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In 1516 the statesman and scholar Thomas More published a work describing an ideal island state – he called it Utopia. The name derives from the Greek but has a double meaning ‘eutopia’ (good place) or ‘outopia’ (no place). Everything on Utopia is public property, food and hospitals are free and all religions are tolerated. We may consider that aspects of More’s utopia – for example, the constant surveillance and the fact that women are still generally subservient to men – to be no part of any ‘perfect’ world. But whatever More’s personal views, he was certainly contrasting his ‘virtuous' Utopians with the less virtuous societies of his own time.

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