Player Piano by Kurt Vonnegut - imagines a future where mechanical automation and IQ-optimized hiring leads to mass unemployment, but extensive welfare systems keeps the mediocre masses well-fed, just demoralized and without dignity. Combination of Huxleyan with Kafkaesque?
The Handmaid's Tale - Orwellian with a pronounced patriarchal-religious emphasis
Anthem by Ayn Rand - generic Orwellian with a primitivist/preindustrial Luddite version of Phildickian.
(Actually, we run into a convergence there. Isn't Orwellian thought control simply the overt forcible version of Phildickian thought control, the latter is more indirect, subtle, and possibly not even enforced by the state but private actors and individuals? Both involve rewriting your mind to reject liberty.)
Fahrenheit 451 - similar Phildickian rewriting of reality through both Orwellian (the firemen, the unspecified war in the background) and Huxleyan (parlor walls, overload of useless factoids) means.
Atlas Shrugged - world/U.S. in the beginning is not totalitarian, but a generic degenerate socialist bureaucratic state in decline. Whether or not Galt's Gulch is totalitarian, and what type it is, can be left as an exercise to the reader.
Neuromancer, Snow Crash, other classic cyberpunk works- not totalitarian, but heavy on the Huxleyan decadent consumerist society coupled with Phildickian distortion of reality themes.
Brazil by Terry Gilliam - perfectly Kafkaesque.
Would appreciate classification of some other classic dystopian totalitarian works, such as We by Zamyatin or even Animal Farm. Do any of them express totalitarianism in a way that breaks the four-type classification system?
Don't think there's too much danger of We breaking the OP's classification system though: it was more or less the template for 1984 (Orwell did read it, and with hindsight his lukewarm review seems rather uncharitable) and as such is one of the earliest and purest examples of Orwellian dystopia.
The Brazilian TV series 3% is I think worth of mention, as it fits very well in this space.
In Atwood's Oryx and Crake, we learn of a society where the better off live in employer-owned compounds while the less fortunate live in cities referred to as "pleeblands":
“The house, the pool, the furniture – all belonged to the OrganInc Compound, where the top people lived. Increasingly,
the middle-range execs and the junior scientists lived there too. Jimmy’s father said it was better that way, because nobody had to commute to work from the Modules. Despite the sterile transport corridors and the high-speed bullet trains, there was always a risk when you went through the city.”
“Jimmy had never been to the city. He’d only seen it on TV – endless billboards and neon signs and stretches of buildings, tall and short; endless dingy-looking streets, countless vehicles of all kinds, some of them with clouds of smoke coming out the back; thousands of people, hurrying, cheering, rioting. There were other cities too, near and far; some had better neighbourhoods in them, said his father, almost like the Compounds, with high walls around the houses, but those didn’t get on TV much.”
“Compound people didn’t go to the cities unless they had to, and then never alone. They called the cities the pleeblands. Despite the fingerprint identity cards now carried by everyone, public security in the pleeblands was leaky: there were people cruising around in those places who could forge anything and who might be anybody, not to mention the loose change – the addicts, the muggers, the paupers, the crazies. So it was best for everyone at OrganInc Farms to live all in one place, with foolproof procedures.”
“Outside the OrganInc walls and gates and searchlights, things were unpredictable. Inside, they were the way it used to be when Jimmy’s father was a kid, before things got so serious, or that’s what Jimmy’s father said. Jimmy’s mother said it was all artificial, it was just a theme park and you could never bring the old ways back, but Jimmy’s father said why knock it? You could walk around without fear, couldn’t you? Go for a bike ride, sit at a sidewalk café, buy an ice-cream cone? Jimmy knew his father was right, because he himself had done all of these things.”
“Still, the CorpSeCorps men – the ones Jimmy’s father called our people – these men had to be on constant alert.”
Excerpt From: Atwood, Margaret. “Oryx and Crake.” Anchor Books, 2004-03-30. iBooks.
This material may be protected by copyright.
Check out this book on the iBooks Store: https://itun.es/us/f5Qiz.l
I'd highly recommend reading it, it's a great book.
Posting a longish excerpt to give people a flavour of the book is covered by fair use. Otherwise literary criticism would grind to a halt.
And I don't see why you say it _may_ be copyrighted, it was only written in 2004 therefore it's undoubtedly copyrighted. But so what, it's perfectly fine to post snippets without the author's explicit permission. I suspect 99.99% of authors would give you their eternal blessing for disseminating and praising their work.
> I'd highly recommend reading it, it's a great book.
A dozen times this.
