def dystopia(world): return dystopia(world)

The above is programming syntax to define a function called dystopia, which takes in a world and returns a world. This program, however, runs in an infinite loop as is, as nothing in the world is changed, and the return value simply repeats the previous call on the next run. Once this function is called, it will run infinitely, unchanging, unless the code is changed. I write this to provide an algorithmic model for a dystopian societal structure, which is further explained below.

The Merriam webster dictionary defines dystopia as “an imagined world or society in which people lead wretched, dehumanized, fearful lives.” I would agree with this definition, insisting that a dystopia can be defined as a negative end-result that occurs as a consequence of some power structure put in place either by humans or by nature, whereby some group of individuals (of some size) end up experiencing the negative consequences of the end-result of a negative power structure. Where my definition and the Merriam Webster dictionary definition agree is on the point that individuals in a dystopia do not lead pleasant, or positive, lives. Where we might disagree is to say that these individuals actually lead their lives.

Often in dystopian societies, looking at imaginary examples as well as taking into account real world likenesses, the members of the dystopian society/world are not in control of their own destiny. In the case of man-made power structures as the cause of the suffering being experienced by the people, these power structures often aim for control of the time and actions of the individuals ensnared in the system. With this, these individuals lose their autonomy, and effectively are led by someone else’s malevolent will. Furthermore, even in examples of dystopia worlds that don’t involve human interaction (for example, the movie “After Earth”), often the individual lacks the ability or power to alter the world and change their situation. In both cases, the perception of the society/world as a dystopia is a result of an unchanging, or perpetual, negativity, which results in suffering. With that acknowledged, it might be wiser to think about dystopia less as a place or people, but more as a situation or system of organization. If the individuals in question were able to use the resources of their world differently, would they still be living in a dystopian world? In other words, if an individual can and did start to utilize the resources around them in a more positive manner (such that suffering is reduced), wouldn’t the overall negativity of the ecosystem be reduced, resulting in the termination of the dystopian nature of the place?

This brings into question the nature of dystopia, and describes a possible process by which dystopias can change and improve.

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