At the beginning of the semester, I defined a dystopia as the following, ” a world or society that, depending on whose perspective we see it from, is actively suppressing its people politically, economically, and environmentally.” I feel like this definition definitely lacked substance and didn’t encapsulate a dystopia well. A Dystopia is a society wherein its citizens are being actively oppressed by a higher order, leading to a loss of individuality for the citizens and more power for the oppressors. This definition is centred around how the society is structured and how that structure was purposely created for the end goal of complete submission and oppression. We can safely, then, exclude post-apocalyptic settings from this definition.
One of the novels that perfectly fits this is “Flatland”, which I used for my project. The shapes are arranged hierarchy based on “Nature Laws” created by the top class, or the Circles. It is because the Circles have created these laws to purposely keep the other shapes under them that makes this society dystopian in my eyes. The citizens are kept stupid by being killed for attempting to believe in a higher dimension, even though the Circles are aware that there are other ones.
Another work that helps with my definition is Iris Youngs, “Five Faces of Oppression”. While this doesn’t explain a total Dystopia, it allows us to delve deeper into the oppression that the citizens may face. All five oppressions may be seen in my definition but Powerlessness is the one I want to talk about. A society that is built to purposely oppress people has the end goal of leaving its citizens powerless. This means that no matter what they might do, without revolution, they are unable to change the system. They will constantly be undermined in order to cease a rebellion and increase the power that the oppressors exert over them.