> And I don't see why you say it _may_ be copyrighted, it was only written in 2004 therefore it's undoubtedly copyrighted. But so what, it's perfectly fine to post snippets without the author's explicit permission. I suspect 99.99% of authors would give you their eternal blessing for disseminating and praising their work.
When I selected and copied the selections from iBooks, the "Excerpt From:..." and "Check out this book..." lines automatically appeared in my clipboard along with the selections. I figured I'd leave 'em there instead of deleting them.
But thank you for the fair use information, I'll keep that in mind in the future.
When the author says "I would like to suggest that all modern societies are both Kafkaesque and Phildickian with either a Huxleyan or Orwellian overarching framework; modern, western, capitalist societies tend to be basically Huxleyan (HKP) and pre-modern, eastern, communist countries tend to be basically Orwellian (OKP)," that is a premature conclusion, and one that should be challenged.
Yes, many societies have aspects of various kinds of dystopias. Does that mean all those societies are dystopias, or that all technology which may enable certain kinds of dystopia is inherently bad? Further, are all forms of life which involve being an active participant in one's society or culture so necessarily just a way of explaining away one's participation in a dystopia?
When we start categorizing the United States, for instance, as Phildickian-Huxlian-etc., we're doing so without answering the bigger question: Is the modern US a dystopia? Why or why not? If not, is it becoming more like one, and if that is so, what can we do to stop it?
I think the author is using the term "dystopia" to describe "flawed modern societies," which is not really what it means. I'd be curious to know what the author thinks an ideal human life ought to look like.
Well, compared to where Americans would once have told you the country ought to end up, yes, it's a dystopia, particularly for the young. I've heard teachers say that Push: a novel accurately describes their students' lives.
For many of us, well, there's this joke. In the '80s you were told that under Russian Communism, everyone would have to pack themselves into overcrowded apartments and nobody could own their own car. Now, in the 2010s, under American capitalism, we young people all have to pack ourselves into overcrowded apartments and nobody can own their own car.
Living standards have declined. Personal freedoms and privacy have retreated. Politics has grown more authoritarian. Science is being rejected rather than advanced. Education has stagnated.
It's a low-grade dystopia.
I also think that when we analyze the direction of a society, we should be looking on a larger timescale than between 1980s and 2010s. If you zoom out a little, to, say, the 1910s to 2010s, it's hard to make the argument that people are worse off on average. There's a lot of doom-and-gloom forecasting that suggests that not only is our society regressing, it is regressing so quickly and to such a low point that this cannot be countered. I don't think that's true. I think there is still time for positive change and that our society still provides us avenues for achieving it. It isn't easy, and it isn't getting any easier, but it is possible. While that possibility exists, a state cannot be a true dystopia.
I'm also curious as to how old you think I am. I have a feeling I'm much younger than you may imagine. I also think I should point out that while I haven't read Push, it looks like it has a relatively uplifting ending that is a counterexample to what you're claiming.
I mean, fair enough, but if we zoom out, well, global warming is a thing. We're going to be too late to do much about it, and we may not be able to save ourselves or anyone else among humanity. Most non-human life is now going extinct. Multicellular life as a whole may go extinct if the clathrate gun turns out to be a real thing.
We have declining living standards and the expectation of mass death. Oh, and a rather evil government.
So is the heat death of the universe, yet we don't feel existential angst about that. Global warming is a serious problem and it'll have a tremendous impact on human life. However, this will happen in a timeframe of several generations.
While the consequences are certainly dire global warming won't mean the extinction of mankind, or most non-human life for that matter. Life will adapt. Mankind will adapt. We can't prevent global warming anymore but we can do something to slow it down and temper its effects.
There's no reason to be defeatist about this. In the 80s sometimes the notion was floated that by now pretty much all of Northern Europe should be below sea-level due to global warming. This shows both that things don't always have to work out as badly as predicted and that a change for the better is possible.
Several generations, my foot! The real nasty stuff will be coming to a head just about when I'm starting to hit retirement age.
>While the consequences are certainly dire global warming won't mean the extinction of mankind, or most non-human life for that matter. Life will adapt. Mankind will adapt. We can't prevent global warming anymore but we can do something to slow it down and temper its effects.
This is a stupid thing to say to people. "Oh, sure, you might die, or your personal prospects might get a lot worse, but humanity as a whole will probably persist!" Oh joy? Look, it's very nice that humanity might survive in some form, but I was hoping to survive in some form, into my natural old age.
Only want to point out this is a horrendous fallacy. Technology has increased wealth to exponential levels. Yes, I do expect things to be at least a bit better but there are measures of well being that cannot be expressed in the size of one's flat screen TV. Job security, access to healthcare, education, basic services and living in an inclusive and just society.
