Voyages To Utopia
From Monastery to Commune - The Search for the Perfect Society in Modern Times

McCord, William
Publisher:  W.W. Norton & Company, New York London
Year Published:  1989
Pages:  383pp   Price:  $29.95   ISBN:  0-393-02641-8
Library of Congress Number:  HX626.M37 1989   Dewey:  335'.9'0926
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX3960

The story of William McCord's exploration of utopian communities, both in person and through literature.

This is the story of William McCord's exploration of utopian communities, both in person and through literature. His search covers Franciscan monks, Muslim Brothers, followers of Gandhi, religious utopias, Israeli kibbutzim, hippies communes, as well as larger-scale social experiments such as China's cultural revolution, Yugoslav self-management, and Danish social democracy. Although McCord is a sociologist, he is not one of the dread breed of questionnaire-sociologists, preferring instead to rely on descriptions of his own experiences and anecdotes, so the book is quite readable. People who are concerned with fashioning a better society, whether it be a utopia or not, will find plenty of material for thought in the social experiments described in these pages. In some ways, Voyages to Utopia is disappointing. Although McCord is critical to a greater or lesser extent of the utopias he describes, he fails to provide the kind of serious critical analysis these experiments deserve. He comments on how the members of one commune were always leaving for extended periods of time, making it difficult to fashion ongoing relationships and shared goals, but one could level a similar criticism at McCord himself, who always seems to be leaving before he has given us an in-depth understanding of the place he is visiting. For the record, McCord's own conclusion is that utopia is a mirage, and that one ought to strive for something along the lines of Scandanavian social democracy.

Table of Contents


I. The Quest for the Simple Life
1. Tahiti: The Fragrant Isle
2. The Zionist Ideal: "Kibbutz Shalom"
3. The Communes of Flower Children" Esalen and "Seacrest"
4. The Anarchist Alternative: "Commune St. Emilion"
5. The Reality: The Simple Life Reconsidered

II. The Quest for the Kingdom of God on Earth
6. The Franciscans
7. The Muslim Brothers
8. Gandhi's "Children"
9. The Reality: Religious Utopias Reconsidered

III. Marxist Utopias
10. "Self-Management" in Yugoslavia
11. The Hungarian Heresy
12. China: Red Star in the East?
13. The Reality: Marxist Utopias Reconsidered

IV. Capitalist Utopias
14. Singapore: A "Confucian" Utopia
15. La Jolla: A Capitalist "Jewel"
16. Denmark: Social Democracy
17. The Reality: Capitalist Utopias Reconsidered

V: Visions and Realities
18. Some Cautious Reflections


Subject Headings

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