My source is an article called ‘Totalitarianism and Dystopian Literature: A Review’, written by Josh Zuckerman ’18 for a journal called ‘The Princeton Tory’. It talks about how dystopias are made by so much more than just a dictatorship and about five other frequently occurring themes in dystopias that are used to keep even the simplest of civil liberties from citizens. It also addresses the fact that the governments in all dystopias need not be ‘regarded as malign entities hell-bent on the destruction of freedom and the infliction of suffering’ by the people under them. Nevertheless, these are totalitarian as they ‘prevent the exercise of free will and political dissidence’.
The five themes that the article focuses on are – Government Monopoly of Information, The Rewriting of History, Equality as the Primary Motivating Agent of Governmental Actions, The Loss of Individual Identity and The Erosion of Identity. It goes into different examples from popular YA Dystopias to show how these themes are effective in creating a ‘perpetual state of confusion’ for the people in the dystopia. It ends by addressing the concern that minimized versions of these themes have always existed and continue to do so in our own society. Reading exaggerated versions of our own truths brings home the limits that we as humankind should always be aware and mindful of.
This was the article that first brought to my mind the thought of information as an effective weapon. It is a good read to understand the importance of various strategies that dystopian governments use while also realizing how big a role deception plays in any dystopian fiction. I also realized the importance of studying and knowing history, absent of which, the author emphasizes, ‘society would experience a profound moral and cultural decadence.’ As a whole, the article addresses various moral dilemmas that our society faces today but how taking the direction that we are inclining towards now could have disastrous results.
Zuckerman, Josh. “Totalitarianism and Dystopian Literature: A Review.” The Princeton Tory, 23 Nov. 2014, theprincetontory.com/main/totalitarianism-and-dystopian-literature-a-review/. Accessed 1 Mar. 2017.