By these metrics are we doing so much better? And let's not justify the unfortunate conditions of the present by the worse conditions of the past.
Yes. Yes, we are. Realize that in the 1910s, electricity was not in widespread use, millions died each year from diseases now treatable or totally nonexistent (e. g. smallpox), and we were on the verge of two of the deadliest wars in human history.
It's frankly absurd to suggest that the only benefits of technological and scientific increases over the past century have been flatscreen TVs or creature comforts, or even that these are the primary innovations. Humanity's inventions over the past century have been a big, massive deal. Not dying from things as simple as influenza, being able to cross the country by plane in just a few hours, and near-universal (in the US) access to indoor plumbing, electricity, clean water and at least basic emergency medical care have already put us well beyond the level of those times. I won't even get into live birth rates, infant mortality, life expectancy, or overall risk of death due to accident or disease.
But overall, I'm not justifying current problems as being OK because things used to be worse - I'm trying to remind everyone that society is a process, not an endpoint, and for as far as we've come we've got to be willing to take time and withstand some suffering to go further.
I suppose it comes down to how one defines 'human progress'. For me, the more relevant issue is how humans interact with each other (mostly at the non-individual level). I mean, we've mostly gotten past hanging out in small tribes, killing members of other small tribes in order to take their stuff. Arguably, we've made progress. But it's not entirely clear to me whether we've fundamentally changed our nature, or if the tribes have just gotten bigger.
So although I'd agree that technological progress plays a role, I think it's an indirect one. Technology makes resources more plentiful. In turn, this makes it easier to get by without having to murder anyone. But it's no guarantee that we won't. Indeed, we seem to be at our most inventive when some other tribe is trying to kill us and we're trying to do the same right back (i.e. during times of war)...
> But it's not entirely clear to me whether we've fundamentally changed our nature, or if the tribes have just gotten bigger.
I think part of the reason for this lack of clarity is that we are going through this change right now. We're in the middle of it, with people at all ranges between "totally tribalist" and "totally humanist" (if "humanist" is the right term to use there, as in advocating for all peoples). Nationalism is one kind of pseudo-tribalism that is about more than just who your family is, and I'd argue globalism is another step along the path towards a less tribal society.
The other issue is that not everyone agrees that becoming less tribal is a good thing, so you have some people actively trying to speed the change, and other people actively trying to slow or even reverse it. So, yeah... it gets pretty confusing.
I have so many relatives and friends that came from 1960's E. Europe that would wave their fists in the air in anger :).
You have excessive opportunities, wealth and freedoms compared to anyone in any Communist state, from any era.
On my last visit to Poland, speaking to a lady about my age, she mentioned that when she was young, they only had three kinds of ice cream: chocolate, vanilla and pink ... because the government mandated that 'anything else was bourgeois' (!!!). And they were the 'rich' Warsaw state! The Bulgarians had no 'ice cream' at all!
You have access to all sorts of education, lattes and cappuccinos, you can make any kind of art you like, you absolutely buy a vehicle (ok, so you can't buy a BMW?) - and if you live outside of an expensive city core - housing is actually relatively inexpensive. The average house price in the USA is $189 000. That is NOT a lot.
"Living standards have declined. Personal freedoms and privacy have retreated. Politics has grown more authoritarian. Science is being rejected rather than advanced. Education has stagnated.
All 100% false.
Material standard of living has increased in every measurable way. Internet, apps, smartphones, access to information, medical drugs and treatments, the amount and distance of travel, the number of entertainment options, clothing options, food options ... it's all considerably better.
Personal freedoms are effectively what they were in the 1980's there is no real material change, other than now you have the power to communicate with anyone in the world - at any time. This was inconceivable to most people even in the early 1990's.
Politics is considerably less authoritarian than in the 1950's and 1960's wherein there were very rigid moral codes for almost all matters of conduct.
Have you seen a 'soup kitchen' line from the 1930's? All the 'homeless' men are wearing suit jackets, overcoats, proper hats and shoes! To wear a t-shirt and jeans back in the day would have been akin to 'wearing your underwear' outside. You would wear a suit and tie to work - call people 'Mr.' and address women by 'Mrs.' or 'Miss.'.
Women could be secretaries or work in factories. No abortions. Almost no divorce.
We have more researchers and publications than at any time in history.
A higher % of the population is finishing high school, and considerably more are going to University than ever before. In the 1960's maybe 12% went on to college, now it's past 30% - and the numbers of those doing 'something' post high-school is near 60%.
