Stop Giving Them Ideas

There are many reasons why dystopian fiction is less than desirable. One can discuss the ways that children and young adults suffer horrific abuse in their pages, conditioning them to believe that their own existence is tough and miserable and that they are somehow uniquely endowed with the requisite qualities to save their miserable societies from adult misrule. There is also one more fundamental and basic reason why dystopian fiction is a bad idea, and that is that it gives our contemporary governments too many ideas that they might not otherwise have without seeking to rule us ever more despotically and incompetently.

The reasonableness of nations seeking to imitate dystopian fiction seems limited, but over and over again in contemporary society we have seen plenty of cases where it looks like people in positions of authority have read dystopian novels not as warnings about the dystopian nature of contemporary governments with an encouragement to rebellion against tyranny but rather as a guide book on how to behave despotically in every more creative ways. It is, for example, beyond cliche at this point to examine how it is that contemporary governments seek to penalize wrongthought and engage in regular efforts at tampering with language in order to suit their contemporary concerns while also trying to wipe out previous meanings as being no longer valid. We have seen this happen repeatedly with words such as vaccine, woman, and inflation, where existing definitions no longer proved convenient and had to be edited to reflect the changed perspective of our evil rulers.

Similarly, the model of the Hunger Games where an ever more out of touch and decadent elite lives in cossetted splendor while ignoring the suffering of the great mass of people who are only valued for the products that they provide to others is a fitting model for what many governments seek to provide. Australia, for example, has been criticized for copying the Hunger Games in its own model for dealing with the continued unhappiness that nation has faced since the beginning of the Covid crisis. Other dystopias like the Death Cure, with the increasing deadliness of what passes for medicine, also appear to be strangely relevant in times such as our own where governments and institutions meant to help people, like hospitals, compete on the most grotesque ways that they can betray their commitment to principles of service and doing no harm.

The long and short of it is that we as creative writers need to commit to stop giving ideas to governments and other institutions on how they may better make our lives miserable, short, and brutish. Clearly we are not dealing with a political or cultural elite that has our interests in heart, or that wishes to provide us with the good and abundant life that we as human beings long for. Since the evidence of our society’s institutions indicates that they are set on thinking and behaving only evil continually, seeking to corrupt and destroy every good gift that God has given, every vestigial remnant of innocence or decency or truth that still struggles in this hostile climate, the least we can do is stop giving them ideas on how they may behave more corruptly. If our wicked and corrupt leaders seek to destroy our civilization and bring us into apocalyptic ruin while they seek to simultaneously preserve their own comfort and pleasure, the least we can do is hand them the fruit of our imagination that they can imitate to do so more effectively. They deserve no such favors from us.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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