Vieira, Fatima. The concept of Utopia. The Cambridge Companion to Utopian Literature ed by Gregory Claeys. Cambridge University Press, 2010: 3-27.
DYSTOPIA: “Literary dystopia utilizes the narrative devices of literary utopia, incorporating into its logic the principles of euchronia (i.e., imagining what the same place – the place where the utopist lives – will be like in another time – the future), but predicts that things will turn out badly; it is thus essentially pessimistic in its presentation of projective images”. (p17)
AIM OF DYSTOPIAS: “But although the images of the future put forward in dystopias may lead the reader to despair, the main aim of this sub-genre is didactic and moralistic: images of the future are put forward as real possibilities because the utopist wants to frighten the reader and to make him realize that things may go either right or wrong, depending on the moral, social and civic responsibility of the citizens. A descendant of satirical utopia and of anti-utopia, dystopia rejects the idea that man can reach perfection. But although the writers of dystopias present very negative images of the future, they expect a very positive reaction on the part of their readers: on the one hand, the readers are led to realize that all human beings have (and will always have) f l aws, and so social improvement – rather than individual improvement – is the only way to ensure social and political happiness; on the other hand, the readers are to understand that the depicted future is not a reality but only a possibility that they have to learn to avoid. If dystopias provoke despair on the part of the readers, it is because their writers want their readers to take them as a serious menace; they differ, though, in intent, from apocalyptic writings that confront man with the horror of the end of society and humanity. Dystopias that leave no room for hope do in fact fail in their mission”. (p17)
DISAPPOINTMENT: “The awareness of the existing flaws in imagined societies had a positive intent, though: they aimed at making the readers keep looking for alternatives. Because of this, they came to be called critical utopias. But apart from these years, the twentieth century was predominantly characterized by man’s disappointment – and even incredulity – at the perception of his own nature, mostly when his terrifying deeds throughout the two World Wars were considered. In this context, utopian ideals seemed absurd; and the floor was inevitably left to dystopian discourse. In the second half of the twentieth century, in particular, dystopias became the predominant genre in the United States. Two ideas, which are intimately connected, have fed dystopian discourse: on the one hand, the idea of totalitarianism; on the other hand, the idea of scientific and technological progress which, instead of impelling humanity to prosper, has sometimes been instrumental in the establishment of dictatorships. The first images of a future where the results of scientific and technological progress were misused are to be found in the canonical dystopias of the Russian writer Yevgeny Zamyatin ( We, 1921), Aldous Huxley ( Brave New World , 1932 ), and George Orwell ( Nineteen EightyFour , 1949 ), and have, in fact, inspired generations of authors. Mainly from the 1970s until the present, dystopias, nourished by projective images of scientific and technological advancement”. (p18)
EXTINCTION OF UTOPIA?: “The world is experiencing a grave crisis; the nature of our predicament is economic, environmental, social and political, but it is certainly also philosophical. Throughout history, utopia has been subject to similar pressures – will it not have a role to play this time? Looking around, it seems that utopia has been replaced by images of a very unsatisfactory present, or, in the case of utopian literature, by images of a dystopian future. Has man lost his capacity to think of alternatives? Is utopia, in fact, finally on the verge of death?” (p20)
UTOPIA NOWADAYS: “At the end of the nineteenth century and in the first half of the twentieth century, utopia was too easily identified with socialist-communist projects, as well as with the idea of totalitarianism. The two World Wars, Hitler’s utopian aspiration to ‘purify the human race’ and the collapse of the communist regimes all over the world led people to retreat from dreaming and forced them to adopt a very realistic perspective. Stigmatized by the ideas of impossibility and totalitarianism, utopian thought underwent an expressive change, and redefined its scope of action”. (p22)
Utopia & Dystopia presentation
Find information about the book assigned to you and your partner. Conduct a brief research on the following aspects of that novel: Theme, plot, conflict, main characters, setting and year of publication. Present your findings to the class.
