most superstitious people on the planet out of our country. He had no response. As if connecting Islam with wild ass superstition had never occurred to him. Yet these same folks are understanding when the Germans keep the similarly looney Scientologists out.


        August 12, 2016 at 10:37 am

      • @ Yakov. Thanks. Lots of Boro Parkers work out at the 15th Street Harbor Fitness — ever go there?


        August 12, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    • One other thing to remember about Nehlen is that he’s only lived in Wisconsin for two years. A homegrown populist would have enough trouble in Cuck City Central but Nehlen had the added disadvantage of being a carpetbagger.


      August 12, 2016 at 11:30 am

      • These are the goal post set up by the Trumpians. You guys are the ones who suggested Nehlen was going to be swept into power on the coattails of the Trump wave.

        He lost by 70 points. And these were your goal posts.

        Lion of the Turambar

        August 12, 2016 at 2:22 pm

      • The scope of Nehlen’s defeat is a bad omen. Even if he was indeed a poor candidate, his message against Ryan was unmistakably clear and to the point.

        Even after having it spelled out for them, the Wisconsin cucks couldn’t even vote for him in excess of 20%. Not a good sign at all.


        August 12, 2016 at 8:23 pm

  5. I havent finished yet so I dont have a fully formed opinion but I think that I am generally aligning with the that assigned in the introduction to H,W, Donner:
    “Its object is to shame Christians into behaving not worse, as they do now, but far better than the poor Utopian heathen.”
    The enigmatic Paul Digby Lowry Turner doesnt like this but I think he is overlooking More’s essentially Christianity. People like Erasmus of Rotterdam are the intended audience of this book. The book wasnt even published in England, which could probably be take as some sort of a clue, even given the self selecting Latin possible readership.

    Notice that Raphael (the arch angle) gives a non-rebuttal (“You’re bound to take that view, for you simply can’t imagine what it would be like “). It seems to me that he is talking about Man in some idealized, Heavenly state.

    Lion of the Turambar

    August 12, 2016 at 7:54 am

  6. Lion, this guy had established Utopian communities for the Indians. Maybe you are interested in looking into it and letting us know how it worked out?


    August 12, 2016 at 8:48 am

  7. More may have agreed with Raphael but since we’ve now tried utopia, it’s clear that More was dead on.


    August 12, 2016 at 9:24 am

  8. Since the 1300s the Speaker of the House of Lords sits on a woolsack – a custom that remains to this day. That’s how important the sheep herding industry was to the Medieval English 1%. The speaker of the House of Proles sits on an ordinary albeit a bit fancy chair.

    Lionel of the Richiesphere

    August 12, 2016 at 2:13 pm

  9. Capitalism and Communism are both soulless egalitarian MATERIALISM that make people fungible. Neither system prioritizes what is important to the human soul (in no particular order):

    -belief in God
    -traditional (and enforced) roles between the sexes with Patriarchy (aka civilization) firmly in the driver’s seat.
    -a need for peoplehood/tribalism


    August 12, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    • The only good thing about Ayn Rand is that she was an out-of-the-closet atheist. If only American conservatives were like that, instead of perpetuating what the smarter ones know is a “noble lie” about gods and angels and demons, etc.


      August 12, 2016 at 10:54 pm

  10. “Yesterday a friend asked me to admit that Trump had unleashed dark racist forces that ‘we all knew’ existed in the Republican coalition.”

    Of course Trump has released racist forces of the right/white. The racist forces of the left/nams have been balls out for decades. Only difference is that the latter has been successfully framed as loving, inclusive, civil rights, tolerance, etc while the former, even in self-defense, is pure evil.


    August 12, 2016 at 4:12 pm

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