Hey, 'life is hard' and it's never going to seem easy - but don't take for granted how easy life is compared to almost any time in the past. We do some things 'worse' but most things 'better'.
The socialist regimes are worse than capitalist ones on average, but the socialist, centrally planned system may be (and was) more efficient in specific areas it decided to take care of explicitly.
Your example of the lack of ice cream is one side of the coin; the other is activation of the female workforce, virtually ending illiteracy and providing truly universal health care and education, for free of course. An average person was much better off under the Soviet-controlled regimes than they had been before the war. There is reason why for example Germans don't hate the time they lived in DDR that much.
> A higher % of the population is finishing high school, and considerably more are going to University than ever before. In the 1960's maybe 12% went on to college, now it's past 30% - and the numbers of those doing 'something' post high-school is near 60%.
And that tiny percentage is good? It's way behind what socialist states achieved in the seventies even now, then.
Of course, on the whole, the socialist (there was no real communism in Eastern Europe at all, by the way) regimes were inefficient and people had many of their rights denied. You could land in jail for telling a simple joke, that's true. On the other hand, millions of people didn't feel the need to tell "that kind of jokes" and they lived quite comfortable lives, even if they lacked a certain kind of ice cream.
Even in Poland, where opposition to the socialist regime is part of national identity, many people became disillusioned with the free market and capitalism after the shock of the early nineties. For more than twenty years after that, it was "in bad taste" to say anything in defense of the previous system or against the current one. However, in recent years, some people started voicing their discontent with the current system while recalling good sides of the previous one. If this happens even here, in Poland, then it's safe to assume (I think) that the upsides of that system existed.
I know that the Soviets did at least 'some things' well.
What I'm opposed to is the pure moral relativism and nostalgia for those repressive times.
The people packing themselves into overcrowded apartments and going carfree are doing so by their own choice. It's a fad among a particularly vocal group of young people, and it's not nearly as large a percentage of the population as people think they are .
The suburbs are cheaper than the cities. I'm just not seeing what you're describing in my own life. I live in the burbs; almost everyone I know has a car. I'm one of the only people I know who doesn't own one, and it's entirely by choice. Besides myself, I know one guy who doesn't own a car, and he can't drive because he's legally blind... but his wife owns a car. Half the people I know live in houses, and the other half live in suburban apartments... which are far larger than the tiny, cramped studio apartments you find in cities. I've got a townhouse myself.
> Living standards have declined.
And gotten quite better in some respects. Technology has made the world of my dreams a reality.
I'm so glad I can keep in touch with friends who I'm not able to see anymore thanks to us moving away/changing jobs/etc. I'm glad I can (legally, even!) watch or read all kinds of media without leaving my chair. Man... if someone told 12-year-old me that I can pay $10/month to watch every single episode of some of my favorite TV shows, I'd think they were messing with me. Back then, if I wanted to catch up on something, I had to pray for the network to air just the right reruns.
> Personal freedoms and privacy have retreated.
Personal freedoms are greater than ever. Especially if you're a minority. LGBT rights, women's rights, and PoC rights area all better than they ever were. Sure, we have a ways to go, but 50 years ago life sucked if you were LGBT, a woman, or a PoC.
I'm a woman who works in a technical field and has no interest in getting married or having children. 50 years ago, that would have been nigh impossible. I'm also openly LGBT, and nobody bats an eye. 50 years ago, being openly LGBT would have gotten you killed unless you lived in your city's "gayborhood", in which case you were basically trapped in a ghetto and couldn't take part in the rest of society. Seriously, back then, being accused of being gay had the same effect as being accused of being a pedophile (i.e. it would completely and utterly wreck your life). And forget about being trans... assuming the medical establishment would even let you transition (which wasn't likely), your only option was to go deep stealth as soon as possible.
And while race relations sure as hell aren't perfect, they're a far cry better than the era of racial terrorism that lasted until the '60s. You want to see what it was like to be black in the south in the '30s? Go read Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. Segregation was just the tip of the iceberg. And there's an excellent article out there on what MLK actually did .
Or hey, abortion wasn't always legal.
Or being able to watch media that handles sensitive subjects: movies used to be under the strict control of the Hays Code, cable television didn't exist, and broadcast television was subject to strict regulation by both the FCC and network standards and practices. You couldn't even say the word "pregnant" on TV, for crying out loud.
