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Utopia: Novel Summary: Book II - Of their magistrates

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Summary
Each year, every thirty families choose a magistrate to represent them in the government. Formerly, this magistrate was called the Syphogrant, but more recently the Philarch. Over every ten Syphogrants is another magistrate, formerly called the Tranibor, but more recently the Archphilarch. All of the two hundred Syphogrants choose the Prince, the head of government, by secret ballot. The Prince holds office for life, but can be removed if he tries to enslave the people. The Tranibors meet with the Prince every three days. They never decide on any issue the first time it is presented, as they mistrust hasty decisions, but debate it over three days.
Analysis
Utopia is far more democratic than the autocratic England of Thomas More's day and, indeed, than most so-called democracies today. Though a Parliament existed in Tudor England, it was made up of rich landowners. The majority of the population had no say in government, and it would take another 300 years before people could vote regardless of whether they owned land. There are differences too between the democratic process in Utopia and that of modern democracies. The Utopian people's representatives are answerable directly and only to the people, whereas it could be argued that today's representatives have many conflicting loyalties: to their political party, to lobbyists, to corporations and other vested interests, and to financiers. The main factor governing these conflicting loyalties is money, so in a society without money, the political process could be viewed as purer.
In contrast to the hereditary monarchy of Thomas More's England, the Utopian Prince, the head of state, is elected by secret ballot. He is much like a modern president, but without the conflicts of interest that can be caused by money.




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