Are Utopias Dystopic?

the-hunger-games“Dystopian” fiction is hot right now.  A dystopia is a government/system in which things are bad. Usually one cause is an all-p0werful big government which attempts to control all aspects of its subjects’ lives, and which deals harshly with dissenters.

Dystopian fiction is a form of futuristic/science fiction literature set in a dystopian society. In ‘YA’ literature (fiction for kids from about 9-14) dystopia is a popular theme right now, as in The Hunger Games. There is also dystopian fiction for grownups, such as Richard Bachman’s The Long Walk, Daniella Bova‘s Tears of Paradox, and Marina Fontaine‘s Chasing Freedom. Real-world dystopias include the Soviet Union, Mao’s China, North Korea, and Nazi Germany.

The word ‘utopia‘ tends to claim to be the opposite of dystopia. But I believe that isn’t necessarily true. A utopia is often a top-down society in which the wise king or political leader imposes his vision of a perfect society on his sheep-like people. It’s a perfect society— for the king. But for the ordinary citizen of a utopia, told what crops to grow, how and when he can sell them, when and why to marry (if marriage is allowed), what religion he is to follow (if any), it’s very little different than living in a dystopia. In either case, freedom is lacking, in order to ensure that everyone gets to live the ‘perfect’ life. The leader in both a utopia and a dystopia is doing what he does for everyone’s good- or at least he thinks so.

A real utopia is impossible to achieve outside of heaven, and it’s only possible there because God has the power to change the nature of the inhabitants of heaven so they no longer have the capacity to do violence to one another, steal, seek revenge, and so on. In the real world (except for heaven) people are messy. They don’t all want the same things, and mostly, people want to be left alone to do things their way.

The real opposite of a dystopia is not a utopia, but a free society in the traditional Constitutional American sense. Certain rights were guaranteed, such as freedom of religion, speech, the press…. But there was no big-government out there trying to micro-manage personal relationships, or to ensure that both the industrious and the lazy enjoyed ‘equal’ prosperity. Local schools were organized by local communities, and were there to serve the families that used those schools, not to indoctrinate a younger generation to reject the religion, practices and politics of their parents.

In the US of today, the concept of personal freedom is vanishing. If a person thinks all vaccines are wonderful things, he is not content to use the vaccines himself, he has to demand that 100% of the other people use those vaccines too— even if they have moral objections, as those who won’t use the measles vaccine based on the fact that the vaccine is created using the fetal tissue of a newly conceived child killed by abortion.

Likewise, some people believe that the ideology taught in the public schools is true and wonderful, and so they want 100% of children to experience the indoctrination. Alternative schools such as the Catholic and Lutheran school systems much teach the same ideology or be sued out of existence, and homeschooling— even though it produces better results— must be banned.

One use for utopian/dystopian fiction is to issue a warning about the real world. Some authors may choose to warn against dissenting against their own particular form of faux utopia. Others warn us to fight the loss of freedoms we now experience, lest a dystopia come into being. If you prefer the second sort, you might like the Facebook page ‘Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance.’

Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance:


Poem of the Day

The Emperor’s Garden

Once, in the sultry heat of Midsummer,
An Emperor caused the miniature mountains in his garden
To be covered with white silk,
That so crowned
They might cool his eyes
With the sparkle of snow.

Amy Lowell (1874-1925)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.