Even as late as the '80s, being a geek would get you beaten up, your face shoved in a toilet bowl, etc. Hey, I went to high school in the early '00s, and that attitude was still floating around in a lesser form: nobody got violent, but if I mentioned comic books or fantasy, the class would laugh at me. Things got better for kids not too long after I graduated, and I'm glad today's kids don't have to worry about being pariahs for being nerds. John Cheese did a pretty good writeup of that on Cracked, of all places .
And back in the day, railing about how the system sucks, the man is out to get anyone, and America is evil would be enough to get somebody blacklisted. Now, nobody bats an eye. In some circles, it's even considered cool.
Now, yeah, privacy has gone down, but that's because we like it better this way. We chose it for ourselves. We like sharing our lives on Facebook. We like posting photos of everything, checking into places, writing status update after status update. We enjoy keeping in touch with people who have moved out of town. It used to be that if somebody moved away, you'd never hear from them again. I don't miss those days. Moving on: we love Google Street View, and we don't care if we can see people watering their lawns because Street View is awesome. Basically, we chose to give up some privacy because giving up some privacy has made our lives a whole lot better.
> Science is being rejected rather than advanced.
Science is constantly advancing. Read some journals, check out the ArXiv, read any of the numerous science articles that pop up on HN every day.
Yeah, sure, we have a whole bunch of antivaxxers and climate change deniers around, and unfortunately they're in the government now. But we've always had these kinds of people. Go look up the Scopes Monkey Trial. Go look up the massive backlash against plate tectonics; deniers managed to maintain control over that issue for 50 years before plate tectonics was finally accepted (it was first proposed in 1912, and the deniers shut down all discussion of it until the 1960s).
> It's a low-grade dystopia.
Maybe I should ping a former co-worker of mine, whose parents escaped the Khmer Rouge to start a new life in the US, and ask her if life here is even remotely comparable to 1970s Cambodia.
Or, since my family is Jewish, I could ask my mom to tell the story of her second cousin. She and her parents escaped Nazi Germany when she was a child by walking to either Spain or Portugal (I forgot which) and stowing away on a ship to the US. Can you imagine a dystopia so bad that escaping it justified walking across half of Europe on foot?
I'd go on but edblarney nailed everything else I wanted to say: https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=edblarney
 http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2017/02/04/the-high-co... points out that Millennials are actually moving away from coastal urban centers and into suburbs in "flyover country", despite the popular perception that Millennials are all preferring to crowd themselves into downtown areas.
 http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/8/29/1011562/- No, he didn't end racism. He did, however, end what was a straight-up terrorist regime.
how does one walk to Portugal w/o first walking to Spain ? >_>
great post though!
How is your assertion true under that definition, even if we strip out the "imagined" part?
Can you provide an example of a society which would qualify as not being a dystopia under your version of the term's meaning?
Think of where these dystopias come from, what is the purpose of creating a dystopian rule. In these terms it's easy to make parallels with any modern state.
> If you believe that you live in a good place and that others are bad, totalitarian states, you wouldn't consider yours to be dystopian, somewhat ignoring that people living in other states might think the exact same thing about your state.
My believing something is something doesn't make it so. Other people not believing something doesn't make so. That any society might look like a dystopia to someone doesn't make said society a dystopia, because "making parallels" isn't the same as proving something to be true. There are many parallels between humans and chimpanzees, but they're not the same species.
And you haven't answered my major question: If all modern states are dystopias under your definition, what exactly does a non-dystopian society look like, and how do we know? How is the term useful if you just define it as covering everything?
Your definition is exactly about beliefs. It can never be precisely interpreted, each interpretation depends entirely on what you consider good or bad and why.
You're not responding to my questions or points, so I think this conversation's not productive anymore.
Interestingly, I wanted to say the same to you. The term has been used to describe states that have the exact same goals as any modern state, but not a "bad" place.
The prefix 'dys-' literally comes from the PIE for 'bad, ill, evil'.
If you wanted to avoid subjective moral judgments in discussion, then I'd recommend you don't start it off by using the term 'dystopia', which implies subjective negative judgement .
It would probably be most correct to say that societies can be "dystopian" but never "dystopias," because of that part of the definition, but I think we're at a point where that's splitting hairs somewhat.
Linguistically, it makes as much sense as saying a state is a satire, or that a person is a comedy.
If societies under the rule of the state are dystopias, what are societies without the state? Do we prefer Mad Max and bandits?
Just read 10 or more pages of detail from Stalin's 'Communist' Russia, or visit Eastern Europe today where you see that it is still 'defrosting' from that era ... and you can safely dismiss this kind of moral relativism rubbish.
The debate is long over: Capitalism with some degree of social intervention has won, hands down, over and over again. So many failed 'communist' states have embraced a degree of free markets, and have in almost every case improved the standard of living of most of their citizens.
