"Utopia can be understood originally as a place that does not exist and as a good place at the same time; in other words, he latter meaning allows to consider it as the fictional idea of a good society. These utopian images are important because they play the role of normative models to judge factual societies and provide blueprints for their replacements, although these models should be flexible and modifiable in order to avoid totalitarianism (Sargent 1994: 24). In consequence of the ambiguity between a dreamed society and its non-existence, More left a problematic legacy to utopian thought from the very coinage of the term. Are utopias by definition possible or impossible? Here comes the distinction I want to stress: utopias can be considered either as a fictional image of a society or a method of thinking through social challenges. Both ways of considering utopias—as image or as method—share common traits. The most crucial seems to be that an imagined or evaluated aspect is a conception of a good or at least a just society. For this reason utopias are not the same as myths or other fictions such as robinsonades, fantastic or fairy tales. The utopia of More is an image of a better society; it is set in a still unknown continent—the Americas. For some scholars, it is not possible to interpret More as aiming towards future utopian projects because he was considering the utopia in relation to his contemporaneity (Heller 1980: 7). Also, there is an interpretation called “the Roman Catholic interpretation” of Raymond W. Chambers—a scholar and biographer of More. This interpretation explains that the possible objective of More was to use the mirroring feature of his utopian image to show his contemporaries how shameful it could be to find happy austere pagans living in better conditions than Christians (Elliot 1963: 317)."
"The social counter-image that More depicted in his little book is not perennial, even when some of the social criticisms are still valid. This is because there are some ideas that are hard to be supported nowadays, for instance: the slavery of the prisoners and the practice of marking their ears and forehead, and even some of less shocking suggestions could face strong opposition, such as the case of garment uniformity. In twentieth-century dystopias such as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, the homogeneity and stability—which are positive values for Thomas More—are described as the opposite ones: disvalues or dangerous values. As a useful convention the followers of the literary approach to utopia distinguish between “eutopia” (the depiction of the good possible society) and “dystopia” (a negative counterpart of utopia). But they still consider both as utopias in general (Trousson 1995; Comparato 2006), since the critical function remains the same, i.e. mirroring the real societies in a critical way. "
"After that distinction some sociologists and philosophers started to think of the concept not only as the counter-image but also as a way of thinking: the idea of utopian thought. Utopian thought changes its images according to the real needs the utopian thinkers find in their contemporaneity. In answer to my question asked at the beginning of this section—yes, utopian images are possible and in many cases become real communities; however, as soon as one realises that they are utopias, they will stop being ones."
"Nevertheless, this is not the end of utopian thought as some might believe (Marcuse 1986: 7). In new social conditions, new needs appear and the imagination starts to work in order to fulfil these needs and criticise the failures of the fulfilled utopia by imagining a new improved one."
"In the twentieth century—and thanks to the critical influence of Wells but overall because of the World Wars—utopian imagination exaggerated its pessimistic side. Dystopias proliferated, warning us how badly humans were doing and which social institutions needed to be changed. Utopian thought was linked to Marxism and criticised as a heresy (Molnar 1970: 7) and a mean to tyranny and violence (Popper 1967: 429). Nonetheless, the criticism was misguided insofar as critics commonly mistook utopian image for utopian method (Levitas 2010: 530). Utopian images expire with the progress of time, but the utopian method remains a useful tool to criticise our societies. Criticism needs a normative ideal dimension to compare the actual needs and errors with our possible solutions and actions. The danger does not lie in creating utopias, but in ceasing to create them"