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Dystopia
A dystopia (from Ancient Greek δυσ- "bad" and τόπος "place"; alternatively, cacotopia,[1] kakotopia, or simply anti-utopia) is a community or society that is undesirable or frightening.[2][3] It is translated
as "not-good place" and is an antonym of utopia, a term that was coined by Sir Thomas More and figures as the title of his best known work, Utopia, published 1516, a blueprint for an ideal society with minimal
crime, violence and poverty.

Dystopian societies appear in many fictional works and artistic representations particularly in stories set in the future. Some of the most famous examples are George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four and Aldous
Huxley's Brave New World. Dystopias are often characterized by dehumanization,[2] tyrannical governments, environmental disaster,[3] or other characteristics associated with a cataclysmic decline in society.
Dystopian societies appear in many sub-genres of fiction and are often used to draw attention to society, environment, politics, economics, religion, psychology, ethics, science or technology. Some authors use
the term to refer to existing societies, many of which are or have been totalitarian states or societies in an advanced state of collapse.

Some scholars, such as Gregory Claeys and Lyman Tower Sargent, make certain distinctions between typical synonyms of dystopias. For example, Claeys and Sargent define literary dystopias as societies
imagined as substantially worse than the society in which the author writes, whereas anti-utopias function as criticisms of attempts to implement various concepts of utopia.[4] In his Dystopia: A Natural
History (Oxford University Press, 2017) Claeys offers a more nuanced and historical approach to these definitions. Here the tradition is traced from early reactions to the French Revolution. Its commonly anti-
collectivist character is stressed, and the addition of other themes (the dangers of science and technology, of social inequality, of corporate dictatorship, of nuclear war) are also traced.

Contents
Etymology
Common theme
Politics
Economics
Class
Family
Religion
Identity
Violence
Nature
Science and technology
Typical dystopian claims

In society
See also
References
External links

Etymology
Though several earlier usages are known, dystopia was used as an antonym for Utopia by John Stuart Mill in one of his Parliamentary Speeches 1868 (Hansard Commons) by adding the prefix "dys" (Ancient
Greek: δυσ- "bad"), reinterpreting the initial U as the prefix "eu" (Ancient Greek: ευ- "good") instead of "ou" (Ancient Greek: οὐ "not").[5][6] It was used to denounce the government's Irish land policy: "It is,
perhaps, too complimentary to call them Utopians, they ought rather to be called dys-topians, or caco-topians. What is commonly called Utopian is something too good to be practicable; but what they appear to
favour is too bad to be practicable".[7][8][9][10]

Decades before the first documented use of the word "dystopia" was "cacotopia" (using Ancient Greek: κακόs, "bad, wicked") originally proposed in 1818 by Jeremy Bentham, "As a match for utopia (or the
imagined seat of the best government) suppose a cacotopia (or the imagined seat of the worst government) discovered and described".[11][12] Though dystopia became the most popular term, cacotopia finds
occasional use; Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange, said it was a better fit for Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four because "it sounds worse than dystopia".[13]

Common theme

Politics
In When the Sleeper Wakes, H. G. Wells depicted the governing class as hedonistic and shallow.[14] George Orwell contrasted Wells's world to that depicted in Jack London's The Iron Heel, where the dystopian
rulers are brutal and dedicated to the point of fanaticism, which Orwell considered more plausible.[15]

The political principles at the root of fictional utopias (or "perfect worlds") are idealistic in principle and result in positive consequences for the inhabitants; the political principles on which fictional dystopias are
based, while often based on utopian ideals, result in negative consequences for inhabitants because of at least one fatal flaw.[16][17]

Dystopias are often filled with pessimistic views of the ruling class or a government that is brutal or uncaring, ruling with an "iron fist". Dystopian governments are sometimes ruled by a fascist regime or dictator.
These dystopian government establishments often have protagonists or groups that lead a "resistance" to enact change within their society, as is seen in Alan Moore's V for Vendetta.[18]

Dystopian political situations are depicted in novels such as We, Parable of the Sower, Darkness at Noon, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Brave New World, The Hunger Games, Divergent and Fahrenheit 451 and such
films as Metropolis, Brazil, Battle Royale, FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions, Soylent Green, Logan's Run, and The Running Man.

Economics
The economic structures of dystopian societies in literature and other media have many variations, as the economy often relates directly to the elements that the writer is depicting as the source of the oppression.
There are several archetypes that such societies tend to follow. A theme is the dichotomy of planned economies versus free market economies, a conflict which is found in such works as Ayn Rand's Anthem and
Henry Kuttner's short story "The Iron Standard". Another example of this is reflected in Norman Jewison's 1975 film Rollerball.