Most Western nations have some negative attributes of all of these 'Dystopias' surely, but none of us live in 'Dystopias'. :)
Can anyone recommend a novel/story that most clearly represents this version of dystopia?
Also, "A Scanner Darkly" kind of hints that creating that kind of society is the goal of some nefarious forces.
The books are about how a mad God is the creator of our universe and the real God has tried to force itself into our reality throughout history (Jesus, Buddha, etc), usually within the context of an oppressive government.
This is probably clearest in the second Valis book - The Devine Invasion, though certainly these themes are present in Valis (book 1) and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer (book 3).
I would also note that these books are not a traditional 'series' in that beyond Valis being mentioned there is no direct connection between the stories.
My favourite underrated PKD novel is Galactic Pot-Healer, which is a really fun read. This time the false creator is Glimmung, a large whale-like creature that claims to have godlike powers, and which is attempting to remotely contact a number of artisans across the galaxy that it needs to rebuild its physical presence on a far-away planet. The mythos is weirder and a bit less darkly dystopian this time, and the whole thing is crazy from beginning to end. Highly recommended.
It's not clear to me that this form of dystopia is really all that distinct from the Huxleyan one-- the virtuality is just a more effective soma.
It's a great book. It's interesting (in the context of this discussion) that it's a satiric dystopia in which the main character spends most of the book in a drug-induced dream about being in a future utopia that turns out to be a Huxleyian dystopia that's even worse than the present day.
When WW2 ended, America, Britain, an Russia were on top...Britain's position has fallen, but China and Japan are now 2 and 3 but America is still solidly #1. As shown by Pinker, the evidence since WW2 suggests more peace (the Long Peace)and less conflict, not more.
Trump's rise to power is more symbolic of national angst than in terms of substantive change in policy. I predict there will be some disappointment by former Trump voters who think that Trump is going to be this huge reformer.
Literally Obama. This election really burned me out on US politics to be honest. Seeing smart people I generally respect instantly taking the opposite position to Trump no matter what has been a big bummer. It's a bizzaro mirror image of the last 8 years and is really tiring and disheartening.
I mean, some people get it wrong sometimes. Sure. And Trump seems to get it wrong a lot. I'm not so sure there should be any position by Trump that can be seen as indisputably good.
Sounds like false equivalence on your part.
Reforming the H1B visa system. I think Trump yelled about it and a Democratic Congresswoman from California put forward a fairly sane bill. We'll see what happens.
Do you have any cites?
It's my impression that the biggest threat to peace currently is the Middle East and Russia, but neither are new. Russia is acting out because it has a GDP the size of California and is isolated and the Middle East is...the Middle East. There's a lot of flexing but that's always happened and the US is a hegemon that really can't be challenged save a land war in Asia (hopefully we aren't that stupid).
The Soviets were invading Afghanistan in the 1980s. It's foolish to say war can't happen, but things look ok from a geopolitical standpoint and historically.
What countries really want to engage in war and disrupt the global economy?
Joe Biden says the:"Liberal international order is at risk."
"French Ambassador to the U.S. Gerard Araud foretold of a new world order. "After Brexit and this election, everything from now on is possible," Araud tweeted. "A world is collapsing before our eyes. Vertigo."
"It's the end of an era, that of neoliberalism. What will succeed it, is yet to be known," Araud said in another tweet. Both tweets were later deleted."
All of these people recognize that the post WWII world order is failing. There was no "end of history." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_End_of_History_and_the_Las...
> What countries really want to engage in war and disrupt the global economy?
Humans are passionate animals. We will wage war for ideology. We always have. And while some will lose [economically] others will profit. War is big business.
That being said, those are politicians (not military leaders). Both of them have something to lose and a worldview that is antithetical to recent changes (Biden vs the Trump election, Araud vs Brexit). As of a year ago neither of those people would have predicted current events. Why should we believe they now know something we don't?
Brexit sucks but the UK has always been resistant towards the EU. The EU as it exists today (or did last year) didn't even exist in 1990. Nobody is going to war over that, though.
Humans are passionate animals. We will wage war for ideology. We always have. And while some will lose [economically] others will profit. War is big business.
Of course, but what specifically suggests we are in a more dangerous situation now than we were in say 1982 when we still did nuclear attack drills, the USSR was invading countries, and Iraq and Iran were in the middle of war? What makes it worse than the 1990s when places like the Russia and Yugoslavia were crumbling? There will always be wars and rumors of war.
