Israel Okunnu ’23 Conrtibutor
Dystopian societies are what people fear. Some may even say that we are living in one. But I am here to boldly say that that is false. We are not living in a dystopian society.
The main characteristics of a dystopian society are totalitarian government, loss of individualism, complete environmental destruction, and technological control. It is quite clear from the above stated characteristics that our society isn’t dystopian. I will be focusing on the most major aspect of such a society, a totalitarian government. Our government is not totalitarian. Totalitarianism is the political concept that the citizen should be totally subject to an absolute state authority. Here in the West, we do not have a totalitarian government; rather, we have a democracy.
Society at large is a democracy, and people can make their own personal choices and decisions. If we were a dystopian society, the government would be putting restrictions and limits on places you can go, on things you can buy, and things you can do in general. These types of restrictions would not be to protect the public but rather to have the citizens under the complete control of the government, which is what the government is not doing. This freedom of choice makes our society prone to shifting between dystopian and utopian experiences and existences. Because of this counterpoint, between dystopia and utopia we are not fully a dystopian society. This leads on to my second point, that if we are living in a dystopian society now, then that means that society previously was near-utopian.
We could not live in a dystopian society because saying we do would indirectly imply that the human condition in the past was substantially better than it is today. In the 1950s, there was a lack of both civil rights andwomen’s rights, the Clean Air Act wasn’t passed, and the threat of nuclear war was looming over our heads. It most certainly couldn’t be the 1920s, their was an economic depession, WWI left nations wrecked and diseased, and a second war was soon to come. Let us answer this question truthfully in our hearts: “Would you freely choose to live in the past, knowing the added benefits and blessings the future offers?” Of course, you would not. If the current time, we live in is objectively better than any time in the past then I think it is hard to call it a dystopia.
It is clear that the picture does not get brighter the farther back in history we go. Historically, our past depicted as a dystopian society, while our present world leans more towards a balance between utopian and dystopian existence, we cannot be in a dystopian world. I am not saying that we live in a utopia, absolutely not, yet we do not live a dystopia.
Photo Credit: The New Indian Express/Medha Dutta Yadav