Some dystopias, such as that of Nineteen Eighty-Four, feature black markets with goods that are dangerous and difficult to obtain or the characters may be at the mercy of the state-controlled economy. Kurt
Vonnegut's Player Piano depicts a dystopia in which the centrally controlled economic system has indeed made material abundance plentiful but deprived the mass of humanity of meaningful labor; virtually all
work is menial, unsatisfying and only a small number of the small group that achieves education is admitted to the elite and its work.[19] In Tanith Lee's Don't Bite the Sun, there is no want of any kind – only
unabashed consumption and hedonism, leading the protagonist to begin looking for a deeper meaning to existence.[20] Even in dystopias where the economic system is not the source of the society's flaws, as in
Brave New World, the state often controls the economy; a character, reacting with horror to the suggestion of not being part of the social body, cites as a reason that everyone works for everyone else.[21]

Other works feature extensive privatization and corporatism; both consequences of capitalism, where privately owned and unaccountable large corporations have replaced the government in setting policy and
making decisions. They manipulate, infiltrate, control, bribe, are contracted by and function as government. This is seen in the novels Jennifer Government and Oryx and Crake and the movies Alien, Avatar,
RoboCop, Visioneers, Idiocracy, Soylent Green, THX 1138, WALL-E and Rollerball. Corporate republics common in the cyberpunk genre, as in Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash and Philip K. Dick's Do Androids
Dream of Electric Sheep? (as well as the film Blade Runner, influenced by Dick's novel).

Class
Dystopian fiction frequently draws stark contrasts between the privileges of the ruling class and the dreary existence of the working class. In the novel Brave New World, written in 1931 by Aldous Huxley, a class
system is prenatally determined with Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons, with the lower classes having reduced brain-function and special conditioning to make them satisfied with their position in
life.[22] Outside of this society there also exist several human settlements that exist in the conventional way but which the class system describe as "savages".

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In Ypsilon Minus by Herbert W. Franke, people are divided into numerous alphabetically ranked groups.

Family
Some fictional dystopias, such as Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451, have eradicated the family and keep it from re-establishing itself as a social institution. In Brave New World, where children are
reproduced artificially, the concepts "mother" and "father" are considered obscene. In some novels, the State is hostile to motherhood; in Nineteen Eighty-Four, children are organized to spy on their parents and
in We, by Yevgeny Zamyatin, the escape of a pregnant woman from One State is a revolt.[23]

Religion
Religious groups play the role of the oppressed and oppressors. In Brave New World the establishment of the state included lopping off the tops of all crosses (as symbols of Christianity) to make them "T"s, (as
symbols of Henry Ford's Model T).[24] Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale takes place in a future United States under a Christian-based theocratic regime.[25] One of the earliest examples of this
theme is Robert Hugh Benson's Lord of the World, about a futuristic world where the Freemasons have taken over the world and the only other religion left is a Roman Catholic minority.

Identity
In the Russian novel We by Yevgeny Zamyatin, first published in 1921, people are permitted to live out of public view twice a week for one hour and are only referred to by numbers instead of names. In some
dystopian works, such as Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron, society forces individuals to conform to radical egalitarian social norms that discourage or suppress accomplishment or even competence as forms
of inequality.

Violence
Violence is prevalent in many dystopias, often in the form of war; urban crimes led by gangs (often of teenagers) (e.g. A Clockwork Orange) rampant crime met by blood sports (e.g. Battle Royale, The Running
Man, The Hunger Games and Divergent). Also explained in Suzanne Berne's essay "Ground Zero", where she explains her experience of the aftermath of 11 September 2001.[26]

Nature
Fictional dystopias are commonly urban and frequently isolate their characters from all contact with the natural world.[27] Sometimes they require their characters to avoid nature, as when walks are regarded as
dangerously anti-social in Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, as well as within Bradbury's short story "The Pedestrian". In C. S. Lewis's That Hideous Strength, science coordinated by government is directed toward
the control of nature and the elimination of natural human instincts. In Brave New World, the lower class is conditioned to be afraid of nature but also to visit the countryside and consume transport and games
to promote economic activity.[28] Lois Lowry's "The Giver" shows a society where technology and the desire to create a utopia has led humanity to enforce climate control on the environment, as well as to
eliminate many undomesticated species and to provide psychological and pharmaceutical repellent against human instincts. E. M. Forster's "The Machine Stops" depicts a highly changed global environment
which forces people to live underground due to an atmospheric contamination.[29] As Angel Galdon-Rodriguez points out, this sort of isolation caused by external toxic hazard is later used by Hugh Howey in his
series of dystopias of the Silo Series.[30]

