Frightening prophecies: 6 ideas of dystopia, embodied in reality

The essence of the dystopia is to show what can result from attempts to build a perfect world with rigid rules and restrictions. These stories sometimes seem absurd and grotesque, and sometimes frighteningly prescient. “Lifehacker” says that already embodied.

Пугающие пророчества: 6 идей из антиутопий, воплотившихся в реальности

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1. Social rating

In the first episode of the third season of “Black mirror” (“Dive”) showed a world where people put each other not only in social networks but in real life. From these estimates one gets rating. Those who have it is low, turn into a rogue, can’t buy a plane ticket or rent a home that they like.

Something similar is described in the teenage dystopia Dutch writer Marlus of Morchas “shadows of Radovana”. There rating is earned for good behavior, shock work, good grades in school, loyalty to the rules. The number of points depends on whether the family live in a normal apartment on the upper floors of a skyscraper or to huddle in a basement room with no Windows.

“Dive” was released in the year 2016, “the shadow of Radovana” — two years later. And then, in 2018, in several cities of China launched the system of social ranking. This is a complex evaluation mechanism of people, which takes into account different parameters: as a citizen pays taxes, behaves as in the Internet what to buy, do you follow the laws and so on.

The establishment of the system, China announced earlier in 2014, so writers can see the idea from the Chinese government. But then nobody could assume so absurd there will be consequences. People, of course, is not sent to the basement because of the low scores, but there were cases when they could not take a loan to buy property and even train tickets. Millions of Chinese were subjected to various fines and penalties.

2. Reproductive technologies and reproductive violence

In Aldous Huxley’s novel “brave new world” of nine months children are grown in a vessel — the “bottle”, which is slowly moving through the pipeline and at different stages of development of the fetus enter the necessary substances and medications. In 1932, when he published a book, did not exist in vitro fertilization, and the first child conceived in vitro was born only after 46 years. And especially had not yet invented an artificial womb, which can be considered a full-fledged bottle of Huxley’s novel.

Now it is already possible to grow to term in preterm lamb, and to develop a similar device for babies will require around 10 years. Unknown, turn the reproduction of people in Assembly-line production, but overall in their predictions Huxley was surprisingly accurate.

Dystopia often affect the reproductive area and describe any new technology or attempt by the authorities to fully control the childbirth. In many stories to have a baby, you must first obtain a permit which is given only if the person meets certain criteria. To recall the “We” by Yevgeny Zamyatin (a novel written in 1920), and “1984” by George Orwell (1948), the nursery, but quite interesting dystopia “the Giver” (1993), Lois Lowry and her film adaptation with Meryl Streep and Katie Holmes, a new series “Through the snow” on Netflix.

In other dystopias, such as in the novel Margaret Atwood’s 1986 “the handmaid’s Tale”, the emphasis is on the fact that the birth of a child is not a privilege or a right, but a duty. He could not evade: abortion was illegal, women forced to give birth.

In China, since the late 1970‑ies, for 35 years acted state policy “one family — one child”. In different countries completely or partially banned abortion, even if pregnancy and childbirth threatened the woman’s life or the child was conceived as a result of violence or incest.

In countries where abortion is legal, people do not always have the right to fully dispose of her body. For example, in Russia up to 35 years of age cannot make medical sterilization without complying with certain conditions. In addition, the abortion laws have recently been trying to strengthen — both in Russia and in the United States. Activists who fight for the rights of women, wearing red cloaks and white bonnets maids of Roman Atwood — and thus spend quite understandable Parallels between story and real events.

3. Modulators of mood

“Catfish gram — and no dramas,” said the the heroes of Huxley, by taking a pill of soma. This drug has improved the mood and makes you forget about problems. In the Philip K. dick novel of 1968 “do androids Dream elektroauto?” (though it’s not quite a dystopia) and is described modulator of mood, in which you can select the subtle shades of emotions like “business attitude to work” or “the desire to watch any TV show”.

All this is reminiscent of antidepressants, which are now available to almost anyone, sometimes even without a prescription. In the United States in 2017 began testing “chips mood” that affect the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, and thus emotions. It is expected that such devices will help to take control of mental illness. But who knows, wouldn’t they once a drug that allows you to remain functional, communicative and positive.

4. Surveillance and monitoring

This is one of the pillars on which stands any totalitarian state, and therefore, the surveillance of the characters in one form or another is present in almost every dystopian. The most striking is the canonical example — “telecrane” from “1984”. They not only broadcast propaganda, but constantly watching every action of man.

In reality such a device does not exist, but we do have something similar. It smartphones, tablets, smart speakers and other gadgets. They store our contacts and personal data, collect information about the preferences and purchases on the sites to which we go, and the places in which there are. Who and how uses all these information, we may not know until the end.

On the one hand, data are needed to show ads that are interesting to us, or to form the smart feed. On the other hand, the social network has already been accused of secret cooperation with security services, and laws sometimes directly obliged to provide law enforcement authorities information about users. In this sense, we are not too different from the heroes of Orwell, except that give information to Big Brother willingly.

5. Walking on schedule

In may 2020, when due to the mode of isolation Muscovites were walking on schedule, on this subject much sneered, but something like this has happened in the books. In the novel “the shadow of Radovana” the inhabitants of the metropolis almost not allowed to leave the skyscrapers, because nature is dirty and dangerous, and walking cause disease. Heroes in the Park, spend no longer than an hour a week on a dedicated schedule that is tailored to the rooms of the house and social status.

Similar plots have in other works. From Zamyatin Single State separated from nature a Green Wall, beyond which is prohibited. In the books of Orwell, Huxley and Bradbury, the government does not approve of walking, because the person who walks slowly and spends time alone, clearly there is an opportunity to think and analyze the situation.

6. Euthanasia

In dystopia Lois Lowry’s “the Giver” weak children and elderly people are excluded from society to maintain its population at the same level and to every benefit. In a little-known dystopian American politician of the XIX century Ignatius Donnelly’s “Caesar’s Column” (1891) featured a special institution, where anyone can voluntarily withdraw from life.

Writers often deliberately exaggerate in the books, but in reality something similar is already happening. Iceland could become the first country where no children will be born with down syndrome. If the fetus find this pathology, pregnancy, in most cases, to interrupt. Of course, with the consent of the woman, but not without some pressure from the doctors and the state in General. Icelandic geneticist Kari Stefansson believes that there is nothing wrong with “to inspire people to give birth to healthy offspring”, but, in his opinion, doctors give the “hard advice” concerning genetics and therefore influence the decisions which go beyond medicine.

In several countries — the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Canada are allowed euthanasia, or “assisted death” by the will of man. De jure necessary, that he felt an unbearable pain that can not be overcome. But de facto the boundaries of the concept of “unbearable suffering” gradually began to blur: it includes not only a deadly and painful disease, but also depression.

In the Netherlands in 2016, a discussion on whether to allow euthanasia to those who believe the duration of his life sufficient, that is mostly older people that are just tired of living.


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