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The Sciences

Dystopia as dashed dreams?

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanApril 4, 2009 9:48 AM


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I watched Clockwork Orange a few months ago. More recently I've been reading some economic history, as well as the utopian visions of early 19th century reformers. From these two vantage points I've come to the conclusion that the whole genre of "dystopia" is really about lowered expectations. Modern Western man after the Great Divergence actually lives in what would be a utopia to anyone in the 19th century; after all obesity related illnesses are a major problem for the underclasses in Western societies! Future dystopias in reality simply resemble the social structure and quality of life expectations which were the norm throughout human history, and are the norm across broad swaths of the contemporary world. So a question for the literate readers of this weblog: is the dystopian vision discernible only in the age of affluence? I know that some of the ancients conceived of the world as in a long term state of decline. Would that be a pre-modern equivalent?

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