Excessive pollution that destroys nature is common in many dystopian films, such as The Matrix, RoboCop, WALL-E, and Soylent Green. A few "green" fictional dystopias do exist, such as in Michael Carson's
short story "The Punishment of Luxury", and Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker. The latter is set in the aftermath of nuclear war, "a post-nuclear holocaust Kent, where technology has reduced to the level of the
Iron Age".[31]

Science and technology


Contrary to the technologically utopian claims, which view technology as a beneficial addition to all aspects of humanity, technological dystopia concerns itself with and focuses largely (but not always) on the
negative effects caused by new technology.[32]

Typical dystopian claims


1. Technologies reflect and encourage the worst aspects of human nature.[32] Jaron Lanier, a digital pioneer, has become a technological dystopian. “I think it’s a way of interpreting technology in which people
forgot taking responsibility,” he says.

“‘Oh, it’s the computer that did it, not me.’ ‘There’s no more middle class? Oh, it’s not me. The computer did it’” (Lanier). This quote explains that people begin to not only blame the technology for the changes in
lifestyle but also believe that technology is an omnipotence. It also points to a technological determinist perspective in terms of reification.[33]

2. Technologies harm our interpersonal communication, relationships, and communities.[34]

decrease in communication within family members and friend groups due to increased time in technology use
virtual space misleadingly heightens the impact of real presence; people resort to technological medium for communication nowadays
3. Technologies reinforce hierarchies - concentrate knowledge and skills; increase surveillance and erode privacy; widen inequalities of power and wealth; giving up control to machines). Douglas Rushkoff, a
technological utopian, states in his article that the professional designers “re-mystified” the computer so it wasn’t so readable anymore; users had to depend on the special programs built into the software that
was incomprehensible for normal users.[32]

4. New technologies are sometimes regressive (worse than previous technologies).[32]

5. The unforeseen impacts of technology are negative.[32] “ ‘The most common way is that there’s some magic artificial intelligence in the sky or in the cloud or something that knows how to translate, and what a
wonderful thing that this is available for free. But there’s another way to look at it, which is the technically true way: You gather a ton of information from real live translators who have translated phrases… It’s
huge but very much like Facebook, it’s selling people back to themselves… [With translation] you’re producing this result that looks magical but in the meantime, the original translators aren’t paid for their
work… You’re actually shrinking the economy.’”[34]

6. More efficiency and choices can harm our quality of life (by causing stress, destroying jobs, making us more materialistic).[35] In his article “Prest-o! Change-o!,” technological dystopian James Gleick
mentions the remote control being the classic example of technology that does not solve the problem “it is meant to solve.” Gleick quotes Edward Tenner, a historian of technology, that the ability and ease of
switching channels by the remote control serves to increase distraction for the viewer. Then it is only expected that people will become more dissatisfied with the channel they are watching.[35]

7. New technologies cannot solve problems of old technologies or just create new problems.[32] The remote control example explains this claim as well, for the increase in laziness and dissatisfaction levels was
clearly not a problem in times without the remote control. He also takes social psychologist Robert Levine’s example of Indonesians “‘whose main entertainment consists of watching the same few plays and
dances, month after month, year after year,’ and with Nepalese Sherpas who eat the same meals of potatoes and tea through their entire lives. The Indonesians and Sherpas are perfectly satisfied.” Because of the
invention of the remote control, it merely created more problems.[35]

8. Technologies destroy nature (harming human health and the environment). The need for business replaced community and the “story online” replaced people as the “soul of the Net.” Because information
was now able to be bought and sold, there was not as much communication taking place.[32]

In society
Dystopias typically reflect contemporary sociopolitical realities and extrapolate worst-case scenarios as warnings for necessary social change or caution.[36] Dystopian fictions invariably reflect the concerns and
fears of its contemporaneous culture.[37] Due to this they are a subject of social studies. Syreeta McFadden notes that contemporary dystopian literature and films increasingly pull their inspiration from the
worst imaginings of ourselves and present reality, making it often hard to distinguish between entertainment and reality.[36]

In a 1967 study Frank Kermode suggests that the failure of religious prophecies led to a shift in how society apprehends this ancient mode. Christopher Schmidt notes that while the world goes to waste for future
generations we distract ourselves from disaster by passively watching it as entertainment.[38]