Military leaders are great tacticians, but that doesn't mean they know anything about the power structures of the world. Politicians on the other hand have to develop a keen sense for where things are headed [politically]. And don't forget, war is the ultimate expression of politics.
> There will always be wars and rumors of war.
Right, and we won't be able to predict when the next one will be or how it will start. What we can say though is that things are getting unstable. The current system is bleeding. Now that it has shown weakness it will be challenged by groups hoping to fill a [potential] power vacuum.
I think you mean the post-Oil-Crisis, post-stagflation, post-Bretton Woods world order. The post-WW2 social-democratic order was put down in the late '60s and early '70s.
I wonder if what we're seeing now is simply the consequence of a large generation (i.e. gen Y) coming of age. Following this line of thinking, perhaps the replacement of social-democratic ideals with neoliberal ideology (and washington consensus macro) was similarly due to the baby-boomers coming of age in the late-60s and early 70s.
I'd say passionately irrational..
Great content. Thanks.
The threats are the western countries themselves, they are repeating mistakes some past empires did, and becoming vulnerable, if Russia and Middle East defeat them, it wasn't because they are the threats, but because the defeated ones let them.
* Decline in birth rates results in strained economy, and in case you have an actual war in your hands, you might lack manpower.
* Families are weak on the western countries, some particular groups have staggering 70%+ amount of kids raised in fatherless homes, divorce is too high, marriages too low.
* The current young generation is basically "lost", with massive amounts of debt (not only in the US! this problem repeats in several countries), underemployment, few prospects for having a "solid" future.
* Too much relies purely on the governments, for example most people have their money in banks, only because central banks guarantees they will bail them out if there is a bank run, and in turn central banks are guaranteed to be bailed out by the government, if the government has a "hiccup" for any reason, a problem (for example a well planned attack by an enemy, or just even a random big company failing for a random stupid reason) might topple the whole thing down.
* Almost all western (and related, like Japan) countries have educated everyone currently alive, that the state is responsible for taking care of the older people, yet all of them don't have anymore enough money for that, almost all western countries have their social security systems going into debt.
All these countries are in a way strong, have overwhelming military (in terms of technology and raw firepower), record highs levels of safety (with record lows crime), health (with research being forced to move into new medical areas opened when people stopped dieing for the reasons that were common in the past centuries), and so on...
But at the same time, there is excessive bureaucracy, and interlocked moving parts, a combination of mistakes is all that takes to make the whole thing collapse, for example the US dollar, currently USA have a staggering amount of debt, trillions high, and there is no chance of the government fixing its balance sheets in short term, the only reason USA can keep paying its mighty military (among other things) is the fact that it can "print" virtually infinite amounts of USD, because the global trade market will absorb it. If something happens that shift the trade suddenly away from USD (I dunno what could do that, lets hope it doesn't happen), suddenly USA would fail to pay its military, and since USA military include scores of mercenaries stationed in distant countries, this might result in USA-equipped mercenaries suddenly causing trouble all over the world.
Johnny Mnemonic (1995) rant on this.
the US has elements of huxley, elements of orwell, elements of kafka, and increasingly, elements of the phildickian dystopias.
there bottom line isn't quite captured by any of the above, though. the modern dystopia is defined by individual paralysis as a result of being overwhelmed the engineered political spectacle. it isn't that people are too happy to want change, nor are they too scared of death, nor are they immersed in paperwork, nor are they lost in cyberspace. they're too addled to envision a better world as anything other than a fantasy.
people have been conditioned to think of the world as a stable equilibrium that is managed by their betters. in the mass imagination, the default is that the world runs itself as a result of the actions of power players who are unreachable by any of their individual or group actions-- the powers that be are on another planet, and raging against the machine on the planet that the masses live on doesn't accomplish anything. the gap between the individual and the top is simply too large to bridge in a single lifetime, and most people wouldn't have the first idea about where to start even if they were interested in reaching the "control room".
that's what the impression is, anyway. the result of this passivity gives way to a culture of disconnection. politics are compartmentalized as "stuff that someone else does", and then compartmentalized even further into "stuff that happens that we as individuals shouldn't quarrel over because we can't effect it". these nested compartmentalizations within the public mind result in little action despite complaints and low standards of living. it's simply too much cognitive work to tear down the walls that are constantly socially enforced.
south korea recently dumped their government via swarming the streets with millions of people until their demands were met. a similar strategy is unlikely to be executed in the US, however. the public is divided between those who still believe that they are politically empowered (the ascending right wing) and those who believe that the power elite are acting against everyone's best interest and there is no political force that can stop them (no political orientation has the monopoly on this group's membership).
