Voyages to Utopia: From Monastery to Commune, the Search for the Perfect Society in Modern Times

William McCord, Author W. W. Norton & Company $22.5 (381p) ISBN 978-0-393-02641-2
In a globe-hopping travelogue, sociologist McCord assesses at first hand the gap between ideals and reality in diverse social experiments. He gauges the utopian impulse toward a simpler life in California communes, an Israeli kibbutz, an anarchist collective in France, and in Tahiti where expatriates such as Paul Gauguin grew disillusioned. He mingles with religious and spiritual groups--a Franciscan order, Gandhian ashrams in India, Egypt's fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood--judging them relative failures in their attempts to transform society. A professor at City University of New York, McCord finds no perfect utopia; even Denmark, epitome of the benevolent welfare state, is burdened with an enormous public debt, and tax evasion is popular among all classes. This engaging, open-minded balance sheet covers worker self-management in Yugoslavia, the American Quakers and Mormons, Deng's China and the affluent enclave of La Jolla, Calif. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/30/1990
Release date: 02/01/1990
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