- Laritza Díaz-Roberto Valenzuela: Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
- Nicole Cisterna-Camila Godoy: Animal Farm (George Orwell)
- Pedro Guzmán-Karina Torres: The Clockwork Orange (Anthony Burgess)
- Gabriela Palomino-Claudia Araya: The Road (Cormac McCarthy)
- Eliana Otárola-Aracely García: Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)
- Paulina Aguilar-Susana García: The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins)
- Javiera Barros-Antonio Cornejo: The Children of Men (P.D. James)
- Jorge Cea-Camila Arias: Do Androids dream of electric sheep? (Philip K. Dick)
- Cristina Sánchez-Catalina Tapia: Never Let me go (Ishiguro Kazuo)
- Natalia Dumigual-Vicente Salvo: Nineteen eighty four (George Orwell)
Noam Chomsky – “10 strategies of manipulation” by the media
Renowned critic and always MIT linguist Noam Chomsky, one of the classic voices of intellectual dissent in the last decade, has compiled a list of the ten most common and effective strategies resorted to by the agendas “hidden” to establish a manipulation of the population through the media.Historically the media have proven highly efficient to mold public opinion. Thanks to the media paraphernalia and propaganda, have been created or destroyed social movements, justified wars, tempered financial crisis, spurred on some other ideological currents, and even given the phenomenon of media as producers of reality within the collective psyche. But how to detect the most common strategies for understanding these psychosocial tools which, surely, we participate? Fortunately Chomsky has been given the task of synthesizing and expose these practices, some more obvious and more sophisticated, but apparently all equally effective and, from a certain point of view, demeaning. Encourage stupidity, promote a sense of guilt, promote distraction, or construct artificial problems and then magically, solve them, are just some of these tactics.
The strategy of distraction
The primary element of social control is the strategy of distraction which is to divert public attention from important issues and changes determined by the political and economic elites, by the technique of flood or flooding continuous distractions and insignificant information. distraction strategy is also essential to prevent the public interest in the essential knowledge in the area of the science, economics, psychology, neurobiology and cybernetics. “Maintaining public attention diverted away from the real social problems, captivated by matters of no real importance. Keep the public busy, busy, busy, no time to think, back to farm and other animals (quote from text Silent Weapons for Quiet War ).”
Create problems, then offer solutions
This method is also called “problem -reaction- solution. “It creates a problem, a “situation” referred to cause some reaction in the audience, so this is the principal of the steps that you want to accept. For example: let it unfold and intensify urban violence, or arrange for bloody attacks in order that the public is the applicant‟s security laws and policies to the detriment of freedom. Or: create an economic crisis to accept as a necessary evil retreat of social rights and the dismantling of public services.
The gradual strategy
acceptance to an unacceptable degree, just apply it gradually, dropper, for consecutive years. That is how they radically new socioeconomic conditions ( neoliberalism ) were imposed during the 1980s and 1990s: the minimal state, privatization, precariousness, flexibility, massive unemployment, wages, and do not guarantee a decent income, so many changes that have brought about a revolution if they had been applied once.
The strategy of deferring
Another way to accept an unpopular decision is to present it as “painful and necessary”, gaining public acceptance, at the time for future application. It is easier to accept that a future sacrifice of immediate slaughter. First, because the effort is not used immediately. Then, because the public, masses, is always the tendency to expect naively that “everything will be better tomorrow” and that the sacrifice required may be avoided. This gives the public more time to get used to the idea of change and accept it with resignation when the time comes.
Go to the public as a little child
Most of the advertising to the general public uses speech, argument, people and particularly children‟s intonation, often close to the weakness, as if the viewer were a little child or a mentally deficient. The harder one tries to deceive the viewer look, the more it tends to adopt a tone infantilising. Why? “If one goes to a person as if she had the age of 12 years or less, then, because of suggestion, she tends with a certain probability that a response or reaction also devoid of a critical sense as a person 12 years or younger (see Silent Weapons for Quiet War ).”
Use the emotional side more than the reflection
Making use of the emotional aspect is a classic technique for causing a short circuit on rational analysis , and finally to the critical sense of the individual. Furthermore, the use of emotional register to open the door to the unconscious for implantation or grafting ideas , desires, fears and anxieties , compulsions, or induce behaviors …
Keep the public in ignorance and mediocrity
Making the public incapable of understanding the technologies and methods used to control and enslavement. “The quality of education given to the lower social classes must be the poor and mediocre as possible so that the gap of ignorance it plans among the lower classes and upper classes is and remains impossible to attain for the lower classes (See „ Silent Weapons for Quiet War ).”
