… From the beginning I was aware of another virtue that had been singularly overlooked: the classic utopian works had all treated society as a whole, and had, in imagination at least, done justice to the interaction of work, people, and place, and to the interrelationship of functions and institutions and human purposes. Our own society—indeed this ranks as the characteristic vice of all “higher” civilizations—had divided life into compartments: economics, politics, religion, war, education; and within these larger divisions efforts at reform and improvement, or at invention and creativity, went on in even smaller compartments, with all too little reference to the whole in which they played a part.
Utopian thinking, as I came to regard it, then, was the opposite of one-sidedness, partisanship, partiality, provinciality, specialism. He who practiced the utopian method must view life synoptically and see it as an interrelated whole: not as a random mixture, but as an organic and increasingly organizable union of parts, whose balance it was important to maintain—as in any living organism—in order to promote growth and transcendence.
Lewis Mumford, The Story of Utopias (New York: Viking, 1963), pp. 5–6.