Are we now living in the type of Dystopian World Orwell warned us about? With every passing week there's a new dictat, a new politically-correct phrase or a new science 'emergency' all moving us in one direction; towards a Dystopian Society. Some think we're not just moving towards it, we've already arrived.
University courses on Sociology rarely touch on the idea of a Dystopian world. This is probably because, in a recent poll, 81% of American University Professors in the Social Sciences identified themselves as Marxists. What we would think of as a dystopian nightmare, they think of as a Marxist Utopia. The idea of a Dystopian society is taught in modern universities but only in English literature classes. It is there that we can see what a dystopian world is really like, immortalised by such people as Orwell, and Philip K. Dick.
In a textbook provided to English Literature students the description of a dystopia resembles more than a few characteristics of our current society:
Dystopia: A futuristic, imagined universe in which oppressive societal control, and the illusion of a perfect society, are maintained through corporate, bureaucratic, technological, moral or totalitarian control.
It goes on to give a list of Characteristics of a Dystopian Society:
Propaganda is used to control society.
Information, independent thought, and freedom are restricted.
A figurehead or concept is worshipped by the citizens of that society.
Citizens are perceived to be under constant surveillance.
Citizens are in fear of the outside world.
Citizens live in a dehumanised state.
The natural world is banished and distrusted.
Citizens must conform to uniform expectations. individuality and dissent are bad.
The society is an illusion of a perfect utopian world.
The textbook goes on to say
Types of Dystopian Controls
Most dystopian works present a world in which oppressive societal control and the illusion of a perfect society are maintained through one or more of the following types of controls:
Corporate control: One or more large corporations control society through products, advertising and/or the media.
Bureaucratic control: Society is controlled by a mindless bureaucracy through a tangle of red tape, relentless regulations, and incompetent government officials.
Technological control: Society is controlled by technology - through computers, robots or scientific means.
We only have to look at what is currently happening in our society to see that most, if not all, of these dystopian characteristics are already embedded in our society. The difference from the literary world to our reality is it is a combination of all these characteristics, not a single one, that controls our lives.
'Knowledge is controlled by one or more large media corporations': The BBC, CNN etc pump-out endless propaganda controlling what we think, whilst Facebook, Twitter and YouTube erase descent and independent thought.
’Citizens are under constant surveillance': Britain had, going into this pandemic, more CCTV cameras than any other country on earth but now also has Police flying drones with facial recognition, cameras monitoring to see if we're following the rules, and the government tracking and tracing our every move via our mobile phones.
'Citizens are in fear of the outside world': The threat from Covid-19 has been vastly exaggerated instilling fear and panic in the public. In response to that fear they created technocrats promised to save the public in return for sweeping new powers. Lord Sumption described this in a recent interview thus: "The real problem is that when human societies lose their freedom, it’s not usually because tyrants have taken it away. It’s usually because people willingly surrender their freedom in return for protection against some external threat. And the threat is usually a real threat, but usually exaggerated"
'Citizens must conform to uniform expectations. individuality and dissent are bad': We have all seen just how terrifying the cancel-culture is, and how any descent, original thought, or even just scientific debate is now attacked. Say anything about transgender women, climate change, or the NHS and watch the citizens of Dystopia have their 'two minutes of hate'.
Darren Birks is the Editor of Vision News Online