In recent years there has seen a surge of popular dystopian young adult literature and blockbuster films.[39][38] Theo James, actor in Divergent, notes that "young people in particular have such a fascination with
this kind of story", saying "It's becoming part of the consciousness. You grow up in a world where it's part of the conversation all the time – the statistics of our planet warming up. The environment is changing.
The weather is different. There are things that are very visceral and very obvious, and they make you question the future and how we will survive. It's so much a part of everyday life that young people inevitably
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— consciously or not — are questioning their futures and how the Earth will be. I certainly do. I wonder what kind of world my children's kids will live in."[39]

Some have commented on this trend, saying that "it is easier to imagine the end of the world than it is to imagine the end of capitalism".[40][41][42][43]

See also
List of dystopian works
List of dystopian literature
List of dystopian films
List of dystopian music, TV programs, and games People Leaving the Cities, artwork
List of dystopian comics by Zbigniew Libera picturing a
Alternate history dystopian future in which people
leave dying metropolises
Apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction
Biopunk
Cyberpunk
Self-fulfilling prophecy
Social science fiction
Societal collapse
Soft science fiction
Utopian and dystopian fiction - possibly Utopia Against Dystopia.

References
1. Cacotopia (from κακός kakos "bad") was the term used by Jeremy Bentham in his 1818 Plan of 17. Mary Ellen Snodgrass, Encyclopedia of Utopian Literature, ABC-Clio Literary Companion Ser.
Parliamentary Reform ("Dystopia" (https://web.archive.org/web/20060326062103/http://www.netch (Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio Inc., 1995) xii. ISBN 0-87436-757-3 (10). ISBN 978-0-87436-757-7 (13).
arles.com/orwell/articles/col-dystopia.htm). Archived from the original (http://www.netcharles.com/or 18. Jane Donawerth, "Genre Blending and the Critical Dystopia", in Dark Horizons: Science Fiction and
well/articles/col-dystopia.htm) on 26 March 2006. Retrieved 2006-03-19. [1] (https://books.google.c the Dystopian Imagination, ed. Raffaella Baccolini and Tom Moylan (New York: Routledge, 2003).
om/books?id=3ye0vWc85eYC&pg=PA230))
19. Howard P. Segal, "Vonnegut's Player Piano: An Ambiguous Technological Dystopia," 163 in Eric S.
2. "Definition of "dystopia" " (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dystopia). Merriam-Webster. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, and Joseph D. Olander, eds., No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian
Merriam-Webster, Inc. 2012. and Dystopian Fiction. ISBN 0-8093-1113-5.
3. "Definition of "dystopia" " (http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/dystopia?q=dystopia). 20. Lee, Tanith. Don't Bite the Sun. Bantam Books:1999.
Oxford Dictionaries. Oxford University Press. 2012.
21. William Matter, "On Brave New World" 98, in Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, and Joseph D.
4. "The Utopia Reader" (https://books.google.com/books?id=24EUCgAAQBAJ&printsec=frontcover&s Olander, eds., No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction. ISBN 0-8093-1113-5.
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22. William Matter, "On Brave New World" 95, in Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, and Joseph D.
5. Tisdall, Nigel (4 November 2016). "Postcard from Belgium: the birthplace of utopia" (https://www.ft. Olander, eds., No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction. ISBN 0-8093-1113-5.
com/content/2f94aa6a-a0f8-11e6-891e-abe238dee8e2). Financial Times. Retrieved 28 August
23. Gorman Beauchamp, "Zamiatin's We" 70, in Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, and Joseph D.
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Olander, eds., No Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction. ISBN 0-8093-1113-5.
6. Mill, John Stuart (1988). Public and parliamentary speeches - Part I - November 1850 - November
24. William Matter, "On Brave New World" 94, in Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, and Joseph D.
1868 (http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/262). Toronto: University of Toronto Press. ISBN 0-415-03791-
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25. Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale, McClelland and Stewart, 1985. ISBN 0-7710-0813-9.
7. Cf. "Dystopia Timeline" (http://hem.passagen.se/replikant/dystopia_timeline.htm) Archived (https://
web.archive.org/web/20060503015002/http://hem.passagen.se/replikant/dystopia_timeline.htm) 3 26. Berne, Suzanne. "Patterns for College Writing". Ground Zero: 182.