I don't think this is the case at all in most of the west. In the US in particular, the Left's primary limiting factor is "how do we make a transition to better socioeconomic systems without further endangering the people that the current system hurts." This is a challenge that may not have an answer. And as for the Right, well, their principle limitation as we have seen is setting up an environment where they can obtain enough unilateral power to enact policies that benefit the minority they're interested in.
And of course, we see elements of less strictly aligned ideology rippling around the US (it is a complicated place).
> south korea recently dumped their government via swarming the streets with millions of people until their demands were met. a similar strategy is unlikely to be executed in the US,
The last 8 years suggest that large scale protest action is becoming more common, not less. The mistake that big governments have given is allowing unlimited, virtual assembly of the masses as they see fit via the internet. The net result of this is that there's no practical break on internal cultural drift, and it's extremely easy to organize (or passively synchronize) efforts for maximum presence.
The interesting feature of all these dystopias is a carefully mandated isolation and compartmentalization of the populace. That's precisely what we do not have. Tech, while contributing to a lot of economic problems around the world, has at least broken every social expectation and put us in a place that doesn't really fit these dystopian predictions. Which means we probably need a new one, but I don't think yours is it.
What about the recent Women's Marches in dozens of cities across the country?
What about the similar protests against, and efforts to stop the recent governmental overreach against immigrants?
Heck, what about the massive anti-establishment grassroots movements (like the Tea Party) that largely contributed to the rise of the current "right" and our current President?
I agree they're not as effective as the South Korean protest, but they are also smaller as a percentage of the population. It's inane to suggest that they had no impact, though.
I would have said similar until recently. Then millions of Americans started protesting, and haven't stopped.
- huxley: forcing on people to pretend to be happy and calling trolls everyone emitting a critic CHECKED
- orwelian: the cloud & IT jargon is so 1984 I will not start on it: CHECKED
- PkD: media manipulation and institutional lies: CHECKED
- Kafka: well, because of scanners the stamps on my files get erased, and they ask my originals they loose, I will say personal CHECKED (and no Pratchett optimism to save the day)
- Gulliver's travel: very underrated scifi dystopian precursor, but CHECKED too.
- Vernor Vinge/Heinlein: conservative schlerozed regim where birth gives wealth and power: CHECKED
SciFi as a critic of the modern world was born in the XIXth to overcome censorship (Montesquieu, diderot, voltaire, swift). The fact that once again fiction is more critic than intellectuals is a bad sign.
The fact that it is obvious unemployment rate are ~25% in OECD (canada and USA included) when you take into consideration all the people that cannot pay for food, rents, heath without social help even when they have a job is WTF.
And the fact people think that poverty, corruption is not their problem is really a new dystopia and it's there upon us.
Fear edo-dystopia more than mytho-dystopia.
"For mass media, insurance companies, Big Pharma, advocacy groups, lawyers, politicians and so many more, your fear is worth billions. And fortunately for them, your fear is also very easy to manipulate. We're wired to respond to it above everything else. "
Key distinguishing features of Orwell's dystopia, for example, have been left out, such as utter lack of privacy; induced hatred of [fictional] common enemy; etc.
Similarly, for Huxley, they left out state control of reproduction; cultivation of distinct/discrete social classes via genetic engineering and conditioning; elimination of meaningful interpersonal relationships via promotion of promiscuity and the demonizing of any non-surface-level interactions; etc.
I'm sure there are more but these are just the first few that come to mind.
Let's not jump to conclusions. It's not too late yet for countries like the U.S. or UK to become Orwellian. Unless you want to argue that modern societies can regress to being pre-modern, and that's when they become Orwellian...
Phildickian: Idlewild by Nick Sagan
phildickian reads: ubik, andoids dream of electric sheep, time out of joint (kinda), scanner darkly, maze of death (kinda).
Other: dr bloodmoney (post-nuclear), high castle (alternate history), radio free albemuth (kafkaesque becoming orwellian), screamers (robot conquest, with a paranoid twist)
How long do you think an Arab would last in Han dominated China if he constantly criticized the Chinese for "Han supremacy" and called for an end to their way of life?
How long would a Han Chinese survive in Qatar behaving the same way?
Ironically, the openness of western society has led to its constant attack by disgruntled minorities. Who realized long ago that complaining loudly wins them resources and privileges.
I would classify this sort of thinking as "whig historiography." It's a popular meme, but there's no evidence that it's a good model of reality. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whig_history
Embracing "diversity is strength" feels good in an abstract sense, but it seems to fly in the face of evidence. The chaos and conflict brewing now are a direct result of this motto being played out over the last fifty years or so.