Utopias are conceived as alternatives to the overwhelming control of power and authority. The premise of every utopia is the innate decency of each person given freedom from the socialization of a society controlled by power and authority. This control is seldom understood or even acknowledged by the average person, taken as a necessary given to maintain civilization, to keep people from being “nasty, brutish, and short,” to quote Hobbes. These average people are, as Seneca said, bound by golden chains, just as firmly as if the chains were coarse iron, but the gold gives them the illusion of being autonomous and content. Power and authority feeds the illusion of contentment through the marketplace of material goods and pleasures. As the goods and pleasures become “necessities,” so too does the power and authority that perpetuates them and perpetuates their captivity.
What utopias — or those who conceive them — try to sketch for us are challenges to the premises of society. The premises that humans are innately evil and that superfluous material goods and power structures to maintain them are essential are serious delusions. To shake off these delusions is the first step of the solitary. The solitary, just by following his or her own disposition, is prepared to understand these issues. The solitary is disposed to understand that what is vital need not be and cannot succeed as mere contrivance, however vast. The solitary lives in a kind of utopia, which literally means “no place.” Where better to begin?