May 2006 at the Wayback Machine, in Exploring Dystopia, "edited and designed by Niclas 27. "Avatism and Utopia" 4, in Eric S. Rabkin, Martin H. Greenberg, and Joseph D. Olander, eds., No
Hermansson; Contributors: Acolyte of Death ('Gattaca'), John Steinbach ('Nuclear Nightmare'), Place Else: Explorations in Utopian and Dystopian Fiction.ISBN 0-8093-1113-5.
[and] David Clements ('From Dystopia to Myopia')" (hem.passagen.se), Niclas Hermansson, n.d., 28. Huxley, Aldous. Brave New World.
Web, 22 May 2009. 29. Galdon Rodriguez, Angel (2014). "Urban and Natural Spaces in Dystopian Literature Depicted as
8. "Dystopia" (http://oed.com/search?searchType=dictionary&q=Dystopia). Oxford English Dictionary Opposed Scenarios" (http://pendientedemigracion.ucm.es/info/angulo/volumen/Volumen06-2/articu
(3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership (htt los05.htm). Ángulo Recto. Revista de estudios sobre la ciudad como espacio plural. 6 (2).
p://www.oxforddnb.com/help/subscribe#public) required.) According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a doi:10.5209/rev_ANRE.2014.v6.n2.47585 (https://doi.org/10.5209%2Frev_ANRE.2014.v6.n2.4758
"dystopia" is: "An imaginary place or condition in which everything is as bad as possible; opp. 5).
UTOPIA (cf. CACOTOPIA). So dystopian n., one who advocates or describes a dystopia; dystopian 30. Galdon Rodriguez, Angel (2014-12-19). "Espacios urbanos y naturales como escenarios opuestos
a., of or pertaining to a dystopia; dystopianism, dystopian quality or characteristics." The example en la literatura distópica" (http://revistas.ucm.es/index.php/ANRE/article/view/47585). Ángulo
of first usage given in the OED (1989 ed.) refers to the 1868 speech by John Stuart Mill quoted Recto. Revista de estudios sobre la ciudad como espacio plural. 6 (2): 85–100.
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1952 NEGLEY & PATRICK Quest for Utopia xvii. 298 The Mundus Alter et Idem [of
31. Self, W. (2002) p. V of introduction to Hoban, R. (2002)[1980] Riddley Walker. Bloomsbury, London.
Joseph Hall] is...the opposite of eutopia, the ideal society: it is a dystopia, if it is
32. Rushkoff, D. (2002). Renaissance Now! Media Ecology and the New Global Narrative.Explorations
permissible to coin a word. 1962 C. WALSH From Utopia to Nightmare 11 The in Media Ecology, 1(1), 21-32.
'dystopia' or 'inverted utopia'. Ibid. 12 Stories...that seemed in their dystopian way to
33. Chandler, D. (2013, July 3). Technological or Media Determinism. Retrieved March 2, 2015, from
be saying something important. Ibid. ii. 27 A strand of utopianism or dystopianism. http://visual-memory.co.uk/daniel/Documents/tecdet/tdet05.html
1967 Listener 5 Jan. 22 The modern classics Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and 34. Rosenbaum, R. (2013, January 1). What Turned Jaron Lanier Against the Web? Retrieved March
George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty Four are dystopias. They describe not a world we 2, 2015, from http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/what-turned-jaron-lanier-against-the-
should like to live in, but one we must be sure to avoid. 1968 New Scientist 11 July web-165260940/?all&no-ist
96/3 It is a pleasant change to read some hope for our future is trevor ingram ... I fear 35. Heitman, B. (2011, April 13). The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood.(Books)(Book review).
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an.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/26/dystopian-stories-margaret-atwood-walking-dead-zombies).
9. "ADJOURNED DEBATE. (Hansard, 12 March 1868)" (http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commo The Guardian. 26 October 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
ns/1868/mar/12/adjourned-debate). Hansard.millbanksystems.com. Retrieved 2014-06-08.
37. "Dystopia facts, information, pictures" (http://www.encyclopedia.com/literature-and-arts/literature-en
10. See also Michael S. Roth, "A Dystopia of the Spirit" 230ff., Chap. 15 in Jörn Rüsen, Michael Fehr, glish/english-literature-20th-cent-present/dystopia). www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 3 March
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g=PA230), Google Books Preview, n.d., Web, 22 May 2009.
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External links
Dystopia Tracker (http://www.dystopiatracker.com/E), predictions about the future and their realisations in real life.
Dystopic (http://www.dystopic.co.uk), dystopian fiction and its place in reality.
Dystopias (http://sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/dystopias), in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.
Climate Change Dystopia (http://www.wemu.org/post/climate-change-dystopia), discusses current popularity of the dystopian genre.
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