Utopia Or Dystopia
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Our Current Society as Dystopian Society
A dystopian society is characterized by the imaginative futuristic world in which society is controlled through oppression and perfect society illusion is maintained using corporate, technological, bureaucratic, moralistic, and totalitarian control(Awan & Raza, 2016). Dystopia is basically a worst case scenario and a current trend criticism of societal norm, political system, and societal norm.
Some of the characteristics of the Dystopian Society are as follow:
By using propaganda citizens of the society would be controlled
Freedom is restricted as well as restriction would be placed on independent thinking and information
Citizen of dystopian society worships a concept and a figurehead.
Constant surveillance of citizens is perceived
Fear is induced by the outside world in the citizens
State of dehumanization of citizens living
Banishment and distrust of the natural world is inducted in citizens
Conformity of uniformity is expected, dissent and individuality would be disregarded
Ways to Exercise Dystopian Society
Several controls are exercised using the illusion of perfect society and societal control through oppression. Some of the controls that can be used to create a dystopian society are:
Control can be exercised by the use of a corporate medium. One or several big corporations would control society using their advertisements, products, and media.
Societies can also be controlled by using Bureaucracy. Relentless regulations, red tape, and government officials incompetency can be used to control society through Bureaucratic measures.
Technological control can be achieved through technology using computers, scientific means, and robots.
Philosophical or religious control can be maintained by using ideologies related to the philosophies and religion that could be enforced using theocratic and dictatorship government.
Our Society Moving to Dystopia
A constant threat is placed on our present and future, one embodying corrupt morals and ideas. The tendency of human to wage wars and destruction, forcing power makers to make forced decisions that ensure our specie safety. In our present modernizing society and technological advancements, even maintaining basic privacy begins to challenge our daily life as we are drowning in the social networking and media world(Baccolini, Raffaella & Tom Moylan, 2003). While technological advancements have its uses but it also makes inequality between rich and poor creating distinct and clear class boundaries. Today political system encourages the unequal global wealth distribution.
Historically we have seen that war is a very important element that shapes the human society dysfunctionality. The Second World War is evident that events and activities of Nazi German party under the influence of Hitler's dictatorship has established concentration camps in thousands and innocent millions of civilians were murdered due to their religious values and culture(Claeys & Gregory, 2010). Propaganda is an important aspect of the dystopian society to forge thoughts and ideas and it was done in the Second World War when Nazis used propaganda machine successfully to brainwash German citizens.
Fictions related to dystopian society warns against destruction and causality of war: value and mortality being sacrificed for gaining powers and defending violence in party meetings as a means for peace achievement. In Winston Smith novel 1984, he describes the war futility by describing "War; however is no longer the desperate, annihilating struggle that it was in the early decades of the twentieth century. It is the warfare of limited aims between combatants who are able unable to destroy one another, have no material cause for fighting and are not divided by any genuine ideological difference” (Orwell 1984). In Winston's statement, he emphasizes on the war pointlessness from initiation to end. It is asserted by Orwell that throughout human history, going to war is not for any ideological differences. Instead, he thinks that we should consider ourselves as global citizens rather than dividing ourselves into race, culture, and religion.
Secondly, inequality is increasing day by day around the world and wealth distribution discriminates lower class. It would be a big challenge to promote human equality when the world's population is in possession of 1% elite class. Furthermore, it is evident in the modern day world that literate labor class works hard for less income while the bourgeoisie minority makes more revenue of the work done by the lower class. According to a report by Credit Suisse, the gap difference between the super-rich and the rest of the world's remaining population is increasing day by day. The 1% richest person in the world owns the world's half wealth highlighting the growing gap between everyone else and super-rich people(Resch, 1997). The world's richest people share the total global wealth that increases from 42.5% in 2008 to 50.1% in 2017. These aspects of our society have inspired many dystopian fiction writers and it is an evident piece of information that led wars to corrupt our present world, increasing inequality, and increasing media and technological influence. Considering this society which becomes more and closer to the dystopian world like the one which is presented in the novel 1984, the Ministry of Plenty perfectly relates to the idea of inequality. The Ministry of Plenty who is in charge of economic affairs, rations inequality among different social classes favored the Inner and Outer party which constitutes national population comprising of a small minority. As our world's majority population is starving, there is an increasing need to identify this distribution inequality as immoral and against the fairness of basic principles. Lack of necessities like water, nutrition, and other daily usage things causes poor vulnerability which prevents development. Due to deficiency of government services and infrastructure for underdeveloped areas also cause deadly diseases to spread endangering the environment through pollution and toxic material unsafe usage. According to Orwell, like our present society, it is vital for countries to have equal education so that they can pass through this era of evolution and without this equality, intellect creativity would decrease with increase in violence and substance abuse. Higher prostitution rates, drug trafficking, gangs are present mostly in poverty based areas.
