The daydream of a better life, here on earth or in heaven, in the near future or on a faraway island, runs like a golden thread through the history of Western civilization. Often that dream was the expression of an attempt to escape from unbearable reality, away from hunger, toil, and oppression. Next to the fantasies about a return to a golden age or some miraculous intervention, there were those utopias which were considered reachable through religious conversion or social and political action. For the latter category the term "utopia" (no place) could be more properly translated as "that which has not-yet taken place." Without this semantic shift we cannot understand the dynamic role of utopia in the moral, social, and political thought of the West.
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