To encourage the public to be complacent with mediocrity
Promote the public to believe that the fact is fashionable to be stupid, vulgar and uneducated…
To let individual blame for their misfortune, because of the failure of their intelligence, their abilities, or their efforts. So, instead of rebelling against the economic system, the individual auto-devaluate and guilt, which creates a depression, one of whose effects is to inhibit its action. And, without action, there is no revolution!
Getting to know the individuals better than they know themselves
Over the past 50 years, advances of accelerated science has generated a growing gap between public knowledge and those owned and operated by dominant elites. Thanks to biology, neurobiology and applied psychology, the “system” has enjoyed a sophisticated understanding of human beings, both physically and psychologically. The system has gotten better acquainted with the common man more than he knows himself. This means that, in most cases, the system exerts greater control and great power over individuals, greater than that of individuals about themselves.
V for Vendetta (Alan Moore & David Lloyd)
Based on the evidence we’re presented with, it seems that V was a “subversive” who was arrested during the early days of the Norsefire regime and sent to a concentration camp. There, he was injected with drugs and hormones that made him smarter, made him stronger, and made him forget his own past. Since breaking out of his prison, V has used terrorism to oppose the Norsefire regime, killing his former jailers and orchestrating an elaborate assault on its institutions. V is an anarchist who believes that violence and destruction are necessary in order to establish a new world order in which people consent to live with each other in peace, rather than submitting to the tyranny of a government.
Evey Hammond is 16 years old at the beginning of V for Vendetta, when she’s saved by V and taken to his underground lair to be his student and assistant. Initially, Evey finds V charming, and is highly grateful to him for saving her life. She assists him with some of his plans to attack the Norsefire government, but backs off when she realizes that V murders people in order to further his plans.
Adam Susan, usually known by his title, the Leader, is the dictator of England. His Norsefire regime ascended to power following a brutal, mysterious war that destroyed much of the planet. As Leader, Susan immediately began a series of programs whose goals were to “purify” the people of England, rounding up and murdering all homosexuals, Jews, blacks, Leftists, and Pakistanis. He used the specter of war to justify his harsh measures. As he settled into his role as the Leader, Susan became immensely lonely, recognizing that he was hated and feared by his subjects.
Conrad Heyer is the head of the Eye, the Norsefire institution charged with video monitoring all citizens of London, Conrad Heyer is a weak-willed, ineffectual man. He spends long hours watching Londoners in their homes, and is, as his wife, Helen Heyer puts it, London’s highest-paid “peeping Tom.”
Derek Almond is the head of the Finger, Norsefire’s law enforcement institution. He’s a cruel, cold man, though an undeniably effective law enforcement officer. At several points, he’s shown to mistreat his wife, Rosemary Almond, at one point slapping her in the face and making her weep.
Eric Finch is a talented, thoughtful detective, and one of the most important figures at the Nose (the Norsefire institution that investigates terrorism and other major crimes). Finch is unlike the majority of his colleagues, insofar as he dislikes the repressiveness and brutality of the Leader’s regime, and voices his dislike to the Leader himself.
The “Voice of Fate,” Lewis Prothero performs a crucial service for the Norsefire government. Every night, he reads the information printed by the Fate Computer, so that his voice is broadcast over every television and radio in England. Thanks to clever propaganda, the people of England don’t realize that Prothero exists: they believe that Prothero’s voice—supposedly a “magnificent” voice—is the voice of the computer itself. Beneath the magnificence of his voice, Prothero is a foolish and cruel man, who once worked as a guard at Larkhill Prison, the concentration camp where V was imprisoned, and seemed to have no qualms about murdering innocent people there.
Bishop Anthony Lilliman is a hypocritical, highly corrupt clergyman who once served as a chaplain at Larkhill Prison. Since this time, Lilliman has ascended to be the Bishop of Westminster, where he delivers sermons that betray a racist, bloodthirsty mindset. It’s revealed that Lilliman, in addition to his bigotry and cruelty, is guilty of pedophilia.
Delia Surridge is a middle-aged doctor who worked at Larkhill Prison years before V for Vendetta begins. She is a talented doctor, who researched drugs that could alter the human mind and body, and gave them to patients at Larkhill, confident that their agony and death would be for the greater good of her research. In the years following her experiences at Larkhill, Delia comes to realize that her experiments were barbaric.
V for Vendetta (excerpt)
Book 1 Chapter 11