Thirdly media and technology are influencing our world day by day. It is very easy to disseminate ideologies of powerful by using propaganda from advertising to news creating perfect body illusion and illusion related to lifestyles, existence, and families. Like a dystopian society, it is not a reality but a construct. Truth is deeply hidden in piles of false advertisements and lies, photoshopped magazines, video games, films, and magazines. This perfect lifestyle illusion has a very deep impact in the society we are currently living in. The virtual universe is created by technology that is the inventor of an alternate reality. Today advancing society is putting its emphasis dangerously on the use of unreal, ideal, and virtual world which is of their making. Virtual sense of connection is falsely inducted in our society by the use of social media which forms an unrealistic bond with our society and creates expectations of lifestyle and identity of the modern world which is unrealistic. In Orwell novel 1984 it is clearly depicted that "If you want a picture of future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face- forever"
Comparing Today Society with Orwellian Society
It is amazing how a book that is published far before the inventions and usage of computers feels very relevant than before. Reading novel 1984 today, the most astonishing feature that is found out in today world is the fact of supporting a particular narrative by distorting the reality. Now in today's world be calling the propaganda "alternative fact". Protagonist writes in 1984, "Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two is four." When state authorities' torture him, his declaration is used against his own self and forcing him to "doublethink", which was a way used by the authorities to prioritize their truth against his own. Same is done in our society when leaders invent ways of massacre and crimes, and when media departs from their official version, citizens with propaganda were made to decide to involve in doublethink.
Another thing that the 1984 novel claims and are found in our world is the modern-day idea of a surveillance state. Orwell's novel masterfully becomes more and more related to our world as we are becoming technologically connected and dependent on "big data". Today collection and gathering billions of information data which is analyzed by the intelligence community so that they can use and form patterns to access and make analysis on millions of individual behavioral data are quite normal. In 1984 novel, the idea of surveillance is presented in the form of watching television screens and fear of getting wrong under constant surveillance. In today world, gazillions of data are collected through the use of social media including every comment, gesture, or purchase we make and making our lives more under the microscope in our preferences.
At the end of the day, we are facing things that are imminent in a dystopian society. Technology and our data sharing have become more and more ingrained in our society and manipulation of our even basic instincts are solidify when their power exists (Winner & Langdon, 1997). Dystopia novels address these issues and people are modeled to analyze this threat which is the first step in the determination and awareness of the problem.
A basic uniform income might tackle the threat of mass unemployment from automation job, but other ethical ways can be devised in dealing with this course of dystopia. The scientist might reach to the masses and help them in understanding the challenges and tells them the way to overcome those challenges. One of the main things to overcome dystopia is an informed citizenry. We can teach critical thinking in our teaching institutes and the researchers from different fields need to work alongside to better prepare ethical concerns shaping our century.
In this world of technology and constant surveillance, we felt a dire need to change our lifestyle for a better future. We have to make use of check on our self when using social media and try to make a society which is not virtual. Change starts from us, we have to look and share our views not with the virtual world but people close to us. We have to uplift poor's and eliminate poverty by helping them escaping Darwin's evolution. We have to support the weak and stand against the oppressor as done by many protagonists in dystopian novels. Reality has to be faced with courage and sheer will because there is no way of escaping reality. A pigeon never survives the cat by closing its eyes. There is always hope even when the possibility is small. As the heroes of our favorite dystopian novels fought back when there is a pain when people are silenced, they shout louder, we have to take those measures in our present world. There is always a utopian nucleus in a dystopia. "Being in a minority, even in a minority of one, did not make you mad. There was the truth and there was an untruth, and if you clung to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad." ― George Orwell, 1984.
Awan, Abdul Ghafoor, and Raza, Syed Ahmad. "The Effects of Totalitarianism & Marxism towards dystopian society in George Orwell’s selected Fictions." Global Journal of Management and Social Sciences 2.4 (2016): 21-37.
Baccolini, Raffaella, and Tom Moylan. "Critical Dystopia and Possibilities." Dark horizons: science fiction and the dystopian imagination (2003): 233-49.
Claeys, Gregory. "The origins of dystopia: Wells, Huxley and Orwell." The Cambridge companion to utopian literature(2010): 107-134.
Resch, Robert Paul. "Utopia, dystopia, and the middle class in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four." boundary 2 24.1 (1997): 137-176.
Winner, Langdon. "Technology today: Utopia or dystopia?." Social research (1997): 989-1017.
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